California

California Colleges to Ann Coulter and Student Satirists: Shut Up

Berkeley and UCSD silence politically incorrect speech but claim to be viewpoint neutral

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Gage Skidmore

What do professional provocateur Ann Coulter and an irreverent student publication called The Koala have in common? Both have seen their unpopular speech shut down by the supposedly "viewpoint neutral" actions of public universities in California.

In a series of legal maneuvers, the University of California, Berkeley and the University of California, San Diego are attempting to blur the lines between viewpoint-neutral and viewpoint-discriminatory in ways that, if allowed to stand, will give colleges and universities much greater leeway to suppress speech they don't like.

Berkeley's College Republicans filed a lawsuit in April following the cancellation of Ann Coulter's planned speech at the university. The organization accused Berkeley of using an unwritten "high-profile speakers" policy as pretext for discriminating against conservative speakers by limiting them to times of day and locations where they were unlikely to be heard.

According to the College Republicans, Berkeley has applied its vague, disputed high-profile speaker policy—which seems to have been hatched in March at a meeting of school administrators, police officers, and city officials, but never actually written down—"in a discriminatory fashion, resulting in the marginalization of the expression of conservative viewpoints on campus by any notable conservative speaker."

In a motion to dismiss filed last week, Berkeley argues its actions with regard to Ann Coulter's planned appearance were viewpoint neutral. University officials claim, unbelievably, that they were concerned only about "clashes between opposition groups of protesters…any suggestion that the University was motivated by a particular protester's message or view is demonstrably false."

But those "opposition groups" materialized (at an event billed as a "free speech" rally) after Berkeley utterly failed to prevent left-wing demonstrators from shutting down a speech by conservative provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos. So in effect, Berkeley is arguing that if you let angry protesters from one side run so rampant that it draws angry protests from the other side, you now have a "viewpoint neutral" right to suppress controversial speech in the name of public safety. If the court were to accept this argument, it would hand California universities a giant club with which to hammer unpopular speech.

The Koala

In fact, the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) is already trying to wield a similar club to bludgeon unpopular speech on its campus. Earlier this year, a court upheld a "Media Act" passed by the school's student government that eliminated student activity funding for all print media on campus.

The student government passed the act just two days after the publication of a controversial article in The Koala, a student humor publication that bills itself as "The Worst in Collegiate Journalism Since 1982!"

On November 16, 2015, The Koala published—without a trigger warning!—an article that satirized the concept of "safe spaces" and made use of numerous stereotypes and epithets in the process.

Two days later, on November 18, UCSD issued an official denouncement of The Koala, calling it "profoundly repugnant, repulsive, attacking and cruel." On the same day, student government representatives explicitly denounced the article before pulling funding for print media on campus.

The Koala has long drawn the ire of the campus' more politically correct elements for its provocative and intentionally offensive humor. As a result, over the past 15 years, the UCSD student government has attempted on at least three separate occasions to cut The Koala's student activity funds (money collected from students by the university and given to the student government to distribute, on a viewpoint-neutral basis, to student organizations).

This time The Koala sued the university for First Amendment violations. Despite what clearly appeared to be the targeting of their publication, a judge ruled the student government action was viewpoint neutral because it applied to all print media, not just The Koala.

The Koala is currently appealing the decision.

In both cases, if the courts ultimately side with the schools, California universities—and other emboldened schools around the country—are nearly certain to continue pushing the envelope, restricting an ever-increasing sphere of speech by disfavored speakers and student groups.

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  1. According to the College Republicans, Berkeley has applied its vague, disputed high-profile speaker policy?which seems to have been hatched in March at a meeting of school administrators, police officers, and city officials, but never actually written down?”in a discriminatory fashion…”

    But that policy if written would look like a teen girl’s diary, constantly in flux, changing daily based on her feelings. It would be a mess and difficult to apply.

    1. Sounds like most college administrations. My late Father was a college professor (conservative, oddly enough, but they were scared of him), and so I’ve lived off and on on the fringes of Academy. They din’t really change much. College administrators tend to be ego-inflated vermin, quick to bully and often also cowardly. Which goes far to explain why the most famous U.S. President who had also been a College President was so goddamned awful (Wilson).

      1. “College administrators tend to be ego-inflated vermin, quick to bully and often also cowardly.”

        Those college administrators have probably doubled in number and doubled again since the days your father trod those hallowed halls. The growth in the number of administrators has outstripped both students and teachers as a proportion of people attending not only colleges but lower schools as well. It’s not because they are all communists or democrats, or whatever, but a natural tendency for all bureaucracies to expand. You see the same thing happening in the military where Republicans and conservatives tend to dominate.

