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Living in Berkeley When Free Speech is Killed

Agents of the NevermindFeb 3, 2017, 11:19:05 PM

What’s it like being the Minds member living in Berkeley during the era of the riots against Milo Yiannopoulos speaking at UC Berkeley? Wonder what life is like in Berkeley, from one insider’s perspective? The experience is obviously different for everyone, and I won’t attempt to speak about all the “categories” of people here, but just what it’s like for me living closely among those I know who support the rioters’ damage of property and bodies because of completely unsubstantiated accusations like, “Milo promotes black genocide.” Thank you, Minds-folk, for listening.


The weather is great in this bike-friendly, walkable city, architecture and yards are lovely, healthy food easily available, and the live music, such as Funk Thursdays, is world-class. There are forward-thinking projects for environmentally-conscious sustainability, a welcoming environment or explorations beyond the gender-binary stereotypes, and I’m close to many fun, playful, caring, humorous, creative, gentle people. Guys have facial hair. They play instruments. They make good spontaneous jokes and give genuine hugs. They do drink a lot of beer. There are more small publishers here than anywhere else, and a large literary community turning out to readings, though many do focus exclusively on identity politics.


The humorous portrayal, of the type of partisan-think people who strongly, vocally support the extreme riots against free speech, in cartoons, videos, and memes, comes from frustration with that inability to listen, or to think logically about issues they aren’t educated in beyond propaganda. These portrayals are an important part of free speech, even if they are not PC, and give people a chance to understand and vent their reaction to the actions of the free-speech censors who scream vile insults. Still, there’s much more to them than what they have become famous for in the country, and internationally: rabid intolerance, insistence on regulation of speech, stereotyping by identity politics, and their hypocritical criticism of the smallest things Trump does, including things proven to be misrepresentations, after no criticism of the same or more damaging actions by Obama. They will now perhaps long be the most notorious for the ironic violent censorship of Trump supporter, Milo, at Sproul Plaza, known since the ‘60s as the home of the Free Speech Movement.


That Movement is completely dead here now. When an editor attempting to do his unique combo of stand-up reminiscent of George Carlin, including sincere serious presentation of ideas, at a university that symbolizes that Movement, leads to things being set on fire, dialogue is shut down. Antifa says this year they’ll ramp up such riots in such situations, so this is just a taste. Places of learning and living will have to pay the bills to do what repairs are possible, and more people will be badly hurt. Even innocent trees were burned at Sproul.


When Milo came from Britain, where there is no protection of free speech, he expected to find it here, which may be why he arranged this as the finale. He was disappointed to discover the censorship here, but the riots dramatically make his main point for him – that the left’s censorship, and labeling and hating rather than listening, is very dangerous.


I’m generalizing a whole lot here, which can’t lead to accurate statistics, but in my experience, I have a different approach to information than the hive-mind that calls what it disagrees with “literally Hitler.” If I have a point I could bring up to add to the conversation, based on decades of careful study of vetted, peer-reviewed studies in non-biased reviews, or well-cited documentaries, thick books with photos from the scenes in question, would I mention it if one of the hot topics is under discussion? No. It wouldn’t get past the firewall. There’s no point.


In the few cases with the more open-minded, curious, brave individuals, when I gently did, they became disoriented, de-realized, overwhelmed nearly to the point of illness by encountering information they’d never heard before, contradicting the local stance, but which is easily found with a simple search online on their favorite topics. That we can remain friends with differences means everything to me.


Don't get me wrong; I have many good friends I can talk about to easily and openly about the hot issues, which we might disagree on, and many friends I can talk to at great length who do agree with me -- but with a couple exceptions, they all live somewhere other than Berkeley or Oakland.


Everyone went to the rough demonstrations for days after the inauguration, the Women’s March, the Airport March, and so conversations with most people, even strangers, like a clerk at a store, usually continues the breathless themes they’ve been repeating to each other at those events. Conversation topics have become narrowed, and certainly all the bad things going on, perpetrated by the U.S. that aren’t part of the current activism focus are completely ignored. They’re irrelevant. They’re not cool, and don’t provide the same rising in neurotransmitters as bonding communally with rate at a common enemy, who isn’t even necessarily really an enemy.


The anger must be allowed to flow. If I bring up that the constantly bandied about instance of Trump supposedly mocking a reporter for his disability had nothing to do with his disability, that’s bad, m’kay. Anything these emotional people share such things that go viral, showing that they’re inaccurate, maybe videos edited to completely  misrepresent, for instance, that’s not acceptable. Once anything bad has been said about Trump, Milo, or anyone a major false flag was meant to disgrace, like a “lone shooter,” it’s our duty to believe it, even with the ever-changing inconsistencies and impossibilities pretended about it on mainstream news. Mentioning anything the news anchors said wrong is never OK, once the bad thing has engaged them emotionally, and supports their desire to hate.


