Let me be clear right from the start. I don’t really care about Milo Yiannopoulos. Despite all of the attention he gets from the right (and particularly from the alt-right), I find him more amusing than intellectually stimulating. In short, I don’t really consider him one way or another.
With that said, I find myself instantly sympathetic to him and those who support him, particularly college students who are open to hearing his message but who cannot because of the intolerant protesters that love targeting him. I won’t go so far as to say that it’s Democrats, liberals, progressives, leftists, or any other generalization of people opposed to him. I can’t. To attribute the actions taken against him to any particular group is to believe that a huge part of the nation is broken. Therefore, I’m simply going to refer to those approving of the riots and attacks on American values as “Milo’s protesters.”
If you’re unfamiliar with his protesters, here’s a quick background based upon last night’s Berkeley riots.
His protesters are supposed to be representing tolerance. That’s the biggest rallying cry on the left when it comes to American culture. The fact that his message or even presence is not tolerated betrays the pure hypocrisy his protesters represent. There is nothing tolerant about hating on a European-American Jewish gay conservative as one who represents one of the rarest demographics around.
As for free speech, the forced cancelling of someone’s speeches is a despicable demonstration of everything the 1st Amendment defends. While this isn’t a pure attack on free speech (they have the right to speak against him just as much as he has a right to speak), it’s still a contradictory notion to use one’s rights in an effort to take away someone else’s.
Lastly, there’s the political discourse (or lack thereof). As Americans, we can disagree with each other. However, disagreements happen in dialogue. When a group such as Milo’s protesters use their disagreement to stifle dialogue, they’re devolving the very premise of political discourse.
The dynamics behind Milo’s speeches and the riots preventing them have many unfortunate elements. Tolerance, free speech, and political discourse are abandoned by his protesters. What’s ironic is that he will now gain a bigger audience as a result of their actions. I spoke to someone last night about it who had never even heard of him until the riots. When I spoke to him again this morning, he said he’d watched a dozen Milo videos. Well done, rioters. You’re aiding in Milo’s fame and spreading his message.
I won’t be seeing Milo speak any time in the future, but it disgusts me that there are large groups of people who are dedicated to preventing others from hearing him. Donald Trump’s election has brought out the worst in people such as Milo’s protesters. This doesn’t help their cause. It makes those of us who are opposed to the alt-right movement unfortunately sympathetic to them, even if only out of fairness and decency.