Opinion

Memo to UC Berkeley students: Free speech is the best weapon against the alt-right

To the editor: I hate the message that the so-called alt-right offers, but I don’t equate its adherents able to speak at a place like UC Berkeley with their ability to convince people to follow their agenda. (“Unprecedented measures at Berkeley for conservative writer’s speech,” Sept. 14)

If the ideas of the alt-right were so powerful, they would already dominate public thinking. In reality, the people who espouse them are in the minority, and most of us find their beliefs repugnant.

I say let these people speak, but also allow those who oppose their ideas to speak at a similar venue and challenge the alt-right’s often mistaken underlying assumptions. Preventing people from speaking only gives their whining about being persecuted and/or unheard a certain amount of validity.

The anti-fascists who have disrupted events at which conservative figures were scheduled to speak are only helping publicize their message, and the alt-right loves it. The anti-fascists’ actions bring about the “Streisand effect,” where attempting to censor something results in wider publicity for what they are trying to protest.

Dan Branstrom, Desert Hot Springs

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To the editor: Oh, let’s not roll out too many security measures for the upcoming slate of conservative figures set to speak at UC Berkeley. Allow the campus’ self-appointed Red Guards to do their thing.

As they continue to stifle free speech and opposing points of view, they expose the ignorance, intolerance and indoctrination that so effectively characterize the Democratic Party that helped put them where they are.

They’re the best counterbalance Republicans have these days to President Trump’s ongoing caricature and misappropriation of the Republican principles of capitalism, prosperity and freedom.

Patrick M. Dempsey, Granada Hills

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To the editor: Kudos for your fine editorial in support of free speech at UC Berkeley, no matter the speaker. (“UC Berkeley is sending mixed messages about freedom of speech,” editorial, Sept. 14)

The university is, after all, a public institution, accountable to the state government and taxpayers who help fund it.

As to the university’s coddling of students’ delicate psyches by offering counseling to those who may be offended by what they hear at conservative journalist Ben Shapiro’s upcoming appearance, this seems an excessive and conceivably expensive undertaking, well beyond the purview of an educational institution whose primary mission is to prepare young men and women for life in a world whose present-day sensibilities might best be equated with those of a combat zone.

Jeff Denker, Malibu

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To the editor: I was a student at UCLA when Shapiro was the conservative columnist for our campus newspaper The Daily Bruin.

Shapiro’s views then were largely identical to his views today, yet somehow we were able to get through each of his weekly opinion pieces without needing emotional counseling.

Scott Frick, Costa Mesa

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