• Alene Bouranova

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    Alene Bouranova is a Pacific Northwest native and a BU alum (COM’16). After earning a BS in journalism, she spent four years at Boston magazine writing, copyediting, and managing production for all publications. These days, she covers campus happenings, current events, and more for BU Today. Fun fact: she’s still using her Terrier card from 2013. When she’s not writing about campus, she’s trying to lose her Terrier card so BU will give her a new one. She lives in Cambridge with her plants. Profile

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There are 44 comments on Conservative Speaker Michael Knowles’ Speech at BU Sparks Walkout

    1. Hi Tom, author here! Thanks for commenting. Myself and our photographer have plenty of photos of the students walking out (as well as of all the empty seats left behind) and we can very safely say it was close to 40. Remember that students left from both sides of the auditorium, not just one!

      1. This wasn’t a debate though – it was a speech. The only rebuttal the students could provide was a walkout, short of disrupting the event.

        If you write-off walkouts as “close-mindnedess”, you’re choosing to miss out on a lot of context

    1. Your comment implies that people who claim to feel “unsafe” have the right to suppress the speech of anyone with whom they disagree, i.e., anyone who makes them feel “unsafe”.

      This is contrary to the principles of a free society. We don’t give any group the right to tell other groups what they can and cannot say. That way lies authoritarianism.

      Which, regrettably, you seem to be OK with.

      1. Knowles has the right to express his opinion. But BU is a private institution, and they have the right to decide who can speak on campus. It’s not like they’d be deplatforming him by telling him that their values do not align with the content of his speech. It’s frustrating that they chose to sponsor this transphobic rhetoric with what was likely the funding that the club gets from the university.

        1. BU is a private Institution. But students don’t study here for free. At least I don’t. Students’ and faculty points of views need to be respected and able to be expressed, unless a point of view calls for violence against others.

          Students had the right to walk out and to call an anti-woman speaker of their choice. Free speech is free speech.

      2. Well said Joe. I’m grateful for BU’s commitment to free speech and open forum. Fewer universities are embracing this position. The desire of one group to suppress another because of differing philosophies flies in the face of everything this country was founded on.

        1. Differing “philosophies” are not valid when they attack someone’s identity or existence. But you’re right, this is defending the bigotry and hatred this country was founded upon.

      3. Is there a reason Mr. Knowles wouldn’t have been able to exercise his Constitutional freedom of speech on the sidewalk? Of course there is; he wanted to benefit materially from the credibility boost of a speaking event at a major private university. This event wasn’t about speech — it was about transferring the resources of the institution (reputation and visibility) to the anti-queer grift. The University isn’t showing their commitment to “open discussion” by platforming him — they are simply declining to exercise values while at the same time minimizing their exposure to right-wing lawsuits which might be frivolous but are nonetheless taxing and expensive. That right-ring donors to BU might be pleased that Knowles got a stage to stand on is just a bonus.

  1. Dialogue and exchange of ideas – listening to one another – civil debate – are positive means of communication. Being open to hear what each perceives concerning various topics always was embraced by academia. So happy that BU does support such diversification in guest speakers. Praise to those who stayed to hear what was said even though they may have been diametrically opposed – VIVE DEMOCRACY’S FREEDOM OF SPEECH! It is alive nd well in BU!!

  2. College students ought not be so tender and self-involved that they can’t bear to listen to a speaker. For goodness’ sakes, listen to him. If you hear something illogical or false, examine and refute it. That would be worthy of your educational level. Walking out on a speaker with one’s middle finger raised is juvenile and anti-intellectual.

    1. Could’t agree with you more Diana. Truth be told these young people have been fed one ideaology since grade school and IMO they are brain washed. Tell them the truth and they do not no how to respond so it’s the middle finger and the spoiled brats walk out. Not only are they spoiled and imature their lack of education and a viable argument for something they so strongly believe in is totallt absent.

  3. The “Right” has no platform and no ideas so they double down on these artificial issues. Nothing about anyone’s sexuality has any bearing on jobs, the economy, infrastructure, climate or war… Real freedom includes gender and reproductive rights. …They have a right to speak but the response should be MYOB.

  4. Conservative groups always claim to love free speech until someone else is talking; then it’s “indoctrination”. Besides, why should marginalized people listen to those who are dehumanizing them? It isn’t a conversation in good faith.

  5. They were there to walk out. And probably to keep 40 people who actually wanted to be there and hear opposing views from being able to get a seat. You know part of the groomers modus operandi is to hide the truth from their subjects. So, they plan the walk out, invite a “useful idiot” reporter to report it like it’s “news” and think we’ll believe Michael was offensive. What they don’t get in their narcissistic minds is that the other 98% of us just laugh and laugh and laugh.

  6. I would have liked to go to this talk but I didn’t see any posts about it, regardless of political affiliation I like to see what both sides are saying. Where was this advertised around BU so I can look for it in the future?

    1. Hi Joe. I can’t answer your question, but I do encourage you to view Michael’s speech and Q&A in the link provided at the end of the article.

  7. Notice how the students protesting allowed their names to be printed but the conservatives spoke on anonymity and didn’t even believe in what they said enough to put their names out there – even though one was on the e-board. It just shows that the students in this group know they were inviting someone who was going to dehumanize LGBTQ+ students and make us feel like we don’t deserve to be here. They don’t care about promoting free speech, they just want to keep their own privileges intact by dehumanizing and marginalizing us.

    1. Perhaps the conservatives are aware of how they’re attacked for their point of view–and I mean physically. For example, recently Lt. Col. Allen West, a black retired US Army lieutenant colonel and former U.S. Representative, had to be escorted by campus police into a squad car in order to protect him from an angry, intolerant, radical-left mob after West gave a speech at Buffalo University. The topic of West’s speech that was so appalling? “America is Not Racist.” The same mob also aggressively chased the student host, who feared for her life, and had to hide in a restroom as the mob searched for her.

