CNN host W. Kamau Bell declared on Thursday the cancellation of college speakers like Ann Coulter is a matter of protecting students from so-called hate speech, and has nothing to do with free speech.
In an appearance on CNN’s “The Situation Room,” host Wolf Blitzer asked Bell, who hosts the series “United Shades of America,” what were his thoughts about college free speech issues and the uproar at UC-Berkeley over conservative speakers showing up on campus.
Bell said that he is a proud resident of the “People’s Republic of Berkeley, California” and stated a riot that occurred there had disrupted a farmers’ market he frequents. He then went on to say that Berkeley was right to shut down right-wing speakers.
“That’s not about free speech,” the CNN host said. “The reason why people’s speeches are being canceled is because it’s a safety issue. If your free speech leads to hate speech, and it makes people feel unsafe, then universities have the right to protect the kids on campus.”
The liberal American Civil Liberties Union would disagree with Bell’s assertion, as the group has stated Coulter’s right to free speech was violated by the school cancelling her planned appearance.
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
Interestingly enough, Bell had boasted previously in his interview of the “uncomfortable” discussions he’s had on his show and advised Americans to listen to different points of view.
“I think we’re not doing enough of listening to people and to talking to each other and getting engaged in these uncomfortable conversations… and listen to people who we may think think differently than us but a lot of times we find out they’re more like us than we realize,” he said.