        1. I would argue that in Universities, as in other fields, the expansion of the number of people with nothing useful to do (and therefore more opportunity to buttinski) is a function of wealth. Where there is wealth, jobs (and therefore jobholders) multiply. Universities have often been run by poltroons who were overly attached to opinions having little to do with scholarship. Look at the British Universities in the late 18th Century , when it was required of students that the profess the Anglican creed. The Universities of the day hosted a truly astonishing number of blowhards, and this so poisoned the atmosphere for scholarship that most of the best minds of the era (at least the ones who made big marks) were dissenters like Joseph Priestly.

          Not coincidently, Britain was undergoing a significant expansion of wealth at the time.

          1. Come now, everyone knows that protecting the well-earned?and certainly not self-made?reputations of distinguished members of academic community is a social and legal task of utmost priority, especially when they are confronted with unwanted “satire” in major institutions like New York University. See the documentation of America’s leading criminal “parody” case at:

            https://raphaelgolbtrial.wordpress.com/

            1. Typo corrected:

              Come now, everyone knows that protecting the well-earned?and certainly not self-made?reputations of distinguished members of the academic community is a social and legal task of utmost priority, especially when they are confronted with unwanted “satire” in major institutions like New York University. See the documentation of America’s leading criminal “parody” case at:

              https://raphaelgolbtrial.wordpress.com/

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    2. It would be a living document, complete with PMS.

  2. I think a teen’s diary would be slightly more coherent.

  3. Yawn. California. Free Speech Abuse.
    Secede already!

    1. Or just stand by your guns and decline ALL federal monies if you do not wish to protect the civil rights of all students.

    2. I’m waiting for California to go bankrupt so we can bust it down to territory status and re-admit it to the Union in pieces.

    3. No secession. Export the progs to Antarctica.

  4. Incredible how typically 15% of a student body can have such a large impact on how a college campus is run. I just graduated from college and unfortunately the libertarian leaning students are always more interested in chasing chicks and school, in that order. Becoming activists for anything was at the bottom of the list, I know it wasn’t even on mine.

    But then you have the kids involved in student government or some other activist movement to “make campus safer for minorities and lgbtqurz”. As if the place was a hotbed of clan activity.

    We were by far the larger of the two groups but had essentially zero impact on campus governance or activities.

    The fatal flaw of libertarianism is that people who don’t care what other people do, don’t care what other people do, even when those people meddle and control.

    1. Policies actually have to negatively affect a large number of students before any opposition can really get rolling. If there had been no draft during the Vietnam era, that war would probably still be going on a la Afghanistan.

      1. Agreed. But what policy can actually have that much of a negative impact on students anyway? Speakers are getting banned from campus, but if you were never going to listen to them anyway then you probably won’t protest. Even if you were looking forward to it I doubt most people would muster up the energy to do anything.

        Short of something absurd like tripling tuition to provide restitution payments I don’t think we’re gonna see much if any pushback from student bodies themselves. Change will probably only come when the student loan bubble pops and colleges are forced to operate in reality again.

        1. “Change will probably only come when the student loan bubble pops and colleges are forced to operate in reality again.”

          How about shutting them down forever? Isn’t that the solution we are all looking for?

        2. “Change will probably only come when the student loan bubble pops and colleges are forced to operate in reality again.”

          Colleges seldom operate on a basis of complete reality. They may have to align themselves more closely with the dominant delusions of whichever Party holds the purse strings.

          1. Colleges seldom operate on a basis of complete reality. They may have to align themselves more closely with the dominant delusions of whichever Party holds the purse strings.

            Given how many states Republicans run and how batshit crazy most colleges are…they clearly do not need to do that.

        3. Students are relatively stupid and easily mislead, and that’s when they’re actually paying attention. People in that age range are more concerned, generally, with getting laid and experimenting with drugs and alcohol. That’s before you consider that, as a demographic, they also skew heavily to the left. Note that while people in that age group are very opinionated, they hardly vote at all even though it’s a surprisingly large demographic.

          Another generality that you can count on is that most people won’t become ‘conservative’ or ‘libertarian’ until they have something concrete in terms of overall personal wealth to conserve or protect.

          In other words, it’s hardly surprising that institutions of higher learning skew heavily to the left, up to and including socialism, because those ideologies require relatively uneducated and inexperienced people with no particularly valuable possessions to thrive.

          1. but but, without socialism, how are they to acquire education, experience, or wealth?! before you say ‘work’, just shut up and hand over your wallet.

