Penn State University canceled Riley Gaines’ “Real Women’s Day” speech scheduled for October 10, according to the women’s rights activist.
Gaines shared a post on X (formerly Twitter) announcing the cancellation:
October 10, or 10/10, has been dubbed Real Women’s Day to honor the significance of the Roman numerals XX: the double X chromosomes in a biological female’s genetic makeup. According to the Riley Gaines Center at the Leadership Institute, “Real Women’s Day should be recognized, not only to celebrate womanhood, but to serve as a crucial reminder to keep women’s spaces available only to real women. Real Women’s Day celebrates the unique and special role that women play in society.”
Gaines was scheduled to speak on the topic at Penn State in celebration of the day and in celebration of women. She was quick to call out the hypocrisy of Penn State President Neeli Bendapudi, who had posted a video in September defending free speech, particularly in places of higher education.
While she refrained from naming names in the video, Bendapudi did say that some speakers espouse hateful messages.
“I share the concerns of those who believe the messages spread by some individuals are not only offensive but deeply hurtful, and again I stand in unity with those who condemn such speakers and their rhetoric,” she said.
However, according to Bendapudi, the state-funded university was “bound” by the First Amendment and obligated to distribute funding for student-organized speakers in a “viewpoint-neutral” manner.
Bendapudi continues that the protection of free speech is important, stating that without the First Amendment, “…the same laws and regulations that can be used to silence bigots, can be used to silence you.”
The video—and subsequent cancellation of Gaines—is clear in its messaging: The public university and its administrators are in the right, and Gaines—and those who question the woke status quo—are the bigots.
Universities—particularly those that receive taxpayer dollars—do not just have a legal obligation to uphold the First Amendment because it is the law of the nation. They have a moral obligation to cultivate an environment that allows for free thinking and diverse thought by upholding free speech. In canceling Riley Gaines’ speech celebrating women, Penn State has made its stance clear: right think is more important than free speech.