A group of students at University of California–Santa Cruz crashed a College Republicans’ meeting at the school — demanding that it be shut down because “fascists” don’t have the “right of free speech.”
“White supremacist, fascist sympathizing College Republicans are having a meeting at McHenry library, room 0332,” states a Facebook post from one of the protest’s organizers, Haik Adamian, according to a screenshot obtained by Campus Reform. “Everybody be aware of this violent racist activity happening everyday [sic] on this campus!”
“We need a movement of people on this campus that rejects the ‘right of assembly,’ or ‘right of free speech’ for white supremacists and fascists,” the post continues.
A video of the meeting’s disruption shows one protester claiming that the very knowledge that Republicans have been meeting in the library makes her feel unsafe even being there.
When one of the meeting’s attendees points out that there hasn’t been any “disturbance” on campus because of the gatherings until the protesters crashed one, a protester shouts at him that his “existence is a disturbance” because he’s a Republican. Surprisingly, that student replied:
I’m a registered Democrat; I’ve never voted for a Republican in my life. I’m here speaking ideas [which is] what you’re supposed to do at a college.
The protester’s response?
“I don’t give a s***.”
Okay, kids. First of all, the idea that anyone who happens to be at a College Republicans’ meeting is automatically and definitely a fascist white supremacist is absurd, as is the suggestion that any knowledge of such meetings would make the building actually unsafe for anyone. That’s all very stupid and simple-minded, but it’s actually not even what bothered me the most about this story. No, what bothered me the most was the protesters’ belief that fascists do not have a right to free speech or assembly. After all, in this country, they most definitely do have those rights — and they should. No, I don’t like fascists, but I do like that I live in a country where its leaders’ likes or dislikes have no bearing on what we are permitted to talk about.
Now, I would say that these protesters’ comments show shocking stupidity regarding our constitutional protections, but I’m really not even the least bit surprised. After all, a recent study found that a whopping 44 percent of United States college students believe that hate speech is not protected by the Constitution — no, not that it should not be protected, but that it is not protected — and we have a perfect example of that ignorance here.
These students should probably think twice about calling for the curtailment of certain people’s rights to speak and assemble freely, especially since they seem pretty damn obnoxious to listen to themselves. Truly, the only thing that’s protecting them is the thing that they seem to have absolutely no regard for: the First Amendment.
These students should probably think twice about calling for the curtailment of certain people’s rights to speak and assemble freely.
Yes, the kind of speech you hear coming from fascists and white supremacists makes a lot of people uncomfortable — myself included. I’ve definitely spoken out against these beliefs and the people who espouse them many, many times. But the thing is, that’s exactly what you’re supposed to do with speech you don’t like in this country: Use your own speech to counter it.
Giving a government the right to take away the speech of a group that makes people uncomfortable does nothing but give the government the power to take away your voice should you happen to cross some subjective line of comfort. I would never, ever want to risk living in a world like that, not for anything — and certainly not to stop some peaceful meeting in a library.
— Katherine Timpf is a reporter at National Review Online.