On March 14th, 2023, Charlie Kirk, founder of Turning Point USA, was scheduled to give a speech at the University of California, Davis, on the topic of free speech and cancel culture. However, his speech was interrupted by a group of Antifa activists who stormed the venue and began throwing objects at Kirk and the audience. The incident, which was widely reported in conservative media outlets, has sparked a debate on the issue of free speech and political violence.
Kirk was invited to UC Davis by the TPUSA chapter as part of his Live Free tour, which features stops at eight universities across the country during the spring 2023 semester, according to the TPUSA website. Protesters dressed in black to rally outside the venue and can be seen on video breaking windows after security secured the doors and assaulting individuals outside the venue.
Vandals protesting Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk during his speech at the University of California, Davis (UC Davis), Tuesday night shattered windows and assaulted individuals outside the venue, according to videos posted to Twitter.
First and foremost, it is important to acknowledge that the use of violence to silence opposing views is never acceptable, regardless of political or ideological differences. The First Amendment of the United States Constitution guarantees the right to free speech, and any attempt to infringe upon that right through violence or intimidation should be condemned in the strongest terms. The actions of the Antifa activists at UC Davis were a blatant violation of this fundamental right, and it is incumbent upon all of us to speak out against such behavior.
From the university’s perspective, the point of emphasis was “free speech.”
The university said, “As a public university, we must uphold the right to free speech, as guaranteed under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, even when that speech may be hateful, offensive, or abusive.”
They added, “Our campus’s Principles of Community affirm the right of freedom of expression within our community, including the right to protest speech we oppose. UC Davis is committed to supporting a campus environment that is inclusive and respectful to people of all backgrounds and dedicated to the pursuit of deeper understanding through the free and civil exchange of ideas.”
However, it is also important to note that the incident at UC Davis is just one example of a larger trend of political violence and intolerance that has been growing in recent years. Both the left and the right have been guilty of engaging in acts of violence and intimidation in order to silence opposing views. This trend is deeply concerning and threatens the very foundations of our democracy.
One of the primary drivers of this trend has been the rise of cancel culture, which is the practice of shaming or ostracizing individuals who express views that are deemed to be politically incorrect or offensive. Cancel culture has been used by both the left and the right, and it has been particularly prevalent on college campuses, where students have been known to shout down speakers and disrupt events. The incident at UC Davis is just the latest example of this phenomenon.
One of the challenges of combating cancel culture is that it is often disguised as a form of social justice. Those who engage in cancel culture often claim that they are fighting against racism, sexism, and other forms of discrimination. However, the reality is that cancel culture often has the opposite effect, as it creates a climate of fear and intimidation that stifles open and honest debate. It also perpetuates the notion that people are defined by their immutable characteristics, rather than their ideas and actions.
Another challenge is that cancel culture has been fueled by social media, which has created an echo chamber in which people are only exposed to views that align with their own. This has led to a polarized political environment in which people are increasingly unwilling to listen to opposing views. This has made it easier for cancel culture to take root, as people are less likely to engage in meaningful dialogue with those who hold different opinions.
Ultimately, the only way to combat cancel culture and political violence is through a commitment to free speech and open dialogue. This means creating an environment in which people are free to express their views without fear of retribution, and in which those views are subject to rigorous debate and scrutiny. It also means promoting the values of civility and respect, which are essential for maintaining a healthy democracy.
In the case of the incident at UC Davis, it is important to note that the actions of the Antifa activists were not representative of the broader student body. Most students at UC Davis are committed to free speech and open dialogue, and they have denounced the actions of the protestors. It is important to remember that incidents like this are the exception, not the rule.
The incident at UC Davis should serve as a wake-up call for all of us. It is a reminder that the right to free speech is not something that can be taken for granted, and that we must be vigilant in defending it. It is also a reminder that the only way to combat cancel culture and political violence is through a commitment to free speech and open dialogue.