Campus Free Speech

The Ann Coulter Debacle Has Turned Berkeley into an Unsafe Space

Free speech besieged by mob violence

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Coulter
Brian Cahn/ZUMA Press/Newscom

Though conditions on the ground continue to change, it appears as if conservative firebrand Ann Coulter will not be visiting the University of California-Berkeley after all.

"While Ms. Coulter has now stated that she will not come to Berkeley tomorrow, the University of California Berkeley Police Department (UCPD) has seen evidence of and continues to plan for potentially violent demonstrations and counter-demonstrations on Sproul Plaza throughout the day," wrote UC-Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks in an email.

Given the threats of violence made against Coulter, and the university's inability to guarantee her safety, her host—the university's Young Americans for Freedom chapter—evidently lost its nerve.

This is not the worst thing to ever happen to Coulter: she's a wealthy author, an influential conservative pundit, and frequent cable news guest. Indeed, being banned from campus is something of a badge of honor for provocative right-wingers these days.

The biggest victim of Berkeley's failure to safeguard free speech is the principle of free speech itself—and, by extension, the students and professors who are most reliant on the principle.

Let's not sugarcoat what happened at Berkeley: some students—conservatives who represent an intellectual minority on campus—wanted to bring Coulter to campus to speak. Other people—students, local activists—threatened mob violence if the event should take place as planned. The administration, despite knowing that the conservative students had the moral right to host Coulter, implicitly sided with the activists, granting them a heckler's veto. Ergo, Coulter will not speak at Berkeley.

The message is clear: students and professors who wish to entertain a controversial speaker, or espouse controversial ideas themselves, are at the mercy of the mob. The effort to make universities safe from hateful and bigoted speech—undertaken by students, and supported by administrators—has produced a college campus that is utterly unsafe, in every meaning of the word.

"For the future of our democracy, we must protect bigoted speech from government censorship," said the American Civil Liberty Union's David Cole in a statement. "On college campuses, that means that the best way to combat hateful speech is through counter-speech, vigorous and creative protest, and debate, not threats of violence or censorship."

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  1. “university’s inability to guarantee her safety, her host”

    You mean the university’s ‘unwillingness’ to guarantee her safety.

    It’s also getting harder and harder to add in the ‘to be sures’ and just label everyone who the mob threatens as a ‘bigot’. Considering that these Maoists have also threatened violence against local GOP in Portland for marching in a parade. The choice is clear: ‘cocktail parties’ or ‘principle’.

    1. Yes – Janet Nepalitano, former Homeland Security Secretary, is the President of the University of California system. She supposedly could protect the United States from terrorism, but can’t arrange a security detail for conservative speaker.

      Same goes for the communists who run the city of Berkeley.

      1. “…but can’t arrange a security detail for conservative speaker.”

        You mean “won’t”.

        Berkeley just signaled their own value, in dollar terms, of the First Amendment.

        1. Why should she organize such a security detail? The “principle of free speech itself” is, of course, a pile of baloney. Everybody knows that some forms of speech cross the line, that this line is basically established by taking a “bench” vote and without any regard to grand principles, and that sometimes a little suppression is needed, to make sure that inappropriate contrarian manifestations don’t get out of hand. Surely no one here would dare to defend the “First Amendment dissent” of a single, isolated, “principled” judge in our nation’s leading criminal “satire” case? See the documentation at:

          http://raphaelgolbtrial.wordpress.com/

      2. Oh, please; Napolitano is the same person who, as DHS Secy, believed the likes of Coulter and anyone agreeing with her as THE terrorist threat to confront. She’s being wholly consistent.

      3. Janet Nepalitano could easily have dispatched her army of sherpas for security detail.

    2. [puts on yokel-colored glasses, squints really hard]

      There must be something here I can bitch about.

      1. Not sure anyone was bitching, but cosmo on

      2. 1. Robbo didn’t praise Ann Coulter.
        2. Robbo used the word ‘controversial’.

        That ought to be enough to set off the screaming masses.

