When we first wrote in December about Cal State Fresno’s upcoming “Radical Environmentalism” conference, we had no idea that public scrutiny would force the event’s participants to hide behind the University’s skirts. Shortly after we broke this news, the Washington Times picked up on the event, starting a miniature firestorm a continent away in Fresno.

The result? The public university’s deanery is doing its best to keep the press and the taxpayers — who, after all, pay for the University’s programs — out of the February event. A Cal Sate Fresno statement made available last week says merely: “The event is not open to the public.”

Fresno’s agricultural producers are, quite understandably, worried about welcoming a roundtable of terrorist sympathizers into their community, especially because the dean of Fresno State’s agriculture school is calling the event “unbelievably mismanaged.” One local cattle rancher told the Fresno Bee that he actually caught two of the planned event’s speakers (Earth Liberation Front “spokespersons” Craig Rosebraugh and Leslie Pickering) taking reconnaissance photos of his ranch a few years ago. “You’re bringing known terrorists to the area,” he said, “who have a record of severe violence and vandalism, no respect for private property and other people’s rights.”

Still, University of Texas-El Paso professor Steven Best, who openly supports the terrorist Animal Liberation Front, insists that he and his friends “are not there to do anything but talk.”

It remains to be explained, then, why a public university, which operates on public funds, will summarily shut the public out of the February “Radical Environmentalism” event. Ellen Gruenbaum, dean of the university’s College of Social Sciences, told the Bee on Friday that the conference’s organizers “don’t want to promote controversial ideas.” But the manager of one local car dealership wants to know why Fresno State is holding the event in the first place. “I’m so angry,” she said. “Are they educating college students to be terrorists?”