Facebookers are mobilizing the protest troops in advance of today’s visit by controversial right-wing pundit Ann Coulter — but it’s still unclear whether the reception will be as rocky as it was in the nation’s capital 48 hours earlier.
At least two local Facebook groups have been set up to garner followers for protest against tonight’s event, but the support appears to be lukewarm, with some even commenting that ignoring Coulter is the best method to deal with her shtick — or just simply allowing her to speak freely.
“Just let her speak. Who cares? Protesting just adds more fuel to the fire,” Rabiya Mansoor said on the Facebook protest group set up by U of C student Hani Kadri.
It’s a stark contrast to the outrage at the University of Ottawa that led to the cancellation of Coulter’s speech, after organizers claimed they feared for Coulter’s safety.
The speech’s venue has changed to the Red and White Club at McMahon Stadium, which can hold twice as many as the theatre at the U of C, and the university has claimed it will still step up security in the wake of what happened Ottawa.
“The purpose of a university is to encourage and promote the free exchange of ideas,” said University of Calgary provost Alan Harrison.
“To do anything other than that is to go against what the university stands for.”
Still, murmurs of dissatisfaction with Coulter’s visit sparked hearty debate among Calgary’s Twitter community — with questions of free speech versus hate and racism outlining the conversation.
Coulter said she has no concerns about her safety while in Calgary.
“I’ve heard that (Calgary is a more conservative city). Already I feel safer and look at how nice all of you are.”
When asked about concerns that she would be promoting hate in her talk today, she replied:
“Hate-mongering? I might fly a plane into a building.”
with files from the Canadian Press