Sunday, April 23, 2017

Ann Coulter, the University of California Berkeley, and Free Speech

Ann Coulter, the University of California Berkeley, and Free Speech Ann Coulter is a lawyer and polemicist. Some will call her a provocateur. She is quite outspoken in her conservative views. She arouses strong feelings. Ann does not believe in safe spaces and trigger warnings. She accepted an invitation from the Berkeley Young Republicans and the Young American’s Foundation to deliver a speech at the University of California Berkeley on Thursday, April 27, 2017. Milos Yiannopoulous, another outspoken conservative, spoke at Berkeley last February. Riots occurred outside his speech, fueled by Antifa (Anti-fascists), a group of bullies, goons, and thugs in the greater Berkeley area. The University incurred about $100,000 in damages. Berkeley’s Mayor Jessie Arreguin apparently told the police to stand down in the Antifa riots. The results were a small version of the Baltimore riots when the police were ordered to stand down. University officials quickly cancelled Ann Coulter’s appearance for “safety reasons.” They claimed to have “legitimate concerns and credible evidence that it will jeopardize the safety of students, faculty, staff, and visitors.” They said they feared for her safety. She said she was coming anyway. They then reconsidered and said she could come on December 2 during midday at a science hall far from the central campus. December 2 is perhaps just coincidentally during “dead days” when students are studying for exams. Attendance would probably be low. Sproul Hall is usually the foci of demonstrations and protests at Berkeley. If the threat of violence from Antifa and their fellow travelers is legitimate, then it wouldn’t matter when or where she appeared. The risk exists on either November 27 or December 2, day or night. The Berkeley administrators joined others continuing to be cowed by the alt-left demonstrators and protestors. They are inherently biased against the outspoken conservatives, and hence eager to downplay the free speech rights of the conservative speakers by banning them. The muzzling of conservatives on campus is escalating as alt-left militants threaten violence. Heather MacDonald at Claremont-McKenna, Charles Murray at Middlebury, Ben Shapiro at UCLA, and the list goes on. The supine administrators make no action to bring criminal charges or disciplinary actions, including expulsion, against the academic nihilists, academic Neanderthals, and snowflakes, thereby emboldening their behavior. Berkeley, the birthplace of the Free Speech Movement, had no problem with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the vicious anti-Semitic, former President of Iran, from speaking on campus. Sadly, the only recourse may be what happened last week at Auburn. The Auburn administrators cancelled a speech by Richard Spencer, a White nationalist. He got a court order against the university, requiring them to allow his presentation. The judge said that there was no evidence that Spencer advocates violence. Ann Coulter may be strident, but she also does not advocate violence. I say sadly, but it may be the only recourse. A lawsuit under 42 U.S.C. §1983 is always a possibility against a public university. Remedies include attorneys’ fees and costs of suit. It would be best if the offending college officials were individually named as defendants, and then subject to rigorous discovery, including depositions. College officials might act differently when they realize they could be subject to personal liability. University regents and trustees will not turn a blind eye to large judgments because of violations of the free speech rights of speakers.

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