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Cancel campaign flops against Michael Knowles speech at U. Buffalo

Michael Knowles tells The Fix that the press ‘had to lie’ about his anti-transgenderism comments

Following a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference on March 4, Daily Wire conservative commentator Michael Knowles is not backing down on his criticism of transgender ideology.

Furthermore, the University at Buffalo has refused to cancel Knowles’ talk scheduled for Thursday and hosted by Young America’s Foundation and the campus Young Americans for Freedom chapter.

“The liberal press has accused me of lots of crazy things over the years, but ‘genocide’ is a new one,” Knowles told The College Fix via email March 7. “Of course, in order to make that accusation, the press had to lie about what I said.”

Multiple media outlets, such as The Daily Beast and Rolling Stone, erroneously claimed Knowles called for transgender individuals themselves to be eradicated at CPAC, instead of gender ideology. After Knowles mentioned libel laws, some publications edited their headlines.

“The language in my speech at CPAC was clear as day,” Knowles said. “I referred explicitly to transgenderism as an ‘ideology’. . . . No even mildly reasonable person could have interpreted my words as insinuating any sort of violence. . .”

Knowles said this excess “is why the editors immediately caved and changed their headlines—presumably at the insistence of their outlets’ legal departments.”

In his CPAC speech, Knowles called on conservatives to take a hard line against transgender ideology: “[F]or the good of society, and especially for the good of the poor people who have fallen prey to this confusion, transgenderism must be eradicated from public life entirely—the whole preposterous ideology—at every level.”

“As a public university, UB must uphold the principles of the First Amendment and cannot disallow student groups from inviting controversial speakers to campus, even if the views of the speaker, or content of the speech, is hurtful or demeaning,” the public university stated in a March 6 new release.

Three professors at University at Buffalo wrote to the university president and demanded he cancel Knowles’ talk, characterizing his CPAC speech as “effectively a call for genocidal violence against members of the transgender community.” Outside activist groups also called for Knowles to be canceled.

“As UB has seen in the past, speakers may hold opinions contrary to its own or make comments that can polarize the campus as they do the nation,” the university stated. “This does not change our core beliefs as a university.”

The release announcing this decision has since been deleted from the page where it was originally found. However, a copy is still available at the university’s Graduate School of Education website.

“I certainly appreciate the university’s dedication to upholding YAF’s and the students’ 1st Amendment right to host Michael Knowles,” an unsigned message from the campus YAF chapter stated.

“I invite anyone who would like to question Mr. Knowles on his speech or other viewpoints to attend our event on Thursday as a portion of the event will be dedicated to a question and answer session,” the representative stated.

On March 7, Our City Action Buffalo, a local activist organization, tweeted a news release from Stonewall Democrats of WNY that denounced the University at Buffalo for “hosting [a] transphobic proponent of hate speech.” The organization urged followers to “[c]all UB and tell them to CANCEL this event immediately!”

“This is a terrifying time for trans people and our families,” Harper Bishop, executive director of Our City Action Buffalo, said in a statement emailed to The Fix. Bishop accused the University at Buffalo of “focus[ing] their time and attention . . . on protecting the hate speech of a far-right and fascistic pundit. . . .” instead of “affirming the humanity of transgender and gender non-conforming people.”

Our City Action Buffalo did not reply to The Fix’s request for clarification, sent on March 7, as to whether the organization believed Knowles intended to call for the killing of transgender people.

MORE: Penn State-Harrisburg working to prevent Michael Knowles event approval: report

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About the Author
College Fix contributor Terrance Kible is a law student at the Thomas R. Kline School of Law at Duquesne University. He hopes to pursue a career in journalism. Terrance also writes for the law blog Legal Insurrection, where he was a 2023 College Fix summer intern. Terrance previously wrote for Campus Reform.