Bernie Sanders believes that the planned Ann Coulter speech at the University of California, Berkeley, should go forward.
Although he profoundly disagrees with Coulter on the issues, Sanders condemned the threats and intimidation made by left-wing protesters against the controversial conservative author, stressing that her ideas should be publicly debated, not shut down.
A non-partisan group originally invited Coulter to Berkeley for a speech on April 27. The university then disinvited her because of security issues and subsequently offered May 2 in a separate venue as an alternative. Coulter insists that she is showing up on campus next Thursday as originally scheduled.
As a public (i.e., government-funded) institution, many have noted that Berkeley is required to abide by the freedom of speech provisions of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
With that in mind, the Berkeley College Republican organizations announced that they may sue Berkeley, said to be the birthplace of the Free Speech Movement in the U.S., in federal court if Coulter is not allowed to give her address, Fox News reported.
“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,” the group’s attorney declared.
Violent, far-left protesters at Berkeley went on a rampage in February when Milo Yiannopoulos tried to deliver a speech there, and last weekend, clashes broke out between anti- and pro-Trump demonstrators at a park in the city.
An independent socialist who ran for president in 2016 as a Democrat and waged an unsuccessful primary contest against Hillary Clinton in the process, Vermont Senator Sanders has been touring Red States to try to bring Trump voters into the Democrat column even though he is not a member of that party. Donald Trump himself was a former Democrat and independent before running for president on the GOP ticket.
A vocal President Trump foe, Bernie Sander has repeatedly criticized Democrats for being out of touch with middle-class voters, and last week asserted on CNN that the Democrats can’t win with a power base exclusively on the east and west coasts. “We need a bottom-up party, a grassroots party which is prepared to stand up to the big money interests, which have so much influence over the political and economic development of our country,” he told Jake Tapper.
While campaigning in Omaha, Nebraska, for a mayoral hopeful, Bernie Sanders had this to say about the threats against Ann Coulter, the Huffington Post reported.
“I don’t like this. I don’t like it. Obviously Ann Coulter’s outrageous — to my mind, off the wall. But you know, people have a right to give their two cents-worth, give a speech, without fear of violence and intimidation. To me, it’s a sign of intellectual weakness. If you can’t ask Ann Coulter in a polite way questions which expose the weakness of her arguments, if all you can do is boo, or shut her down, or prevent her from coming, what does that tell the world? What are you afraid of — her ideas? Ask her the hard questions, confront her intellectually. Booing people down, or intimidating people, or shutting down events, I don’t think that that works in any way.”
Across the country, university administrators have cancelled speeches by right-of-center pundits because of pressure from progressive activists.
Last night on Judge Jeanine Pirro’s FNC show, Ann Coulter reaffirmed that she will be in Berkeley on April 27, and will give a speech using a bullhorn if necessary.
Separately, Milo Yiannopoulos claimed on Facebook earlier this week that his apparent comeback tour will supposedly start with a free speech celebration at Berkeley, including an event called Cinco de Milo. “I intend to return Berkeley to its rightful place as the home of free speech — whether university administrators and violent far-left antifa thugs like it or not,” Milo promised.
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