        1. I’m not sure who you think is complaining about Robby, oh great and powerful defender of all Reason writers. You are beyond dumb

          1. Don’t bitch about cocktail parties then get all butthurt when people make fun of you.

            1. Cosmo twin powers ACTIVATE! Form of a bleeding heart! Shape of a tire jack!

            2. Bro, don’t even try to take away cocktail party jokes.

              1) it’s hilarious
              2) it’s true fact

          2. oh great and powerful defender of all Reason writers

            He probably IS one of the Reason writers, or maybe one of their beards.

      3. ^ This also epitomizes the cocktail party mentality. “Oh my God, you care about free speech. What a dumb yokel. We have bigger issues to worry about, like Uber and such”

        1. No, I think free speech is one of the most important issues for libertarians. I was merely commenting on the fact that you had to find something to bitch about in Robby’s column.

          1. Really? You must not read very well. I wasn’t ‘bitching’ about Robby at all.

          2. For once, Robby set aside his impulse at equivocation. Maybe he’s finally noticed that the problem isn’t Coulter or Milo or some other provocative figure.

            1. Maybe he’s finally noticed

              Yeah, finally. *eyeroll*

              1. Roll your eyes like a 12-year old girl all you want; every Robby piece prior to this one included the requisite “yeah, but….” regarding the target of the mob. The thing about a principle is that it applies to those you don’t like, too.

                1. The thing about a principle is that it applies to those you don’t like, too.

                  And this is clearly the first time he has ever defended free speech.

                  1. I didn’t say he’s never defended free speech, but this looks like the first time he’s defended it without the need to take a shot at the person involved. How long have you been washing Robby’s dog?

                    1. You were good not to say “washing his balls”, because then the White Knight Brigade would be screaming about your homophobia. It’s funny how those who constantly defend Robby often utilize the same lines of argument that SJWs use, that’s probably not a coincidence. Call Robby a “man-child” because he’s childish and they’ll simultaneously call you a homophobe and a body-shamer, as if the term has something to do with either of those concepts.

                    2. Yet weirdly when people call you a douche, you have no defenders.

                    3. Who did that?

                      If you hate Robby so much, why do you keep reading his stuff and commenting on it? All you seem to do on here anymore is bitch about Robby and insult Sparky. You’re a smart and interesting enough guy. Maybe put some effort into something other than the H&R culture wars.

                    4. Actually I comment on whatever is around to be commented upon. And no, I don’t typically give Robby a good write-up. I’m sorry that causes such a deep unabiding ache in your anal cavity. As for Sparky, you obviously aren’t paying attention. That guy, for the last couple months has honed in on every post of mine he comes across, no matter how mundane and has just done nothing but talk shit. He’s got some kind of obsession with me. He and Hail Retaxes might as well be the same person in that regard. And you’re telling me I’m the one starting shit? I’m the one fighting some culture war? I can’t help it if SJW-lite has infested what remains of the commentariat, those people tend not to like me. They’re also insufferably obnoxious.

                      But maybe you yourself should put some effort into something other than talking out both sides of your mouth.

                    5. That guy, for the last couple months has honed in on every post of mine he comes across, no matter how mundane and has just done nothing but talk shit.

                      And any kind of search will clearly prove this point.

                      They’re also insufferably obnoxious.
                      But maybe you yourself should put some effort into something other than talking out both sides of your mouth.

                      Calling you on your unintentional irony is not obsessive.

                    6. To be fair, you are rather insufferable.

                    7. Keep doing what you’re doing, twat.

                    8. Keep doing what you’re doing, twat

                      If you’re going to continue being a useless fuckstick…

                    9. Whatever. I don’t need to get involved with whatever you’ve got going on with Sparky.

                      maybe you yourself should put some effort into something other than talking out both sides of your mouth.

                      I try to be open minded and give people the benefit of the doubt, if that’s what you are talking about. I’m probably too easily sucked into these dumb arguments too.

                    10. I’m not looking for an argument with you Zeb or anyone for that matter. But by your own logic, that I should ignore and remain silent on Robby’s musings, you ought to stop reading and commenting on posts critical of Robby.

                    11. looks like the first time he’s defended it without the need to take a shot at the person involved

                      Because he doesn’t really mean it then, right? Like if I were to say “Free Society is the dumbest retard I’ve seen post things here but he absolutely has the right to post things here” I don’t really mean that? If I don’t think it’s controversial in any way that he’s a dumb retard can I really not believe in his rights unless I don’t call him a dumb retard?

