Ethics Quote Of The Day: A Berkeley Student Republican

“Ann Coulter is definitely not the hill to die on.”

—-Patrick Boldea, 19, one of five Berkeley Republicans interviewed for the New York Times story, “Life and Combat for Republicans at Berkeley.”

Just call her “Mount Ann.”

Boldea was talking about the recent controversy over Berkeley’s de facto blocking of conservative troll Ann Coulter’s scheduled speaking date at his college because of “safety concerns,” which only means that she was in effect censored because of threats from left-wing student and faculty totalitarians, which comprise most of the student body there.

“She has an image that’s been tainted by a lot of horrific statements,” he explained.

Yes, and that’s exactly why Ann Coulter is  the  perfect “hill to die on,” just as the Nazi marchers in Skokie was the best possible hill for the ACLU to die on…except the ACLU didn’t die in that episode. To the contrary, it established its integrity as a champion of the First Amendment.

Boldea doesn’t understand the principle of free speech, which is unnerving. If young conservatives and Republicans don’t understand freedom of speech sufficiently to fight for it, what hope is there for core American values and personal liberty? Young liberals and Democrats—and a frightening number of older ones—clearly neither understand nor support free expression, unless it is attacks of the President, conservatives and Republicans.

Jack Foley, another perverse Republican student interviewed for the article, notes,

“There’s this idea that speech is violent, that simply by espousing a view that you don’t like I am attacking you, I am oppressing you, I am assaulting you. That view is fundamentally incompatible with a Western, liberal democratic society.”

Bingo. Yet that anti-democratic concept is being drilled into the brains of young college students across the country. Unlike Boldea, Foley understands why Coulter, as revolting as she is, properly challenges the leftist assault on opinions they find “offensive.” Foley adds,

“[B]y inviting controversial folks like Ann Coulter, Milo Yiannopoulos, David Horowitz, whoever, it’s a way to test the right to free speech that they should be entitled to for right or wrong.”

Bingo. I wonder where he learned that? Certainly not at Berkeley. Maybe he did some reading on his own, like, say, the Bill of Rights, or the Supreme Court opinions on freedom of speech. The First Amendment isn’t needed to protect responsible, popular, moderate speech. It is specifically designed to protect unpopular speech that the majority and those in power regard as inflammatory, insulting, infuriating, misleading, and wrong.

Ann Coulter, provocateur,  master of political incorrectness, uncivil performance artist, conservative jerk extraordinaire, is exactly what the First Amendment exists to protect, and that makes her the Bunker Hill of campus speakers.

Anyone who doesn’t see that immediately takes free speech in this country too much for granted, something that is as perilous now as at any time in our history.

42 thoughts on “Ethics Quote Of The Day: A Berkeley Student Republican

  1. Agreed. Jack Foley got it right and the other missed the point by a mile. However, here is an interesting read on the intersection of gender identity and race identity in academia and thought police:

    Apparently, a professor (a feminist) wrote a piece defending Rachel Dolezal. That did not sit well and war was declared. The link is from a defense of the academic’s right to discuss gender and race identities. Apparently, race is the Sacred River Alph that no traveler shall cross.

    Interesting read. Until the part about hate speech and blaming Donald Trump for all societal ills. Then it went off the rails and I had to take a belt of whiskey. I liked this line: “While I readily agree that words can do harm and that hate speech exists, my call for philosophical engagement with Tuvel’s article does not constitute harmful speech.” If that is the state of academia in the US, then no wonder Berkeley would disinvite (is that a word?) Coulter. The real question is why she was invited in the first place if her views are anathema to freedom.

    I do take issue, though, with describing her as a “conservative troll”, “revolting”, and/or “a conservative jerk extraordinaire”. She is bright, articulate, and pull no punches, and won’t back down when confronted by anti-intellectual ninnies. I don’t agree with her on some issues and her rhetorical bombs may not be too nice, but she is provocative. We need her to spur conversation.


    • UC Berkeley NEVER invited Coulter; a student group invited her, and used their student privileges to secure a space for her appearance. Students are certainly affiliated, but do not directly represent the university. The university cancelled the event (after mouthing a statement that free speech must be protected).

