Despite controversial rhetoric, Milo Yiannopoulos has right to speak at UB
Milo Yiannopoulos, a conservative British journalist best known for his commentary in the #Gamergate controversy, is coming to speak at UB through Young Americans for Liberty (YAL).
His ideology promotes rape culture while bashing gay rights, though he is gay himself. The main argument he presents is anti-political correctness, so he pushes the envelope – the name of his tour is “The Dangerous Faggot Tour.”
While we as an editorial board do not condone Yiannopoulos’ views, YAL has every right to bring him to campus.
Free speech is a basic American principle that we have to respect. Whether or not we agree with Yiannopoulos’ ideas isn’t as important as whether or not he’s allowed to speak them. And sometimes, regardless of how different it may be from our own, it’s important to hear out others’ ideology because it’s how we learn about the other side of the political spectrum.
The Student Association Senate has made that tough call by approving a $759 grant to help YAL bring Yiannopoulos to campus, despite the fact some of senators may disagree with his message. YAL seems as if it has taken all the proper steps to get him here, and as a club for students, they have a right to bring the speaker they chose onto campus.
While we respect students who disagree and fear Yiannopoulos’ talk could threaten UB being a “safe space,” we would not like to see SA, of which YAL is a temporary club of, or the university stop Yiannopoulos from coming.
We stand with the students who denounce Yiannopoulos’ rhetoric, but we must uphold everyone’s right to free speech, regardless of how much we may disagree with it.
Just as much as Yiannopoulos has a right to speak, those who don’t like what he has to say have a right to protest. Students at Rutgers University did just that by smearing fake blood on themselves and yelling things like “Black Lives Matter” at Yiannopoulos’ speech at the university back in February. If UB students feel as passionately, they too should use their right to free speech and make their feelings about Yiannopoulos known when he comes to campus.
Students cannot bar him from coming, but they can make their feelings known by peacefully protesting.
Yiannopoulos is an editor at Breibart, an online magazine that covers everything from “big government” to “big journalism.” He was heavily involved in the #Gamergate controversy – writing numerous articles about how political correctness is ruining the gaming industry and blaming feminists for the issues that came out of the controversy.
He has spoken out against gay rights despite the fact he is gay – he says he would change his sexual orientation if he could.
Yiannopoulos is essentially a giant Internet troll – he revealed in an interview with BuzzFeed this week that he has 44 paid and unpaid interns writing his hateful speeches for him.
He thrives off people who disagree with him and in some cases, want to censor him. He probably enjoyed Rutgers students’ protest of him.
So to not allow him to speak would only be feeding Yiannopoulos’ arguments against political correctness.
There’s a double-edged sword to bringing someone like Yiannopoulos to UB. He’s outwardly misogynistic and promotes this type of rhetoric. At the same time, he puts his ideas out into the public sphere and has gained a following in his own type of journalism.
To some he is an ignorant nonsense-spewer but to others, he’s someone providing a powerful message of free speech. Some may even agree with him – that’s their right to do so.
No matter what side you personally fall on, Yiannopoulos is more than likely coming to UB.
Whether or not you decide to see him is optional – no one will be required to go. To see him could mean hearing him out and then deciding if it’s worth debating with someone whose hatred seems deeply ingrained. Or seeing him could mean protesting the fact he is even on campus.
Either way – you as a student have options, just as YAL has the option to bring Yiannopoulos to campus.
The editorial board can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.