Hate Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos? Skip (or go to) his speech, don’t protest it

Dec 20, 2016, 1:56 PM
Milo Yiannopoulos...
You don't have to like Twitter troll Milo Yiannopoluous. You also don't have to go to his speeches. (NEXTConf, Flickr)
(NEXTConf, Flickr)

The openly gay conservative, Breitbart news editor Milo Yiannopoulos is coming to the University of Washington and Washington State University to give speeches and there are a lot of campus snowflakes who are a little perturbed, to say the least. They don’t know exactly how they are going to handle all of these opinions being expressed by someone they don’t agree with.

If you don’t know him, Milo is controversial. Very controversial. He is one of the very few people of actual fame to be kicked off permanently from Twitter. He was banned because they say he inspired racism and misogyny against Leslie Jones, the SNL comedian who was in the not-so-good remake of “Ghostbusters.”

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His brand is still doing very well without Twitter. He’s managed to stay popular to the point where college campuses across the country are inviting him to speak. He will be at UW on Jan. 20 – unless the thousands of people who signed a Change.org petition get their way. There are also appeals to cancel the Jan. 19 speech at WSU. According to The Seattle Times, the UW petitioners are asking the school to cancel the speech “out of concern for student safety and in a plea for tolerance.”

That last part about tolerance is kind of ironic. Just a little bit.

Here’s the thing about free speech and this whole concept of the First Amendment: It only works when we allow people to have access to the speech that you might not like. Progressives like this, especially on college campuses, are so high-minded. Here’s one complaint from a student, according to the Times: “This man, he’s not trying to engage people in any real discourse or any real dialogue about the issues. He’s just shouting horrific insults.” How do you know he doesn’t want to have a constructive dialogue with you? In fact, I guarantee if you tried to have a dialogue with you, he’d have it. You may not like what he has to say, and that’s what this is really about. Just check out Samantha Bee and Glenn Beck finding weird commonalities.

One issue people are taking offense to with Milo is his stance that “the campus rape culture” is a myth. It’s one of the themes of these speeches at college campuses. That’s what he believes and he will present data to back up his statement, he’ll interpret that data to say that he’s right. But, of course, that conflicts with the interpretation of the campus activists, who say that is not a myth but fact. The truth is, both sides are just giving you opinions — their interpretation of data — on rape culture. The “rape culture” term is a social construct, it’s not a fact nor an actual thing. Rape is real. Rapes happen on college campuses all too often. Rape culture is the term that you use to describe your observation of what is happening on college campuses. It is an observation that Milo does not share, one that he does not see. Why is it that he cannot have or share that opinion? That he can’t look at the same amount of data that you’re looking at and have a different interpretation. We have that all the time on any number of opinions. It is OK to disagree, even on things you are deeply passionate about.

We grow as people when we are challenged and it is a shame that people are not willing to have that conversation. I’ve changed my mind on a number of issues based on conversations I’ve had with people. Sometimes we don’t change our minds, and you know what happens? We become stronger advocates for whatever it is we originally believed in because now we understand what the counter argument is. We’ve heard it from that perspective and can be more convinced that we were more right than ever before.

But, if you’re unwilling to hear him out, there’s another solution: Don’t go to the stupid event. You totally have the choice. The one at UW is being sponsored by the college Republicans. They’ve got about 40 members, which actually outnumbers the amount of Republicans in the Seattle area. You know how you silence speech you don’t actually like? You don’t show up. You don’t give it any attention. None whatsoever.

Following Milo Yiannopoulos’ advice

I talked to Milo at the RNC Convention a few days after his being banned from Twitter. I pointed out that there are anti-Semitic trolls on Twitter who were going after me personally. I’m a Republican but I’m also Jewish. I was the victim of horrific things from members of the so-called Alt-Right that he is apparently a member of. So I asked him where that motivation is coming from.

He pointed out that it’s not that they don’t like Jewish people, it’s that they like the attention and going after someone because of this gives them that attention.

“They do it because you keep reacting to it; to the media, in general, we keep reacting to it. For young people who don’t remember 9/11, who have no living family members who were in the Holocaust or anything like that, the second World War is a dim historical event for them, they don’t understand why the Right going on about anti-Semitism is any different from the Left going on about sexism and racism. They perceive all of it as like grievance mongering and virtue signaling and winging and whining and that kind of stuff. When you understanding that the young people don’t get why anti-Semitism occupies a unique place in the national dialogue and why we are sensitive about how we speak about Jews – 2,000; 3,000 years worth of bad behavior towards Jews – … you start to understand. … There is no burgeoning anti-Semitic movement on the Right in America. They do it because it works, because they’re trolls, because they’re mischievous and because the currency of the internet is schadenfreude.

Just for fun, let’s assume everything he said is fact. That trolls react because you engage with him. What do you think you’re doing when you go after Milo and try to stop him from speaking at a college campus? You just embolden him. You make him become the victim. And, yes, he is a victim if you stop him from speaking at UW or WSU. Free speech is the victim when you stop it from actually being able to flourish in a public setting.

So, get over it, and I would urge you to actually go to one of these speeches, even if you think everything he stands for is repulsive. Go challenge yourself and actually be that open-minded person that you tell us, ad nauseum, that you actually are.

Jason Rantz on AM 770 KTTH
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Hate Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos? Skip (or go to) his speech, don’t protest it