                    12. ^yeah Zeb, what could possibly compel me to “insult Sparky”? HE DIN DU NUFFIN!

                    13. what could possibly compel me to “insult Sparky”

                      I know threading is hard, but there are timestamps. I don’t know why it is that you feel like such a poor little put-upon innocent when you go out of your way to be an ass. You have no problem calling others stupid but gods forbid if someone should call you stupid in response. Why do you believe that anything you post should be 100% free from criticism?

                    14. What do timestamps have to do with anything?

                  2. this is clearly the first time he has ever defended free speech without ostentatiously throwing people who actual exercise free-speech under a bus

                    FTFY

                    1. Robby’s not thrown under the bus — he’s martyred for political gain.

        2. Oh, come on. Everyone here cares about free speech. And Uber’s right to do business without interference from regulators and taxi cartels is pretty important too. Some care more than others about picking on writers’ word choices.

          FWIW, your comment on unable/unwilling distinction is valid, Id’say.

      4. yokel-colored glasses

        You mean these?

        1. Great movie. That fight scene was ridiculously and pointlessly long, though. I guess it was symbolic of the efforts it takes to wake someone up from their umwelt.

          1. Maybe. Or there could be no particular point other than to be ridiculous for ridiculousness’ sake.

            Or perhaps Carpenter figured he’d let the audience go ahead and read whatever they want to read into it.

            1. Or perhaps Carpenter figured he’d let the audience go ahead and read whatever they want to read into it.

              I dunno about this. I could swear Walker posted something a while ago about how Carpenter was all pissy that people were getting the movie’s message wrong.

              1. Carpenter has repeatedly stated that he was inspired for the movie due to his hatred for commercialism. As fun as the movie is, it would take a literal moron to not get that point from all of the alien signs in the movie.

      5. I was just going to say “good job, Robby” since he seems to have managed to avoid hyperbolic criticisms of Coulter this time.

        1. That’s why I wrote this:

          “It’s also getting harder and harder to add in the ‘to be sures’ and just label everyone who the mob threatens as a ‘bigot'”

          1. Oh, so that was an attempt at a backhanded compliment? All right, I guess I take back what I said.

            1. It wasn’t meant as a compliment or insult, simply a fact. It is getting harder and harder to add ‘to be sures’, for everyone (not just Robby) to these incidences.

          2. Yeah, not trying to pick on you.

        2. I’m impressed with Robby today. No equivocation. No apologies. Very good.

          Maybe this is the sign of a change in his writing style.

          1. I hope so. He does some good work. And while I’m not as hung up on his equivocations as some people, it does get a bit tiresome and sometimes detracts from his point.

          2. Ha. This too, shall pass.

    3. If the University is unwilling, there is always the 49th MP Brigade.

  2. So Young Americans for Freedom ultimately cancelled the event?

    1. They discovered they weren’t free that evening.

    2. Right, because it sure would’ve been a shame if something bad happened at the nice little get together they were gonna put on.

    3. Yes. They realized that freedom is a lost cause. /not really joking, unfortunately

      1. No doubt at Berkeley it is. But the question is why anyone right of Ernesto Guevara would pay to attend Berkeley.

        1. Probably because it is also still a very good research and engineering university.

          1. Probably ^this^

            It’s all about the credential. The same reason why some people still pay to attend Ivy League schools.

            1. More than the credential, I think. As far as I can gather they have some very good programs and people in a number of non-grievance study related fields and are involved in running some major government research labs.

              1. I don’t know if you approve of archeology as a field of study, but I’ve heard Berkley is one of the better places for it.

              2. ^ This.

                The humanities side of campus at UCB is pretty much on the opposite side from the science and engineering folks, who are plugging away on cutting-edge stuff and completely ignoring the SJWs rioting in the quad.

                1. In response to Zeb.

                  1. For science, Caltech is superior to Berkley and pretty much every other college in the country.

  3. “The administration, despite knowing that the conservative students had the moral right to host Coulter, implicitly sided with the activists, granting them a heckler’s veto. Ergo, Coulter will not speak at Berkeley.”