          2. “In other words, it’s hardly surprising that institutions of higher learning skew heavily to the left, up to and including socialism, because those ideologies require relatively uneducated and inexperienced people with no particularly valuable possessions to thrive.”

            I guess that explains why the military also skews so strongly to the Left.

            1. I don’t think the military even loosely fits the bill other than the ‘young’ part, so I’m not sure what your point is intended to be here.

              1. ” I’m not sure what your point is intended to be here.”

                Sorry I wasn’t clearer. The military thrives on people who are young, uneducated and inexperienced. Like colleges they draw their recruits from high school. But they do not skew to the Left as you imply. If anything they skew to the Right, particularly among the more successful higher ranking members.

                1. Like colleges they draw their recruits from high school.

                  Unlike colleges, their recruits are signing up to risk their lives. I imagine that involves a different mindset than the youth who are being recruited to expand their minds on someone-else’s dime.

                  Which direction do students skew who are working to pay for school while attending?

                  1. “Unlike colleges, their recruits are signing up to risk their lives. ”

                    You haven’t heard the latest scam? They join one blood sucking institution (the military) so they can attend another (college) paid out of public funds after their stint is finished.

                    “Which direction do students skew who are working to pay for school while attending?”

                    Those skew Libertarian, of course. A moment’s silence for their sad passing.

                2. Except that the military doesn’t want them to stay that way. If you want to get anywhere, you’ll have to get a degree in something real.

    2. Girls and school; at least you had your priorities right.

    3. “Becoming activists for anything was at the bottom of the list, I know it wasn’t even on mine.”

      This explains why Libertarians so often find themselves fighting losing battles. They don’t seem to have the commitment that beyond posting comments pseudonymously on the internet. The passion is on the side of today’s iconoclasts rebelling against an establishment which is stale, male and pale.

      1. What explains your pathetic existence?

        1. If you want to activate yourself, don’t concern yourself with me too much. It’s these students that Libertarians are losing to, and they are the future.

          1. Good thing that, in either case, they don’t vote. So they can ‘activate’ all they want, it won’t get their generation to stop being more interested in getting laid than in destroying capitalism.

            The young people who actually end up with jobs will, unsurprisingly, become more conservative once they have some personal wealth or property to protect. If they never enter ‘the real world’, say for example they become a professor, they’ll never have to grow up.

            College is basically Neverland; if you never leave you never need to become an adult.

            1. “Good thing that, in either case, they don’t vote. ”

              If only African Americans were so accommodating.

              “College is basically Neverland; if you never leave you never need to become an adult.”

              Most students leave and those who stay on are on to something good. Pay, prestige, perks, an unhurried pace, a career in the academy is a lot more attractive than other jobs on the outside. Driving for Uber, for example.

      2. Well, yes, organizing libertarians is like herding cats. Being the anti-collectivists is a blessing and curse, especially when you’re already small in number. But to say the people who constantly complain about government force don’t have passion is absolutely ridiculous

    4. In that sense (a small fraction of students controlling the campus environment) universities exemplify the concepts of Public Choice theory.

  5. I attended UCSD way back in the 80’s/90’s. The Koala was a wonderful publication that gave much needed relief and humor in a tough academic environment. Coming down on the Koala would be like coming down on The Onion or tv’s South Park. I do remember vividly a letter from the regents to us students “encouraging” certain verbiage, like “mail carrier” instead of mailman, “humankind” instead of mankind… in a creative writing course. It’s one of the regrets of my life that i didn’t stand up and call bulls** on that situation. Too young and clueless, i guess. The seeds of all this madness go way back.

    1. “The seeds of all this madness go way back.”

      Mail carrier is not so bad. How about mail nurse?

      1. : ) dig it.

  6. Go Berkeley Barb!

  7. Samantha, you’re doing this wrong. There where was your “to be sure, Ann Coulter and the Koala have dangerous, fascist views…”

    How are we here in the comments supposed to mock you for tailoring your articles to get into those DC cocktail parties if you don’t play the equivocation game, and just straight up report stories and full-on defend the rights of the evil Nazi RethugliKKKlans?

  8. “Both have seen their unpopular speech”

    How can their speech be unpopular when they are invited to speak everywhere. This is the virtue signaling I read in the article. There are lots of things I disagree with but that does not make those things unpopular.

    1. *disfavored

  9. Was that “demonstrably false” statement by the university an attempt at a pun?
    The rackateering “anti-fa” groups have rules of engagement on campus that even the US military would love. It either gets shut down, without blaming them, or they get to shut it down with little to no repercussions.

