Tomorrow, American conservative pundit Ann Coulter is scheduled to speak at the University of Ottawa. The campus student federation would like the speech to be moved off campus, citing her previous comments as hate speech. The university’s vice-president would like her to speak, but has written to her to warn of Canada’s laws regarding hate speech.
I have long held an assertion that Ann Coulter is not a conservative pundit but an incredibly convincing and dedicated performance artist for no serious commentator would hold the views that she does. Stephen Colbert’s act doesn’t even touch what she does.
But let’s go with the largely accepted view she actually means what she says. Is that a reason to ban her from a campus? So long as she does not violate any of our laws regarding hate speech, I’d say no. You can’t have a free exchange of ideas without also exposing ideas that most reasonable people would find repugnant.
That said, she doesn’t have ideas. She has a list of outrageous statements carefully chosen for their high impact shock value. She knows it will get her attention and anger people. But she brings nothing of value to the conversation.
So, the speech will likely go ahead as planned. There will be a protest. It will get ugly. She will say something awful. Everyone on Twitter will note the awful thing she said. She will smirk. The end.
So my question is to the University of Ottawa: Why bring her in the first place? Surely there are better American conservatives from which to draw. People who will carefully consider what they say before saying it.
*UPDATE* Oh, look. She said an awful thing. Oh, rather, don’t look. She doesn’t need the attention.