With the ouster of Coulter as a speaker at Berkeley once again everyone is raising the issue of free speech. We must realize free speech is also the reason she is not delivering that talk in California.
Speech is not restricted to a person standing before an audience. You are practicing free speech when you talk openly to a friend or write a letter to a school administrator or talk over the phone to someone that can make a difference. When everyone is permitted to speak freely, no matter what the venue, society functions.
So Ann Coulter was asked and agreed to speak at Berkeley. Students and perhaps alumni or local residents decided to speak out, in particular about the messages Ayn Rand, whoops, Ann Coulter typically delivers. Ann Coulter is a well-known, and certainly well-spoken television guest, writer and public speaker. She proudly waves the far-right conservative flag here in the U.S.. Anyone who understands the Berkeley community would expect the mass of liberals in Oakland and the surrounding areas to voice an opinion or two about Ms. Coulter.
I wouldn't be surprised if one or more wealthy alumni called or wrote to someone at the school. The groups sponsoring Ms. Coulter, in other words, the people prepared to pay her huge speaking fee, backed out.
An organizer of a large event, such as Ann Coulter's speech, must carry the correct amount of insurance to cover any possible situations for which they might be held liable. My guess is the event insurance policy cost suddenly went through the roof. So the free speech of certain insurance company executives might have stifled Ann Coulter's Constitutional rights.
If the school insurance policy was somehow involved, you can bet leadership was aware of that. One of the Berkeley administrators even said the location was 'a school, not a battleground.' We'll have no Kent State here.
A few conservatives have become quite violent in certain protests lately. The current occupant of the White House did his best in the campaign to stoke right wing groups, including a request for them to exercise their 2nd Amendment rights in regards to his opponent. He's getting them riled up about public lands right now.
The homegrown militias need only a little stirring to rekindle the fires of yesterday. Lone wolves, the human kind, probably outnumber actual wolves, the howling kind. Every good old boy seems to have an AR15 in the closet, and a piece in the nightstand. So long as those weapons are not back at the pawnshop. They're worth a lot of money you know.
Ann Coulter's rights are not really being impinged. She can still go anywhere in the United States, stand on the street corner and say anything she wants. There are hundreds of groups that would invite her to speak to their members, if they could only afford the fee, or if she would speak for free. Speak freely, Ann, and all others. Free speech means so much more than just a presentation before a large audience.
The author holds a degree in Speech Communication from Pennsylvania State University.