If nothing else, liberal college campuses continue to be a rich mine of irony. Penn State offers a recent example.
Earlier this week, the college’s administration promoted its reputation for permitting and protecting free speech — even as it canceled a speech by a conservative activist, according to The College Fix.
At issue was a talk by Gavin McInnes, a controversial right-wing provocateur and a founder of the Proud Boys who parted ways with the group in 2018. McInnes was to be joined by comedian and conservative troll Alex Stein.
Before the event on Monday, liberals, and conservatives briefly clashed, including a fistfight between the foes. Both sides also claimed the other pepper-sprayed them. Police were forced to intervene. One person was arrested, and others soon could be.
The trigger for the melee was reportedly an email sent to the whole campus late last week by an anonymous group of liberals that urged people to protest McInnes and Stein.
As The Washington Post reported, “The university initially had resisted calls to cancel the event sponsored by a student group, citing the importance of upholding free-speech rights. But officials said escalating violence caused them to cancel the Monday event shortly before it was due to begin.”
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“The combination of agitated demonstrators, at least one physical altercation, a crowd surge toward the event venue, and chemical spray from both the crowd and police officers led to the decision,” the Post added.
In its own statement on Monday, according to The Fix, Penn State said, “Due to the threat of escalating violence associated with tonight’s event, Penn State University Police determined that it was necessary to cancel the speaking event in the interest of campus safety.”
On Tuesday, Penn State President Neeli Bendapudi chimed in, saying in a statement that the administration supports the “fundamental constitutional right of free speech and free expression of all members of our community.” Yet, the administration also had “firmly denounced” McInnes and Stein.
Prior to the event, Stein apparently “raised the tension” simply by showing up. His appearance touched off the brawl.
“Tonight,” Bendaudi claimed, “Stein and McInnes will celebrate a victory for being canceled when in actuality, they contributed to the very violence that compromised their ability to speak. Tonight, counter-protestors also will celebrate a victory that they forced the University to cancel this event, when in actuality they have furthered the visibility of the very cause they oppose.”
Except that visibility was not at Penn State because the university that so proudly proclaims its commitment to free speech for the whole community refused to rein in liberal protesters who infringed upon the group that invited McInnes and Stein, and canceled their speech.