Last week, UC Berkeley cancelled an upcoming event with controversial conservative writer Anne Coulter following threats received after the violence that erupted when similarly controversial conservative author Milo Yiannopoulos was scheduled to speak at the university earlier this year. Now, Republicans are planning to sue the school for curtailing free speech after refusing to give Coulter a platform.
"It is a sad day indeed when the birthplace of the Free Speech Movement, is morphing before our eyes into the cemetery of free speech on college campuses," wrote Harmeet Dhillon, who represents the Berkeley College Republicans and is a committeewoman to the Republican National Convention for California and former vice chairwoman of the California Republican Party. According to ABC, Dhillon plans on taking legal action against the school, which had already offered an alternate date for Coulter's apperance. Coulter had not been able to accept the rescheduling due to other commitments and noted that classes were not even in session at the later time.
Chancellor Nicholas B. Dirks said that police had "very specific intelligence regarding threats that could pose a grave danger to the speaker," and to her audience and protesters if the event was not rethought.
Berkeley is on particularly high alert after protestors and antifacists caused about $100,000 worth of damage during demonstrations against inflammatory right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos. Yiannopoulos had planned to publicly name students who were undocumented immigrant at the event, leading protestors to take drastic and destructive measures in the hopes of protecting those individuals.
Milo is now joining this conversation again. He hopes to plan a series of rabble-rousing events in protest of Berkeley's decisions: “We will hold talks and rallies and throw massive parties, all in the name of free expression and the First Amendment,” he wrote on his Facebook page. “Free speech has never been more under threat in America — especially at the supposed home of the free speech movement.”
School administrators are now saying they have dedicated more resources to facilitating college Republican events this semester than to "any other student group in memory." Coulter is vowing to give her speech on April 27th anyway, although where is unclear, considering local venues are uninterested in hosting due to both political differences and safety concerns.
“We are confident that we are on very solid legal grounds ... We are concerned about [Coulter's] disregard for the assessment and recommendations of law enforcement professionals whose primary focus is the safety and well-being of our students and other members of our campus community... Everything we’re doing is so the speaker and students can actually exercise their rights without disruption,” Dan Mogulof, a university spokesperson, said. “It’s hard to understand this display of disdain and disregard for the assessment of law enforcement professionals, particularly when their primary concern is the safety and well-being of college students.”
“It has nothing to do with anyone’s political views. We believe in unqualified support to the First Amendment,” Mogulof added. “But we also have an unqualified focus on safety of our students.”
Dhillon plans on suing Berkeley in federal court specifically for violating students' constitutional right to free speech anyway.
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