Conservative legend Ann Coulter has taken a defiant attitude towards the University of California at Berkeley after the college cancelled her planned speech on April 27. Despite the university’s worries of safety concerns, Coulter vows to go to Berkeley and carry out her visit anyway. As she put it on an appearance with Fox News host Tucker Carlson, “What are they going to do? Arrest me?” She said that she had previously agreed to rules set by the university meant to prevent violence, and that she’s done nothing to warrant cancellation of the appearance. On Twitter, Coulter also called the cancellation illegal, saying that “no school accepting public funds can ban free speech.”
The cancellation was spurred on by violent confrontations in the area between protesters on opposite sides of the political aisle. In a Saturday incident, 21 people had to be arrested. UC Berkeley spokesman Dan Mogulof said that campus police feared that these violent groups would make an appearance on campus if Coulter were to go ahead with her planned appearance at the university. This decision is not without precedent, as the university canceled a February appearance by the ultra-conservative personality Milo Yiannopoulos due to violent protests at the school over the appearance of what liberals call a “professional political troll”. Those protestors set fires, threw rocks and launched Molotov cocktails in the process of fighting the university’s decision to host Yiannopoulos. UC Davis, a nearby school, also cancelled January appearances by Yiannopoulos and former pharmaceutical executive Martin Shkreli, who has also been the center of many controversies.
This decision by UC Berkeley is notable because of the university’s role in the free speech movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s. Modern critics of the university say that the school has lost its way to political correctness. Mogulof simply responded this way: “It’s unfortunate that there are people who think the university’s efforts to keep students and the speaker herself safe are ‘silly.’”