So, Ann Coulter is speaking at Carolina tonight, and I'm already getting the hives imagining the news coverage: the protesters, the earnest critics with their well-researched and relevant questions who will be brushed aside, the outraged haranguers lobbing their accusations only to have them turned into punchlines. Is there anything about Ann Coulter that should prompt anyone with any knowledge of history (or of patriotism, or of good manners, or of treason) to go out and see her speak?
Perhaps because of the large number of outspoken and thoughtful people in our community, we have often found ourselves at ground zero in battles over civil liberties. In the 1980's Chapel Hill elected the first openly-gay elected official in the state, but Carrboro bested that by electing North Carolina’s first out mayor a decade later.
More recently, Chapel Hill grappled with free speech issues in the wake of 9/11, approved and then dismantled red light cameras in 2003-4, and was challenged by fundamentalists over support for gay marriage in 2005.