- The Washington Times - Friday, September 15, 2017

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Ben Shapiro just scored what today is becoming a major win — a podium at a major university where police only had to make four protest arrests.

Yes, that’s sarcasm. It’s also a sad commentary on the state of the First Amendment.

Yet there’s hope — there’s always hope. On a different day, the snowflakes wouldn’t even have let Shapiro on campus, never mind to the actual stage to speak, and the arrest count would’ve been much higher. Baby steps, baby steps. Never let it be said the road to freedom isn’t marked and marred by antifa-type thugs carrying baseball bats and rocks.

Shapiro, in taking the stage at Berkeley — a stage protesters had only hours before pledged he wouldn’t stand atop — said this: “The reason I am here is because fascism does not own this university, because there are students who do want to hear differing views, who don’t want to be told that they can only hear one view, and who don’t believe the First Amendment should die under the jackboots and Birkenstocks of a bunch of anarchist, communist pieces of garbage.”

Outside, meanwhile, were 1,000-plus of those anarchist, communist pieces of garbage, chanting dutifully of their hatred of Shapiro — because in their minds, he’s the fascist piece of you-know-what.

Funny how people have such different perceptions of the same event, isn’t it?

But there’s nothing funny about the pressures the First Amendment’s been subjected to of late.

Just ask Milo Yiannopoulos, who’s faced his own fiery troubles with Berkeley — literally. Students there, upset over his planned speech, set fires to structures, tossed rocks at business windows and stirred up such a storm that his appearance was canceled. He’s now going back — and taking a slew of other conservatives with him, including Pamela Geller, Stephen Bannon and Ann Coulter.

But why are students handed so much power? Why are the fascists of the student-body accommodated by college administrators, while those who only want to give peaceful addresses — as well as those who only want to listen to these addresses — are forced to bow out and bow down to the violent forces?

Some thoughts: Today’s average university student isn’t taught proper American history. High school civics focuses more on drawing moral equivalencies between the Black Lives Matter movement and the Boston tea partiers than it does teaching the real fights of founders or the blood that was shed by the patriotic many.

Today’s parents don’t teach their children proper courtesies and respect, and instead harp on the notion that their individual feelings trump all — that if they’re offended, then that’s cause enough to cry for change. And if their demanded changes inconvenience or trounce on the rights of others, or even the traditions of a nation, so be it. Their offended feelings justify their demands.

Today’s politicians don’t stand tall for any sort of principle that’s rooted in the Judeo-Christian founding of this country, the Constitution or the ideal of limited government and citizen self-sufficiency. Pols react to the wind gusts; they race from one special demand to another, latching on to whatever issue of the day seems most politically expedient, best able to secure their next term.

Free speech?

Nowadays, those are just words — words that mean whatever those with the loudest voice, heaviest bat, largest constituency want them to mean. And lately, freedom of speech has been interpreted to mean, for conservatives anyway, no speech. It’s a George Orwell moment in time — the Department of Peace wages war, the First Amendment doesn’t really include freedom of speech for all. Remember: The freedom of speech is for offensive speech. Rhetoric loved by all doesn’t need protection.

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