Bill O’Reilly might have been booted off Fox News, but the conservative commentator certainly isn’t going to be silent.
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The former cable news ratings king is taking to his podcast to make his voice heard and on Wednesday he fiercely defended conservative provocateur Ann Coulter, who cancelled her Thursday speech at UC Berkeley because of a threat of violence. Coulter claims the left is anti-free speech.
O’Reilly, who has already proclaimed an “assault on conservative voices,” railed on his podcast against “snowflake fascists on college campuses.” He also railed against a Provost at NYU, Ulrich Baer, who supported students who speak out against speakers such as Coulter in an op-ed in the New York Times. The headline of his piece read, “What Snowflakes Get Right About Free Speech.”
This portion of Baer’s column particularly peeved O’Reilly. Baer wrote: “As a scholar of literature, history and politics, I am especially attuned to the next generation’s demands to revise existing definitions of free speech to accommodate previously delegitimized experiences.”
O’Reilly, who described Coulter as a “very brave” woman, took exception to the notion of “delegitimized experiences” and he went off:
“But attached to that story of these snowflake fascists on college campuses trying to keep opposing points of view away is a column on free speech by a Provost at NYU named Ulrich Baer. All right, this is amazing. This is amazing. I’m going to quote from this column, because this is frightening. Ready?”
O’Reilly then read from Baer’s piece.
As a scholar of literature, history and politics, I am especially attuned to the next generation’s demands to revise existing definitions of free speech to accommodate previously delegitimized experiences. Freedom of expression is not an unchanging absolute. When its proponents forget that it requires the vigilant and continuing examination of its parameters, and instead invoke a pure model of free speech that has never existed, the dangers to our democracy are clear and present. We should thank the student protestors, the activists in Black Lives Matter and other “overly sensitive” souls [with quotes around “overly sensitive,” Ulrich’s being sarcastic] for keeping watch over the soul of our republic.
And then O’Reilly really went off. “This is so much garbage, I can’t believe it. Now, what this guy is saying is that free speech is not an unchanging absolute. It’s the old evolution of the Constitution, and that we in the precincts of academia will decide what’s worthy speech, and what isn’t”
“We know that Ann Coulter’s ideas are delegitimate. That’s what he uses, delegitimate. He would say the same thing about me, OK? Therefore, not worthy of being heard. This is fascism, totalitarianism, Stalinism. That’s what happened in Russia. The Soviet Union,” O’Reilly added.
“He’s a fascist, ought to wear an arm band! Really makes me angry. But this is what’s happening. The only exception to freedom of speech is if your speech is threatening to someone. All right?”