“Berkeley used to be the cradle of free speech, and now it’s just the cradle for f—ing babies,” the “Real Time” host said.
Although Bill Maher admits that he and conservative commentator Ann Coulter have never agreed on anything, he came to her defense on Friday night’s “Real Time” in reference to an issue that’s “near and dear” to his heart: the First Amendment.
“Ann Coulter ran into a little problem this week,” Maher began. “I was the speaker at Berkeley a couple of years ago and they dis-invited me, and they got their act together and I wound up doing it. Apparently, that’s what’s going to happen with her, I think.”
Coulter’s planned speech at the University of California at Berkeley on April 27 was called off because of safety concerns. “Given current active security threats, it is not possible to assure that the event could be held successfully,” Vice Chancellor Scott Biddy wrote in a letter to Berkeley College Republicans, which were sponsoring the event.
“Berkeley used to be the cradle of free speech, and now it’s just the cradle for f—ing babies,” Maher said. “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.”
Maher went on to quote former Vermont governor Howard Dean, who tweeted Friday, “Hate speech is not protected by the First Amendment.”
Maher vehemently disagreed. “Yes it is! Threats are not protected by the First Amendment. This is why the Supreme Court said Nazis could march in Skokie — they’re a hateful bunch. But that’s what the First Amendment means. It doesn’t mean ‘Shut up and agree with me.'”
Berkeley announced Thursday that it had reversed its earlier decision to cancel Coulter’s appearance and now will allow her to speak at the school on May 2.
Coulter’s lawyers, however, sent the university a letter, demanding they “honor its obligation to respect the First Amendment rights of its students, without regard to their political preference or affiliation, by ensuring that Ms. Coulter be allowed to speak on campus on April 27.”