A decision by officials at the University of California, Berkeley to cancel conservative commentator Ann Coulter's planned speech next week was immediately met by a defiant Coulter, who promised on Thursday to speak regardless. The organizers of Coulter’s planned speech also promised she will still find a way to speak at the campus.
“What are they going to do? Arrest me?” Coulter said late Wednesday on the Fox News' “Tucker Carlson Tonight.” Coulter later tweeted that she still intends to speak at "Berkeley next Thursday."
"She's definitely coming to Berkeley on the 27th," Pranav Jandhyala, one of the event's organizers, told NPR. "We're looking into alternative venues."
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Young America’s Foundation, the group that helped organize her visit, confirmed her appearance on April 27 would go forth. “If Berkeley wants to have free speech, they are going to get it,” YAF spokesman Spencer Brown said.
Brown’s remarks were in response to a statement early Wednesday by UC Berkeley Vice Chancellor Scott Biddy and Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Stephen Sutton, who told the organizers in an email that "given currently active security threats, it is not possible to assure that the event could be held successfully."
Coulter could be following in the footsteps of disgraced alt-right media personality Milo Yiannopoulos who in February was invited to speak by campus Republicans, but whose speech was cancelled at the last minute due to violent protests. Yiannopoulos fled the scene to avoid the violence and was immediately lionized as a hero of conservatives.
The protests that erupted at UC Berkeley ahead of Yiannopoulos’s appearance caused $100,000 worth of damage to the campus, the school said the day after .
The Washington Times quickly publish an op-ed slamming Berkeley, saying “The Coulter backlash is certainly not a single story.” The story cited the Yiannopoulos controversy and Condoleeza Rice in 2014 being targeted by Rutgers University students when it was announced she would give the commencement address as evidence of “liberal hypocrisy on free speech.”
Bill Maher had also been famously disinvited from speaking at Berkeley in 2014, he publicly embraced Yiannopoulos on this specific point when he hosted him on his HBO show, “Real Time.” At the time Maher addressed the ensuing controversy with a message to Berkeley "my reputation isn’t on the line. Yours is.”