EDITORIAL: The inconvenience of free speech


Free speech can be so inconvenient. A growing number of Democrats like the First Amendment’s guarantee of the right to free speech and assembly, but only for themselves and for those who agree with them. This is a fundamental misunderstanding of the First Amendment, which does not guarantee pleasing, nice, or even responsible speech, but free speech — even odious speech.

The University of California at Berkeley, the birthplace of the Free Speech Movement a generation ago, all but closed down the campus Thursday to guarantee that Ben Shapiro, a conservative newspaper columnist, could make a speech without losing his head or other needed body parts. The university spent thousands of dollars to maintain “security” and the Berkeley police were authorized to use pepper spray, for the first time in two decades, to control left-wing demonstrators.

The famous plaza where the Free Speech Movement was born was closed, and