Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Univ. of Pittsburgh Bills Conservative Orgs. $18K over Riot Leftist Faculty Helped Incite

'This is exactly the type of suppression the First Amendment forbids...'

(Molly Bruns, Headline USA) The University of Pittsburgh hefted $18,000 in security and damage fees on conservative students after they hosted an event featuring Daily Wire personality Michael Knowles, which drove leftist students into a riotous frenzy.

According to the Daily Caller, faculty and staff members even went as far as to encourage the violent protest—and students with the College Republican chapter and Intercollegiate Studies Institute were forced to pay the price.

Knowles arrived at the UPitt campus for a debate with BASED Politics co-founder Brad Polumbo. The speakers discussed the legal boundaries that should be drawn around the issue of transgenderism.

Meanwhile, protestors set off smoke bombs and fireworks outside. They also burned images and effigies of Knowles.

Prior to the event, staff referred to Knowles’s work as “repugnant” and hate-filled. The university released a statement calling the event “toxic and hurtful for many people in our University community.”

Nicholas Demjan, an undergraduate teaching assistant in the history department, began a petition to force the school to cancel the event. That effort was openly endorsed by faculty, including the entire theatre arts department, which accused the speakers of “spreading of hate speech and inciting violence against trans people.”

After the event, witnesses insisted that the protest remained peaceful, despite the burning effigy and the need for emergency medical services on campus.

A letter from the Alliance Defending Freedom, who offered to represent the ISI chapter, reported that UPitt billed ISI despite mountains of evidence that officials incited students to riot.

ADF also pointed out that UPitt signed a contract claiming responsibility for “all… security personnel deemed necessary by the university.”

ADF Senior Counsel Philip A Sechler noted that the university violated studen free-speech rights in its attempt to censor conservatives with threats of prohibitive fees.

“This is exactly the type of suppression the First Amendment forbids,” Sechler said. “Implementing such security fees as part of an attempt to shut down a legitimate campus event is what’s known as a ‘heckler’s veto,’ an action which unconstitutionally allows those who oppose certain speech to censor it simply by protesting it.”

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