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Thursday
Feb162017

Should Your Political Activity Threaten Your Job?

I disagree completely with Yvette Falarca, one of the leaders of the group By Any Means Necessary (BAMN), which attacked neo-Nazi marchers in Sacramento and supported rock throwing, fire setting protesters who “shut down” Milos Yiannopoulos from speaking at Berkeley. I watched YouTube videos of Falarca defending the use of violence to stop people from speaking or merely to express dissent in actions such as breaking shop windows or vandalizing cars. I disagree with all of her positions. They recommend violence and they deprive others of their right to free speech.

Yvette Falarca is a middle school teacher in the Berkeley Unified School District. The school district has reportedly received a landslide of telephone calls asking for her removal from her teaching position and, as of yesterday, a petition asking for the same, had garnered over 4,000 signatures. So far the school district has not come to a decision.

Although Yvette Falarca has publicly asserted the right to deprive those with whom she disagrees of their right to express their opinions, the proper response to her is not to turn around and do the same to her. Of course, she should be prosecuted for using violence to silence others (she was not prosecuted in Sacramento, despite videos showing her punching neo-Nazi marchers). Her speech may even spill over into that which is prohibited by the constitution if she urges protesters to use violence during a protest. However, none of this is relevant to her performance as a teacher unless she can be shown to be using her teaching position inappropriately or committing some other violation of school district rules (there is a question of whether she used sick days to engage in protests, which she denies).

Yvette Falarca is an example of hypocrisy.  Following the violent attack on neo-Nazi marchers in Sacramento, she claimed that the actions of her group (BAMN) were necessary to counter the “violent” rhetoric of the neo-Nazis. She has claimed that Milos Yiannopoulos incites violence by his hateful, racist comments. Since she has engaged in and supported violence to stop others from speaking, she is being patently hypocritical.

Falarca herself has been the recipient of a great deal of hate messages. According to the Berkeleyside newspaper, “Critics have tweeted ‘Let’s riot at her house,’ …They have written that Felarca should be waterboarded and arrested.” Needless to say, reactions that respond to her outrageous behavior with recommendations of similar behavior against her are making the same error she is making.

Free speech in America is a broad based right, which includes speech that the majority of citizens may object to and can even include hateful speech. When someone rants and protests against another person’s exercise of free speech, the appropriate response is not to punish them for using their own right of freedom of speech. I understand the concern of parents of children being taught by Yvette Falarca, but in terms of her suitability as a teacher, her in-classroom behavior should be what is examined, not her outside of school political opinions. When we lose our freedoms, we begin by targeting those whom we all agree that we don’t like. The Bill of Rights was not written to protect only those expressions of opinions that the majority favor, but to prevent the majority from depriving an unpopular minority from enjoying their freedom.  When we put in place methods that punish those we disagree with, then we put in place methods that eventually can be used against each of us as well. We don’t want to go down that road. 

Reader Comments (4)

I agree entirely with this article. Written like a true conservative...or at least a free speech liberal circa 1970.

February 16, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJeff Wheeler

Absolutely not!

February 23, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterK.C. Fontaine

Yvette Falarca runs a cult that abuses troubled teens, here are some of her victims horror stories..https://secretsurvivorsofbamn.wordpress.com/category/testimonies/

And a video with in depth explanation..https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZQwfTPqn5kc

She should probably not only lose her job but go to prison.

April 26, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJohn M

I don't think the issue with Falarca is freedom of speech at all. It's more about assault and battery. When someone uses violence to make their point, their point is moot. That she has a forum to spread her venom, as a public school teacher no less, makes it even more egregious. Maybe jail is appropriate, but firing her is imperative.

July 21, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJ. Griffith Park

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