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Anger Cancels Good Judgment

February 16, 2017

This article was written by Sean Roney

Recent riots at United States universities have given reason to question the status of free speech in the nation’s colleges, and we as local students should consider how free or unfree we are on this campus. To gauge the status, consider how you react to political opinions that differ greatly from your own. While I feel thoughtful dialogue is the logical choice, I’m noticing a violent undertone growing among those who claim to be peaceful yet say, “It’s okay to punch a fascist.”

A Sister Souljah lyric goes, “Anger cancels good judgment,” and it is completely correct in analysis of modern political discussion. Polarizing an argument makes it into good versus evil, which is far from the truth, because if you with all your human fallibility can declare yourself good and your opponent evil, then they can likewise do the same. Further, setting things in such a stark perspective means there is no capacity for compromise. After all, when a person is defined as inhuman, it means others feel they have the right to treat that person like an animal.

It seems irrational to think a person could treat another person as being worthy of being spit on, punched, or even battered to the ground. After all, CSU Monterey Bay is a peaceful campus with peaceful protests. But we share something in common with the three sites of recent college riots: We praise the virtues of diversity, but we are diverse only in appearance, with such a strict adherence to far leftist ideals, that anything to the right of that position is seen as racist, homophobic, sexist, fascist, etc. Once we sling those insults and declarations, how long until we devolve into violence?

I would hope the answer is never. Yet the past month has included three college riots against politically right-leaning guest speakers. The highest profile event being the Feb. 1 riot at UC Berkeley which shut down a talk from Milo Yiannopoulos, a senior editor at Breitbart News. There was also the Feb. 2 riot at New York University against Gavin McInnes, co-founder of Vice Media, and an earlier Jan. 20 riot at University of Washington, also against Yiannopoulos. All three began as peaceful protests, yet turned violent in short time, with pepper spraying, beatings, destruction of property, death threats, arson, and even a shooting. While many accounts blame outside Antifa groups, ground footage and eyewitness accounts prove student protestors cheered at the violence and laughed at victims. Protestors and rioters alike shouted angrily at students who said they wanted to hear what Yiannopoulos or McInnes had to say.

My sincere hope is that such a violent outburst doesn’t happen here. And I hope you agree. But I’ve already heard a professor this semester laugh off the violence at Berkeley, and in a prior semester heard a group of students in class discussion say they would stab then-candidate Donald Trump if they met him.

Consider if you ran into Yiannopoulos, McInnes, or one of their fans. Would you be willing to listen to them? Would you declare them a monster? If someone intended to punch them, would you support or oppose such violence? If we avoid polarization, we’re able to treat each other as people, and then open ourselves to discovering why rational people have such vastly different ideals. I believe diversity is an important asset in our society, and support the campus mission statement that we should strive toward inclusion. I hope you will also consider dialogue as the superior choice to anger.

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