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Ann Coulter will return to speak at Cornell after being shut down during last speech

Conservative firebrand Ann Coulter has reportedly accepted an invitation to speak at her alma mater, Cornell University, on April 16. The speech is slated to take place about 18 months since her last attempt to speak there ended prematurely due to student protests.

The popular, controversial author previously spoke on Nov. 9, 2022, just after that year’s midterm elections. Her talk was supposed to go on for an hour, but constant, hostile heckling from protesting students disrupted it with aggressive comments, music, and loud noises.

A frustrated Coulter ended the speech after about 20 minutes of protests inside the venue.

The current invitation came from Cornell Provost Michael Kotlikoff. Nadine Strossen, a professor at New York University Law School and the former head of the American Civil Liberties Union, reportedly made the original suggestion to him in January that Coulter should return to campus.

The Cornell Daily Sun reported that Strossen told them Kotlikoff responded immediately, saying “Oh, that’s a great idea.” Strossen confirmed to the Sun that Coulter had accepted the invitation for mid-April.

In a March 13 statement published as a letter to the editor in the Sun, Kotlikoff wrote that “Having been deeply troubled by an invited speaker at Cornell (any speaker) being shouted down and unable to present their views, I agreed that there could be few more powerful demonstrations of Cornell’s commitment to free expression than to have Ms. Coulter return to campus and present her views.”

But Kotlikoff is no fan of Coulter’s.

“This is certainly not because I agree with what she has to say, or because I feel that the content of her presentation is important for our community to hear, but because I believe that Cornell must be a place where the presentation of ideas is protected and inviolable,” he added in his statement.

“Shielding students or others in our community from viewpoints with which they disagree, or filtering campus speakers based on the content of their presentation, undermines the fundamental role of a university.”

The decision has prompted at least one professor to denounce Coulter’s return and demand it be rescinded.

“Coulter contributes nothing civil or thoughtful to the public discourse. She adores causing a fire, burning things down and inflaming tensions. She peddles in racism and hate. She is not a litmus test for free speech. She works with hate speech,” wrote religious studies Professor Jane Marie Law in a letter to the editor of the Cornell Sun.

“…Publicly reverse course. Do it now. If you want to invite a prominent right-wing speaker, there are choices you could have made. It is an utter waste of our time as an institution to try and figure out how to respond to a person like Coulter with the high stakes the world faces right now,” she added [bold in the original].

MORE: Cornell professor backs unruly protests: ‘Democracy needs disruption’

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This argument prompted scorn from the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, which pointed out in a statement that Cornell faculty never defended Coulter — but jumped to the defense of a Cornell colleague who called the deadly Hamas attacks that killed 1,200-plus Israeli citizens “exhilarating.”

“Ms. Coulter is known for making statements that many find offensive, but if a professor who sympathizes with Hamas still has a job, then surely Cornellians can tolerate having a provocative conservative on campus for an hour or two,” ACTA stated.

It remains unclear what topic Coulter will speak about or which student organizations will sponsor her talk, the Sun reported.

MORE: Major Cornell donor yanks funding over DEI, demands President Pollack resign

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