    Also, the legal right.

    It’s abundantly clear, Berkeley sides with the thugs, which they encourage and enable every way they can. Berkeley is a public university and is required to obey the Constitution, when it doesn’t there should be consequences and meaningful ones at that. Hurt them were it really hurts = $$$$$$$.

  4. has produced a college campus that is utterly unsafe, in every meaning of the word.

    Isn’t that redundant like you’re saying the same thing twice?

  5. You know, the best way to counter someone you don’t agree with is to just stay home. Do something productive for yourself. Really.

    With this, the Berkeley progtards just increased Coulter’s stock price. Nice job, you stupid Brownshirts.

    1. I don’t think any thought goes into it. They just react. It’s all lizard brain at this point.

  6. The message is clear: students and professors who wish to entertain a controversial speaker, or espouse controversial ideas themselves, are at the mercy of the mob. The effort to make universities safe from hateful and bigoted speech?undertaken by students, and supported by administrators?has produced a college campus that is utterly unsafe, in every meaning of the word.

    Which was the primary goal of these shitstains in the first place.

    1. I think the primary goal for most of them is to look badass in front of their friends, smash some shit with no consequences, and possibly get laid.

      Until the police make it clear that there will be actual consequences, this will be treated like the free party that it is.

      1. ^ This.

        I read a comment from an antifa the other day along the lines of “we’re going to keep doing this because the police can’t stop us!”

        Which made me think, boy are you in for a rude awakening when it dawns on you that currently the police aren’t stopping you. It’s not that they can’t.

        1. I had to get into a hotel in Chicago while lefties were marching on Michigan ave so I got to see this. Violence had been threatened. This was before the current gov. The response was hundreds of officers that literally lined the parade route, shoulder to shoulder, keeping the marchers away from the stores and pedestrians. Easy peasy, if you want to stop it.

  7. Have we heard a peep out of the ACLU over this?

    Would have thought their response should have been deafening, Berkeley read the “riot act”, a real civics lesson for us all…

    1. Last paragraph of this post:

      “For the future of our democracy, we must protect bigoted speech from government censorship,” said the American Civil Liberty Union’s David Cole in a statement. “On college campuses, that means that the best way to combat hateful speech is through counter-speech, vigorous and creative protest, and debate, not threats of violence or censorship.”

      Of course, you would have read the whole post to get to that, and I know, I know: no one actually reads the posts before going straight to the comments section to either bitch and moan about “kozmos and kocktale partiez” or to bitch and moan about “yokelz bitching and moneing about ‘kozmoz and kocktale partiez.'”

      (Or to bitch and moan about everyone else bitching and moaning)

      1. So, they eaked out a memo, guess that counts as a peep. All is forgiven ACLU.

        1. No, the ACLU has a lot more to be forgiven for. But credit where credit is due. They still seem to be pretty good on speech. If I recall correctly, they were even for the Citizens’ United decision.

      2. Is the ACLU going to do something or is a mealy-mouthed statement the zenith of its involvement? It’s not like campuses just now started being hostile to speech that violates the preferred orthodoxy; the only difference is the willingness to be violent. The ACLU is exactly the group that should be taking up an issue like this.

        1. Is the ACLU going to do something or is a mealy-mouthed statement the zenith of its involvement?

          I think we all know the answer to that question.

          1. I’m old enough to remember them defending the right of Nazis to conduct a parade.

    2. Have we even skimmed the article before commenting?

    3. They wrote a sternly worded letter. Oddly enough they haven’t joined the suit against berkeley, but it’s not like they do that sort of thing.

  8. Kind makes me wish Coulter (hey lady, eat a cheeseburger or something, but enough body shaming) would engage the Hell’s Angels for security…

    1. Worked out great for the Stones.

      1. The bass player for Jefferson Airplane had it coming.

  9. “The effort to make universities safe from hateful and bigoted speech?undertaken by students, and supported by administrators?has produced a college campus that is utterly unsafe”

    Students, attending universities in unprecedented numbers, seem more confident in their safety.

    1. I have no idea why they’d feel safe. I’ve been told constantly that college campuses are filled with roving gangs of rapists and racists. Apparently they have a rate of sexual assault which put the Bosnian war to shame. You know, a war where they actually used rape as a tactic.

