Rioting provoked by intolerance of differing opinions

Alex Underwood
Mesa Legend

So, I’d like to have a discussion regarding the riots that broke out on the campus of UC Berkeley, on February 1. Let’s start by calling what happened on the campus for what it was, a riot.  It was not a protest, or a demonstration, despite what many media outlets would have you believe.  To call such a violent, destructive and hate filled riot a “protest,” or a “demonstration,” would be an insult to the countless peaceful protesters across the country.

It would help to delegitimize those who wish to rally peacefully, and express their grievances in a nonviolent, productive manner. Blurring the lines between a riot, and a protest, is not a good idea; and to do so comes off as an attempt to defend, if not outright justify, the actions of the rioters. The riot broke out in response to internet super villain, Milo Yiannopoulos’, scheduled speech, which was forcefully cancelled by the university itself a day earlier.

Notice how I used the label, internet supervillain? I did that because every other label that the media has used to describe him, is utter nonsense. Let me be clear, I’m not one of Yiannopoulos’ sycophants; there are quite a few things that I disagree with him on, and I will fully admit that he is an incredibly polarizing figure. However, he is not anything that the mainstream media has been claiming him to be.

One label that all of his haters like to throw at him, is “neo-Nazi,” which is about as accurate as calling a tomato, a carrot. Milo is half Jewish, and an openly gay man; not to mention he has gone on record. Numerous times, saying that skin color doesn’t matter. In fact, he can be quoted as saying: “White pride, white nationalism, white supremacy isn’t the way to go; you should be focusing on what unites people, not what drives them apart …”
Well geez, if that’s what a neo-Nazi sounds like, then I think that label applies to a massive number of people in America.

No, Yiannopoulos isn’t a neo-Nazi, he isn’t a white supremacist/nationalist, he isn’t a sexist, or a misogynist, and he isn’t a racist, either; I know this because I actually take the time to listen to what he has to say, rather than simply sitting in an echo chamber, and believing everything I read on Salon, or Buzzfeed. Heck, he’s even stopped associating himself with the Alt-Right, probably because he doesn’t stand for white nationalism.

Now, me saying this is a defense, not an endorsement, of Yiannopoulos; I said it before, and I’ll say it again, I’m not one of his sycophants; there are plenty of things I disagree with him on. Milo is crass, crude, inappropriate and certainly lives up to the title of “The Most Fabulous Supervillain on the Internet.” Another thing that pissed me off about how the Media reported the riots, is that CNN guest, Robert Reich, came out and made the ludicrous claim that the riots were started by right wingers, who were affiliated with Breitbart, essentially claiming this was a “false flag.”

No evidence, no proof, just a rumor that Reich heard somewhere, and then decided to blab about on a large media outlet, without even offering a shed of proof to back up his claim. I’m incredibly wary of people who come out and make these kinds of claims, without having any proof; it just comes off as some kind of Alex Jones conspiracy theory.One of Americas’ founding principles, is freedom of speech; the idea that everyone should have a voice, that everyone should be free to speak their mind, and that everyone should be allowed to entertain an argument on the open market place of ideas.

I wasn’t around when the free speech movement took place, back in the 1960’s; but I know that the protests that took place on the grounds of Berkeley, were important, and massively influential.It’s a shame to see that the university has fallen to the point of banning speakers, simply because they express an opinion that they don’t like; let alone rioting in order to further show that they don’t accept defecting viewpoints.

Bigotry is defined by dictionary.com as: “stubborn and complete intolerance of any creed, belief, or opinion that differs from one’s own,” and it certainly can be used to define the rioters at Berkeley; whether they were students or outsiders. Being so intolerant of another person’s opinion or viewpoint, to the point where you start rioting in order to keep them from speaking on your campus, is extreme bigotry; and is a serious problem that needs to be solved, less we kiss freedom of speech on college campuses goodbye.

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These are archived stories from Mesa Legend editions before Fall 2018. See article for corresponding author.

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