Bravely protecting ‘free speech’ at the University of California at Berkeley

by Ethel C. Fenig at

Sixty years ago, the so-called “free speech” movement began at the University of California at Berkeley.

History of the Free Speech Movement

The Free Speech Movement began in 1964 when UC Berkeley students protested the university’s restrictions on political activities on campus. Small sit-ins and demonstrations escalated into a series of large-scale rallies and protests demanding full constitutional rights on campus. This led to the university overturning policies that would restrict the content of speech or advocacy. Today, the Movement stands as a symbol of the importance of protecting and preserving free speech and academic freedom. …

Our principles of community

Our principles of community are rooted in our mission and reflect our passion for critical inquiry, debate, discovery and innovation, and our deep commitment to contributing to a better world.

“… contributing to a better world.”  Hmmm — sounds inspiring.  How is this “passion” manifested?

Student support

Our campus has served as a meeting point for extreme elements from opposing ends of the political spectrum and may also attract and involve those who espouse hateful rhetoric that runs counter to our values. If you need support, the campus has several resources.

Oh!  But…if “free speech” “runs counter to our [unnamed, but you know who they are] values” (unnamed but you know what they are), it is “hateful rhetoric.”  Oh again!  And therefore self-defined “hateful rhetoric” from “extreme elements” can be violently suppressed, because “free speech” shouldn’t be “hateful rhetoric” that sends students to campus support.  Or something.

Therefore, one brave Berkeley Jewish professor, Ron Hassner, has decided that not only is his right — and the rights of  all Jews — to “free speech” not subject  to some self-appointed group approval, but he has the right to actively protest in approved Berkeley fashion — protesting by a sit-in, a sleep-in, a live-in, when his rights are violated, are in danger.    

(Quick summary: the professor is proudly Jewish — not cowering Jewish — on the Berkeley campus, which is infested with anti-Jewish [antisemitic], anti-Israel hate.  The hate is often converted to such actions as violently suppressing disapproved “free speech,” such as recently occurred when a pro-Israel speaker at Hillel, the national on-campus organization for Jewish students, was invited to speak.  

Israeli Speaker Canceled, Event Evacuated at UC Berkeley

Violent pro-Palestinian protests prompted officials to shut down a talk by an Israeli lawyer.