Saturday, April 22, 2017

Chicago Tribune: Battle for Berkeley: Will Ann Coulter spark another clash?

Ann Coulter, the right-wing hate-monger and regular contributor to Breitbart News, was invited to speak at University of California, Berkeley, the most liberal university in the country.

Chancellor Nicholas B. Dirks canceled the original date of the invitation, April 27th, and instead proposed an alternate May 2 date. But Coulter said, "I'm speaking at Berkeley on April 27th, as I was invited to do and have a contract to do."

Now, “The campus is bracing for trouble next week . . . Officials, police and even the campus Republicans who invited Coulter say there is reason to fear violence in what is being called the Battle for Berkeley.”

“Berkeley's reputation as one of the country's most liberal universities, in one of America's most liberal cities, has made it a flashpoint for the nation's political divisions in the era of Donald Trump.

“The campus and the city itself have become a target for militant right-wing organizations that have clashed in recent months with militant left-wing or anarchist groups from the San Francisco Bay Area.”

Robert Reich says, “I'm glad the University of California, Berkeley, where I teach, has reversed its decision and is now allowing Ann Coulter to speak.

"Free speech is the central idea of a university. If unpopular views can't be expressed at a university, university education is severely compromised, and the First Amendment is reduced to a popularity contest.

"Speech should not be blocked because it's offensive, provocative, or even hateful. The essence of education is provocation. Students should be able to directly hear and question someone who utters offensive or hateful things so they can understand why such statements are brainless and vacuous, and also gain a deeper appreciation for openness and tolerance.

"The only exception is when hateful speech is calculated to -- and is likely to -- incite violence by others toward groups or people against whom the hateful speech is directed. But even then, universities must make every effort to protect those individuals or groups rather than prevent such speech.

"One of Trump's worst legacies after nearly 100 days of this, the worst of all American presidencies so far, is his legitimizing of hate in America and elsewhere around the world. But the proper response is not to try to shut it up. That only allows hatefulness to fester and even become politically subversive. A better alternative is to allow it to express itself, so everyone can behold its fatuousness and moral bankruptcy."

Ann Coulter rejects UC Berkeley's rescheduling, vows to keep original speech date

By Jocelyn Gecker
Associated Press