    • John, when someone writes a book that attempts to make the case that Joe McCarthy was a great guy, and writes things like “we just have to go into those Muslim countries, take them over. and convert them to Christianity”—the statement that got her fired as a columnist—“troll” is a fair word. When she argued that the GOp had to block any kind of accommodation for long time illegal immigrants because it would create too many Democratic voters, that’s revolting, and signature significance for a partisan jerk. She also immediately endorsed Trump based solely on his position on illegals. I don’t believe that she believes half what she says.

      She also once dated Bill Maher. Case closed.

      • I didn’t say she was warm and fuzzy or even cuddly. I still think she is bright and does throw rhetorical bombs to piss off her opponents. Maybe that is a troll. Sheesh.

        I don’t get the Maher thing. Maybe both of them are performance artists and really have no firmly held convictions. If that is the case, then I withdraw my objection. Rail on, my Ethics Friend.


        • Not trying to be difficult, just defending the use of “Troll.” One who intentionally irritates people is a troll. Rush Limbaugh is the master troll, when it comes to liberals.

            • What, Thora Birch allowing herself to be touched by that creep? I agree.

              Oh, you mean that two extreme, ugly, abusive partisans knowing that showing that they don’t believe their own bullshit might be deemed an income killer, thus justifying discretion? Not ridiculous at all, of course.. Maher says conservative women are cunts. Coulter says “Whether they are defending the Soviet Union or bleating for Saddam Hussein, liberals are always against America. They are either traitors or idiots, and on the matter of America’s self-preservation, the difference is irrelevant.”

              If those two date, they are both saying that their extreme rhetoric is just for effect. So they say they are “just friends.”

            • I don’t like defending Bill Maher, but you use the c word a lot more than he does. In fact (I watch him every week with my husband who is a huge fan), I can’t recall the last time he said it. So it is inaccurate to keep suggesting that he uses this word frequently.

              There is no evidence to suggest he ever dated this woman. One of my best friends is a guy, and I’ve had to fend off dating rumors for over a decade now. It’s really tiresome.

          • She was 22, objectively hot, and could have any man she wanted. He was 48…and Bill Maher. And I sit at home on Friday nights, watching Tiny House Hunters.

            The world is not fair.

    • I agree. A good article, until that. They cannot resist getting a dig in, no matter what the topic is, can they?

      “We live in an era of outrage—let’s call it the Trump era. That’s how Trump got elected, by voicing outrage.”

      It’s a blanket Indulgence. If it’s all Trump’s fault then we can just forget about the past decade of social media witch hunts, they no longer count, because Trump. They are justified!

      I found it shocking that people siding with the author, and commmiserating with her in private, felt compelled to attack her publicly on social media to retain status among their peers. Also shocking, but not surprising given the hive-like quality of FB and Twitter, is the fact that so many ‘protesting’ the article hadn’t read it, but were jumping on the bandwagon anyway, based on second-hand information, again, to be one of the in-group.

  2. For me, Ann Coulter is definitely not the hill to die on. She has an image that’s been tainted by a lot of horrific statements. She was invited because she represents the voice of the president. You won’t find any hard-core intellectuals who do represent the president.

    I took this statement as meaning that Coulter shouldn’t have been invited by the college Republicans in the first place. Not because she doesn’t have the right to speak, but because she sucks. Her views and statements are not interesting, helpful, or illuminating; she has nothing to offer an educated, intellectual audience, and inviting her makes the college Republicans look stupid.

    Of course, once she was invited, the proper response of those who disagreed with the invitation was to express that disagreement in a rational way, not threaten violence, or to cave to the threats the way that the university did. I agree that all should stand for her right to speak, but I don’t think that means an individual college Republican shouldn’t question why she was invited to speak in the first place.

    • It was the right invitation if you wanted to follow up on Milo, and that’s exactly what the group was doing.

      “Hill to die on” refers to whether something is worth the fight. I don’t see how it relates to the decision to invite her. The fight isn’t about Coulter or HER worth. I’d rate her as essentially worthless, except as a test of the campus’s belief in free speech.

          • Ann Coulter on the 9/11 widows:

            These broads are millionaires, lionized on TV and in articles about them, reveling in their status as celebrities and stalked by grief-arazzies. I have never seen people enjoying their husbands’ death so much.

            Ann Coulter to a Muslim college student asking what form of travel she should use if Coulter’s proposal for banning all Muslims from air travel were passed:

            Take a camel.

