By ensuring that Friday’s speech continued — despite intense political pressure to censor Yiannopoulos and the volatile and dangerous conditions — the UW taught this lesson well.
We weren’t the only ones impressed by the University of Washington’s fidelity to its stated commitment to free speech at the Milo Yiannopoulos event Friday.
The Seattle Times editorial board cheered the university for teaching “an important lesson”:
No matter how much we disagree, we must protect the freedom of all to speak and not be silenced by a threatening mob.
That mob was responsible for more than just a guy getting shot, which was bad enough, as the Times notes:
Protesters of Yiannopoulos also had a right to assemble and state their opposition to his views. But the message and concerns about equality and fairness were lost when the protest became a mob restricting access to the speech, and began throwing bricks and paint. …
In contrast to Saturday’s rousing women’s demonstrations in Seattle and elsewhere, Friday night’s gathering at the UW devolved into a brutal demonstration of intolerance.
The editorial board connected the freedom to say “repugnant” things on campus to then-President Barack Obama’s 2012 speech to the United Nations, which defended the U.S. decision to not censor the anti-Islam video Innocence of Muslims (falsely blamed for the Benghazi attack).
As Obama said then:
We do not do so because we support hateful speech, but because our founders understood that without such protections, the capacity of each individual to express their own views and practice their own faith may be threatened. We do so because in a diverse society, efforts to restrict speech can quickly become a tool to silence critics and oppress minorities.
The editorial continues: