by Lil Tuttle
For the second time in three months, the University of California at Berkeley has cancelled a scheduled campus lecture by a high-profile conservative speaker. In February, it was Milo Yiannopoulos. This month, it is Ann Coulter.
Berkeley administrators initially placed three extra demands on Coulter in order to allow her April 27th lecture:
- hold the lecture in the afternoon rather than the evening;
- make sure the event was open to students only; and
- only announce the lecture location at the last minute.
Coulter agreed to their conditions, in return for two demands of her own:
- the university would ask the Oakland police chief not to order his officers to stand-down if unrest ensued; and
- the university would expel any student who engaged in criminal activity at the event.
Fifty years ago, UC-Berkeley proclaimed itself “the home of the Free Speech Movement.” Today Berkeley should be nicknamed the “the hospice of the Free Speech Movement.”
During the 60s campus riots, Clare Boothe Luce warned the consequences of appeasing violence on campus would be the death of reasoned debate. In an article entitled, Handling Campus Activists, published in the Hawaii Star-Bulletin, she wrote:
These widespread disorders … have made America realize that if academic order is not soon restored, the whole educational process is bound to disintegrate. The universities will either have to close down, or yield over to their politically-oriented faculty members and the “activists” with the consequence that they will turn into breeding grounds for young revolutionaries.
Clare argued that the “soft approach’ of appeasement adopted by university administrators only provoke more “demonstrations increased in size and in violence.”
… in a free society all questions or ‘causes’—academic or political—which interest students are properly debatable questions. … But reasoned debate is not the method by which the new left activists choose to resolve questions.
The contrast between Berkeley and Auburn University only proves the late great lady right. Controversial speaker Richard Spencer spoke at Auburn last Tuesday evening, April 18th. Police patrolled the event and enforced the rules, “which included a no-mask policy.” Protestors still protested, but they did so peacefully and lawfully. No riots. No destruction. No trampling on free speech.
Reasoned debate lives at Auburn. It is on a death watch at Berkeley.
Following the Milo speech riots at Berkeley in February, President Trump tweeted:
He asks a valid question. Why should American taxpayers support – some would say reward – lawlessness at any publicly-supported institution? If universities refuse to enforce laws and passively sanction anarchy, shouldn’t they be required to do so on their own dime rather than on millions of dollars from Americans’ pockets?
Update: In a press release issued at 2:19 p.m. on Thursday, April 20, UC-Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirk announced the university was offering organizers of the Coulter lecture a new lecture date — May 2nd in the afternoon — at a yet-to-be-disclosed location.
Update: Coulter rejects reschedule offer; will speak on April 27 as planned.