Ann Coulter Protested by USF students -- by Seán Kinane

10/20/06

Last night at the USF Sun Dome in Tampa, far-right pundit Ann Coulter spoke to a crowd of about one thousand people. Included in the crowd were over 100 students who were there to peacefully protest the University Lecture Series’ decision to invite Coulter. WMNF’s Seán Kinane reports.

Ali Hall is the chair of the Feminist Student Alliance at USF. She was one of the organizers of a protest at the Ann Coulter lecture. She and several dozen other students wore red t-shirts to protest Coulter’s insensitive remarks about people with HIV. Hall says that she is not offended when Coulter attacks her sexual orientation or political party, but that Coulter does have some extremist opinions that Hall finds offensive.

“I’m a lesbian. I’m also a Democrat. I’m not even at all half offended of those things that she said versus the other things she said. For example, the only regret I have about Timothy McVeigh is he didn’t go to the New York Times building; the fact that there should be a literacy test and poll tax to vote.�

Another leader of the protest, Allyson Rhodes, helped set up a Facebook group to organize USF students to walk out on Ann Coulter. She doesn’t mind that USF spends student money to bring conservative voices to campus, but she feels that Ann Coulter is not an appropriate choice.

“Actually I would encourage them to bring people with diverse views. My problem is that this particular conservative speaker isn’t exactly - I don’t know if professional is the word, but - to pay someone that much money just to spew hatred and ignorance. She’s not an academic speaker; she’s not a good representative of even the Republican Party. There’s Republicans involved in our protest who don’t want her here because she furthers a negative stereotype of conservatives.�

Coulter began her talk by listing what she called the two main evils, The Supreme Court and terrorism. She spoke about how the Roe v. Wade decision by the Supreme Court angered abortion foes. But they turned their rage toward politics for years until Roe was upheld by the Planned Parenthood v. Casey decision, after which violence was employed, a fact which Coulter and many in the audience found humorous.

“The Court’s opinion really strangely, conceitedly, called the contending sides of the debate to join in this mandate rooted in the Constitution. Well that worked out well. A few months later for the first time ever, an abortion doctor was shot. Or depending on one’s perspective had a procedure performed on him with a rifle. [laughter, applause]�

Recently, University of Colorado professor Ward Churchill got into trouble for suggesting there may have been a motive behind the 9/11 attack; what’s known as the “chickens coming home to roost� argument. Coulter used a similar argument for why doctors who perform abortions have been assassinated.

“After pro-lifers had waited 20 years just to have the right to vote on abortion, was the first abortion doctor ever killed. I’m not defending it or justifying it, But I’m not surprised it happened. When you take democracy away from people, some are going to conclude the only way they can react is with violence.�

Coulter also complained about courts handing the gay marriage issue to liberals. In doing so, she shot an off-color remark at the large group of protesters sitting near the stage.

“So, no of course, this was not liberals winning by persuasion and votes. It was courts foisting gay marriage on America. And out of respect for you folks right there [points at large section of red-shirted Feminist Student Alliance members and allies] I’ll resist the temptation to say it was the courts forcing gay marriage down our throats.�

About two-thirds of the way through the speech, over 100 students and others, many dressed in red t-shirts, stood up and silently walked out of the Sun Dome to some boos and some applause. When the protesters stood up, Coulter said, “No, I believe the proper position is on your knees.� Coulter stopped speaking for over a minute before stating that the protesters left while she was speaking about black civil rights. [sound of people walking out to applause]. It took over three minutes for the single file line of protesters to walk out of the Sun Dome.

USF student Emma McDessey felt that Ann Coulter’s speech wasn’t respectful.

“I wasn’t very happy hearing that there are still people who think like that, and seeing all the USF students reacting in a positive way to what she was saying. Also made me think that people need to be more culturally aware, more tolerating and more respectful, because what she said was disrespectful to everybody.�

Austin Hutchinson, also a USF student, told WMNF that he walked out because he wanted people to know that some students disagree with Coulter’s message.

“I didn’t want her to think that this town was for her, Tampa. I wanted her to know that we were against her ideology, too. I wanted somebody to stand up. I would say what, about 30-40 percent of the crowd walked out. It was a pretty large amount of the crowd.�

Feminist Student Alliance chair, Ali Hall says that Ann Coulter wouldn’t be where she is if it weren’t for feminism.

“She wouldn’t’ be here if it wasn’t for all of us. And if none of that matters, then she wouldn’t have any material if it wasn’t for feminism. A lot of us can agree that this was one of the scariest moments that we just went through. Just the fact that there are so many people who believe the things that she says. I can’t believe it, I truly can’t believe it.�

The next University Lecture Series talk will be Aaron McGruder, creator of Boondocks comic strip on November 20. In January, Reverend Jesse Jackson will speak. For a complete schedule visit ctr.usf.edu/uls .

For WMNF News, I’m Seán Kinane

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