Ann Coulter, Bernie Sanders, and Bill Maher walk into a bar and…well, I’m sure there’s a joke there somewhere.
In truth, Maher and Sanders have stood up to be counted as good friends of the First Amendment. Both liberals have indicated that they support Ann Coulter’s right to speak at the University of California, Berkeley.
Maher, on his show “Real Time,” let the Berkeley snowflakes have it:
On his show “Real Time” Friday night, Maher said it is becoming a nationwide problem that colleges restrict free speech unless its “exactly what liberals want to hear.”
“Berkeley used to be the cradle of free speech,” Maher said. “And now it’s just the cradle for f**king babies.”
“I feel like this goes on all over the country on campuses — they invite somebody to speak that’s not exactly what liberals want to hear and they want to shut her down. I feel like this is the liberals’ version of book burning. And it’s got to stop.”
Not to be upstaged by Maher, Bernie Sanders set liberals’ ears burning:
“I don’t like this. I don’t like it,” Sanders told The Huffington Post after speaking at a rally for Omaha mayoral candidate Heath Mello on Thursday night. “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,” he said. “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,” he concluded. “Confront her intellectually. Booing people down, or intimidating people, or shutting down events, I don’t think that that works in any way.”
On the other side of the divide is Rep. Keith Ellision, the Muslim congressman from Minnesota. Ellison gives lip service to free speech and then begins to walk it back:
Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), who was also in Omaha to speak at the rally for Mello, expressed similar sentiments, noting that opponents of the black civil rights movement sued protesters and media outlets that reported on them in an effort to restrict their speech.
“Absolutely protest these people you don’t like, absolutely write against them, denounce them,” the deputy chair of the Democratic National Committee advised progressives angry at right-wing speakers. “But the solution to bad speech is good speech, the solution to bad speech is more speech. Once you start saying, ‘You can’t talk,’ then whoever’s in power gets to impose that on whoever’s not in power and that’s not good.”
At the same time, Ellison argued that UC Berkeley and other institutions might have legitimate concerns about the costs of hosting such an event that should give them a say in where and how the speech takes place.
“At the end of the day, is there some venue where Ann Coulter gets to speak on that campus? I think there’s gotta be,” he told HuffPost. “But you know, I think the university president saying, ‘This is going to cost us a lot of money and we need more space and couldn’t it be at another venue that’s bigger, that’s easier to defend’ ― I think those are all factors that need to be part of the conversation as well.”
No, actually, Keith, they have nothing to do with the “conversation.” You either have free speech or you don’t. The college and the city of Berkeley are responsible for public order. If they feel they can’t handle it, call out the go**amn National Guard. Don’t sit there and whine about how much it costs or that you can’t protect one woman and a few hundred people who want to hear what she has to say.
Sanders and Maher support Coulter’s rights for the same reasons: Both men realize that their own right to utter controversial (even idiotic) ideas is injured if the Berkeley administration and the black-clad thugs are successful in shutting her down.
To quote Victor Laszlo from Casablanca: “Welcome back to the fight.”