Online, I told one of my local friends, with which I have a lot in common, that I didn’t want Hillary to win. Our conversation went dead after that simple sentence, and the next time I saw her, months later, instead of the usual long, enthusiastic warm hug, lit-up eyes, and dancing together, there was an obvious cool, faked smile, which must have been uncomfortable for her. And I have to wonder how many of our common friends have gotten the word. I even momentarily wonder sometimes, when certain topics are pointedly brought up, if I’m being tested for my reaction, since no one has seen me embrace the rage. Usually, they’re brought up with the assumption that of course I agree with them, and finding a way to bring up those topics no matter what the situation, seems like a tic at this point.


I study the methodology of media lies extensively, so while I don’t certainly agree with everything he does, Trump’s call-out of CNN as fake news was my favorite thing ever on TV. I talked to another Berkeley friend about false flags when she asked me to explain them, and I was told that would be the last time we’d discuss it, because she didn’t believe in evil. Again, I had to wonder how I might be represented to our mutual friends.


Even the smartest ones say men’s rights are ridiculous, and can’t imagine why anyone would possibly have a problem with abortion. Some don’t simply talk about “men,” but seething, say, instead, “cis-men.” The fact that Milo offers grants specifically to men in his audience, to balance the grants given to minorities and women because they are minorities and women, will be seen as outrageous instead of generous. Only the underdog, according to a label, like homosexual, is acceptable, but not in Milo’s case because Republicans are never, ever, ever OK.


If I share a fact-piece online from a source not promoted by the mainstream left, this group I’m talking about doesn’t read it, but instead calls it “alt-right,” whether it is or not, just like when they inevitably call Milo alt-right, though he only agrees with some of their tenets. So they have no way of learning about the issues with Hillary, Obama, or any of the cabinet members of all the presidents, most of which have been as questionable choices as Trump’s.


I wouldn’t begin to bring up the absolutely valid science that questions vaccines or carbon-based global warming, and that Trump appointed people who do gives me hope, though unfortunately, that means those topics will now be demonized more than they were before. That he’s going after lying mainstream news, Obamacare, the CDC, EPA, Big Pharma, and other core establishments shows he’s not afraid to make changes to corrupt systems. What he replaces them with remains to be seen, and I’m not an optimistic idealist, but at least they’re under scrutiny. And thank goodness, he’s brought the country to good terms with Putin.


At a recent literary reading/open mic, one reader’s poem was entirely vile imagery about Trump, not making any in-depth points about policies, but was pure, unadulterated hate speech. Would people have been all expected to cheer if it had been about Obama or Hillary? Say, something about drone attacks on weddings, or the sodomizing of Kadaffi?


Some Berkelyites no doubt intelligently research topics and make up their own minds about controversial issues, which have a variety of viable perspectives one could reasonably argue for. But there is an impressive echo-chamber in place, so instead of researching source documents, multiple viewpoints, and level-headed analysis, many otherwise wonderful here employ the same predictable labels and cite the same false rumors and oversimplifications without fact-checking or open-minded listening to other opinions. Human gullibility makes social engineering easy, and this is one place that’s been dramatized with Antifa’s violence, while the police stood down, and after the university had suddenly asked


To overgeneralize some more -- the people in the specific group I’m talking about use those spurious labels, such as white supremacist, bigot, racist, patriarchy, sexist, NAZI, and hate speech, to justify their hysteria, and even the rioters’ exploding, pepper spraying, breaking, and beating when a popular graceful, smiling young gay Jewish Catholic comedic provocateur with moderate Republican views comes to talk to people who have paid to come listen to him speak on campus. These labels are used in the media as well, and they’re perfect for Twitter, because of course there’s never any reason to provide an in-context quote from someone like Milo; all that’s needed is a word or two to slander him. Then all the prejudiced hate spews forth.


Very noticeably, the members of this outraged group don’t generally apply the labels to Obama or Secretary of State Clinton when bombing civilians in seven countries in proxy wars to steal resources, to destabilize the region, funding, training, and arming terrorists, using the mainstream media to promote the false idea that there is civil war in Syria, instead of an attack led by NATO mercenaries to take down a legitimate government falsely accused of using sarin gas. Most have nothing to say about the UN peacekeepers organ harvesting and sex trafficking. They are silent about the White Helmets pretending to be a neutral, unarmed NGO providing humanitarian aid, while in fact they are terrorists, stealing and murdering.


