A decision by officials at the University of California, Berkeley to cancel conservative commentator Ann Coulter's planned speech was immediately met by a defiant Coulter, who promised last week to speak regardless at the event taking place on Thursday. The organizers of Coulter’s planned speech also promised she will still find a way to speak at the campus, but on Wednesday, Coulter emailed major U.S. media outlets saying that she will not participate in the event after all.
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“It’s a sad day for free speech,” The New York Times quoted Coulter as writing.
"There will be no speech," Coulter wrote in the email, in which she also criticized two conservative groups who had originally sponsored the event, saying they were no longer supporting her. "I looked over my shoulder and my allies had joined the other team," she wrote.
"I have no sponsor, no lawyer, no court order," she added. "I can't vindicate constitutional rights on my own. I was just supposed to give the speech."
Coulter was initially scheduled to speak at the university on Thursday, but the university feared that this would lead to violent clashes, and cancelled her appearance. Coulter said she would appear despite the university's decision. “What are they going to do? Arrest me?” Coulter said last Wednesday on the Fox News' “Tucker Carlson Tonight.”
Coulter's cancellation comes after another high-profile event at the campus, where disgraced alt-right media personality Milo Yiannopoulos was invited to speak by campus Republicans. His speech was cancelled at the last minute due to violent protests, and Yiannopoulos fled the scene to avoid the violence and was 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.”
Reuters contributed to this report