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The Daily Tar Heel

Viewpoints: The right to free speech is not the right to be heard

Emily Yue

Assistant opinion editor Emily Yue

THE ISSUE: The UC Berkeley College Republicans invited Milo Yiannopoulos to speak on campus. Protests erupted in response, leading to the event being canceled. The violent protest came from a non-student organization, but the event inspired substantial debate over free speech on campus. You can read the other side here.

UC Berkeley had already ruled that the Berkeley College Republicans were well within their rights to host Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos — a decision that met severe backlash when over 100 faculty members signed letters that urged the school to cancel the event.

Another student group, Berkeley Against Trump, organized a protest against racism, misogyny and transphobia in response. 1,500 people peacefully assembled.

However, the evening spiraled into chaos when roughly 150 anti-fascist, “black bloc” radicals entered the fray with clubs, shields and Molotov cocktails to prevent Yiannopoulos from speaking.

Black bloc protestors aside, both student groups acted well within their First Amendment rights in defending and objecting to the event. Beyond the valid concerns surrounding violence and property damage in the aftermath of protest, we should address the speaker himself.

The senior editor at Breitbart News fully embraced his identities as an openly gay man and controversial figure when he launched the “Suck it Up Buttercups: Dangerous Faggot” tour.

The press release brags that “Milo’s previous tour ... grabbed headlines across the country as panicked social justice warriors threw tantrums, stormed stages and held therapy sessions — all because they couldn’t handle the Dangerous Faggot.”

I support anyone’s right to a minority opinion, but there’s a difference between respecting that and enabling (and thereby normalizing) a hateful worldview.

Yes, Yiannopoulous has the right to free speech, but that doesn’t guarantee his right to be heard.

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