SIO40: Actually, Berkeley Is A Fierce Defender of Free Speech

This might be my magnum opus on the overblown “war on free speech” in Universities. In my research I discovered that, to a degree even further than I thought, Berkeley administration has gone above and beyond in protecting free speech. They were willing to have Milo on campus despite the fact that intended to call out individual undocumented students AND call for the defunding of Berkeley itself. They offered several acceptable times and places to have Ann Coulter speak and she and the groups who invited her refused to comply with them. I go into more detail in the episode. I also discuss some recent studies and what they have to say about this whole free speech thing. I believe I have outlined a nuanced and principled position on this that will likely piss off people on either side of this debate. Give it a listen!


Coulter Withdrew; Milo’s Disgusting Attack; Berkeley Chancellor Statement on Milo; Breitbart Article on Milo’s Intentions; Milo Riot; Liberty University Policy; Jail Time for Chuckling; Kansas Study on Free Speech Defense; Partisanship Study

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24 Replies to “SIO40: Actually, Berkeley Is A Fierce Defender of Free Speech”

  1. Black block is a tactic not a group. The group is Antifa and BAMN were also there to shut Milo down. I think you under played that significantly. Maybe the peaceful protesters did not start the riot but they sure joined in after Antifa got that ball rolling. There is plenty of video of kids not in black at all smashing ATMs and other things. You glossed over this entirely as those on the anti Milo side have. Where were the police in all of this? In both major situations there is no police presence. This is an issue you should have talked about, maybe you do, I’m just 15 minutes in.

    I also think when people talk abou free speech and Berkeley they are pointing more at the students than the faculty.

  2. You seemed to gloss over the fact that Milo was saying it is ok to rape young gay teens. It wasn’t just speech, he advocated for rape. You are strawmanning him from the other side to make it seem like he just said some words people don’t like. Compared to other words you didn’t like and say they are the same. They are not.

  3. Milo is a deplorable wack job, but he most certainly did not say it’s ‘okay to rape young gay teens’
    He said that for some gay youths coming into their own, a relationship with an older man who has dealt with that sexual realization can be beneficial in some ways. He was pretty clear about saying that it wasn’t a blanket statement about all gay teens as he didn’t think any gay teen was ready for that type of experience.

  4. Ok, so he said it was ok for some young teens to get raped because they think they are mature enough to have a adult relationship.

    Change young gay boys to young straight girls and tell me again how it’s not rape he is advocating for. There is no point where adults having sex with kids is ok.

    Milo was trying to not be a victim by thinking at 13-14 he was in control of a sexual relationship with an older man. He wasn’t.

  5. ” It wasn’t just speech, he advocated for rape.”

    To be clear, this is what’s frustrating for many social justice advocates when we are told that we are intolerant of disagreement. This occurs when Milo accuses the trans student that he called out as a threat to women on campus (something he tried to illustrate on Maher). It also is occurring when people frame the Nazi-punching debate over “violence over disagreement”. Nazis don’t merely have a differing political opinion, they advocate genocide.

    I’m a bit of a Nazi-punching centrist myself, and I’m not advocating the practice. But I find framing it as violence over mere disagreement is not understanding the issue. And in Milo’s case, he was advocating a variety of really harmful, dangerous views. Some, like the teen he called out, not only lead to violation of safety and privacy of the student in question, but reinforce the transphobic lie that they are pervy men trying to assault women, which leads to elevated rates of assault, homelessness, mental illness, murder, etc. among the trans community.

  6. The problem is the far left is calling anyone they disagree with a Nazi making the term completely meaningless. They do that to dehumanize their opposition which makes it easier to inflict violence upon them. They are using the exact tactics that they claim to be against.

    If you believe in things like white genocide you are an idiot but you are not necessarily a nazi. People like Steve Shives believes that people who don’t subscribe to his methods of gaining equality are nazis. Thus making it ok for him to ask his wife to punch them for him. Not because Steve is too weak to punch someone, but he is just afraid his hat might fall off showing his lucious locks.

    Punching people for saying words is not ok.

    I know Thomas won’t read this, or respond but if Milo did at the university of Toronto what he did to that trans kid he would be open to a tribunal case. And he is not even a landlord, funny how that works.

  7. He was talking about a relationship when he was 17, though, not the priest thing that happened when he was 13.

    Selective editing.

    It’s true that what he’s saying touches on some taboo subjects like statutory consent, but it was selectively edited nonetheless.

