Young Americans for Liberty invite Austin Petersen to campus


Austin Petersen speaks in the Kiva Wednesday, March 21, 2018.

Addie Gall

Austin Petersen, runner-up for the libertarian candidate in the 2016 presidential election, brought his rhetoric from the campaign trail to Kent State yesterday.

Young Americans for Liberty invited Petersen to speak on libertarian and conservative views on campus.

The president of Kent State’s chapter of Young Americans for Liberty, Kevin Cline, introduced Petersen. Cline said that Petersen was raised in Peculiar, near a town called Liberty.

“You could say fighting for liberty is his birthright,” Cline said.

In the Kiva, Petersen spoke on the importance of freedom of speech and when people have the right to express their opinion without consequence on private versus public property.

“On college campuses your right to free speech is under attack,” Petersen said.

Petersen also discussed whether those on social media have free speech on their personal accounts.

His answer?  You don’t.

Petersen himself has been banned from Facebook two times. One of these instances was for giving away a free AR-15.

Petersen said he fights for freedom of speech for all, even those with opposing views.

“You’re not brave when you defend the rights of someone you agree with. You’re brave when you defend the rights of someone you disagree with,” Petersen said.

Freedom of speech can have consequences, Petersen said. Relating the case of NFL players who kneel for the anthem, Petersen said they have every right to kneel — but their bosses have every right to fire them, because they are on private property, he said.

“Do we ultimately respect private property in this country or do we not?” Petersen said.

Petersen supporters from other schools made the drive to hear him speak as well.

“I believe that the concept of free speech ought to be broad as it’s stated in the Constitution and Bill of Rights,” Akron law student John Hoffman said.

Petersen is currently running for U.S. Senate in Missouri, and said that libertarians and conservatives need to compromise and “lock hands” if they want to create change in our government.

Petersen’s emphasis on liberty is evident in his campaign slogan: “It’s time to bring liberty back to Washington.”

“It’s nice seeing him on Kent’s campus because there are a lot of liberals on campus,” said Kaitlin Bennett, a senior biology major and the former president of the disbanded Kent State chapter of Turning Point USA. “It was definitely nice hearing his conservative message.”

Addie Gall is the student politics reporter. Contact her at [email protected].