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It’s not hard to imagine a group of conservatives in the Bay Area sitting around trying to think of some horrible person to invite to speak at Cal in order to make academics and liberals look bad.

Earlier this year the horrible person was Milo Yiannopoulos, who turned bigotry into a career that flamed out when he started championing pedophilia shortly after his abbreviated Berkeley appearance. Though numerous other colleges around the country had politely and quietly turned Milo away,  knowing that his campus appearances were intended largely as provocations, Cal had said OK and even let the junior Republicans on campus book him into the largest lecture space on campus.

To the surprise of no one, a semi-organized group of self-styled anarchists showed up and made a mess of things to the point that the show couldn’t go on. Just as the organizers had hoped, UC Berkeley officials were portrayed as weak-kneed hypocrites. The headlines told us that Berkeley, home of the free speech moment, had put a muzzle on provocative speech. Almost none of the news coverage mentioned the other  campuses that had simply uninvited Milo in the first place. Berkeley tried to stay true to its free speech roots and took it on the chin.

(Critics do make one good point, which is that it might have been smarter for the police officers on hand to have made some arrests rather than simply watch the unfolding shenanigans.)

For the young conservatives, earnest types who perhaps couldn’t get into Stanford and couldn’t afford USC, the Milo thing couldn’t have gone any better if they had planned it. Which they did. So they got back together and came up with another horrible person, Ann Coulter. You know who she is, and if you don’t, I’ll provide a glimpse of her shameless brand of racism in a moment.

The Berkeley brass was presented with the prospect of a Coulter appearance that was publicized before they had been consulted.  Look what happened the last time, they said as they declined to roll out a Coulter carpet. We’re damned if we do and damned if we don’t, so we’ll pass.

And so the conservative crowd is huffing and puffing again. Their argument goes like this: Those liberals are just so close-minded, and they don’t want people to hear “the other side.” Which would seem to suggest that the conservative crowd is big on courting ideas contrary to their own, a notion for which there is slight supporting evidence.

Here, for them, is a sampling of what “the other side” has to say. It’s taken from Coulter’s most recent blog posting. Conveniently, it’s about immigration, which was to be her topic at Berkeley.

She writes:

… Breathing a sigh of relief that, unlike Western Europe, we don’t have Muslim rapists pouring into our country, recall that we have Mexican rapists pouring into our country.

Almost all peasant cultures are brimming with rapists, pederasts and child abusers. Latin America just happens to be the peasant culture closest to the United States, while the Muslims are closest to Europe.

According to North Carolinians for Immigration Reform and Enforcement, immigrants commit hundreds of sex crimes against children in North Carolina every month — 350 in the month of April 2014, 299 in May, and more than 400 in August and September. More than 90 percent of the perpetrators are Hispanic.

They aren’t even counting legal immigrants. Aren’t those worse? Only certain Republicans get excited about the difference between legal and illegal immigrants. The rest of America is trying to understand the point of the last 40 years of legal immigration. Why was this necessary?

Below is a very short excerpt from a few days in November 2013. As Stalin is supposed to have said, sometimes quantity has a quality all its own.

(She lists the names of a half dozen Hispanics arrested in North Carolina in 2013 before continuing)

… The list, for a single month in a single state, goes on in the same vein through 87 separate offenders. When not providing North Carolina meatpackers with cheap labor, immigrant workers seem to spend all their time raping little girls.

To be fair, there are also Asian names, such as Y’Hon Nie (Indecent Liberties With Child, First Degree Sex Offense-Child, Second Degree Sexual Offense); and David Vo Minh (First Degree Sex Offense-Child, Indecent Liberties With Child).

The stuff in italics above, that’s Coulter. There’s more, much more in every possible format. Those who might have been enlightened by her on campus have had plenty of previous opportunities to receive her message.

