Frequenters of this website have come to expect puzzling daily updates on the upcoming Berkeley campus publicity stunt known as Free Speech Week, generally contradicting the previous day’s updates. It being late afternoon, we’ve got another 24 hours worth contradictions, bizarre claims, legal threats, and wastes of taxpayer money on which to bring you up to speed. The most interesting news is that the event website now claims that Ann Coulter and Steve Bannon are back on the schedule, despite organizers’ release of an updated schedule Tuesday which did not contain their names. Add to the mix that the UC system is now kicking down an additional $300,000 (of your tax money) to cover security costs, which the shadowy organizers known as the Berkeley Patriot are thanking them for with a formal complaint to Department of Justice that their rights are being violated.
“The Party of Personal Responsibility,” indeed.
First, the matter of scheduled speakers: As previously mentioned, Ann Coulter and Steve Bannon are supposedly back on the schedule according to ABC 7. This claim is based on the event’s website and an unattributed text message from one of the organizers, and seems suspect. Coulter’s Twitter feed makes absolutely no mention of a Berkeley appearance, which is curious considering how prolifically she tweeted about her scheduled April appearance at Berkeley. Recall that these are the same people who couldn’t even book disgraced ex-Googler James Damore, a guy who presumably has some time on his hands right now.
The Big Government opponents behind this four-day gabfest are happy to take a Big Government handout, though, as the Los Angeles Times reports that the UC system will pay $300,000 to help the event cover security costs. “Milo [Yiannopoulos] and his cast of speakers will be on Sproul Plaza, which is a public space,” UC President Janet Napolitano told the Times. “We will underwrite the safety and security expenses associated with that. At a certain point, that position — i.e. that we will have these speakers and pay for the security costs associated with that — may not be sustainable.”
This is not enough for the Berkeley Patriot, who have filed a complaint with the Department of Justice to “open an investigation into whether UC Berkeley and its key administrators are systematically and intentionally violating civil rights.” CBS 5 reports that attorneys from the Berkeley Patriot assert in their complaint that “The situation at UC Berkeley has become downright physically dangerous the past year for conservative students.” (Try telling that to Heather Heyer.)
UC Berkeley spokesperson Dan Mogulof, who has certainly earned his paycheck this month, is clearly at his wit’s end with these people. “People are saying that we’ve been treating this particular student group differently. They’re right. Because not in anyone’s recent memory have so many people spent so much time trying to support a small student group in holding successful events.”
Again, this is an event that has missed multiple scheduling deadlines and still has but a handful of its “scheduled” speakers actually confirmed. “Coulter, Bannon and Milo are confirmed on our end,” organizers claimed in a text to CBS 5.
Mogulof counters that there is little proof of this. “We’ve asked them, can you show us an email from these speakers, a signed contract, anything that would give us some confidence that they’re actually coming and to date, they’ve been unable to do that for all but five speakers,” he told CBS 5.
I’m not a Bay Area native, but I’ve lived here for more than 20 years. With the exception of the 2010 Exotic Erotic Ball, which was canceled the night before the event with just a Facebook post, I have never seen an event so unprofessional, disorganized, and slapdash. To which the organizers would probably say, “Mission Accomplished.” The Berkeley Patriot' s inability to keep their story straight from one day to the next guarantees additional media coverage. Are we playing into their troll’s strategy by covering these developments? Sure. But these antics are now using your tax dollars — and possibly the efforts of the Justice Department — which makes these antics tragically newsworthy.
Free Speech Week allegedly begins Sunday at noon at Sproul Plaza, if you don’t have anything better to do.
Related: Milo Yiannopoulos Insists 'Free Speech Week' Is On, And That He's Paid $65K For Venue Rentals