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Reagan and Free Speech


Reagan's crusade against free speech goes all the way back to his days as governor of California.  After the protests at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago in 1968 further protests sprang up on campuses across the country.  Berkeley became a hotbed of student activity.  One of the first things governor Reagan wished to curtail was the free speech of these student radicals and the Black Panthers whose national Headquarters happened to be near Berkeley. 

Like his spiritual father McCarthy, Reagan quickly exaggerated the threat the campus radicals posed to society in an attempt to shut them up.  Speaking of the radicals Reagan said, "Preservation of free speech does not justify letting beatniks and advocates of sexual orgies, drug usage, and 'filthy' speech disrupt the academic community."

His next move was to appoint Edwin Meese III, then a hard-line anti-student county prosecutor as his chief of staff.  Together the anti-free speech duo of Reagan and Meese waged war against campus radicals and their right to speak out.

The Sacremento Bee would later remark that all Reagan accomplished during this period was to escalate unrest.