Young America’s Foundation Sues Berkeley for Squelching Free Speech

Joy Overbeck
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Posted: May 07, 2017 10:49 AM
Young America’s Foundation Sues Berkeley for Squelching Free Speech

The recent disgraceful silencing of conservative star Ann Coulter by the UC Berkeley high command, in lawless collusion with town and campus police, was just too much for Young America’s Foundation (YAF), the event’s main sponsor.

After the school’s anointed snowflake-protectors first agreed to the Berkeley College Republicans (BCR) and YAF event, then canceled it, then changed the date to a time when no students would actually be on campus, then refused to provide a venue, then said they couldn’t protect Coulter if she appeared on the original date as she vowed to do – after all that, YAF became incensed.

YAF, along with BCR, sued for the right of a free speech “safe space” for conservative speakers on college campuses that today are riddled with safe spaces for clueless students who have marinated for years in the stew of leftism today known as “education.”

The lawsuit alleges four violations of YAF and BCR’s constitutional rights: two violations of the First Amendment (freedom of expression, retaliation) and two violations of the Fourteenth Amendment (due process, equal protection). It names as defendants the university’s Chancellor Nicholas Dirks, and the president of the California University system, Janet Napolitano, who in a priceless irony was once the Secretary of Homeland Security under Barack Obama.  Additional defendants listed are Margo Bennet, Chief of Police of the University of California PD (UCPD), Alex Yao, Operations Division Captain UCPD, and Leroy M. Harris, Patrol Lieutenant UCPD.

According to the attorney representing YAF and BCR, Berkeley administrators instructed the police not to interfere in any anti-Coulter demonstrations - no matter how violent - unless they endangered life.  Of course, this is nonsense, because it’s pretty much impossible to know if life is endangered until someone is seriously hurt or killed. Obviously to be effective the police need to be prepared for the worst case scenario.

To give the police official cover for refusing to serve or protect as is their solemn duty, Chancellor Dirks issued a baldly disingenuous statement that gives the “heckler’s veto” the university’s stamp of approval.     

Said he from the dizzying heights of hypocrisy: “This University has two non-negotiable commitments: one to Free Speech, the other to the safety of our campus community members, their guests, and the public. In that context, we cannot ignore or deny what is a new reality. Groups and individuals from the extreme ends of the political spectrum have made clear their readiness and intention to utilize violent tactics in support or in protest of certain speakers at UC Berkeley…We cannot wish away or pretend that these threats do not exist.”

The university claimed it would not be possible for the police department to “simply step in and stop violent confrontations.” But isn’t that what the police are paid to do? The university actually claimed its police force “does not believe (the event) to be protectable.” So are the Berkeley police not equipped with barriers, stun guns, and Tasers? Or -- horrors – billy clubs? Does the Democrat California legislature need to raise citizens’ taxes, already among the highest in the nation, to afford these basic crowd-control measures?

Instead of protecting its students and the public from black-masked (illegal in California) insurgents and violent anarchist radicals, the cops followed orders from on high to stand down and hide behind a university that has, like so many, adopted the gutless banner of speech suppression under the guise of protection.

As any parent or actual human being knows, the more bad behavior is tolerated, the more bad behavior we get. And the university even encourages dangerous radicals with a discriminatory new policy it adopted recently.   

From the YAF website:

“The University cites, as its reason for canceling the lecture, its “high-profile speakers” policy. In recent weeks, administrators have used this unwritten policy to cancel events featuring two conservative speakers for YAF—Ms. Coulter and David Horowitz.  During the same time period, administrators permitted events featuring leftists Vicente Fox Quesada, former President of Mexico, and Maria Echaveste, former advisor and White House Deputy Chief of Staff to President Clinton, to proceed without interference.

This discrepancy is alarming. Students at Berkeley have the right to hear diverse viewpoints…the high-profile speakers policy is nothing more than pretext for censoring conservative ideas on campus. This unconstitutional policy gives Berkeley administrators unfettered discretion over who is allowed to speak and what viewpoints students are allowed to hear.

The police have become cowardly lackeys to the freedom-squashing liberals who run the universities. Rather than serving and protecting as their oaths require, they cringe in the face of potential violence, refusing to confront it. And this isn’t the first time nor is this the only speech-suppressing university.

For nearly 50 years Young America’s Foundation has promoted conservative ideas by sponsoring stellar speakers at high schools and colleges like Ann Coulter,  Dinesh D’Souza, Michelle Malkin, Dr. Water Williams, David Limbaugh, Steve Moore, Herman Cain, Katie Pavlich, Michael Reagan, Lt. Col Allen West, and many others. The parent of YAF, Young Americans for Freedom, actually sprung up in the home of William F. Buckley, Jr. at meeting of young conservatives in 1960.

Author and activist Ben Shapiro is another popular speaker. In a Daily Wire piece on April 27 he recounted some of his outrageous experiences with liberal agitators. The administration at California State University at Los Angles tried to cancel his scheduled event, then un-cancelled it an hour beforehand when he said he would come anyway. Reportedly the officials told police not to intervene to protect the student audience.

Writes Shapiro, “The result: a near-riot on campus, including students trapped in the auditorium and told they could not be protected if they ventured outside.” When he spoke at the University of Wisconsin, he continues, “I was told that the police had been instructed to break up the event if they were forced to remove protesters forcibly – in other words, the only way the event would go forward as planned was with the good grace of protesters, who stood and blocked the event for twenty minutes.”

Shapiro was forbidden to appear at DePaul University in Chicago, supposedly over safety concerns. Incredibly he was told if he set foot on campus he would be arrested.  As it turned out, no protesters showed up, but the fact that he could have been hauled off to Cook County jail simply for voicing his First-Amendment-protected views is something you’d expect in – well, yes, a left-wing bastion like Chicago.

Similar outrages have threatened other YAF speakers like Lt. Col. Allen West (who the Muslim Student Association at Texas Christian University tried to brand a war criminal), and at Shapiro appearances  at Berkeley, Marquette University, Middlebury College and at Rick Santorum events at Cornell University and elsewhere.  And wherever Ann Coulter goes, the lib crazies attack.

It looks like the fascists are winning. And they’re not all outside agitators though the dishonest academics would have us believe their adorable students have nothing to do with the rampant ugliness.  

In an interview after the Coulter debacle, the Berkeley College Republicans President Naweed Tahmas said posters with his picture had appeared on campus labeling him a neo-Nazi. “I don’t know how many you know are named Naweed and have brown skin who are called that,” he commented to the interviewer. He also said he’d been spat upon (the video has over 2 million views) and the College Republicans signs destroyed by radicals who were captured on video. Even though they know who the culprits are, “the Berkeley Police Department won’t do anything,” he said.

But Naweed is excited not discouraged. After the Coulter headlines, his College Republican meetings have attracted three times as many students. “We used to have about 20 people, and now we have over 60 just interested in hearing another point of view. We are leading the new free speech movement!”  Along with Young America’s Foundation and hopefully the courts that will punish free speech silencing even in the unhallowed halls of universities.