Hecklers Disrupt Coulter's Speech At UConn
December 8, 2005
By GRACE E. MERRITT, Hartford Courant Staff Writer
Music that seemed to come from somewhere in the raucous audience that packed the Jorgensen Center at the University of Connecticut Wednesday night brought Ann Coulter's speech to an abrupt end about 15 minutes after she started.
After waiting with her bodyguard on stage for several minutes for the music to stop while a section of the audience chanted "You suck, you suck," an irritated Coulter said she would not finish her speech. She said she would go straight to questions and answers, suggesting the disruption was the best the liberals could do to counter her.
"I love to engage in repartee with people that are a lot stupider than I am," she said. `We're having a question and answer right now with the little crybabies."
Coulter, a well-known, conservative author and commentator, fielded questions ranging from the war in Iraq and Democratic leadership to abortion with the witty, provocative responses that have made her a frequent guest on such TV talk shows as "Hannity & Colmes" and "The O'Reilly Factor."
Responding to a question about withdrawing troops in Iraq, Coulter pointed out the United States still has troops in Bosnia and said various aspects of life are improving in Iraq, with elections being held, women voting and the insurgency growing smaller.
One student asked what she would do if she had a child who came out as gay.
Coulter replied: "I'd say, `Did I ever tell you you're adopted?'"
She also aimed plenty of criticism at the Democratic Party, calling U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer of California a great candidate for Democrats because "she is a woman and learning disabled." She also aimed barbs at Sen. Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts.
"If the Democrats want to stick to the middle of the road, why did they pick Ted Kennedy. Didn't he have some trouble sticking to the middle of the road?" she said.
In response to threats to Coulter at other appearances, security was tight with guards and campus police flanking the stage and searching every bag the crowd of 2,600 took into the Jorgensen Center for Performing Arts.
The UConn College Republicans invited Coulter, a Connecticut native, in an effort to bring a well-known, provocative speaker to get students talking and thinking about the conservative perspective.
Some students were upset that the student government spent $16,000 to bring what they consider a "hateful" speaker to campus.
To provide another viewpoint to Coulter's, the Progressive Students' Alliance had brought in Cindy Sheehan, the California woman who made headlines in August by camping out near President Bush's Texas ranch to protest her son's death in Iraq. Sheehan's speech Monday also was paid for with student government funds.
Prior to Coulter's speech, a small group of protesters shivered outside as they held up signs and handed out a Coulter bingo card in which each block on the grid had a key word such as liberal, abortion, feminists and terrorism.
Just before the event, Students Against Hate held an alternative event focusing on discrimination at UConn and intended to provide "balance" to the Coulter talk. During the talk several students from various racial groups and of various sexual orientations spoke about how harsh words have wounded them.
Hana Kim, 20, of Stamford, cried as she recalled her experience hearing two young men express shock and disapproval in a loud conversation that a friend was dating an "Asian chick."
Jerome Smith, a UConn graduate, talked about how he hid his homosexuality while at UConn, afraid his fraternity brothers and family would shun him.
"Words are sharp tools and certain people like Ann Coulter use them to hurt people," he said.
I severely dislike Ann Coulter. However, I'm always annoyed when protestors disrupt speeches. It's one thing to protest outside the building, and I'm all for asking difficult questions, but I think it's wrong for protestors to chant, sing, throw pies, etc. to show their dislike of the speaker. It's childish, it's unfair to the people who showed up to hear the speech (and to the university who paid a lot of money for the speaker), and it detracts from the protestors' message. The best way to "beat" people like Ann Coulter is with ideas, not sophomoric displays like this.
If they brought in Cindy Sheehan, I suppose it's fair they brought in Ann Coulter, so they could represent both ends of the spectrum. Honestly, though, both of those women annoy the hell out of me! I can't imagine going to watch either of them speak. I agree with wander_woman, though - if I were to attend a speech interrupted by protesters, I'd think they were childish and dismiss their views.