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Sunday, November 18, 2018

Guest Commentary

Guest Column: The Berkeley riots


Former University of Houston chemistry professor Simon Bott is remembered as an eternal fount of Cougar pride.

He oozed it and influenced thousands of students to become active members in this community. I would be surprised if we ever see someone as devoted to advancing a sense of belonging to this community, although SVA Communications Director Edwin Mascorro might give Bott a run for his money.

Usually we feel pride about an accomplishment of the University. Be it academic excellence, athletic prowess or artistic genius, we revel in the mighty deeds of our peers and instructors.

But, given the climate of the world we live in, we should also feel pride in something we didn’t do. Unlike UC Berkeley, we did not make international fools of ourselves by banishing a speaker from the campus who was speaking about — get this — free speech.

Last night, UC Berkeley students lit fires, assaulted passersby, threw rocks, destroyed property, and generally made themselves look like the tantrum-throwing children that they really are.

Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos was scheduled to speak on their campus and rather than accept the fact that some people might hold opposing viewpoints, they sought to destroy the very foundation of the educational system: the right to disagree.

The event at which Milo had to be whisked away from by security for his own protection was the final stop in a tour which started in our very own Student Center theater last September. Our event saw no protesters. It saw no rioters. It saw no destruction of property.

The only people who were upset were those who could not make it into the venue because it was packed to the brim.

This is something we should take pride in. Universities across the nation have turned away from free expression in favor of censorship and thought-crimes. I am proud to be a part of a community that recognizes the right for the individual to dissent.

Despite my differences with Milo, in my introduction to his speech last fall, I proudly described him as a “free speech fundamentalist.” I hope we all strive to hold that title — it will make us better scholars and will set us up as leaders for future generations, just as the free speech activists at UC Berkeley in the 1960s positively altered the course of history for their graduates and the world.

Oh how things change.

Matthew Yordán Wiltshire is a history senior and the president of Houston College Republicans. He can be contacted at [email protected]

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