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Ann Coulter's UC Berkeley Event Canceled, Citing Safety Concerns


Potential Violence Shuts Down Coulter

On April 26, 2017, the Young American's Foundation and conservative political pundit Ann Coulter canceled an event scheduled for the following day at the University of California, Berkeley, citing significant safety concerns and a high probability of violent protests.

The YAF, a conservative group promoting individual freedom, national defense, free-market economics, and traditional family values, scheduled Coulter as part of a national lecture series to discuss these issues.

However, as the event drew near, Berkeley failed to provide YAF the means necessary to conduct their event, including a venue on campus, "zero tolerance for masked agitators," and coordination with the Berkeley Police Department to deal with any potential rioters.

Most importantly, Berkeley failed to provide sufficient security to protect attendees from possible conflict. The university police at Berkeley notably have a stand-down policy for "any situation that develops on campus as long as the situation doesn’t involve the imminent loss of life."

Violent Protests Continue to Shut Down Conservative Speakers

This is especially problematic because this is one of a multitude of violent protests in response to conservative speakers on college campuses.

In January 2017, conservative political commentator Milo Yiannopoulos and businessman Martin Shkreli were scheduled to speak at the University of California, Davis, hosted by the Davis College Republicans. Shortly before the event was set to begin, however, rowdy protesters surrounded the building where the event was to be held.

After receiving significant pressure from campus officials and police, citing that the event could no longer continue safely, the Davis College Republicans canceled the event. Only one arrest was made. Protestors claimed the event “serves as a direct threat toward traditionally marginalized groups on campus” and that Yiannopoulos is “a champion of hate speech against people of color and women."

In February 2017, Yiannopoulos was again forced to cancel an event scheduled at UC Berkeley (hosted by the Berkeley College Republicans) after a violent protest erupted just hours before his event was scheduled to begin. Over 1,500 protesters affiliated with "Black Bloc" gathered en masse, chanting slogans such as "No safe space for fascists" and "This is war" whilst hurling fireworks and Molotov cocktails. The riot caused over $100,000 in damages to the university and injured at least six people, but no arrests were made.

What This Means for Our Freedoms and Our Country

These are but a few examples of an alarming trend growing within the United States: a shift from peaceful protest and political discourse being the norm to organized, violent riots and intimidation of political opponents. This presents a grave danger to both the safety of all parties involved and the constitutionally protected First Amendment right to free speech.

The First Amendment was included in the Bill of Rights not to protect the right to speak of trivial matters that are uncontroversial, such as the weather or how one's day is going, but to protect the right of individuals to offer unpopular opinions, such as those of Yiannopoulos, Shkreli, and Coulter. Should these rights, as well as the rights of conservative groups to peacefully assemble, fail to be secured, then the violence and the disintegration of our civil society are surely doomed to continue.

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Those who make peaceful revolution impossible make violent revolution inevitable."

— John F. Kennedy

© 2017 Andrew England


Greg Schweizer from Corona, California. on April 26, 2017:

And if all of that could be done without violence that would be OK. The thing is that we have seen too many times that there are an exceptional number of people that can't express themselves without using violence. And for that reason venues that would invite that sort of crowd should be avoided. That's not being bullied, it is being smart.

Dean-Ross Schessler on April 26, 2017:

The 1st Amendment gives citizens the right to free speech and to speak freely. The 1st Amendment does not say that citizens can only say things that want to hear by all other citizens. Censorship is a giant step toward tyranny. While some citizens will have dichotomously opposed views, religion, social and political, and some will say vulgar, disgusting vile, tasteless, immature things, those who object are telling the rest of the citizenry that they are ignorant, insecure and without either an intelligent or intellectual defensive of their own personal convictions or believes and a civilized way to express them.

Greg Schweizer from Corona, California. on April 26, 2017:

But they have to think of the safety of the people that would be attending. I am not one that would allow myself to be bullied but when it comes to the safety of others I would take a different approach. I have a hub about being bullied as an adult. We have to be "smart, not stupid".

Andrew England (author) from Youngstown, OH (a.k.a. Hell) on April 26, 2017:

While I agree with you on both points Greg, do you think it's wise to simply allow yourself to be bullied like that? It only emboldens them to double-down on their violent tactics?

Greg Schweizer from Corona, California. on April 26, 2017:

They can get their word out via Internet a lot safer and reach more people.

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