      1. “I have no idea why they’d feel safe.”

        Students are immortal. They are the first to join when it comes to manning the barricades. Fear of Bosnian Rapists is strictly for squares.

  10. being banned from campus is something of a badge of honor for provocative right-wingers these days.

    It’s also rapidly becoming a badge of honor for moderates and milquetoasts. If I could stick that on my resume I would.

    1. The campus conservative group should put up a new speaker every week of varying right of center people. See where the protest line is, out of principle I’m sure the antifa would start protesting Libertarians, Centrists, Moderates, get war weary and mistakenly protest team blue.

      1. It’d be nice if they actually hosted good speakers, instead of news bait like Coulter and Milo. There must be at least half a dozen conservative or libertarian Nobel winning economists alive today, make the leftists protest them.

        The public might find free speech more palatable if it’s defense were shown from time to time to actually work for people worth listening to. But if one wants to make censorship popular, the best way to do it is to make the issue all about Fred Phelps and Ann Coulter.

        1. ^ This.

          They don’t seem confident they’ll get the protests they want if they invite someone reasonable, but if they really wanted some good optics, they would invite Thomas Sowell, knowing full well he’ll get shut down, too.

        2. Ah, a carefully worded defense of violence and intimidation.

          Shorter MarkLastName: “The conservatives are doing it wrong. They should invite some 80-year old economist to talk about capital gains tax rates or free trade. If they have the temerity to invite Ann Coulter, they deserve what they get!”

  11. UC Berkeley leaders admit they cannot do their job, which includes providing campus security. Entire upper two levels of management immediately fired.
    Where is the second part of this story??????
    Here’s an idea, subcontract security to the Ohio national guard.

    1. this is more a case of not willing to do it jobs rather than an issue of want-to. And it’s hardly the first time. This is the same institution that allowed its own non-white students to be forced off a bridge into a creek in moving about the campus. That same attitude has not worked well at Mizzou, albeit with a public whose sensibilities are not confined to the far left of the spectrum.

  12. Anyone on the left endorsing censorship is missing the opportunity for campus conservatives to demonstrate their endorsement of bottom-of-the-barrel racist trash like Coulter and Milo. If they had any brains they’d let that pathetic story be the one above the fold.

    1. If they had any brains….

      That explains quite a bit. Then again, this is the group that decided Tom Perez should be its leader. And that’s a weak deflection attempt, but it goes back to your central point.

      1. College kids wanted the Muslim guy.

        Speaking of conservatism being at its nadir, how does it feel for your b?te noire to be 18 year-olds?

        1. College kids wanted the Muslim guy.

          That’s rich. So either the campus crazies are calling the shots in the Democratic Party, or the identity-politics-uber-alles elites have shoe-horned him into the position to cry about Trump with extra victimy tears. Neither scenario lends much credibility.

  13. “While Ms. Coulter has now stated that she will not come to Berkeley tomorrow, the University of California Berkeley Police Department (UCPD) has seen evidence of and continues to plan for potentially violent demonstrations and counter-demonstrations on Sproul Plaza throughout the day,” …

    So Antifa lost their reason for rioting, but are going to go ahead and riot anyway? It would save a lot of time, money, and headaches if someone just set up a dating website for these assholes.

    1. It would save a lot of time, money, and headaches if someone just set up a dating website for these assholes.

      What would they call it though? marxistshitheelsonly.com?

    2. The riots are how they do foreplay.

  14. Honest Berkeley video

    Do any of y’all watch the Sargon of Akkad channel on YouTube? I’ve seriously just began exploring YouTube for things a little bit more philosophical and honest; and I must admit I’ve seen some quality channels that I think anyone with Libertarian leaning might get some enjoyment out of. If you like Sargon then I also recommend Razorfist’s channel, little bit more of a music/gaming vibe but still pretty great.

    1. Sargon is generally good, but he is a bit of a socialist and is highly susceptible to hand-waving away things he doesn’t understand. I think of him as an extreme centrist.

      Check out the Tom Woods show and Stefan Molyneux while you’re at it. The Mises Institute has a youtube channel that’s definitely worth subscribing to.

