The liberal American Civil Liberties Union has come out in support of conservative columnist Ann Coulter’s right to speak on a public college campus Wednesday after the event was canceled.
Coulter, a 12-time New York Times bestselling author, was slated to speak on the campus of the University of California at Berkeley until the school canceled the event, claiming they couldn’t guarantee the security of Coulter or attendees.
Coulter, who was invited to speak by a student group, said she would go to the campus and speak anyway, but ultimately canceled after the event’s sponsor dropped out Wednesday morning.
It wasn’t until Wednesday afternoon, more than a week after the controversy erupted and after Coulter announced her event was canceled, that the ACLU spoke up in support of her right to speak.
In a tweet, the ACLU said, “The heckler’s veto of Coulter’s Berkeley speech is a loss for the 1st Amendment. We must protect speech on campus, even when hateful.”
The heckler’s veto of Coulter’s Berkeley speech is a loss for the 1st Amendment. We must protect speech on campus, even when hateful.
— ACLU National (@ACLU) April 26, 2017
Earlier in the day, the ACLU tweeted a link to a press release from Monday reading, “UC Berkeley cannot limit speech because of its content or because of the viewpoint it espouses. Nor can it help others to do so by canceling, delaying, or moving an event in reaction to threats of disruption or violence, unless doing so is truly necessary to preserve public safety or some other compelling government interest.”
But the same release continues to take a swipe at Coulter as a purveyor of “hate speech.” The statement claims, “Hate is contrary to our core values. The ACLU condemns bigotry and fights for equal rights for all, and we hope that the University and its officials will do the same. But no matter how heinous the speech, the First Amendment protects everyone. To be clear, the constitution does not protect speech that directly incites violence or harasses individual students or community members.”