  8. ‘I’m not advocating for it… I’m a BIT OF A Nazi punch in centrist myself’


    The disconnect here is that no ones criticism of the treatment of milo or Anne counter is solely about the UC Berkeley administration. This episode should be called: UC Berkeley administration are actually staunch defenders of free speech’ or whatever.’

    People criticising ‘berkeley’ are criticising the general climate of rationalizing political violence.

    Thomas case for the administration itself is fine… But doesn’t touch on why people just having conversations are being hit over the head with bicycle u locks, pepper sprayed for wearing ‘make Bitcoin great again hats’ or otherwise having their ideas met with political violence

    Thomas doesn’t mentioned the no less than 5 rationalizations of political violence published by a student newspaper (I think possibly not the official school one, so again good on the administration… I could be wrong though) in the days following the Milo incident.

    Dude up here is really trying to make the ‘nazis speech is violence’ argument as if no one has heard hat and dismissed it out of hand for the bullshit that it is.

    Milo advocates deplorable ideas. Anne coulter advocates deplorable ideas.

    Neither of them require physical violence to prove batshit insane (if you take them to be genuine in their views). Letting these idiots or people like them bring you to the point of rioting is FUCKING STUPID.

    Protest away, sure. I’m more of a ‘listen to what they say and laugh along at the ridiculousness of it, all the while forming (easy to form) counter arguments my head’ type.

    The ‘bit of a centrist punch a Nazi’ types are really fucking things up for everybody right now. On one hand, they’re fucking it up for other centrists or people on the left who, you know, want to have a chance at winning an election in the next decade.

    On a muchc more personal level, they’re literally fucking up the lives of people whose views are not at all known to them, when they come out with a fucking u-lock and smash the top of someone’s skull.

    We’ll see how it shakes out when someone gets killed. It’ll happen soon and chuckle fucks like this ‘centrist’ above me will act like its fucking DDay or something.

  9. Hshshdjc – That was something Milo clarified later. In the Rogan interview he said young boys and was talking about his own experience with the priest as a teen around 13-14. On Rogan he never said an age for the older male relationships. His experience was at 17 and perfectly legal but what he was talking about seemed to be aimed more at the young teen finding themselves. TV show shameless hits on this gay underbelly in its storytelling.

  10. Thomas said he did a lot of research for this one, possibly read two yik yaks on this subject.

    He never mentions that what he says here contradicts the Opening Argument segment they did about this where the lawsuit was about $5800 the school asked the hosts of the event to pay for security.

    I really miss neutral Thomas. The show is getting more and more filtered through a biased lense.

  11. Can you elaborate on the term “political violence”?

    As I understand it, things like deliberate attacks on marginalized individuals, economic inequality resulting in greater exposure to physical danger, dehumanization, and poorer health outcomes, as well as racial disparity in policing which not only results in overt physically violent acts (e.g., shootings, beatings, unjust incarceration) but also limits people’s ability to meaningfully participate in the democratic process all fit the criteria of “political violence”.

    It’s great that you feel comfortable laughing off these people’s backwards-assed ideas, or dismissing their arguments out of hand, but for people who are more directly targeted by this speech (e.g., trans kids, undocumented immigrants, et al.), who face the threat of “political violence” every day, and who are told by well-meaning but uninformed moralists that the only real solution is to rise above, trusting that others will “laugh it off,” that sound arguments will win the day, or that the white supremacists/homophobes/fascists will be satisfied once they’ve made their little speeches, that tactic might not be good enough.

    I see where you’re coming from when you point to people getting hit with U-locks and pepper-sprayed during TV interviews. Much of this violence is genuinely horrific to watch. But, we can’t point to these overt, televised, discrete instances of violence, as if they are somehow abhorrent and isolated, without also recognizing the litany of just as horrific and inhumane socio-political violence that society has already rationalized and normalized, faced by marginalized people, that we don’t get to see going viral on Youtube. I know you’ve already dismissed this argument off-hand (which doesn’t really invite conversation), but it’s not absurd to link political speech with political outcomes.

  12. This stuff drives me crazy. All you are doing is diluting the word violence. You just want to make things seem equal, disenfranchising is now the same hitting someone with a fucking lock in the head.

    And people wonder why there is a backlash against SJW nonsense, this is it.

    Who is the left wing Frank Luntz that came up with undocumented immigrant? Even Luntz couldn’t match such a title spin.