      1. Thanks man, I’ll give those a gander.

    2. Sargon is great. Don’t agree with half of what he says, since he’s a Labour party leftist, but he’s just as fed up with the terrorists on the left as we are.

  15. His arms freak me the hell out.
    Also, fuck that odious, opportunistic conserva-nihilist.

  16. “While Ms. Coulter has now stated that she will not come to Berkeley tomorrow, the . . . (UCPD) has seen evidence of and continues to plan for potentially violent demonstrations and counter-demonstrations . . .”

    Almost makes one think that Coulter isn’t the problem in Berkley, doesn’t it?

    1. Think? No, no, man you mean feeeel.

  17. Why does the article (and ACLU) specify “bigoted” speech? None of the speakers opposed on college campuses by the angry mob are accurately described as “bigoted.” In fact, the angry mob is the definition of “bigoted” in its attitudes toward non-Leftists, men and Caucasians. And it shouldn’t matter anyway. Free speech is free speech.

    1. Forget it, bud. Its Robbytown.

    2. Why does the article (and ACLU) specify “bigoted” speech?

      Probably because bigoted speech is and should be protected by the first amendment.

      1. That sure is white of you

    3. Ann Coulter is accurately described as bigoted, sorry if that hurts.

  18. I’m stunned Robby managed an entire article without any irrelevant asides establishing his disdain for the right (and thus his suitability for a mainstream left-media job like WAPO or The Atlantic). Good job.

    On the other hand there is this:

    The effort to make universities safe from hateful and bigoted speech?undertaken by students, and supported by administrators?has produced a college campus that is utterly unsafe, in every meaning of the word.

    There is no effort to make universities safe from hateful and bigoted speech. There is an effort to prevent any speech contrary to the beliefs of the radical left which controls campus politics.

  19. So a portland parade was cancelled because one of the hundred floats was the “Republican Party” float, and the Antifa terrorists threatened to shut the parade down and cause violence.

    Robby, people like you are complete idiots if you think then fighting “hate speech” stops at “Nazis” at the like. To them, anyone not on the left fringe is a hate speech nazi, so when you say things like “Coulter is bad, BUT she should be allowed to speak”… no, that is completely irrelevant, Coulter is allowed to speak, period. Nothing else matters.

    How long until it’s “punch a libertarian” because you know we are part of the oppressive system and hate the poor etc. I’m sure many of these terrorists / fascists would call being against the minimum wage “hate speech” against the poor. Or arguing for tax cuts and spending cuts is also “hateful” against “minorities, poor, women…” and on an on.

    Those on the left shutting down Coulter, Milo, and others fit the definition of terrorists, as they are practicing violence for political gain. There is no appeasing those fascists, and you are a fool to even try.

    1. Coulter is allowed to speak, period. Nothing else matters.

      If this is so, the this bit of commentary:

      Robby, people like you are complete idiots

      Should have been left out of your post. If no criticism is valid then no criticism is valid. Especially since you could have made your point without the insult. If you’re allowed to call Robby an idiot then he is allowed to call Ann Coulter a vile whore if he so chooses.

      1. of course, but I’m not saying “Robby is an idiot, but he still should have a right to speak”. Robby’s freedom to post whatever he wants is not under dispute, but Coulter’s freedom of speech is.

        Freedom is not supposed to have qualifiers. You don’t need to justify why you should be allowed to speak, you have that right.

  20. “The Ann Coulter Debacle” made Berkeley unsafe? What does that even mean? Lets cut the crap. Leftist idiots make Berkeley unsafe for others.

    1. ^ yes ^

  21. The problem is that until the mobs face serious punishment, they will continue to riot against free speech for those they hate (in the name of anti-hatred, of course, just as they behave fascistically in the name of anti-fascism). And as has already happened at least once there (the April 15 battle), if the authorities don’t stop them, their enemies will have to be allowed to fight back. We’re already facing the sort of anarchy Spain suffered after the 1936 election of the Popular Front. That led to civil war and ultimately a right-wing autocracy. Is that what the Berkeley leftists want?

  22. I bet it was tough for the ACLU to come out in support of Coulter…

  23. Aren’t we all at the mercy of the mob?

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