President Trump Defends Free Speech on College Campuses

News: US News
by Stefan Farrar  •  •  February 2, 2017   

You are not signed in as a Premium user; we rely on Premium users to support our news reporting. Sign in or Sign up today!

BERKELEY, Calif. ( - President Donald Trump is threatening to cut funds to the University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley). Controversial speaker Milo Yiannopoulos was scheduled to speak at UC Berkeley on February 1, but the event was cancelled owing to violent protests.

In response, President Trump tweeted on February 2, "If U.C. Berkeley does not allow free speech and practices violence on innocent people with a different point of view - NO FEDERAL FUNDS?"

In response to Trump's tweet, Yiannopoulos commented, "American universities should be on notice. The president is watching. The days you could silence conservative and libertarian voices on campus and still expect to collect their tax money are coming to an end. I am the catalyst for this change."

American universities should be on notice. The president is watching.

Talking to Business Insider, Yiannopoulos said, "I am confident Trump and his team are watching closely and will act decisively."

In an official statement, UC Berkeley stated, "We condemn in the strongest possible terms the violence and unlawful behavior that was on display and deeply regret that those tactics will now overshadow the efforts to engage in legitimate and lawful protest against the performer's presence and perspectives."

More than 1,500 protesters gathered to protest Yiannopoulis Wednesday with signs denouncing him as a racist, fascist and white nationalist. Eventually, the protests turned violent, with Molotov cocktails, rocks and fireworks lobbed against police.

A UC Berkeley spokesman said, "While Yiannopoulos' views, tactics and rhetoric are profoundly contrary to our own, we are bound by the Constitution, the law, our values and the campus's Principles of Community to enable free expression across the full spectrum of opinion and perspective."

In a February 2 Facebook post, Yiannopoulos commented, "UC Berkeley should have all federal funding cut until it can demonstrate its commitment to the First Amendment and guarantee the safety of libertarian and conservative speakers on campus — and the safety of their audiences. Nothing less will do."

Referring to the violence, Mike Wright, leader of the Berkeley College Republicans, said, "This is what tolerance looks like at UC Berkeley."

In an interview last month with CNN, Yiannopoulos remarked, "I just want to burn it down. I am speaking on college campuses because education is really what matters. It's a crucible where these bad ideas are formed, bad ideas like progressive social justice, feminism and Black Lives Matter that I think are so cancerous and toxic to free expression."

In 2016, the conservative provocateur was banned from Twitter for his supposed role in inciting the trolling of actress Leslie Jones. The feud between Jones and Yiannopoulos arose through her participation in the new reboot of the Ghostbusters film, which Yiannopoulos and his followers saw as a politically correct remake, as the cast was all female.

In its official statement banning him, Twitter said, "People should be able to express diverse opinions and beliefs on Twitter. But no one deserves to be subjected to targeted abuse online, and our rules prohibit inciting or engaging in the targeted abuse or harassment of others."

Yiannopoulos responded, "Like all acts of the totalitarian regressive left, this will blow up in their faces, netting me more adoring fans. We're winning the culture war, and Twitter just shot themselves in the foot."

Yiannopoulos' prediction seems to have come true, as his popularity has risen exponentially since that time.


Have a news tip? Submit news to our tip line.

We rely on you to support our news reporting. Please donate today.
By commenting on you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our comment posting guidelines