As many of you are no doubt aware, the offensive rabble rouser Milo Yiannopoulos recently attempted to give one of his inflammatory speeches at the University of California Berkeley. The event was shut down in part due to peaceful protestors and in part due to anarchist elements who embraced violent tactics. To be clear, I have no tolerance for rioters. Anyone who deliberately instigates violence or destroys property is a criminal and should be prosecuted. Short of some tyrannical government coming to power in the U.S., there is simply no justification for mass violence, even if it is nominally in support of a good cause. That being said, people on the Right have attempted to spin this incident as an infringement of Milo’s 1st Amendment rights, and that is laughably absurd.
What happened at Cal was the canceling of a paid speech. Milo was absolutely not barred from campus, and he wasn’t physically silenced by the university. The 1st Amendment merely states that you cannot be censored by the government because you hold views that differ from those of the regime. It does not mean you have the right to give a speech whenever and wherever you want and get paid for it. The standard being applied by many on the Right is ludicrous. If their interpretation were correct, it would mean I could walk over to George Washington University right now, give a speech nobody wanted to hear, and then demand the university pay me. Then, when the GW administration inevitably refused my demand, I could sue them for violating my constitutional right to free speech.
Maybe what happened was “rude.” Maybe it was offensive to the people who legitimately wanted to hear what Milo had to say. I’m not sure. What I do know for sure, however, is that canceling a paid speech is not illegal, and it is under no circumstance unconstitutional. It’s too bad that Milo and his followers got their feelings hurt. But then, they seem to get a perverse enjoyment out of offending and belittling others, so I honestly couldn’t care less that their hate-fest was shut down.