It's an all-out showdown, and neither Ann Coulter nor UC Berkeley is backing down, even though the university has warned the conservative pundit and the campus groups that invited her to speak that certain students are actually planning a violent response should she show up on Thursday, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.
She and the student group that invited her have now obtained a lawyer, according to The Washington Post. Coulter and the college Republican group at UC Berkeley that had scheduled her appearance rejected the date. She also pointed out that later date would coincide with a reading period before final exams, when there are no classes on campus and fewer students around.
"Your letter suggests that that the University wants to 'work with the [BCR] to find an alternative date when the event could be held as safely as possible.' This is Orwellian double-speak", she wrote.
"The goal of the event is to expose the Berkeley community to a [perspective] that they don't often hear and that the Berkeley administration won't allow them to hear", Troy Worden, spokesperson of the Berkeley college Republicans, said of the event.
University spokesman Dan Mogulof responded to the lawsuit threat, saying, "We are confident that we are on very solid legal grounds". "We are concerned about her disregard for the assessment and recommendations of law enforcement professionals whose primary focus is the safety and well-being of our students and other members of our campus community". The story only grew in conservative media, however, after the school offered a rescheduled date in early May-largely because many, including Coulter herself, saw the new time slot as an affront.
"I know, we don't like Ann Coulter's views", he said, to audience laughter.
This is hardly the first time Berkeley has been in the spotlight over a conservative speaker's plans to visit the campus.
Coulter's rejection potentially sets the stage for another political brawl at Berkeley, where violent protesters forced the cancellation of a speech by former Breitbart News editor Milo Yiannopoulos in February.
"First, I want to express how disappointed I am that counsel for UC Berkeley, of all institutions, would misgender me by addressing your letter to 'Mr.' Dhillon", the letter begins.
Still, the decision by Berkeley to cancel both events involving high-profile conservatives was especially notable given the campus's role during the 1960s and 1970s as the birthplace of the Free Speech Movement and its long tradition of social protest.
The Berkeley College Republicans said the university's actions amount to a ban on free speech that makes them more determined to have Coulter come.