California Legislature Holds Hearing on Free Speech, Gets Lesson from Activist

Ben Shapiro is going to the mat for every American who hopes their children will one day have the same rights and freedoms that our forefathers enjoyed. He’s been waging war against the enemies of freedom for years, but in recent days he’s been forced to elevate his game as the militant left has begun using any and every means necessary to shut down conservatives.

Things have gotten so bad that earlier this week the California legislature actually held a hearing to discuss how to deal with free speech. It’s a ridiculous scenario that we see playing out in our nation today.

Shapiro was invited to the hearing by one of the few Republicans in the California legislature, and while the Democrats refused to let him testify (though many liberals did), they did give him 120 seconds to speak after the hearing ended.

Shapiro made excellent use of his time as he chastised the legislature for even considering the possibility that they have the right, or the ability, to regulate speech. The First Amendment is clear, Congress shall make no law… abridging the freedom of speech. The Supreme Court has made it clear that this prohibition also applies at the state and local government level as well. Shapiro makes this all clear in less than 2 minutes, watch below:

I appreciate the 120 seconds. Your job, obviously here at the legislature, is to ensure that our freedom of expression is maintained, that our First Amendment rights are maintained, and what that means, first and foremost, in my experiences at college campuses, is that the “heckler’s veto” must be stopped.

So, I was at Cal State Los Angeles, in February 2016, and there was almost a riot there, and the police were not allowed to do their jobs, and students were physically assaulted in the crowd. It is the job of this legislature to ensure that police can do their jobs, and when they do their jobs, and they’re allowed to do that at places like UC Berkeley, everything goes fine.

And I’d like to make a point here about UC Berkeley: the reason it cost $600,000 to bring me to UC Berkeley was not because of me, okay? Everybody keeps suggesting that it was because I was coming; I’m so controversial; I’m so terrible. I came exactly one year before, and it cost this many dollars (Shapiro closed his hand and raised it), it cost zero dollars for security at UC Berkeley. The reason it cost $600,000 at UC Berkeley is because Antifa and violent groups had decided that Berkeley was their domain, and they were going to be able to ride roughshod over law enforcement there.

And this does bring up one final point I want to make in the long period of time I have to discuss, and that is the problem with a legislative body such as yours trying to draw lines specifically about what hate speech constitutes, because the fact is that one of the reasons groups like Antifa show up is not because they know who I am, it’s because they’ve been told by people that I am promulgating hate speech, which is utterly false and utterly untrue.

There are people who say vile things and with whom I disagree, among them people like Milo Yiannopoulos, who sent me a picture of a black baby on the day of my child’s birth, because I wasn’t sufficiently standing up for the white population, supposedly.

But that does not mean that the legislature gets to decide what hate speech is. I have been labeled a promulgator of hate speech when I was the number one target of hate speech, according to the ADL, among the journalistic community in 2016.

So let me suggest that as a legislature, your chief job is to ensure that my taxpayer dollars in this state go toward making sure that people like me and people with whom I disagree get to speak in places like college campuses, and not toward regulating what speech you find good and what speech you find bad, because it’s a really dangerous business. There’s speech I don’t like; there’s speech you don’t like, but if we can’t agree there’s a difference between speech and violence, we’re not going to be able to have a free state, let alone a free country.

Shapiro spoke with the local news outlets after his appearance before the legislature.

“I was asked by legislative Republicans to come here. They wanted to actually have me on one of the panels but Democrats wouldn’t allow that sort of thing because that might be too much free speech. They wanted to ensure that only people on the left get to talk and members of law enforcement.”

Democrat Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson didn’t appreciate Shapiro’s commentary saying that he didn’t seem to be someone “whose testimony today would be particularly helpful” for a discussion at a hearing titled “Combating Hate While Protecting the Constitution.” Apparently, Jackson thinks that only hearing her side of the debate is how a hearing should be handled. It’s odd, but you’d think that a hearing on “free speech” would have more than one side of the free speech debate.

Onan Coca

Onan is the Editor-in-Chief at Romulus Marketing. He's also the managing editor at Eaglerising.com, Constitution.com and the managing partner at iPatriot.com. Onan is a graduate of Liberty University (2003) and earned his M.Ed. at Western Governors University in 2012. Onan lives in Atlanta with his wife and their three wonderful children. You can find his writing all over the web.

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