In what the Washington Examiner calls a “shocking turn of events” the newly installed chancellor of the University of California at Berkeley Carol T. Christ has declared the upcoming school year as the “year of free speech.” Hot Air is somewhat dubious and suggests that if Christ succeeds in returning sanity to Berkeley, she should be shipped off to the Middle East and North Korea to solve the problems in those parts of the world.

Berkeley as an enemy of free speech

People who follow the news have noted that violence and threats of violence have met the attempts of conservative speakers such as Milo Yiannopoulos and Ann Coulter to speak on campus.

Black masked Antifa terrorists broke windows and set fires, causing Yiannopoulos to have to be evacuated from the Berkeley campus. Coulter had her invitation suspended due to “security” considerations. Berkeley, like too many other college campuses, has become decidedly hostile to points of view that a certain percentage of students and faculty find obnoxious. The university as a place for the free and uninhibited Exchange Of Ideas has just about died.

How will free speech return to Berkeley?

Part of the equation for returning free speech to Berkeley will consist of event planning and extra security to make sure that mobs of malcontents will not be able to shut down guest speakers whose ideas are considered controversial. However, Chancellor Christ also intends to start education programs to teach students the importance of free speech and the uninhibited exchange of ideas.

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Panel discussions with a point/counterpoint format will be held where students will practice how to debate civilly, without presumably resorting to screaming and brickbats. In short, Christ proposes to start a new “free speech movement” that will return sanity to a campus that has often been noted as a venue of chaos and violence.

Will the initiative work?

Of course, the first test will occur when someone like Milo shows up at Berkeley, and the usual lynch mob prepares a warm welcome for him. One suspects that if law enforcement can shut down the rioting with relative dispatch that a signal will be sent that the heckler’s veto will no longer be allowed at Berkeley.

One would also find it fascinating to sit on the free speech seminars and the panel discussions in which students learn for the first time in their lives. The process will be very much like someone with an extreme phobia being forced to confront and master his or her greatest fear. If the “free speech year” succeeds, it will serve as a shining example for other institutions of higher learning to copy.