Some of us are old enough to remember Mario Savio and the 1964 Free Speech Movement. But then the young radicals of those days, many of whom had a legitimate point or two against the Establishment, began the "long march through the institutions" and are now the Establishment, still fancying that they are "speaking truth to power" even as they control the levers of power. Unfortunately, power has corrupted them. Former radicals have hardened into dogmatic apparatchiks of political correctness and unbending authoritarians. What began as a free speech movement has transmogrified into a no speech movement, as Ron Radosh shows:
At the very start of the early New Left — circa the 1964-65 academic year — students in Berkeley, California, started what was called the Free Speech Movement (FSM). Back in those days, university administrators did not allow early supporters of the civil rights movement to try to gather support on campus or solicit donations to various civil rights organizations. The police were called in to arrest the offenders, mass arrests were made, and giant rallies surrounding the Sproul Hall steps had nationwide repercussions, including a backlash to the protests from California residents who backed Ronald Reagan’s campaign for governor of California a few years later. Reagan emphasized his opposition to the actions of the student radicals.
It also led to a speech by a young student named Mario Savio, whose following words sound today like a clarion call by a libertarian:
But we’re a bunch of raw materials that don’t mean to be — have any process upon us. Don’t mean to be made into any product! Don’t mean — Don’t mean to end up being bought by some clients of the University, be they the government, be they industry, be they organized labor, be they anyone! We’re human beings! … There’s a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious — makes you so sick at heart — that you can’t take part. You can’t even passively take part. And you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop. And you’ve got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you’re free, the machine will be prevented from working at all.
How times have changed. The very New Left students of that era — so many of whom now run the universities against which they once protested — have moved from support of free speech to what might be termed the “No Speech Movement.” Or, perhaps more accurately, speech for which only those whom they approve should be allowed. Nowhere has this been clearer than in the various incidents surrounding invited graduation speakers at some of the most well-known private liberal arts colleges as well as one state university.