- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 22, 2017

Bill Maher blasted the University of California at Berkeley on Friday as “the cradle for [expletive] babies” after the school rescinded an invitation this week to conservative commentator Ann Coulter.

The left-leaning host of HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher” unleashed on the institution during Friday evening’s broadcast after Berkeley disinvited then re-invited Ms. Coulter within a matter of hours this week over fears a planned speaking engagement will attract protesters.

“Berkeley, you know, used to be the cradle of free speech,” said Mr. Maher. “And now it’s just the cradle for [expletive] babies.”

“They invite someone to speak whose not exactly what liberals want to hear and they want to shutter it,” he added. “I feel like this is the liberal’s version of book burning. And it’s got to stop.”

Ms. Coulter had initially been slated to speak at Berkeley next Thursday, April 27, but the event was canceled on Wednesday this week due to supposed safety concerns, spurring outrage and ultimately a change of heart: the school said Thursday that the event has been rescheduled for an afternoon slot on May 2, though Ms. Coulter has indicated she intends to speak on the original date as initially planned.

Neither protesters nor political discourse are particularly new to U.C. Berkeley, a longtime magnet for activists and an important hub during the free speech movement of the 1960s. Decades later, however, the campus has witnessed an about face of late after a scheduled speaking engagement featuring fellow conservative commentator Milo Yiannopoulos was abruptly canceled in February when anti-fascist protesters and other individuals began rioting outside the venue moments before he took the stage.

President Trump threatened to withhold federal funds from the school afterwards if Berkeley “does not allow free speech and practices violence on innocent people with a different point of view.”

Mr. Yiannopoulos, meanwhile, announced on Friday that he intends to hold a multiday event at Berkeley later this year, “all in the name of free expression.”

“I intend to return Berkeley to its rightful place as the home of free speech — whether university administrators and violent far-left antifa thugs like it or not,” he said.

• Andrew Blake can be reached at ablake@washingtontimes.com.

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