Conservative firebrand Ann Coulter said today she is canceling plans for a speech at the University of California, Berkeley, that sparked controversy as the university initially pulled the plug on the appearance then reinstated it after getting a ton of blowback.
The New York Times reports that Coulter sent a message to the paper saying: “It’s a sad day for free speech.”
“Despite insisting that she would go to Berkeley regardless — even after the university said it could not accommodate her on the date and time it had initially scheduled her because of threats of violence — Ms. Coulter said she did not see how she could go forward,” The Times reports. “The school said she could speak only at a later date and an earlier time of day, when there were likely to be fewer students on campus and less of a likelihood for violent outbreaks.”
The report notes that two conservative groups that had been supporting the appearance backed out. Young America’s Foundation said late Tuesday it could no longer participate, stating: “Young America’s Foundation will not jeopardize the safety of its staff or students.”
“The Berkeley College Republicans, which invited Ms. Coulter and was supposed to sponsor her visit, also backed out and joined Young America’s Foundation in saying the atmosphere had grown too hostile,” The Times adds.
Coulter said she was left without much choice. The Times quotes her saying: “Everyone who should believe in free speech fought against it or ran away.”
“Ms. Coulter was confronted with the dangerous prospect of setting foot unguarded on a campus that erupted in violence in February after another conservative speaker, Milo Yiannopoulos, planned to appear. The school canceled his event,” The Times notes. “Administrators at Berkeley, who say Ms. Coulter is welcome on campus when the university has an indoor, ‘protectable’ venue available, offered a day next week when students are no longer in class, a proposal that Ms. Coulter rejected.”