Coulter still not speaking at Berkeley, ACLU backs Coulter

After weeks of debate, conservative commentator Ann Coulter won’t speak at UC Berkeley, but protesters are still expected to be out in force. UC Berkeley Police Capt. Alex Yao says authorities expect extremists to arrive on campus “to have violence against each other,” and students should expect a heavy police presence and “a very, very low tolerance of violence.”

The American Civil Liberties Union raised its own concerns Wednesday with its National Legal Director David Cole saying he was troubled by how threats of violence effectively silenced Coulter. Cole said in a statement:

“If the government gets to decide which speech counts as hate speech, the powers that be may later feel free to censor any speech they don’t like. For the future of our democracy, we must protect bigoted speech from government censorship. On college campuses, that means that the best way to combat hateful speech is through counter-speech, vigorous and creative protest, and debate, not threats of violence or censorship.”

UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks released a statement stressing the school’s “commitment to free speech” saying:

“This is a university, not a battlefield. The strategies necessary to address these evolving threats are also evolving, but the simplistic view of some — that our police department can simply step in and stop violent confrontations whenever they occur — ignores reality.”

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