Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders Says Ann Coulter Has Right to Speak at Berkeley 'Without Fear of Violence and Intimidation'

The Vermont senator defends free speech, says censorship "is a sign of intellectual weakness."


Johnny Louis/JL/Sipa USA/Newscom

Sen. Bernie Sanders supports Ann Coulter's right to speak at the University of California-Berkeley, and told The Huffington Post that attempts to shut her down are a "sign of intellectual weakness" amongst some of her critics.

Sanders made clear that he is no fan of Coulter, but nevertheless believes students who want to hear speak deserve that opportunity.

"Obviously Ann Coulter's outrageous ? to my mind, off the wall," said Sanders. "But you know, people have a right to give their two cents-worth, give a speech, without fear of violence and intimidation."

Berkeley administrators recently cancelled Coulter's upcoming visit because they could not guarantee her safety. Protesters had threatened violence and rioting if Coulter should appear.

But giving into the protesters means succumbing to the heckler's veto—it commits the university to censoring anyone whose views displease the mob. Berkeley, thankfully, has reconsidered, and Coulter will be giving a talk.

"What are you afraid of ? her ideas?" asked Sanders, according to HuffPo. "Ask her the hard questions. Confront her intellectually. Booing people down, or intimidating people, or shutting down events, I don't think that that works in any way."

Sanders, like Robert Reich, deserves credit for taking the principled civil libertarian position that the answer to offensive speech is more speech. Howard Dean should listen to them.