Capping off a fraught visit to Canada, conservative provocateur Ann Coulter canceled a speech at the University of Ottawa Tuesday night after some 2,000 student protesters swarmed the venue. The day before, Coulter — who'd been warned by University of Ottawa provost Francois Houle to avoid promoting "hatred against any identifiable group" — made headlines by telling a 17-year old Muslim student at another Canadian university to "take a camel" instead of flying. When is "free speech" just hate? (Watch an AP report about Ann Coulter's canceled speech)
It's Canada's loss: This is "a sad day for free speech in Canada," says Paul Berton in the Toronto Sun. Polite Canadians may be "justifiably offended" by Coulter's ideas and words, but university students should understand and champion freedom of expression. Instead they've earned "a black eye for all of Canada."
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Coulter's hardly a free-speech purist: This is a "win-win for Coulter," says Richard Metzger at Brand X. She gets the publicity she feeds on and keeps her speaking fee. But Coulter's reaction to being branded a hate-monger is "really head-twisting." She's claiming Houle's gentle and professional warning is also hate speech — "Ann Coulter a victim of hate speech? Let that sink in for a minute."
Ottawa fell into Coulter's trap: Given that Coulter is functionally "a professional entertainer," says Neil Macdonald at CBC News, Canadian academics have behaved like "a censorious, hypocritical bunch." But they're also "suckers." Instead of getting riled up, they should have just ignored her as Americans have done for years. "If everyone did that, it would cut off her oxygen."
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