Sure, I would have preferred it if even someone as vulgar as Coulter had been allowed to speak, and that a reasonable number of police officers would have been on hand to keep the peace, and that people who don’t like Coulter’s hate-mongering could have held their signs while holding their noses.  I’m big on free speech. I think it’s great but I hate the way people of all persuasions play these little free speech games as they attempt to make “the other side” look bad. It’s not about ideas or expression. It’s a game, and it is tiresome.

Coulter’s immediate reaction was to say that the 1st Amendment essentially required Berkeley to host her, presumably along with  anyone else with any kind of message. Which is nonsense. Even Coulter knows the 1st Amendment says you can say most anything you want but it doesn’t require you or me or anyone else to provide you with a platform.

So here’s what I would do if I was in charge. I’d send a letter to Coulter telling her all about Cal’s  Sproul Plaza, made famous by Mario Savio and the Free Speech Movement of the 1960s, the movement that made Berkeley synonymous with free speech. I’d probably include some photos of past events at Sproul, and I’d invite Coulter to take advantage of all that space the next time she’s in Berkeley. I’d also remind her that  graduation ‘s coming right up so she shouldn’t dally if she wants to draw a crowd.


Officials at the University of California at Berkeley on Thursday reversed their decision to cancel a speech by conservative firebrand Ann Coulter.

The university had announced Wednesday that it was canceling Coulter’s appearance following several political protests in Berkeley that turned violent.

But on Thursday, the university reversed its position, saying officials had found a venue where they could safely hold the speech on May 2, instead of the original April 27 date. However, a leader of the college Republican group that originally invited Coulter said the university was placing strict conditions on the event, and he said his group intended to reject the new terms.

Before the reversal was announced, Coulter had vowed to go ahead with an appearance anyway. That probably would have put security officials on high alert and might have sparked another showdown in struggles over campus safety, student views and ideological openness.

“What are they going to do? Arrest me?” she said late Wednesday on the Fox News show “Tucker Carlson Tonight.”

Coulter said she “called their bluff” by agreeing to rules set by the university seeking to prevent violence.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • ryan April 20, 2017, 6:23 pm

    ugh. pass the brain bleach, please.

  • Howard Scherr April 20, 2017, 6:46 pm

    Calling this a “free speech violation” is total BS. The First Amendment reads, “Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech,” if memory serves. Congress has not made any law saying Ann Coulter can’t peddle her racist vitriol and (this is important) lies at Berkeley. However, Berkeley exercised its right, in the marketplace of ideas, not to give valuable shelf space to Coulter’s lies. THAT IS HOW THE MARKETPLACE IS SUPPOSED TO WORK. Bad ideas are starved of oxygen until they die, and can no longer pollute the body politic. Berkeley should proudly rescind their second invitation to Coulter and sit back, satisfied that they have done their intellectual duty. Now, if only the magazines, book publishers and cable TV networks would follow suit.

    • Jerry Speraw April 21, 2017, 6:09 am

      Berkeley is a public institution and a governmental agency. The group sponsoring Coulter is a sanctioned organization on campus. While reasonable limits may be enforced to provide for public safety (building fire code occupancy, for instance), Berkeley would be violating the free speech and freedom to assembly rights of the students who invited her to speak by prohibiting Coulter from doing so. Berkeley is not required to give Coulter a forum, but they are required to abide by the due process rules which have been established to allow sanctioned campus groups to invite guest speakers, regardless of how odious the speakers and their ideas may be.

  • Fred Hernandez April 20, 2017, 7:20 pm

    Coulter would be at home in a UC toilet.

  • PT Caffey April 21, 2017, 4:21 am

    Q: Who decides what beliefs are a “bad idea” and should be starved of oxygen?

    A: Thank you for your question. In today’s Washington, it’s Republicans who decide. If they do not favor what a particular witness plans to say at a congressional hearing, they cancel the hearing. Or, if they allow the hearing to proceed, they allocate greater time and “oxygen” to views they favor. When they can’t cancel or otherwise suppress all opposing views, the Republicans boycott such testimony en masse. Of course, you, as a citizen, have as much right to testify before them as anyone else, which is just to say you have no such right.

