Berkeley Chancellor vows to ensure free speech on campus

UC-Berkeley’s new chancellor welcomed students to campus with a forceful defense of free speech, vowing to “hold accountable” those who use violence to shut down speakers.

According to an email obtained by Campus Reform, University of California, Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ sent a campus-wide message Wednesday to remind the university of its legacy, harkening back to the founding of the Free Speech Movement.

[RELATED: Berkeley Republicans unconvinced by ‘free speech year’]

“Particularly now, it is critical that the Berkeley community come together once again to protect this right. It is who we are,” Christ writes, even referencing John Stuart Mill’s On Liberty to defend her commitment to the First Amendment.

“The philosophical justification underlying free speech, most powerfully articulated by John Stuart Mill in his book On Liberty, rests on two basic assumptions,” she explains, saying the first is that “truth is of such power that it will always ultimately prevail,” while the second is “an extreme skepticism about the right of any authority to determine which opinions are noxious or abhorrent.”

“Once you embark on the path to censorship, you make your own speech vulnerable to it,” she continues, declaring that while the university has a responsibility to keep students “physically safe,” it would be providing students with a “less valuable education” and “preparing them less well for the world after graduation” if it “tried to shelter them from ideas that many find wrong, even dangerous.”

Acknowledging that “we all desire safe space,” she tells students that “we must show that we can choose what to listen to, that we can cultivate our own arguments, and that we can develop inner resilience, which is the surest form of safe space,” elaborating that they should “respond to hate speech with more speech.”

Perhaps most shockingly, Christ announces in her email that the school will welcome both Ben Shapiro and Milo Yiannopoulos to campus in the fall for speaking engagements, the latter of whom was forced to cancel a speaking engagement at Berkeley earlier this year after Antifa overthrew the campus.  

“The university has the responsibility to provide safety and security for its community and guests, and we will invest the necessary resources to achieve that goal,” she vows, even encouraging students to protest if they wish, but to do so peacefully.

[RELATED: Shapiro to brave Antifa protesters for speech at Berkeley]

“We will not tolerate violence, and we will hold anyone accountable who engages in it,” Christ warns, reminding students that “free speech is our legacy,” as well as a legal obligation.

“The law is very clear; public institutions like UC Berkeley must permit speakers invited in accordance with campus policies to speak, without discrimination in regard to point of view,” the emails states. “The United States has the strongest free speech protections of any liberal democracy; the First Amendment protects even speech that most of us would find hateful, abhorrent and odious, and the courts have consistently upheld these protections.”

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