Fighting Back: After Berkeley Cites 'Security Concerns' to Cancel Speech, Coulter Vows To Show Up Anyway

Guy Benson
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Posted: Apr 20, 2017 2:05 PM
Fighting Back: After Berkeley Cites 'Security Concerns' to Cancel Speech, Coulter Vows To Show Up Anyway

The violent, fascistic silencing mob appeared to score another 'victory' against free speech last night at the University of California at Berkeley, as university officials urged the cancellation of a planned speech by conservative writer Ann Coulter over security concerns. But Coulter, whose columns have appeared on Townhall for years, fired off a string of irate tweets in response to the university's craven decisions, defiantly vowing to move ahead with her appearance in spite of possible threats against the physical safety of her and her audience:

Coulter was invited to speak at Berkeley by campus Republicans on the subject of illegal immigration. The event raised concerns of more violence at Berkeley, where masked rioters smashed windows, set fires and shut down an appearance by former Breitbart News editor Milo Yiannopoulos in February. University officials sent the Berkeley College Republicans a letter Tuesday, saying that officials and campus police had determined they could not ensure the safety of Coulter, audience members or protesters expected at the event. "We have been unable to find a safe and suitable venue," said the letter from Vice Chancellor Scott Biddy and Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Stephen Sutton. "Given current active security threats, it is not possible to assure that the event could be held successfully." ... Coulter posted eight tweets in a span of 17 minutes after the AP and others reported the cancellation Wednesday. She called claims of the university trying to set up an alternate date "FAKE NEWS!" The event was being co-organized by a campus group called BridgeCal and the Young America's Foundation, a conservative group that books Coulter's campus speeches. "We have no intention of acceding to these unconstitutional acts," the Young America's Foundation said in a statement. "The Ann Coulter lecture... will go forward."

In her tweets, Coulter linked to a Hollywood Reporter article laying out the backstory to the school's pitiful machinations. "I acceded to Berkeley's every silly demand (never made of lib speakers)," she wrote. "Called their bluff & they canceled anyway." From the story:

Coulter had accepted an invitation from two campus groups — the Berkeley College Republicans and BridgeUSA — to deliver a speech about immigration, the topic of one of her 12 New York Times best-selling books. "If that's banned, then no conservative can speak," Coulter told THR on Wednesday. "Meanwhile, corrupt banana republic leaders like Vicente Fox have the red carpet rolled out for them on the taxpayer's dime." Fox, the former president of Mexico, spoke in Berkeley this week...I've acceded to all their silly demands, which they thought would end it. When I said, 'yes, yes, yes,' they canceled anyway. No more clear-cut proof that taxpayer-supported universities will not allow conservative speakers," Coulter told THR..."I'm giving a speech," countered Coulter. "Speech will go on."

On that theme, Coulter also tweeted that "no school accepting public funds can ban free speech," which called to mind a message from President Trump after an event at Berkeley featuring Alt-Right provocateur Milo Yiannopolous was shut down by violent rioters earlier this year (only one of whom was arrested):


This is now the third conservative-leaning speaker whose planned address has been cancelled, stifled, or shut down at UC Berkeley over the last few months. This is not acceptable. When Trump mused that perhaps federal funds could be cut off from a federally-funded university that fails to uphold the basic rights of its students and invited guests, questions arose about whether that such sanctions were feasible by executive action, and whether or not defunding a large university over a free speech battle would have the unfair effect of punishing students and stripping fruitful research programs of needed dollars.  I'm sympathetic to both arguments, but this is now a pattern at Berkeley, and some lines in the sand ought to be drawn.  It is nonsense that the university cannot find a safe venue in which controversial speakers can address peaceably assembled audiences, free from violent disruption.  Yes, safeguarding the core American value of free speech and free expression may cost more when a conservative's rights are imperiled on left-wing campuses, but that challenge requires expending the necessary resources overcome the mob rule of a heckler's veto.  If school officials pretend that their hands are tied in the face of threatened violence, they validate and incentivize future threats and violence.  They allow advocates of so-called "safe spaces" to shut down the free exchange of ideas by deliberately creating unsafe spaces.  

For all intents and purposes, free speech does not exist at the University of California at Berkeley right now.  If administrators believe that the federal largesse on which their operations rely may dry up if they continue to abide this horrendous and illiberal behavior, perhaps they'll experience a sudden focusing of the mind.  I therefore support at least a renewed and serious exploration of possible courses of action along these lines.  The solution is relatively simple: A robust security presence should be deployed to deter poor behavior and send a signal that disorderly interruptions will not be tolerated.  Students who violate rules or behave in an unruly manner should face swift and serious academic sanctions.  And anyone who breaks the law should be arrested.  Last time Berkeley embarrassed itself, I urged university leaders to follow the constructive approach modeled by Middlebury College in the aftermath of a shameful episode on their campus.  Dozens of Middlebury professors signed onto a letter laying out a clear-eyed statement in support of free speech, and the administration pledged that the agitators would face consequences.  It has now been more than a month-and-a-half since that incident, however, and nothing has been done:


Will accountability ever arrive, or were those assurances merely a cynical stalling tactic to mollify the media and angry alumni until the controversy blew over?  Conservatives and free speech allies cannot allow anti-speech thuggery to stand at one of the nation's premier public universities.  And they should maintain pressure on Middlebury College to follow through on its promises.  Examples need to be made of the miniature tyrants who use intimidation and violence to shut down or shout down speakers whose views fail to adhere to prevailing leftist orthodoxy.  Mindless, intolerant coercion is taking root as an acceptable response to controversial ideas and figures at too many American colleges and universities, where the minds of the next generation of voters and leaders are being shaped.  The End of Discussion outrage mob must be relentlessly resisted -- things are getting worse, not better.