Berkeley claims they are worried that having a divisive speaker, such as Ann Coulter, puts their students at risk.
Citing “safety concerns” and logistical challenges, UC Berkeley made the decision to cancel Ann Coulter’s scheduled appearance. Coulter was invited by the same student Republican group who extended an invite to Milo Yiannopoulos back in February. That event ended before it could start when UC Berkeley cancelled his appearance after violent protests and riots broke out. Masked individuals clad in black stormed the campus and vandalized property. School officials said they feared the same reaction would occur if Ann Coulter were to speak on campus.
According to Coulter, the university had a list of demands for her designed to persuade her to cancel her speech. When she reluctantly agreed to their conditions, they canceled her appearance anyway. The university has said the cancellation isn’t because of Coulter’s political views. They’re supposedly concerned with the safety of the students in light of the reaction to Milo Yiannopoulos.
Sadly, this has become the norm for college campuses across the United States. Speakers with conservative views—no matter how controversial—have grown more and more absent from campuses. While many students express their fears over the ideas these conservative speakers have, I haven’t heard too much about fears that protestors and rioters have been instilling in the minority Republican groups among students. Many are forced to remain silent in their opinions and beliefs for fear of being attacked.
Now, I’m definitely not a fan of Ann Coulter personally. Guess what, though? I just won’t attend any appearances featuring Ann Coulter. See how that works? I respect that there are people in the United States who would like to hear what she has to say. I also recognize her right to freedom of speech and have no qualms about walking right past one of her appearances without batting an eye. What Ann Coulter believes and speaks is of no consequence to my life. I have a hard time understanding the argument that someone with different opinions can be dangerous based on those ideas alone. As a grown woman, there isn’t anything another person has to say that will “infect” my mind and cause me to gay-bash, support political ideologies that I don’t believe in, or attack people who differ from me. Taking away people’s platforms and denying constitutional rights disguised as safety precautions should not be happening in 2017.
I also find it convenient that security measures can’t be put into place until September, when UC Berkeley claims they want to reschedule. Coulter has said that her speech planned to focus on immigration and her book. By catering to temper tantrums and violence, UC Berkeley is contributing to the entitlement the younger generation seems to be overcome with. Rather than encouraging discussion between parties, fostering tolerance and understanding, and showing commitment to higher learning, the university would rather silence the “deplorable” voices. Ironically, this same campus was once hailed as the birthplace of free speech. Somehow, I have a feeling that the activists of yesteryear didn’t have riots in mind.