The New York Times reports that conservative pundit Ann Coulter has dropped her plans to speak in Berkeley, California, a city that has rapidly shed its “peaceful hippie commune” vibe in favor of becoming an ongoing fight club between political protesters. Coulter—an intentional political gadfly whose greatest hits include calling schools “criminal training labs,” and saying women shouldn’t have the right to vote—was initially invited to speak at UC Berkeley tomorrow by the Berkeley College Republicans, who, along with another group, The Young America’s Foundation, have pulled support for her appearance, citing fears about public safety.
The college canceled Coulter’s formal speaking engagement earlier this week, but offered her another slot during a time when classes weren’t in session, and violence was less likely to break out. Coulter refused. Now, sans security or a venue, she’s withdrawn her plans, calling it “a sad day for free speech” and claiming that “everyone who should believe in free speech fought against it or ran away.”
Coulter’s cancellation mimics another high-profile right-wing voice, Milo Yiannopoulos, whose speaking engagement was also pulled from the school’s schedule over safety concerns. (Nevertheless, riots broke out in the college town in the wake of the February cancellation.) Apparently hoping to toss a couple of bottles of hairspray onto the fire, Yiannopoulos has pledged to “bring an army” to Berkeley to support his oddly oppressive brand of free speech.