The latest victim in University of California, Berkeley’s war against free speech: Ann Coulter. Yes, we all know that the Left views her as a succubus. Yes, we all know that she can be offensive to some people. And yes, she has the right to voice those opinions under the First Amendment, something that the Left seems to have forgotten. The irony is that UC Berkeley used to be a bastion of free speech. Now, it's a stronghold for shutting down such constitutionally protected activities, specifically for those who happen to have a contrary opinion to the unhinged ethos of progressivism today. It’s a fortress of illiberalism. Bill Maher may not be a fan of Coulter politically, but he certainly is not one who supports this nonsense. On his show Real Time, he described the school as devolving from being a cradle for free speech into a “cradle for f**king babies.”
Maher, a friend of Coulter, made it known that he likes her as a person—but never agreed with her on anything. The HBO host also remembered when he was invited to speak at the school, which drew controversy since Maher doesn’t buy the liberal narratives on Islam and radical Islamic terrorism. Some might find his opinions politically incorrect. He was disinvited, but then eventually allowed to come and speak. Still, the pattern disturbed him.
“This goes on all over the country on campuses. They invite someone to speak, who is not exactly what liberals want to hear, and they want to shut her down. I feel like this is the liberals’ version of book burning. It’s got to stop.” Maher said.
The comedian then read Howard Dean’s brain dead tweet about how hate speech isn’t covered by the First Amendment, except that it is. A threat is not, which Maher aptly noted, citing the 1977 National Socialist Party of America v. Village of Skokie case. In this case, Nazis planned on marching through Skokie, Illinois, but were hamstrung by the local board’s imposition of an insurance bond, banning the distribution of literature, and marching in uniforms. With the American Civil Liberties Union, they challenged these demands in the Supreme Court, saying it violated their First Amendment rights and won.
Back to the Coulter fiasco, the school’s College Republican chapter invited the conservative pundit to speak on April 27. The administration rescinded the invitation, citing security concerns, but then re-invited Coulter to speak on May 2. Coulter said that’s a no-go since she’s not available, and that it would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to rebook flights and rooms for her security detail and guests. Coulter said she’s coming to campus on the 27, so get ready. The College Republican chapter at UC Berkeley said it would hold the event, but only if the administration would provide a venue, according to The Washington Post. The Young America’s Foundation also said it was working with the commentator to possibly find a venue off campus. The Berkeley College Republicans have also threated to file a lawsuit against the school if they do not provide a space for Coulter to speak on the original date (via WaPo):
The university first announced Wednesday that it was canceling Coulter’s April 27 appearance following several political protests in Berkeley that turned violent. But amid mounting criticism and national attention, the school reversed its decision Thursday, saying that it had found a safe venue to hold the speech on a different date, May 2.
Coulter and the college Republican group that invited her rejected the new arrangement.
In a series of tweets Thursday night, Coulter criticized the university, saying Berkeley officials were adding “burdensome” conditions to her speech. She said she had already spent money to hold the event on April 27 and was not available to appear May 2. She also pointed out that the later date would coincide with a reading period before final exams, when there are no classes on campus and fewer students are around.
Instead, she vowed to speak in Berkeley on April 27 whether the university approves or not.
A leader from the college group that invited Coulter said that the group plans to hold the event April 27 only if the university provides a venue. But, the group leader said, a national conservative group, the Young America’s Foundation, is separately working with Coulter to explore spaces off-campus where she could speak April 27.
Maher is no conservative, but he understands (and respects) the importance of free speech, even for those he is diametrically opposed to in politics.
“That’s what the First Amendment means. It doesn’t mean just shut up and agree with me,” he said.