    In the wider culture, WE decide. Do we give our dollars to advertisers who associate with sexual predators, or do we not? Do we buy noxious and racists tomes by haggard performance artists, or do we not? Do we fall for the “conservative” grift (supplements, seed banks, gold bars, hateful speech) or do we not? Each of us has a share of oxygen to offer, but it’s a finite resource. Find a cause worthy of your allocation is my humble suggestion.

    Ann Coulter is not a worthy cause. Her voice does not represent “thought.” And what’s happening at Berkeley these days isn’t even “debate.” It’s bear-baiting. Berkeley has become the alt-right’s bear garden. It’s cosplay engineered to generate segments on Fox News about the “illiberal left.” The U.C. Administrators are caught between the Brietbart/Fox Outrage Machine and the hooded hoodlums of the Guy Fawkes brigade, Bay Area division.

    In the movie NETWORK, the programming exec cuts a deal with domestic terrorists to air “The Mao Tse Tung Hour,” a reality show about the violent antics of the hapless group. In the modern version, agent provocateurs are invited to Berkeley to incite fiery conflagrations between white nationalists and anti-fascists. Everybody shows up already in costume, and each side does its own make-up. The “exchange of ideas” commences when the TV vans pull up. The racists defend white pride. The masked avengers land a blow for anarchy! The speakers sell their awful books. And the cable news channels eat it up like gum drops, raking in the ad dollars.

    Please spare me the pious paeans to “incubators of thought.” I had to laugh out loud at that one. Mario Savio this is not. But there is a term for it: “Show business.”

    • Dan Turner April 21, 2017, 8:21 am

      Some years ago Frank Zappa said something like, “Politics is the entertainment division of the Military Industrial Complex.” On with the show!

      • david fairhurst April 21, 2017, 2:36 pm

        Mr. PT…I was told the same thing about ‘Glen Beck’, how one shouldn’t listen to him, after all on one of his book covers he wore a Nazi uniform! Well…I wanted to know why this guy was so hated be the extreme leftist and why they were so scared of him he they ranted that if one read or heard him they would become so corrupted they would, shall we say, “have all the oxygen sucked out of them”. Well it wasn’t a Nazi uniform, first false anti-Beck claim, it was from the failed Utopian society of the DDR. I read that book. I disagreed with much of it, but some points made sense to me, particularly about the repressive “Political Correctness” of the “progressives” not just about speech but “correcting” opposing thought as well.
        I note how with no substance you claim “Racists defend white pride”, wouldn’t then the “Black Pride” movement also be racist? I note that you were equating “conservative” with hate speech. Why is it you think only Conservative white males are hate speakers and racists? That is nothing more than a regurgitation of the false mantra of the progressive left. I would humbly suggest that before you starve Ann Coulter (a fanatical Trump supporter, as are a lot people) of “oxygen” maybe read one of her plethora of best selling books or listen to her on the TV or radio before you just ‘write her off’ of not worthy of thought. “Her voice doesn’t represent thought” is not a worthy argument against her beliefs. Understand that I disagree with most of her opinions, but I at least listened first and made up my own mind.

        • Royal Calkins April 21, 2017, 6:08 pm

          David: In a showdown with PT Caffey, you are unarmed. Not only do you not recognize that you should surrender, you go on to defend the indefensible Ann Coulter. Your response to the dangerous antics of the alt-right racists is to criticize black pride as racist. It’s hardly an original thought but one that makes no more sense now than it did a million recitations ago. That is among the weakest offerings I’ve seen on these pages. BTW, i removed another post of yours because you accused someone of being Nazis because they see things differently than you. That and your repeated references to Hillary Clinton as Hitler are insults to the victims of actual Nazi persecution. Please stop.

        • PT Caffey April 21, 2017, 6:21 pm

          Q: I note how with no substance you claim “Racists defend white pride”, wouldn’t then the “Black Pride” movement also be racist?

