Reversal: Berkeley invites Ann Coulter to speak on May 2nd at "protectable venue"

When you’re so far left that the Onion can’t resist an easy lay-up at your expense, it’s time to recalibrate.

It’s tempting to believe that bad press and a lawsuit threat from Coulter forced them to relent, but that’s not what did it. A key bit from the chancellor’s yadda yadda this afternoon about balancing the school’s commitment to the First Amendment with its commitment to safety:

While there may, at times, be a tension between these two paired commitments, we cannot compromise on either. In that context, Ms. Coulter’s announcement that she intends to come to this campus on April 27 without regard for the fact that we don’t have a protectable venue available on that date is of grave concern. Our police department has made it clear that they have very specific intelligence regarding threats that could pose a grave danger to the speaker, attendees and those who may wish to lawfully protest the event. At the same time, we respect and support Ms. Coulter’s own First Amendment rights.

Given our serious reservations and concerns regarding Ms. Coulter’s stated intentions, last night I asked my staff to look beyond the usual venues we use for large public gatherings to see if there might be a protectable space for this event that would be available during the compressed, and extremely busy, window of time between now and the end of the academic year.

Fortunately, that expanded search identified an appropriate, protectable venue that is available on the afternoon of May 2. While it is not one we have used for these sorts of events in the past, it can both accommodate a substantial audience and meet the security criteria established by our police department. Earlier today, we informed both the Berkeley College Republicans and the Coulter organization of this development, and we look forward to working with them. We will disclose the exact location of the venue once we have finalized details with both organizations.

She was going to show up anyway and create a security clusterfark for them when the usual suspects inevitably started smashing windows. That was the nuclear option. Berkeley doesn’t care about bad press from the right; the fascist left wears that as a badge of honor. They don’t care about First Amendment lawsuits either. But if the town is going to burn on the 27th and they’re going to get sued by the victims for not having done more to provide security, then sure, they’ll spring into action and find a “protectable venue.” If this standoff is destined to happen, better from the school’s perspective that it happen in an environment they can sort of control than one they can’t. Coulter forced them to choose. Any other conservative speaker with the guts and the dough to provide their own security, just in case, can probably get other public universities to back down with the same threat.

In lieu of an exit question, read former Clinton apparatchik turned Berkeley professor Robert Reich on the school’s lousy decision yesterday to effectively ban Coulter from campus. “It’s one thing to cancel an address at the last moment because university and local police are not prepared to contain violence – as occurred, sadly, with [Milo] Yiannopoulos,” he writes. “It’s another thing entirely to cancel an address before it is given, when police have adequate time to prepare for such eventualities.” That’s the most galling part: Even with advance notice, Berkeley clearly didn’t want to be bothered with having to provide security. Better to punish conservative speakers by keeping them off campus and deny “anti-fascists” any pretext for another fascist rampage than deal forthrightly with the problem that some American campuses are now effectively no-go zones for prominent right-wingers. Here’s Coulter last night on Tucker Carlson’s show vowing to show up no matter what.

Update: Is this going to happen on the 2nd? Quote: “a leader of the college Republican group that originally invited Coulter said the university was placing strict conditions on the event, and he said his group intended to reject the new terms.”