Saving free speech at the UW: Advice from a onetime College Republican

Commentator John Carlson has some advice for the University of Washington administration and the College Republicans club.

Twice in one year’s time the College Republicans at the University of Washington have held public events on the UW campus. The first, a speech by British right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos, dissolved into violence, including a shooting, outside Kane Hall. The second, a free speech rally last Saturday on the Red Square plaza featuring Joey Gibson’s Patriot Prayer group, ended with pushing, shoving and a handful of “counterprotesters” arrested, with more pepper-sprayed.

The UW administration charged the young Republicans $7,000 in security costs for the Yiannopoulos speech and tried to charge them more than twice that for Saturday’s event. But a federal judge issued an injunction preventing the school from forcing a student club to write a check for security for an on-campus rally.

More than 35 years ago, I headed the UW’s college Republican club, and we held speeches and rallies, too. One was in the closing weeks of the heated 1980 campaign between Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter, and featured famous anti-Vietnam War Democrat Eugene McCarthy, who shocked the country when he announced his endorsement of Ronald Reagan. Another speech later that year featured Eldridge Cleaver, the incendiary Black Panther who authored “Soul on Ice” but had done a political 180 after living in Cuba. Both men were seminal figures during the political and culture battles of the ’60s and shared their transformations on campus a dozen years later.

We weren’t charged a “security fee” for either event. There were plenty of curious, skeptical lefties at the speeches, but no attempts to “shut it…

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