A UC Berkeley Student's Perspective: Let Ann Coulter Speak
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Politics and Activism

A UC Berkeley Student's Perspective: Let Ann Coulter Speak

Consider the value of intellectual debate before you demonstrate.

A UC Berkeley Student's Perspective: Let Ann Coulter Speak
Business Insider

The cancellation of Ann Coulter’s speech scheduled on April 27 on the UC Berkeley campus was just that: the nullification of her speech and expression. The cancellation of this event was an effective shutdown of her speech.

I believe that people have a right to express their views – however outrageous or unfounded, logical or sound – without fear of violence and intimidation from other people, authorities or the government.

Free Speech is a birthright of us as Americans and a hallmark of our history as UC Berkeley students. Ceasing to recognize this right in all its variants leaves us with a politics without principle - one of the seven social sins Gandhi warned us of.

Even if I do not agree with someone (Coulter included) ideologically, I will fight tirelessly for her right, and anyone else’s right, to speak, just as I hope they would for me and our fellow Americans. As Beatrice Hall said in paraphrasing Voltaire’s defense for Freedom of Speech, “I may disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

This strong conviction of mine harks back to my personal values which also echo Aristotle’s belief that “the mark of an educated mind is to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” This sense of intellectual open-mindedness is much needed in light of our current political discourse (or lack thereof).

Instead of resorting to violence or threats “by any means necessary” (which in fact reflect intellectual cowardice), we must engage in civil conversation with wholehearted intentions of understanding alternative perspectives. Indeed, if one has genuinely-held differences in perspective from others, inciting violence will do very little for their attempt to persuade or reaffirm the uprightness of their perspective.

This is precisely the danger of silencing speech. Speech is what differentiates man from animal, and in silencing speech as a form of expression, man is naturally left with one avenue: that of physicality and violence for expression.

Senator Bernie Sanders summarized this best when he asked, “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.”

I, therefore, ask of my fellow students at UC Berkeley that when another controversial or even mainstream speaker is invited to our campus before we demonstrate, let us consider the value of debate.

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