            Ann Coulter on demographic change in California:

            If this sort of drastic change were legally imposed on any group other than white Americans, it would be called genocide.

            Ann Coulter on Timothy McVeigh:

            My only regret with Timothy McVeigh is he did not go to the New York Times building.

            Ann Coulter on women:

            It would be a much better country if women did not vote. That is simply a fact.

            Ann Coulter on immigration again:

            Even Mexico doesn’t want Mexicans.

            Maher is terrible but I don’t see how one can find him worse than Coulter, who is an actual white supremacist now.

            • Sure, she’s outrageous, but much of her stuff is pretty tongue in cheek. And there are kernels of truth in all of the above statements.

              You know the type. Remember the kid in your class in grade school who said outrageous things on a regular basis to provoke a response? It’s a personality type. And a standard social element. Dennis Miller is much the same but less abrasive. Frankly, I think having people like Coulter actually say things people actually think from time to time is probably beneficial. Sort of an escape valve. In many ways, she’s not that much further out than Victor Davis Hanson. But I’m sure he drives you up a tree there in Santa Cruz by lobbing his shots from the Central Valley.

              • I find Victor Davis Hansen intellectually vapid, but he is not openly racist, sexist or Islamophobic in the way Ann Coulter is.

                Why do you think someone who openly hates–yes, hates, because that’s what those statements demonstrate–Mexicans and Muslims is “beneficial” for our society?

                • The point isn’t the worth of her argument. It’s that she has a right to make it. You have the right to disagree and to not listen. You don’t have the right to prevent other people from hearing it. You do understand the issue right? I’m persuaded that you don’t. Until you do your comments are not helpful. But, I absolutely honor your right to make them.

                  • wyogranny:

                    The point isn’t the worth of her argument. It’s that she has a right to make it.

                    No, that was absolutely not the point I was responding to. I was responding to Other Bill, whose comments were absolutely about the worth of Coulter’s arguments.

                    You have the right to disagree and to not listen. You don’t have the right to prevent other people from hearing it. You do understand the issue right? I’m persuaded that you don’t.

                    Then you either didn’t read my comments on this blog post, or something is preventing you from understanding them.

                    • More of my sense of humor failure. I apologize. I think I’ll sit on the sidelines for awhile.

  3. Addendum: Coulter or Milo are BETTER hills to die on that substantively valuable speakers, like Charles Murray. If you fight and win for a schola or intellectual with real views, then it can be discounted as based on objective value as well as free speech. But free speech has nothing to do with the objective value of the content. The point is that even stupid, vicious, ugly, misbegotten content should be heard by those who want to hear it.

    • I see your point, but I’m curious: does this mean groups should intentionally invite inflammatory (and shitty) speakers to prove this point about free speech?

      • No, and I agree with your implied point that students have a shared responsibility to seek speakers with something to contribute to the community other than anger. However, once a university has shown a willingness to prevent a speaker from speaking based on student threats and opposition alone, inviting a speaker like Coulter serves another purpose that is greater than any one speech. That kind of censorship has to be opposed and challenged, and you don’t do that with a popular speaker.

        Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in part because he was such a great player. The early black players following him were mostly stars. It would have been better if an early black player had been just average, to make the point that equality was equality, and moving from “no blacks” to “Only spectacularly talented blacks was not sufficient.

    • I retract what I said/wrote earlier and I agree with our esteemed ethics proctor.

      I researched “hill to die on”, and I agree with you, Jack. “Hill to die on” means the general idea of capturing/holding ground in a battle no matter what the cost, as opposed to say, a Pyrrhic Victory. Free speech is worth defending at all costs. It is far easier to defend a professor’s right to speak at a university. But defending their right to speak is the hard case. If the government can declare their viewpoints to be hate speech and regulate them. That is fatal to the First Amendment.


  4. Are the Campus Young Republicans the only group at Berkeley that has a whit of common sense? Certainly the weakling administrators don’t have it.

  5. Wait a minute. Am I the only reader here old enough to remember the 60s? Anti-Viet Nam war protesters, the Black Panthers, and other radical groups got their time on television and were protected in the exercise of free speech. Yes, there were more moderate and “respectable” war protesters and civil rights advocates, but even the left wing fringes got their 15 minutes of fame, and were allowed to get it safely. When did we decide that we had to subjectively decide who is allowed free speech under the Constitution?

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