  13. Sure, people are going to be just as dead because they can’t afford healthcare, just as neurologically damaged because there’s led in their water, and families just as broken/traumatized because the people who assault and deport them have official uniforms, but what matters is that we all agree on the definition of a term that Dan likes, especially when that definition validates an arbitrary distinction that keeps people with power in power. Nothing crazy-making about that.

    I don’t wonder where backlash against social justice comes from. Comfortably ignorant people smugly opposing civil rights is an old story.

  14. Name a single civil right the an anti SJW opposes. Name the person who says it and where they said. No straw men please.

    The point of using “political violence” as a term is to infer something that you are saying it is not. You want people to think it is violence in the name of politics but what it actually just disenfranchising. We have a word for it already. But that word isn’t inflammatory enough so you redefine violence to mean not violence. It’s insanity.

  15. Yup, just ignore all the parts of my argument that involve physical harm and death resulting from governmental policies and accuse me of making insane statements (another word with a strict definition, but somehow I’m still able to understand the way you’re using it, because I’m capable of reading context clues).

    The point of using the word “violence” to describe the ways people’s actions in a political system harm others via indirect means is to illustrate that violence is being enacted on people, not just when it’s sensationalized at protests, and that this violence doesn’t just happen on its own, but it is the result of actions we take.

    It is not my argument that saying mean things about you is violence. It is my argument that passing legislation that ultimately leads to your physical endangerment, harm, and/or death is violence. I get that you’re concerned about straw-men, so I hope that’s helpful feedback.

    As to your other question, Anne Coulter, Charles Murray, Alex Jones, Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levine, et al., not to mention politicians in power (e.g., Ted Cruz, Donald Trump, Paul Ryan, Rand Paul, etc…) regularly argue for, and pass, policy that deliberately and overtly target civil rights legislation in an attempt to weaken and dismantle protections for women, LGBTQI individuals, people of color, people of different faiths, people who should have the right to vote, etc. Bathroom bills, voting rights, immigration, rape laws, abortion, freedom for reporters to ask questions, etc.

    I really have to believe that somehow your brain had a moment of not putting together clear and relevant information on this, because not only are the self-selected champions of anti-PC culture constantly cheering and instigating the rollback of civil rights protections, but this podcast you comment on weekly covers these issues nearly every episode.

  16. Kyle, name one. This should not be hard. Name a civil right that has been taken away.

    Complaining undocumented people cannot participate in the political system is asinine.

  17. Undocumented people don’t have the right to vote, this is true, but they do have rights in our courts, rights which previous administrations recognized and strengthened and that this administration revoked and/or ignored.

    DACA and Dreamers are being deported.

    Trump passed executive orders touting religious liberty that repeal protections for LGBTQI individuals, including right to work laws.

    Unelected Republican City Managers in Michigan switched the water source to save money, corroded the pipes, and poisoned a generation of young people.

    The Trump administration reneged on treaties with native tribes in South Dakota.

    Trans bathroom bills are a thing.

    Texas and other states are passing laws that prohibit cities from passing or enforcing civil rights legislation.

    Planned Parenthood is constantly being threatened with defunding, explicitly in the AHCA, effectively eliminating women’s access to safe abortions in many states.

    Is that enough? You want more?

  18. Dreamers being deported is not a violation of their rights. Under the law they should be deported.

    Executive orders can be challenged in court, so no rights have been revoked and executive orders cannot revoke rights.

    Flint water issue should be a crime, but no rights were revoked and this happened before Trump.

    Reneging on treaties is nothing new and the courts can handle that.

    Pretty sure those laws in Texas can be challenged and overturned. Constitution trumps state laws.

    Defunding planned parenthood is not an attack on rights.

    All these things are terrible but none them are taking rights away. Yes trans bathroom bills are a thing and have been met with severe opposition from corporate America. They won’t last.

  19. So, to be clear, you want an example in which the law explicitly states “we are removing civil right X, this is permanent, can not be undone, and we do so with malice of forethought”?

    That’s absurd.

    By your logic, segregation (or slavery, even) was never a violation of civil rights, because the civil rights movement eventually prevailed and made segregation illegal. And, since there are now laws against segregation, by your logic, we must assume segregation in housing is no longer an issue in America, right?

