Conservative political commentator Ann Coulter was invited by Cornell University’s chapter of the Network of Enlightened Women to speak on November 9, 2022. Just minutes into her speech, students began a coordinated protest, using “whoopie cushions, screaming, and loud circus music” to drown out Ms. Coulter. Students chanted, “Your words are violence!” and “We don’t want your ideas here! Leave! Leave!” Ms. Coulter was soon escorted out by security for her protection. In a statement given to ACTA, Ms. Coulter criticized the “tepid” actions of administrators and lamented that Cornell students were allowed to “waste everyone’s time and money, and make a joke of free speech at this allegedly world-class university.”
This was not Ms. Coulter’s first brush with a university cancelation. The College Republicans at the University of California–Berkeley invited her to speak in April 2017. The Berkeley administration asked the College Republicans to postpone the event until the next week, saying it had received threats against Ms. Coulter and could not provide adequate security. The club rejected that proposal because it would move the event to “dead week.” Ms. Coulter ultimately had to cancel her Berkeley trip.
Most university professors lean left, and Cornell is a politically progressive community. Had she been allowed to finish her presentation, Ms. Coulter would have brought a point of view that is rarely expressed on campus. The question-and-answer session she planned to hold would have given students who disagreed with her an appropriate opportunity to challenge her views and have their own opinions challenged as well. Instead, the many students who came to the event in good faith were unable to hear new perspectives and engage in the reasoned debate that is the foundation of intellectual progress and mutual understanding.
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