By all accounts, the University of California at berkeley and the city of Berkeley prepared for the visit by conservative pundit Ben Shapiro with thoroughness as the states of Texas and Florida did for the recent hurricanes. Most of the classes were canceled, and nearby businesses were boarded up and closed for the evening. Much of the Berkeley campus was closed off with concrete barriers and battalions of police who were not prepared to put up with any nonsense. People who showed up wearing masks and refused to take them off would be arrested.

Individuals who acted up and refused to stand down would get a dose of pepper spray. All in all, $600,000 was spent to keep the peace because one guy showed up to make a speech at a college campus.

How did the speech go?

Largely because of the Massive police presence, the violence that attended appearances of such luminaries as Milo Yiannopoulos a few months ago did not materialize. To be sure a lot of yelling and screaming occurred outside the speech venue and some arrests were made, mainly for carrying banned weapons, though one woman was accused of battery on a police officer. In any event, no windows were broken, and no fires were set as had been the case just a few months ago.

Shapiro gave his speech, which consisted of one part defense of conservative values and one part merciless mocking of the Antifa movement which has been behind much of the campus violence on previous occasions.

Antifa has accused Shapiro of being a “white supremacist,” a remarkable thing for an observant Jew to be. Shapiro noted that during a previous speaking engagement at Berkeley he only required two security guards, violent opposition being nonexistent. The speech and the question and answer session that followed was spirited, but there were none of the attempted disruptions that have often been the case with conservative speakers on campus.

What changed?

Carol Christ, UC Berkeley’s new chancellor, is a woman of the left, as most academics tend to be. However, she is different concerning most of her peers in that she is seriously dedicated to the proposition that free speech is necessary for a well-rounded education. Students need to be exposed to ideas and the people who purvey them that they might find uncomfortable.

In this way, their own ideas are challenged, and they are forced to think. Christ, to her everlasting credit, was prepared to do what it took to make sure that free speech returns to the university which she is in charge of. The rioter’s veto will no longer be tolerated.