“students held electric tea light candles and gave testimony about the many obstacles transgender people face”
Knowles is part of the Daily Wire. It’s important to note that the auditorium was packed.
The Cornell Daily Sun reports:
Students Gather Against Conservative Speaker, Event Proceeds Uninterrupted
As the academic year theme of freedom of expression continues to test the limits of speech on campus, Cornell Republicans brought conservative political commentator Michael Knowles to campus in an event that was met by a receptive packed auditorium and a vigil outside the venue where students called Knowles a “sick man.”
Knowles, known for being a host on Ben Shapiro’s The Daily Wire, led a lecture on “The Mirage of Free Speech” at a campus event sponsored by the Cornell Republicans and the Young America’s Foundation on Monday, Nov. 6. Knowles spoke to a full audience of more than 260 Cornellians, as some students without tickets on the standby line were turned away. Thirty minutes prior to the event, Cornell Progressives held a “Vigil for Trans Lives” — which attracted approximately 60 students by its conclusion — as a direct response to previous remarks made by Knowles against transgender people, said organizer Evan Sunshine ’24.
“The organizers do not condone anybody who is going in to put a stomp on the freedom of expression — it’s the year of freedom of expression, sure he has the freedom to speak his mind in a closed Republican space organized by Cornell students — that’s his right,” Sunshine said. “But we also have a right to congregate outside of the room and hold a peaceful vigil in honor of the trans lives that he condemns.”
Knowles was quoted at the Conservative Political Action Conference last March saying that “transgenderism must be eradicated” from public life, and he has frequently used campus visits to espouse hateful rhetoric against transgender people. Knowles did not respond to two requests for comment prior to the event.
At the vigil, students held electric tea light candles and gave testimony about the many obstacles transgender people face, including being ostracized by their families, being ridiculed online and elevated risks of mental health problems, such as anxiety and depression. Sunshine shared that as a transgender man, he was the target of threats after a video of him crying about the discrimination he faced as a Starbucks employee went viral last October — including by Knowles, who posted a video calling Sunshine a “troubled person” with a “severe mental illness.”
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