We were only half-joking yesterday when we mused about which campus radicals at the University of California-Berkeley would lead the disinvitation charge against the famous and wealthy Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg as spring commencement speaker.
But while a white straight female executive who broke the glass ceiling in Nerdland may be too much for Berkeley’s red brigade, for the moment their sights are set on a different member of the progressive tent.
— The College Fix (@CollegeFix) March 16, 2016
Protesters crashed a campus forum hosted by Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich (already unpopular with college students for his pro-copyright views) and featuring Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, who you may remember led the business boycott of Indiana when the state was mulling a strong religious-freedom law that some saw as LGBT discrimination.
What was the protesters’ problem with this forum? The Student Labor Committee had demanded a speakers’ boycott throughout the spring to demand the hiring of subcontracted workers as employees.
Ulrich refused, though he acknowledged the protesters and invited anyone to address the crowd before the event started, the organizers wrote in a Daily Californian op-ed this week.
They decided to wait until halfway through and then rush the stage, with one of them lunging at Benioff and grabbing him before a cop could take the student down (starting at 0:18 below).
Benioff. A powerful and influential activist in the LGBT movement. Because he’s rich and graciously accepted the school’s invitation to speak even when other activists wanted attention for their cause.
The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education notes that while the protesters might have tackled anyone who violated their boycott, they specifically justified attacking Benioff because he’s a “multi-billionaire” who came to talk about his “self-righteous accomplishments.”
The Student Labor Committee also gave Facebook’s Sandberg an idea what to expect when they protested outside the Women in Leadership Conference on Saturday. Note the apparently racist hashtag near the end.
The op-ed writers who organized the event – students, professors and administrators – denounced SLC for using “physical violence” and called its protest a “sickening moment” only put down by police:
It was a shocking, vicious spasm, which fortunately did not result in any injuries — after which the show went on (as it must). …
More than just an attempt to exercise the heckler’s veto, this was a planned, violent, bullying act, with the express purpose of destroying a core activity of the campus.
All groups at UC Berkeley have the right to free expression, but none have the right to prevent others from doing likewise, least of all by using violence. The disruption last week was not an example of protest, it was not the exercise of free speech.