The self-righteous group members are apparently fine with the drug running of Mena airport, the string of murders surrounding the Clintons and their pay-to-play Foundation doing arms deals with Saudi Arabia. They refuse to look at forensics about false flags perpetrated by mainstream news that sneakily provide one reason so many people have been led to distrust Muslims, or inaccurate science being used for a profit agenda. Overwrought emotions shared by the peer group amplify, so they have fewer critical thinking skills available to their brains. Any topics not given points for virtue signaling are off their radar. Anyone suggesting a different view than their extremist, assassination-promoting, one-sentence beliefs risks becoming an outcast, and in some cases, maybe physical violence.


The Clinton supporters of Berkeley are truly kind, and want to help the oppressed. They have many great qualities. They aren’t, however, interested in free speech, or in what someone who disagrees with them might present, no matter how factual, logical, proven, caring, Constitutional, or historically precedented. They want to make the distinction about what is “hate speech” based on simplistic propaganda, and say hate speech is not protected as free speech, and lighting fires to stop anyone listening to a traveling author is their form of “speech.” They tend to consider everyone who is interested in looking closely at what Trump has to say and why he might be saying it, rather than blocking everything he says and does no matter what it is, as deserving all of their favorite labels. Only 3.2 percent of the votes were cast for him here, with Clinton receiving 90.4. I have yet to meet anyone in Berkeley who told me he voted for Trump, but if I do, I’ll consider offering support in such a frightening climate for dissenting viewpoints. And, though this city has the second lowest number of Trump supporters, people still express resentment and blame for anyone voting against Hillary. A third-party vote means that person let Trump win, and therefore is responsible for the mistreatment of Muslims.


But what if, like most did, a person voted against Clinton, because of conscience, to stop her corrupt interventionalism such as in Libya, to avert her Syrian no-fly zone, aggravating Russia, leading to WWII? Would many people in the Berkeley “group” consider that as a reason, or would their extreme prejudice keep them from being able to hold that in their minds? A Trump voter could be a good person? What, what, what? Very likely the 3.2 percent, like most of his supporters, voted for Trump because they care more about victims of the U.S., who happen to be Muslim, and are shocked by how little her constituency seems to mind that kind of devastation for the sake of oil, gas, defense-contractor money, and so on?


This group somehow doesn’t even realize Trump ran on that ticket – stopping the destructive, arrogant U.S. bullying of countries, leaving them in shambles, installing puppet dictators who wouldn’t try to stand up to U.S., no matter what hardship that caused their countries. It’s not at currently clear that Trump’s going to follow up on that promise, and maybe he never meant to. Even if he has the best of intentions, that would be hard for one person to do with the kind of pressure he’s under. But we know that Clinton would have continued the Obama attack policy, with her first action being the deadly no-fly zone, leading inevitably, and understandably, to war with Russia.


Conversely, some other Trump supporters support his international policy not because they care deeply about the Muslims in countries like Syria, but because they don’t feel people from countries with laws different from ours belong here, because though most are perfectly fine people, some of them have put gays and women at risk due to the beliefs they were trained to have. Of course, if previous presidents hadn’t destroyed their countries, the refugees wouldn’t need to come here. But some people need jobs that have been taken away, some people feel the country is already too crowded, our debt too large to take on more. Some gays and women feel threatened. The temporary moratorium is apparently in place to allow better vetting from countries with poor background checks, to avoid terrorism. Immigration has caused problems in Europe that these people want to avoid here. Sure, it’s sticky, but Trump wanting to send back only literal criminals among illegal immigrants, which is obviously a lawful thing to do, strikes Berkeley-style censors as making him Hitler, but deporting millions of illegal immigrants meant nothing to them when Obama did it.


Does Trump know that that Muslims have been set up to look like terrorists by the media promoting theatrical hoaxes? Still, his point is that the US has destroyed their countries, so they might not love us and wish the best for us. Milo supports him on that. Whether this is a good idea is up for debate. And that’s part what Milo wanted to do - present his viewpoint, and take audience questions, in a city that hears only one side, so people would have a chance to make up their own minds. But nope, only one side of the argument is allowed.


Thank you, Minds, James Corbett, Cynthia McKinney, Vanessa Beeley, Eva Bartlett, Kevin Barrett, Jon Rappoport, Sibel Edmonds, Abby Martin, Stefan Molyneux, Jay Dyer, 21st Century Wire, Global Research, and all the other great indie journalists who present information that the Berkeley-style censors are trying to hard to avoid hearing. And thank you, Milo, for coming to our city to present a different viewpoint than what so many people are willing to listen to. They could have at least gained insight into why someone might believe as you do, and understand more of humanity. Sorry about the Native American costume. I’m sure it would have been fab.