The Daily Wire’s Michael Knowles was welcomed by the shouts of trans activists, “Trans rights are human rights,” as he prepared to give his opening statement at a debate on Tuesday on the campus of the University of Pittsburgh.
The activists were allegedly escorted out of the facility by police.
The debate was titled “Should transgenderism be regulated by law?” and was hosted by the Pitt College Republicans and sponsored by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute. It was held at the school’s O’Hara Student Center.
Knowles, a conservative podcaster, argued that men who claim to be women should not be recognized as women.
“Regardless of whether or not one wishes for the law to regulate transgenderism, it will,” Knowles said in his opening statement. “Even the most tolerant, open-minded, pluralistic society cannot simultaneously uphold mutually contradictory principles. In even the most liberal society, the law must answer at least certain basic questions. If the law has nothing to say about what a woman is, then the law has nothing to say at all.”
Journalist Brad Polumbo, who said he is a “gay, agnostic libertarian,” was Knowles’ debate opponent.
Polumbo opened by critiquing activists like those who shouted as Knowles began his speech.
“I would like to say to the people outside, or inside, who are not just interested in having their voices heard, but trying to shut down this debate: grow the h[*]ll up,” Polumbo said. “The debate is happening whether you like it or not. It’s your choice to participate in it or bury your head in the sand. This is America, we have free speech, and I just don’t really stand for anybody who would try to shut down the voices they disagree with rather than engage with them.”
The debate, which was posted on YouTube, lasted approximately one hour, and included back-and-forth discussion between Knowles and Polumbo, moderated by Leah Libresco Sargeant.
According to The Daily Wire, hundreds of pro-trans protesters gathered outside the event. Police said multiple “incendiary devices” were set off. One device was a “combination of a firework and a smoke bomb,” police told Pitt News.
The school eventually closed or restricted access to several buildings, and city police were called in to help with crowd control, The Daily Wire reported.