In today’s episode of So, You’re Righty White Boy Comedy Convention Didn’t Work Out The Way You Planned, Huh? Penn State University canceled a campus event featuring none other than Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes that was set for Monday night.
It all started when a group of conservative students called Penn State by Uncensored America decided it was a good idea to put on what they described as a “provocative comedy night,” according to NPR.
Now, before we get into what happened, I’m just going to repeat what I’ve said over and over again: Conservatives are not funny. All conservative “comedians” do is convert generic right-wing political talking points into a stand-up routine format. But, hey, if you want to attend a MAGA Def Comedy Jam show full of “Why did the Antifa member cross the road?” jokes, that’s on you.
Apparently, students at Penn State were like—nah, I’m good.
Pepper spray hung in the air as protesters and counter-protesters confronted each other and helmeted police wielded batons on the campus.
The event had an 8 p.m. start time, but by 7:15 p.m., the university said its police department deemed the event too dangerous to proceed.
It was an abrupt reversal for the school, which had condemned the views of McInnes and another far-right figure, Alex Stein, even as it said free speech concerns required it to host them for a student-organized event in State College, Pa.
Students who protested the event cheered its cancellation, shouting “Whose campus? Our campus!” as the Daily Collegian’s Arthur LaBan reported.
“We are very disappointed,” the organizers told NPR regarding the cancellation. “We wanted people from all different political viewpoints to have a fun, entertaining, and peaceful evening. Sadly, attendees were intimidated by violent protests and could not enter the venue safely.”
First of all, a conservative group bringing a conservative speaker who founded another conservative group the Southern Poverty Law Center deemed a hate group is not looking to provide a “fun, entertaining, and peaceful evening” for “people from all different political viewpoints.” That’s like billing a vegan buffet as a cookout for people of all dietary practices.
Hell, the group even titled the event “Stand Back & Stand By,” which is a reference to Donald Trump’s message to the Proud Boys, which was his response to being asked to explicitly denounce white supremacy. (This is like asking Winnie the Pooh to denounce his collection of honey pots.)
It’s also with noting that while the statement by Uncensored America low-key implies it was the protesters, not the counterprotesters, who incited the violence, Penn State President Neeli Bendapudi said it wasn’t clear which side started it. She also said it was a “peaceful protest” until Stein appeared to try to provoke the volatile response he ended up getting.
More from NPR:
But tensions quickly rose as a smiling Stein walked through the crowd, training his phone’s camera on himself amid roars of disapproval and profanity. Stein posted video footage online in which he sought to agitate members of the crowd — with success: one protester whom he called his “favorite” spat on Stein’s jacket.
“It is unclear which individuals onsite then resorted to physical confrontation and to using pepper spray against others in the crowd, including against police officers,” Bendapudi said in a statement issued Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the Student Committee for Defense and Solidarity—which organized the protest against the event after students had been demanding its cancellation for weeks, according to Vice—suggested that it was the counterprotesters who started the pepper spraying.
“Some brave people were pepper sprayed by hate group members,” the group said. The group also blamed Penn State and extreme police presence for “extraordinary repression” of the demonstration against the ill-advised Proud Boys KKKomedy night.
The show that was ultimately canceled was free to attend but also offered a $99 “Royalty” package that included a dinner with McInnes and Stein.
“The dinner did not happen,” according to Uncensored America. (Sounds like some people missed out on the seasonless, raisin-clad potluck. Sad.)
“Tonight, the message too many people will walk away with is that one can manipulate people to generate free publicity, or that one can restrict speech by escalating protest to violence,” Bendapudi said. “These are not ideas that we can endorse as an institution of higher education.”
The fact is, protests are just as much covered under the First Amendment as free speech is, and Bendapudi appears to be insinuating that it was the protesters, not the counter-protesters, who were responsible for escalating protest to violence,” even though she previously said she didn’t know who started what.
Either way, the real takeaway is simple: Don’t invite “alleged” white nationalists where they’re not wanted.
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