Watch any documentary about the 1960s and the 1970s and you’ll see footage of free speech protests at the University of California at Berkeley, where peace and free speech reigned supreme, along with bellbottoms, tie dyed clothing, and hair that looked like it had never seen a brush.

But as questionable as some of those wardrobe choices were, one thing was for certain: Berkeley was the cradle of the free speech movement. Sure, our Founders in Philadelphia laid the groundwork, but these revolutionaries were making liberty cool again.

No more. Twenty year old Isabella Chow learned this the hard way.   A student senator at UC Berkeley, she was elected with support from students who (presumably) voted for her because they liked her leadership and ideas.  On October 31st, she abstained from a vote, which caused an uproar at the university.  Now the students want her gone, as more than one thousand people have signed a petition to have her ousted.

What’s the big deal?

The vote was over whether or not she would denounce President Donald Trump’s legal definition of gender that would require it to match a person’s sex at birth.  A leaked memo caused everyone to panic that the President’s proposal would change the federal Title IX civil rights law and remove its protections from 1.4 million transgender people.

At UC Berkeley, the Queer Alliance Resource Center asked the student Senate to condemn President Trump and his posture on this issue. They wanted them to support “transgender, non-binary, and gender non-conforming students” and all of the student groups that assist them.

Let’s take a moment and clarify.   The Trump administration was not waiting with bated breath to find out what UC Berkeley’s student government body thought on matters of sex and gender.  This vote, prompted by activists, was virtue signaling, pure and simple… 100% posturing.  But when Chow abstained from making a political statement, the student body rebelled against her.

Her campus party broke their alliance with her. The student newspaper ran an editorial critical of Chow, yet they wouldn’t give Chow equal space to defend herself. On social media, other students berated her as a “horrible person” and a “mental imbecile.” I guess opposed to the physical kind of imbecile? No matter. Their position was clear: these people were furious and hundreds showed up at the next Senate meeting demanding she be ousted from her position.

But twenty year old Isabella Chow abstained didn’t budge.  She read a statement, in which she denounced hate and discrimination toward anyone.  First, she described the LGBT+ community as a beloved part of the campus community.  But she went on to say that she couldn’t vote for the bill, which violated her beliefs.

“As a Christian, I personally do believe that certain acts and lifestyles conflict with what is good, right and true,” she said. “I believe that God created male and female at the beginning of time, and designed sex for marriage between one man and one woman. For me, to love another person does not mean that I silently concur when, at the bottom of my heart, I do not believe that your choices are right or the best for you as an individual.”

That polite and careful statement, of course, is too much for the monolithic campus culture at Berkeley. They demand that all students carry the water for ideological positions that frankly don’t pass muster.  It’s not enough to simply abstain, to refuse to participate in the conversation.  They now demand that everyone not only think in the same manner, but go on the record saying so.

Forget peace and love, this is totalitarianism in action.

And, just like that, the cradle of the free speech movement has become its casket.

Image Credit: Hossam el-Hamalawy on Flickr


About The Author

Mark Meckler

Mark was a co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots, and served as the national coordinator. He left the organization to work more broadly on expanding the self-governance movement beyond the partisan divide. Mark appears regularly on television in outlets as diverse as MSNBC, ABC, NBC, Fox News, CNN, Bloomberg, Fox Business and the BBC. He’s highly sought after for the tea party perspective from print and electronic media outlets, from the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, L.A. Times, Washington Examiner, Politico and the The Hill. Mark blogs at, and his opinion editorials regularly run in many of the leading political newspapers both on and offline. Mark has a BA in English from San Diego State University and graduated with honors from University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law in 1988. He practiced real estate and business law for almost a decade. For the last eleven years of his legal career he specialized in Internet advertising law. When not fighting for the future of our nation, Mark is an avid horseman, and lives in rural northern California with his wife Patty and two children.