Ann Coulter might be dead wrong in her views, yet she won a battle Tuesday night.
A darling of the extreme right wing agenda in the United States, Coulter was at the University of Ottawa for a speaking engagement. But a couple of thousand protesting students put a halt to the event, with university officials concerned about security.
About a hundred showed up who wanted to hear her.
Coulter’s targets in her talks and writing include Muslims, Jews, Canadians, liberals, feminists and gays – and opponents refer to it as hate speech. After the cancellation, Coulter said she has spoken hundreds of times at colleges and this is the first time she was shut down.
You can bet the issue that rose immediately to the fore was freedom of speech. Seriously, do the people who turned out in force to stop her really want this person to appear as a champion of free speech?
Can any who support honest discourse, even if they abhor inciteful views, honestly think they have “silenced” this person?
In a performance Monday night at the University of Western Ontario in London, which went off without any disturbance, Coulter was quoted as offering this suggestion to a question from a 17-year-old Muslim student: to “take a camel.” That compares to her usual reference to Middle East transportation as involving a flying carpet.
Come on, what’s that all about? That’s the kind of quip one might expect from a juvenile.
If people feel there is a need to defeat this kind of thinking, the only way to defeat it is a collective roll of the eyes or simply ignoring it.
If the many people who protested Tuesday night’s planned appearance had simply not attended, it would have meant people staying away in droves, and a smattering of people showing up. A handful for a supposed firebrand who sells loads of books by being crass and controversial would speak volumes and send a more appropriate message than forcing a cancellation.