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Brown To Cal: "Man Up" And Let Conservatives Like Ann Coulter Speak

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Gov. Jerry Brown says the University of California at Berkeley should “man up” and allow conservatives like Ann Coulter to speak on campus.

Cal’s College Republican chapter had booked Coulter to speak, but the university canceled her appearance citing safety concerns. The campus later offered an alternate date and location, but Coulter declined. Another conservative commentator, Milo Yiannopoulos, was forced to cancel his Berkeley appearance amid a riot that caused $100,000 worth of damage to the campus.

Brown said “it’s not right” to block political views critics consider hate speech.

“Even though it creates a riot, you’ve got to find a way to stop that. That is the constitutional principle of our First Amendment,“ Brown told Democratic political consultant David Axelrod during a lengthy interview for Axelrod's CNN podcast, which posted over the weekend. (This part of the conversation starts just over 30 minutes in.)

“Nobody likes ’hate’ – much less ’hate speech,’“ he went on. But who defines the hate? And that becomes a very slippery term that can result in censorship and curbing the robust debate that what a university is all about.”

The problem, the governor says, is that both the far left and far right love provoking chaos at these events. To them, Brown says, it’s “catnip.”

”The extremes love to tear the middle down, and the center is not holding,” Brown continued. ”That’s what a country is based on. And that’s why Berkeley’s got to find a creative way to allow people to speak.”

The governor’s office declined to say if Brown has communicated his view to campus leadership.

Ben Adler

Capitol Bureau Chief

Capitol Bureau Chief Ben Adler first became a public radio listener in the car on his way to preschool – though not necessarily by choice. Now, he leads Capital Public Radio’s state Capitol coverage, which airs on NPR stations across California.  Read Full Bio 

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