Free speech seems to be a difficult concept for many to grasp. Everyone wants it at the same time that they want to limit another’s right to it. The football controversy is a perfect example of people claiming to be patriots wanting to silence those who are using their right to free speech in this case free expression by taking a knee during the national anthem.
But it works both ways. Ugly hateful rhetoric as espoused by the KKK and the Nazis is also protected speech. According to our Constitution, they have every right to make their opinions known. They don’t, however, have a right to act on them. And just as they have a right to in this case go to Berkeley and speak so do the protestors have a right to stand outside and protest their appearance. The idea that the protestors are against free speech is ludicrous. But this lack of understanding of everyone’s right to criticize each other is the very foundation of free speech.
Trump doesn’t understand, many conservatives don’t understand it and even sometimes liberals don’t.
It is in this context that the University of California at Berkeley planned to have a Free Speech Week. After a brouhaha earlier in the year when Milo Yiannopoulos was supposed to speak the university made a concerted effort to allow conservative speakers to come to the university. While most of the appearances were canceled Milo Yiannopoulos did show up. It went off without incident. He spoke, but few could hear him due to a number of protestors. And while he and his followers may have been disappointed is was a good day for the First Amendment.