Rocking the cradle: Milo across the miles

Meet Milo Yiannopoulos, Breitbart’s technology editor and a man at the heart of a free speech debate


Courtesy of Official Leweb Photos

Milo Yiannopoulos pictured during a speaking engagement in London, England.

Leon La Jeunesse, News Editor, Scottsdale Chronicle

Within the last year, the Internet has been taken over by one of the most unique political characters it has arguably ever seen. It is not Donald Trump, but this person is one of Trump’s biggest supporters. I am talking about the self-proclaimed “most fabulous supervillain on the Internet”: Milo Yiannopoulos.

If you do not know who Yiannopoulos is, clearly you were not on Twitter this summer (before his account was deleted). Yiannopoulos is the senior tech editor for conservative news agency Breitbart. He is a British conservative and a gay Catholic. As stated earlier, he is a massive supporter of Trump and he has recently become more outspoken on cultural issues.

In 2015, Yiannopoulos began a college speaking tour around the United States, where he gave his opinions on a multitude of issues on college campuses. His opinions, however, are not what you would expect to hear from a speaker at a university. He refuted many modern feminist issues such as the wage gap, campus “rape culture” and gender roles. The other big issue he went after has been the role that Black Lives Matter is playing on campuses specifically and in culture generally.

“Black Lives Matter really doesn’t care about black lives…it’s more of a movement for attention, money, and like most activism more money,” he said at UC Irvine in June.

Yiannopoulos is a lightning rod for controversy. With all that being said it would come to no surprise that while on his tour he received many supporters, he also gained a lot of detractors. At one of his earliest speaking events at Rutgers University, a few feminist protestors stood up during the event and began shouting, smearing red paint on their faces and saying it was a symbol of period blood.

At almost every university he went to on his tour there was either some sort of protest inside the event or just outside. Many groups tried to get their university to keep him from speaking or even setting foot on campus. If Yiannopoulos was coming to your university that week, you knew it was going to be an interesting week.

Many of the colleges Yiannopoulos went too seemed to put up road blocks from student activists or even from within the school administration. Whether it came in the form of student protests or even a requirement for extra security, it just seemed that the university did not want him there.

However, the most outrageous event occurred when Yiannopoulos went to DePaul University. Before he arrived at the school he told DePaul College Republicans it had to pay for 12 extra security guards after it had already demanded several changes to their event. Yiannopoulos and Breitbart ended up picking up the tab.

A few minutes into his speech, a Black Lives Matter protester got on stage and sat between Yiannopoulos and an interviewer, blowing a whistle every time Yiannopoulos tried to talk. Later, another protester ran on stage, stole the interviewer’s microphone and apparently hit Yiannopoulos in the face with it. After several minutes of pleading with the security guards to get the protestors removed, the College Republicans were notified that the school had ordered to the security guards to do nothing.

Yiannopoulos then went down to the administration offices to talk to the president of the university only to find that the office had been locked. Not only did DePaul demand that Breitbart pay for extra security but the school then deliberately told security not to do their job and then hid from Yiannopoulos when he went looking for answers.

Regardless of your personal opinion of Yiannopoulos, the effort of the universities like DePaul to silence him shows a disturbing willingness to mute his opinions simply based on disagreement and a fear of controversy. Think about the last time you heard a prominent conservative figure give a commencement speech. A college atmosphere is mostly left-leaning and that’s more than ok, but when schools, administrators and even students go out of their way to silence opinions instead of debating the ideas that come from them, the very nature of free speech is endangered.

It is imperative that we understand the basis of what Yiannopoulos’ tour is about. Free speech should include controversial speech, and that form of speech should foster a debate about the ideas contained therein. We cannot lose sight of that, especially at a place like college.

Yiannopoulos plans to continue his speaking tour starting September 12 at Texas Tech University.