Look, I'm the guy who once called her a "viperous harridan," OK? That was 11 years ago in this space. I described her as such after she savaged four widows whose husbands died in the Sept.
But for as much as readers with whom I have been sparring on Twitter the last few days might wish otherwise, her character is not the issue here. As you may know, Ms. Coulter was invited to speak on the famously liberal campus, but UCB first restricted the time of day she could do so, then tried to convince her to switch to a day when classes are suspended as students study for finals.
When Coulter refused, the school canceled the event. Berkeley, you should know, has been the site of recent political street fighting. UCB said there was a credible threat of a repeat performance if Ms.
She had vowed to show up anyhow and appear, if need be, in Sproul Plaza, an open public concourse that was, not incidentally, the birthplace of the free-speech movement. Wednesday, under pressure from UCB, the two conservative groups that were sponsoring her visit rescinded the invitation, and "Ms. Coulter said she would not come.
Many of my more liberal Twitter followers, loathe to support Coulter on Here are some of their arguments and my answers: The First Amendment applies only to government censorship.
And UCB is a public institution, supported by taxpayer money, which makes this a government issue. She's milking this for publicity. She doesn't care about free speech. I get paid when I speak, too. UCB never actually said she couldn't speak.
The courts have held that you may not "unduly burden" the right of free speech, i. That's why the city of Miami lost in federal court in after it billed a promoter for the cost of extra security required to bring a band loathed by some in the Cuban exile community to the Miami Arena. Here's the bottom line: I don't care whether it's Castro's favorite band playing in downtown Miami or a viperous harridan speaking at Berkeley.
The right to free expression is either secured for all or it's guaranteed to none. So here is what should offend you even more than Ms. Coulter, particularly if you live in a place like Berkeley, with its , people and police officers.
A bunch of thugs just established that you can bully a public institution in a relatively small town into disinviting a controversial speaker. Which of our other freedoms will they come after next? Coulter called Wednesday "a sad day for free speech. Ann Coulter was right. Leonard Pitts is a columnist for The Miami Herald; readers may contact him via e-mail at lpitts miamiherald.