Opinion

Coulter’s Speech Cancellation: Hypocrisy Returns

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Michael McGrady Director of McGrady Policy Research

Is Ann Coulter controversial? Yes. However, does this justify her being forced to cancel a speech event due to threats of violence? No. Hypocrisy has won, once more. Shrouded in the so-called efforts of social justice and protecting diversity, the actions of the University of California and the threats of outside extremist groups present the standard of free speech in American academia. One of the arguments associated with the death of Coulter’s event was that she is a speaker that represents outside corporatist interests, despite the fact she was invited by student organizations at the Berkeley university. However, after losing massive legal support and the backing of heavy-hitters, Coulter was left with no choice but to withdraw from any effort to even speak on the campus.

Legal proceedings are underway against the university. To my understanding, they are entirely justified. Violence, nevertheless, can control public opinion and the minds of individuals. No, Coulter isn’t under mind control. I also feel that the people who disagree with her and threaten the violence aren’t either. But, what this all comes down to is that you still can influence decisions of individuals with use of rhetoric that is violent in nature. Attributing the overall fault for this incident, in my opinion, is easily casted upon all Americans. This is even the case for people wanting to fight for the freedoms of conscience we all are entitled too.

Just think about it. What are the responses you get when you casually ask people on all parts of the political spectrum how they feel about free speech, in general? The answers to the question are going to vary, aren’t they? Generally, the main idea of protecting free speech is viewed in a positive light, regardless of who you ask. One Gallup survey indicated that an overwhelming 72 percent of the people in the study’s sampling supported expressing political views that are upsetting and even offensive to certain cross-sections of the campus communities. Ironically, 69 percent of the respondents in the same survey supported repressing language and speech that is intentionally offensive. These findings were also solicited on a loose definition of what offensive actually means. If anything, given the recent events of free speech debacles on campuses across the country, the definition of offensive is ultimately subjective to a person’s individual perspective

I am not going to lie… there is some truth to that. In my experience covering free speech on the American college campus, the general consensus among the people who are being oppressed when a conservative speaker comes onto a predominantly liberal campus is that it’s centered on the basis of a broad characterization of a certain political group. In the Coulter case, the conception that she is a part of the “Trump Machine” and is nothing but a bigot can be easily perceived from the progressive liberal’s viewpoint. Nevertheless, this is never, actually, the true perception of one’s views. This happens all the time, though. I mean, it is obvious that misconceptions, on both sides, are created without full stories. I did it, personally, in my views on the March for Science; but, I stand by them. However, the perception that Coulter wishes to threaten the safety of students by speaking is trumped by the threat of actual violence and riots that were levied. In fact, just the mere threat of physically – yes, physically – hurting people who have differing viewpoints is Stalinist. As a country, we have evolved from such things – at least, I thought we did. The backing of a “resistance” to a president that was elected by the Electoral College and that most Americans – outside major metropolitan areas with high population concentrations – supported is futile. Is intimidating a conservative provocatrix like Coulter the answer to fighting hate? Oh, fighting hate with hate works? No. I remember a certain someone said that “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

Coulter and her conservative student sponsors to the campus don’t need a safe space from controversial speech. We don’t need free speech zones either. People can protest and debate as they wish. Regardless of that, though, when we’re faced with an overwhelming threat of violence, the unjustified buckling to the dominant narrative will take place.

You either conform or face the consequences. The consequences here are dozens of arrests on all sides, badly injured protestors, and a country looking on in disgrace. The death of free speech was prompted by hypocritical means. Please end this madness.