MacIver News Service | Oct. 5, 2017
By M.D. Kittle
[Madison, Wis...] A conservative student group says the First Amendment is up on trial again at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
The UW chapter of Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) on Thursday said university police notified the organization that it would have to find a faculty department sponsor before Tuesday or YAF's campus lecture featuring conservative journalist Katie Pavlich would be limited to UW students only.
"This is ridiculous. We are a publicly funded university. The public should be able to attend," Abby Streu, chairwoman of the Madison YAF, told MacIver News.
Pavlich took to Twitter Thursday night to blast what YAF members called a "last-minute" maneuver by a the liberal university to again stifle conservative speech.
"Totally bogus," the Townhall editor and Fox News contributor tweeted at the university. "Public institution, public event. Also, we like how you're enforcing this five days before the event and up against a weekend."
Totally bogus. Public institution, public event. Also, we like how you're enforcing this five days before the event and up against a weekend https://t.co/dRPI44vnLk— Katie Pavlich (@KatiePavlich) October 6, 2017
"If members of the public (who fund University!) show up will they be arrested?" Pavlich wrote in another tweet. "Who will bar the door for entry?"
The UW police apparently.
UW spokesman John Lucas said the university is expecting YAF's event with Pavlich to go on as scheduled.
"Registered Student Organizations at UW-Madison have the ability to reserve space and hold events that are open to the university community of students, faculty and staff," he wrote in an email to MacIver News Service.
"For events to be opened to the general public, they require sponsorship by a department. This long-standing policy is shared with organizations every year," Lucas continued, including a link to the policy in his email.
"Should the organizers of this event wish to open it to the public, they may still seek an additional sponsor ahead of the event."
But that's easier said than done for a conservative organization on a very liberal campus.
"It won't be easy," Streu said. "There definitely are other groups on campus they would get a resounding yes" from a department. Not YAF, she said.
And Young Americans for Freedom didn't seem to need a sponsor for previous events, including last November's speech by conservative columnist Ben Shapiro. That event turned chaotic when a group of left-wing protesters tried to shut Shapiro down. Some of the demonstrators called Shapiro a Nazi, a peculiar epithet aimed toward a Jew. Protesters stormed the stage decrying the talk as nothing more than hate speech.
Conservative talk show host Vicki McKenna was also threatened by hostile protesters.
"The black supremacists mob shout me down - all 5'3" & 48 years old of me - and UW cops try to move ME away because I am the THREAT," McKenna wrote on Twitter.
The black supremacists mob shout me down--all 5'3" &48 years old of me--and UW cops try to move ME away because I am the THREAT Film at 11!— Vicki McKenna (@VickiMcKenna) November 17, 2016
As Wisconsin Watchdog reported, campus police "watched but did nothing to stop the interruptions. At one point, they looked on as the protesters stormed the stage and continued their chants. Shapiro was told by police they were instructed not to stop the demonstrators, who made their intentions to disrupt clear on Facebook days before the speech."
Meanwhile, left-wing student gun control advocates in a group that bills itself as "Cocks Not Glocks" has scheduled "The Bonerfide Penis Arts Fest" ostensibly to counter and demonstrate against the speech by Pavlich, a vocal proponent of the Second Amendment. Pavlich's speech is titled, "Trigger Warning: Second Amendment Rights and Self Defense."
"Katie Pavlich thinks that you can murder campus sexual assault away. Young Americans for Freedom thinks that her presence on campus is necessary to defend free speech. Therefore, Cocks Not Glocks: UW Madison will be gathering during Pavlich's speech to create and present dick art that has ZERO literary, artistic, political, educational, or scientific value. You know, for free speech," the group's Facebook page proclaims.
Streu said she's hopeful UW police will step in if protesters become disorderly and disrupt Pavlich's speech.
"What I told the UW police department is, people are allowed to protest. I respect their right to do that, but they are not respecting our group's right to be heard. It's a two-way street," she said.