UPDATE (4/26, 10:40 a.m.): Ann Coulter’s appearance at UC Berkeley is officially canceled, according to the Washington Post. Coulter said in an email acquired by the Post that the Young America’s Foundation (who are co-plaintiffs in the lawsuit desribed below) canceled her appearance and asked her to not come to Berkeley. Coulter reportedly wrote that the Young America’s Foundation “wasn’t serious and dropped ongoing negotiations over a room,” and that “Everyone who should be for free speech has turned tail and run.
The on-again, off-again, and sure-to-cause-riots-either-way Ann Coulter speech at UC Berkeley is technically “on-again”, having been rescheduled to May 2, 2017 over security concerns. But the Berkeley College Republicans are having none of this rescheduling, and filed a lawsuit against the university in a U.S. District Court demanding monetary restitution and carte blanche scheduling accommodations for their future on-campus conservative speakers.
Regardless of the lawsuit, Coulter insists on Twitter that she’s still coming to Berkeley to speak this Thursday, April 27, the original date of her booking. She has not indicated the venue, and UC Berkeley says there are no venues available. The university remains skittish over the possibility of violence after a protest of author Milo Yiannopoulos’ speech caused more than $100,000 damage on campus.
The lawsuit was not written by Ann Coulter, but it reads as if it were. The legal brief argues that UC Berkeley has “permitted the demands of a faceless, rabid, off-campus mob to dictate what speech is permitted at the center of campus during prime time, and which speech may be marginalized, burdened, and regulated out of its very existence.”
“By imposing an unconstitutionally vague policy concerning so-called ‘high-profile speakers,’ and selectively applying that impermissibly vague policy to burden or ban speaking engagements involving the expression of conservative viewpoints, Defendants have deprived [Young America’s Foundation] and [Berkeley College Republicans] of their constitutional rights to free speech, due process, and equal protection,” says the brief, written by California Republican Party vice-chair Harmeet Dhillon and her colleagues.
The brief argues that May 2 is an unacceptable date for rescheduling because it falls during a “dead week” when students will be too busy studying for finals. I’m no Berkeley undergrad, but I’m pretty sure that college students given a “dead week” would not spend that whole seven days busily preparing for their finals.
The entire debate seems more about grabbing headlines and selling books than it is about balancing free speech and public safety. The Berkeley College Republicans have locked in on a strategy of booking the most inflammatory conservative speakers they can find, then playing the victim card when presented with any logistical blowback to the chaos they hope to gin up. Their previous scheduled speaker, former Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos, has since been discredited in a pedophilia scandal, showing what excellent judges of character the Berkeley College Republicans are.