While conservative commentator Ann Coulter was forced to cancel her appearance at the University of California-Berkeley due to threatened violence, law enforcement officers in Valdosta– a medium-sized South Georgia town– met with both supporters and antagonists of President Donald Trump on the eve of their planned rallies and reaffirmed their First Amendment rights but not their right to violence.
That Berkeley is the most left-liberal bastion in the country is an undeniable nomer and one that is not likely to ever be wrestled away from either the city or the campus.
But with that comes a responsibility and virtue over which the left claims a monopoly: tolerance and freedom of expression (of all kinds).
This is what defines the Left Coast, or so they say.
And everybody knows that South Georgia is a mecca of conservatism. Consult any mainstream media “Style Manual” and you’ll find acceptance to use the terms “intolerant,” “far right,” “misinformed,” and, of course, “racist roots” anytime the region is referenced.
Such is the definition of the South. Yawn.
Yet on the Berkeley campus anti-fa forces (anti-fascists or anti-First Amendment, your call) are given free rein to shut down speakers who don’t espouse the ideology of the eurosocialist left.
They did it a few months back by rioting and burning the campus and cars when Milo Yiannopoulos, another conservative speaker, planned to appear. He was forced to cancel.
The very threat to do it again caused Coulter to cancel since local and university law enforcement would not do what needed to be done to ensure her (and her sponsor groups, Young America’s Foundation and Berkeley College Republicans) First Amendment rights on public property.
The Berkeley environment was just too hostile, the sponsors concluded.
Meanwhile, back in Valdosta, two permits were issued. One to a group said to consist of Republicans, Democrats and independents calling for the impeachment of President Trump (although when pressed their leadership couldn’t identify any Republicans
affiliated with them) and another to a group supporting the president. The permits were issued for the same day and public property venue, the courthouse in the middle of town.
On the eve of the demonstration and counterdemonstration, rather than readying the police dogs for an unleashing on the demonstrators, Police Chief Brian Childress and Sheriff Ashley Paulk called the permit holders in for a meeting.
Exercise your right to free speech and expression whichever side you’re on. But do it the right way with civility and respect and without violence. Or else. There’s plenty of beds in the county jail and plenty of policemen and deputies to fill them up, they told the groups.
The protesters listened: both sides held their demonstrations and were seen and heard without any incivility or violence.
The take away is this: intolerance only works when applied to violence; it never works when applied to First Amendment Rights.
Oddly, the left is more inclined to tolerate violence than First Amendment diversity.
Berkeley gave America a bad day for free speech. Valdosta gave the country a day to be proud of.
The author (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a corporate communications and political consultant at Blackstone, LLC.