          A: In a word, no. A race-related movement is not necessarily a racist movement. The term “racist” carries with it blatant prejudice and a belief in racial superiority. The Black Pride movement, as an adjunct of the Civil Rights Movement, celebrated African-American culture in response to a sordid history, in the U.S., of slavery, torture, lynchings, Jim Crow segregation, job discrimination and voting rights abuses.

          Q: I note that you were equating “conservative” with hate speech. Why is it you think only Conservative white males are hate speakers and racists?

          A: You are mistaken. I identified hate speech as a common element of the “conservative” grift, or con, but I used quotation marks for a reason–to differentiate true conservatism from its association with a rising fringe element, which includes racist grifters like Coulter. I don’t believe Coulter has beliefs; she has a schtick. And it’s a profitable one.

          Meanwhile, Milo is headed back to Berkeley. Because that’s where the money is.

  • Robert Garland April 21, 2017, 4:09 pm

    Are USC and Stanford really superior to the University of California? Robert Garland

    • Royal Calkins April 21, 2017, 5:53 pm

      Did not intend to suggest they are. Just suggesting that people who like Coulter probably would have been happier at USC or Stanford.

  • bill leone April 21, 2017, 8:07 pm

    Ann Coulter; another example of someone who has found a way to make a lot of money exploiting the ugliest & darkest characteristics of American Politics, along with Bill O’Reily, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh,
    Mark Levine, Alex Jones, Roger Ailes, Sarah Palin……& many other Right Wing Lunatics.

  • Karl Pallastrini April 21, 2017, 8:12 pm

    Hello Robert Garland. As a long-time Principal in a public high school, my experience is that both Stanford and USC offer something that Berkeley cannot. If you pay the private school tuitions, you are likely to meet the requirements for the Bachelors Degree. Public universities (Berkeley in this case), have no such obligation…with the expectation that competitive performance and results are the order of the day. In my opinion, all three are excellent. To summarize, I would not put the private universities ahead of the major public universities in regards to your reference to superiority in the state of California. Exclusivity….maybe. Legacy indicates that there really isn’t much difference between them in terms of impact on state, national defense contracts and medical cutting edge technology.

    • Dan Turner April 21, 2017, 10:59 pm

      I knew a fellow – 35-40 years ago – whose entire education had been at UC’s, up to and including a Ph.D. in Italian Renaissance literature (Dante, et al.). His first job, after earning his Ph.D, was teaching at Rice University in Texas. Some of his students drove sports cars and didn’t do any of the assignments and, naturally, did very poorly on the tests. Around Thanksgiving he mentioned to the chairman of the department that a number of them were going to get failing grades. The chairman asked if the students were attending classes and, when he was told that they were attending classes, he informed the fellow I knew that he wasn’t going to be failing anyone unless he was ready to make up their tuition for the next semester. He was told (ordered, actually, under penalty of being fired) to give those students “C’s” as long as they were attending classes. My informant was stunned to hear that because, having had his entire educational experience at UC’s, he had no idea that anything like that went on at private universities. Does anyone think that the Kennedy’s would have been accepted to Harvard if their family hadn’t, for years, given lots of $ to the university? And how about the Bush’s going to Yale? Do you think W got over 400 on his SAT’s? I don’t know if Rice’s academic policies can be compared to Harvard and Yale but, for the latter two, I’m sure that the “legacy” children of the wealthy don’t get thrown out if they attend classes. At Berkeley and other UC’s – or any state college or university in the US – if you party hearty and don’t study, etc., you’re out on your ass. Which is as it should be.

  • Brian Higgins April 22, 2017, 7:46 am

    I think Mr. Bill Maher sums it up pretty nicely…


    • ENRIQUE MENDEZ FLORES April 22, 2017, 1:45 pm

      Under capitalism, anything to make a buck!

  • Jean April 22, 2017, 4:40 pm


    I went to USC and I can assure you that Coulter would have made few of us happy.
    Between the attention grabbing of Hillary Clinton and Ann Coulter, there is a universe of talented and articulate women, many in Monterey County. I would like to read more about them.