We Embrace Free Speech

Dear Beach Community,

The hate and violence on display over the past few days at the University of Virginia and in Charlottesville, Virginia remind us that racism, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, neo-Nazism, and intolerance for “differences” loom over our democracy. While every American has a constitutional right to demonstrate peacefully, even on the most odious of platforms, I write today to affirm our campus values.

We have zero tolerance for violence. Threatening others with weapons or fists negates one’s right of assembly. Driving a vehicle into a peaceful crowd is a form of domestic terrorism.

Our grandfathers and grandmothers fought Nazis in order to preserve democracy. Nazism targeted Jews, the Roma people, disabled individuals, homosexuals, and many others they considered inferior members of the human race. There is no place in the U.S. for Neo-Nazis, Identity Evropa, white supremacy or white nationalists.

Further, we have struggled for hundreds of years in our nation to guarantee full constitutional rights to Indigenous Nations, all people of color, women, people of all sexual orientations, gender identities, and ages, to name just a few. This struggle continues with daily reminders of our responsibilities to be vigilant, outspoken, and committed to the defense of liberty and justice for all.

As more groups gain full participation in our civic and economic systems, our nation becomes stronger. Our country is not a finite “pie” of opportunity. Rather it is the global beacon of ever expanding possibilities for people from all walks of life who work hard and honor the Constitution. Those who believe others’ success diminishes them are simply wrong.

At The Beach, all groups who obey our time, place and manner regulations can rent venues or march across our property. But no group is permitted to threaten the physical safety of anyone. Free speech is protected by more speech, not by violence. Campus leaders and our University Police Department stand ready to protect all members of our campus community.

We welcome vigorous debate. We value diversity. We will not, however, tolerate any insider or outsider who plans to do harm to people or property. Our job as Americans is to create a more perfect union during each generation. The founders, imperfect as some were in behavior and beliefs, gave each of us the challenge to continue this great experiment in democracy. At its core, democracy is built on protecting the rights of everyone. A majority can rule justly only when minorities are helped to flourish.

Let’s talk. Let’s listen. Let’s pledge our lives to liberty and justice for all.