    If the de facto effect of legislation is to remove your access to civil rights that have been or should be affirmed by the state (e.g., due process, autonomy, privacy, security, equal access to civic engagement despite race, creed, gender, etc.), no matter whether that law might eventually be challenged and overturned, your rights have been taken away. The harm you sustain during this time is not retroactively undone once an unjust law is eventually overturned.

    This isn’t clever wordplay. People’s rights and safety are under threat, and the only way to protect themselves and demand the rights our country supposedly affirms is to constantly advocate and struggle and fight. The other side (anti-SJW conservatives) exploit this struggle for profit and political support.

  20. You made the claim that rights were being taken away, I just asked which ones. You failed to show that. Don’t blame me that my expectation of an answer is not one you can provide.

    Your slavery example fails because it was legal within the law and needed a constitutional change to be illegal. So if you want to say bathroom bills do trample on the rights of people I would say I agree with that. I would also think as a laymen tat they are already unconstitutional and there is already enough social backlash that those laws all not last long. That’s a good thing.

  21. I’m late returning to the discussion, but here is what I meant by ‘rationalizations for political violence’:

    I meant attacking people for their political beliefs. Obviously.

    I didn’t mean some twisted definition of the term that fits mine or anyone in particulars agenda. Just the straight forward definition of the term.

    I’ve yet to see someone advocate ‘punch in nazis’ who looks like they wouldn’t get their ass handed to them immediately.

    But that’s beside the point… It’s a very basic line of logic that allows you to differentiate punching someone you disagree with and punching someone actively engaging in physically harming you.

    ‘Marginalized people’ you speak of shouldn’t have a harder time than anyone else refuting the arguments of these buffoons… Last I he led Anne coulter and Milo yiannopoulis aren’t writing legislation anywhere.

    They’ve been doing what they do for years, so why would it be okay to punch them for their ideas now?

    If you want to know why trump won, look no further than someone who will talk about punching someone who doesn’t think ILLEGAL immigrants should be allowed to stay in the us or receive benefits.

    And for the record, I’m not of that opinion. I just am also not so indoctrinated as to act like ‘illegal’ is some insulting term when it’s describes the nature of someone’s residence within a country foreign to them.

    How long before someone is punchable for acknowledging that females have 2 X chromosomes and makes have 1?

  22. Here’s the comment I found:
    “I’m grateful for Father Michael,” Yiannopoulos replied. “I wouldn’t give nearly such good head if it wasn’t for him.”

    Why are you white washing the language? If a reader had no idea what Milo said and just had your comment to go by, they would imagine Milo was talking about a gay teen boy having a ‘heart to heart’ conversation with an older gay man and getting valuable support from it.

    Now clearly he wasn’t talking about non-consensual forced rape. Still why this need to try to pretty him up as an intellectual by pretending he was being a lot more high minded and lofty than he really was.

    In such interviews I wonder why even friendly interviewers can’t ask intelligent questions. I would love to have heard him asked in that interview something like “Now that you are the adult man, how would you feel about a 15 year old gay boy who wanted to explore his sexuality with you? Do you feel you should act like ‘Father Michael’? If not, why not?”

  23. OK I’m not sure what you are really getting upset about. You linked to several people who make arguments in support of ‘violence’, although what they mean by violence is somewhat mixed. Hate to say it but shouting someone down, being really ‘in your face’, etc. is in itself speech and often if these tactics are employed they can go right up to the line between speech and action (see the stuff abortion protesters have done to staff and women at clinics). Hate to break it to you but if you have someone that attracts abortion level controversy, in order to have free speech you’ll need a secure venue and plenty of crowd control. Just the way it is when lots of people care.

    I don’t see Milo’s use of the platform to put a student’s picture up being addressed. Free speech protections cover a lot of ground but they do not protect direct incitement. A speaker can casually say he thinks Jews should be rounded up and shot but if he then puts up a big picture of a student on campus and says that he is Jewish, that probably terminates his free speech protection. Regardless for an *invited guest* putting such a restriction in place is not a free speech violation.

    I have a problem here with the lumping tactics you seem to be deploying. If you show me a person who punched someone trying to go see Milo, or who threw a rock, or who broke a window, I have no objection to condemning him and saying he should be arrested. But what I see instead is some people get out of line…and that may be because they are an organized group intent on violence or it may simply be because when you get a crowd of people together there’s a chance of violence breaking out (see soccer hooligans) , it is assumed the entire ‘left’ must account and apologize for such behavior.

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