  10. “What Do Ann Coulter and The Koala Student Newspaper Have In Common?”

    A set of choppers that lets you eat corn on the cob through a picket fence?

    1. You’re thinking of Drop Bears. (checks wikipedia, well, damn)

  11. Full disclosure: I once wrote for the Koala. Back when I was attending UCSD there were four newspaper. There was a crazy leftwing rag (supported by student fees by state law), a crazy rightwing rag (supported by student fees by state law), the nominally mainstream Guardian (which was just mostly just a rehash of the crazy leftwing rag, without the Marxist cartoons), and… the Koala. If you wanted to know what was really gong on, you read the Koala.

    1. Some fancy man, trying to show off that they’re some goddamned literary who can write posts that are longer than one sentence.

      1. “I like my disclosure like I like my coffee, short and sweet.”

      2. Obviously you’ve never read the Koala…

  12. Never trust anyone saying that they are viewpoint neutral. That is just simply not how humans work.

    1. I am ambivalent to this theory.

  13. I see above that many of you are bemoaning the fact that libertarians have a lowered political impact because they’re not interested in telling other opeople what to do and more interested in having a job or running a business and raising a family and generally being a productive member of society. (the college version of this is basically the same, focusing on girls and studying instead of student government)

    You guys realize that this is true of all people on the Right, in general, yes? (and yes, libertarians are for the most part Rightists)

    And you realize, that it’s only a disadvantage in the current political climate, right? When all this shit comes crashing down, and don’t kid yourself the Federal GFovernment is doomed to bankruptcy within the next 30-40 years, who do you think will have the only remaining power left, which is the real power of force, of guns and food and production? There won’t be any fake money left to float bullshit social programs and colleges and stuff like that. All money would be tied to production.

    Do you really think all the scumbag welfar-ites and college hippies in the centralized cities will be able to stand against the organized suburbanites and ruralites outside of the cities who are organized and have all the guns and productive and logistical facilities?

    1. I mean hell, here is an example. I have been thrilled to get my first career of my own as a machinist, as a normal jersey boy who expects to have to raise a family one day and own a home. Now I freaking know how to MAKE guns (or at least there’d be a short learning/practice curve).

      Do you guys really think all the lefties will ever be able to stand up against real power like that when the current political climate finally collapses, and all the fake money is gone?

      1. “Now I freaking know how to MAKE guns ”

        Good for you. Do you have the stomach to kill someone with these guns of yours? If not it may get you in a lot more trouble than if you’d gone unarmed in the first place.

  14. Seems like the Koala has no case. If all print media is no longer subsidized by student fees, the action is viewpoint neutral by definition. And libertarians should be pleased that students aren’t forced to pay fees to subsidize publications they disagree with.

    UC Berkeley discriminating against conservative speakers because leftist troublemakers threaten violence is clearly not viewpoint neutral.

    1. CE: Thanks, you made exactly the points I wanted to make. The Koala and Berkeley cases are completely unlike each other, contrary to the author’s clumsy attempts to wedge them together.

      Yes, it’s clear that a particular Koala posting triggered the funding cutoff. So what? I’ll welcome any trigger for something good.

  15. Wait, so UCSD stopped giving public money to ALL student run publications and somehow this a bad thing? Did I mistakenly click on a Socialist Worker article since we’re upset that the government isn’t paying for someone’s speech?
    I’m a current UCSD student and I think it’s great that my student fees aren’t going to the Koala or the 9,000 other ass-awful publications the administration thought it necessary to pay for.

    1. A lot of the people we don’t like get their start in subsidized student activities. Journalists, in these newspapers, performing people – student theatrics, media – student radio etc. There are plenty of athletes too, but Libertarians admire athletes and will pardon a little collegial public teat sucking.

      1. As a libertarian who doesn’t appreciate chipping in for others’ enjoyment of sportsball, I reject your generalization.

        1. All the articles they write criticizing subsidized stadiums if anything would suggest libertarians hate athletes, but Mr. Trueman lives in his own world.

          1. “All the articles they write criticizing subsidized stadiums ”

            It was subsidized athletes I was referring to. Read again if you need to confirm.

  16. The left continues to systematically pave the way for leftist violence. The left has always used violence as a means to an end and always will, they can not help themselves, it’s in their nature to do so.

    The right continues to systematically pave the way for intellectually honest discussion debate. The right has always used intellectually honest discussion debate as a means to an end and always will, they can not help themselves, it’s in their nature to do so.

    But logic and intellectually honest discussion debate is absent in the far left. Dose anyone not see where this is going?

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