      Attacks, harassment, doxing and death threats against conservative students by the Left have occurred at college campuses throughout the U.S. Yes, that is likely why the conservative students chose to remain anonymous.

  8. Why do far right pundits all use the same terminology? It’s as if they were promoting the Official Party Line, like good Stalinists. Today “grooming” seems as ubiquitous as “virtue signaling” was in the recent past. Oh well, it’s good to have a clear sign that there is no need to listen any further to what will be nothing but Official Talking Points disguised as original thought.

    1. Actually, Stalin was a far leftist. Far left or far right – both tribes have a party line and specialize in demonizing (“otherizing”) those who wear the wrong colored team jersey. Credit to BU for allowing diverse viewpoints, regardless of popularity on campus.

      1. It may not be the same ideology, but modern conservatives definitely behave a lot like Stalinists, embracing cult of personality, aggravating cultural conflict, absolute party loyalty, highly coordinated unified party language, and leveraging massive disinformation. Tommy is spot on comparing the GOP to Stalinists.

      2. Actually, it doesn’t matter if Stalin was right or left. The point is that under his regime it was dangerous to deviate from the Party Line and Journalists followed it very closely. I’m reminded of that when I see that, suddenly, every far right pundit and talking head feels the need to use “grooming”. It’s a good signal to tune out, no original thought here.

  9. I love how “inclusive” BU students are until it’s something they disagree with. Inclusivity includes all sides of the political spectrum and open debate brings knowledge and growth.

    1. Oh please, conservatives are straight up intolerant but they whine every time they get called out on it. If they could make gay people/trans people/democrats not exist, they absolutely would. They’re upset that people are intolerant of their intolerance, and have no wish at all to coexist in democratic, pluralistic institutions.

  10. Conservatives offer nothing of value but relics of repression in an effort to maintain aristocracy and privilege for only a few. Everything from their obsession with LGBTQ rights, eliminating voting rights, absolute deference to the rights of businesses over people, it’s all so they can stifle democracy and maintain their dogmatic grip on society. They act like they’re rebels, but they really own the establishment and status quo, which is why guys like Knowles give these insipid speeches. He’s not an “intellectual” as they like to style themselves as, just trying to give an appearance of such to maintain a brutal status quo of repression.

  11. “You cannot keep your mind open indefinitely or your brain will fall out,” he told listeners.

    He was right. Seems like his brain did eventually fall out after he kept his mind open to the idea that “Very radical, very creepy people are trying to indoctrinate children into sexual ideologies”.

    1. “You cannot keep your mind open indefinitely or your brain will fall out” is completely asinine and insipid. This level of thought is what conservatives consider “intellectual”?

  12. Political inclusivity is a necessity. No matter what political party someone is on, they should have the right to speak. The issue is when that person’s ideologies promote hateful messages. By using words like “grooming” or “indoctrinating,” these political pundits use transgender in a negative connotation and are spreading the message that transgenderism is a danger to society, which it clearly isn’t. There isn’t anything factual about this argument and is all based off emotions and bigotry. “Facts don’t care about your feelings” is one of the main things that hateful right wing media uses, yet they consistently turn their heads once they bring in feelings towards topics so important such as LGBTQ+.

  13. I saw this quote somewhere: “Freedom of speech is more important than my feelings… ”
    It is utter and pure hypocrisy to demand tolerance of opinions you agree with and not have the same tolerance to those you do not…

  14. I commend BU for having a policy on free speech, which includes, “The University embraces the guiding principle that the remedy for speech that some may find hurtful, offensive, or even hateful is not suppression of speech, but more speech.”

    For those who are against Michael Knowles and/or his speech…just because…I encourage you to actually listen to his speech and Q&A (good questions from the audience) at the link provided at the end of the article before you comment. (One of Michael’s answers aligns with the policy statement above.)

    And if you don’t care to listen to Michael’s speech, you don’t have to–it’s not required to graduate, but please don’t ruin it for others who do wish to listen–like reserving the limited seats available to keep those students out. You’re not hurting Michael, you’re hurting your fellow students.

  15. I’m grateful to the students who walked out! As a member of the staff, I would have been there with you, but the protections of free expression which faculty and students have aren’t always there for us.

    And for those who want to hear views opposing Knowles, please keep an eye out for events held by Q (mentioned in the article). Also watch for announcements of LGBTQIA+ events associated with Pride month, in June, organized by faculty, staff, and students — allies to the LGBTQIA+ community are always welcome at these events.

  16. Tuning out (disagreeing) is your right. Censoring speech is not.
    As you note, it is what totalitarians like Stalin do. Whether they are on the right or the left, dictators use their power to ban speech. In societies like Soviet Russia or China, the government (not the people) decides the speech that is allowed. In America we’re free to speak, even if the speech is hurtful or rude. In America we’re free to speak, even if the speech is hurtful or rude. BU was right to allow the speaker on campus.

  17. Too bad the Disinformation Governance Board was not established a couple of weeks earlier — then all you folks that feel “unsafe” could have asked the new “Ministry of Truth” to ban such horrible non-liberal speakers from this “private institution”. The most important freedom we have is the 1st amendment —- everything descends from that. IN every totalitarian environment the first thing to be eliminated is any speech that “offends” those in power. There is no more important inalienable right that we have than the right to free speech. Deal with it.

  18. Interesting but not surprising that it was the walkout that was the subject of the article, not what was said at the meeting.

    I applaud those who stayed and listened respectfully whether or not they agreed with the subject matter. Never stop learning!

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