CNN host and stand-up comic W. Kamau Bell said that the cancellation of campus speakers, such as columnist and free-speech advocate Ann Coulter, actually protects students from alleged hate speech. He added that her appearance has nothing to do with free speech.
Appearing on CNN’s “The Situation Room,” show host Wolf Blitzer asked Bell, the host of the series “United Shades of America,” to share his thoughts about concerns over the squelching of free speech on campuses, and the violence directed at conservative students and speakers that have been witnessed by UC-Berkeley in the past weeks.
Bell proudly said that he is a resident of the “People’s Republic of Berkeley, California” and noted that a campus riot there had disrupted a farmers’ market he frequents. He then said, “That’s not about free speech,” and added, “The reason why people’s speeches are being canceled is because it’s a safety issue. If your free speech leads to hate speech, and it makes people feel unsafe, then universities have the right to protect the kids on campus.”
However, the leftist American Civil Liberties Union disagrees with Bell. This week, the ACLU supported Coulter’s contention that free speech was silenced by UC-Berkeley.
Earlier in the interview, Bell appeared to support dialogue between persons and groups of differeing views, and said that he had had “uncomfortable” discussions in the past on Blitzer’s show. He said, “I think we’re not doing enough of listening to people and to talking to each other and getting engaged in these uncomfortable conversations… and listen to people who we may think think differently than us but a lot of times we find out they’re more like us than we realize.”
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