I really dislike Milo Yiannopolous. An agitator determined to prove that he’s persecuted by being as much of a jerk as possible and offending as many people as possible, I have little respect for the man. Add to this his tendency to employ sophistry and be selectively reasonable when it suits him, and I think he’s a real jerk.
But I think his point, namely that there is a tendency to squelch free speech when liberals are offended. And because oftentimes, in my opinion, that tendency overreaches a reasonable bound he’s able to make a point, caricaturizing the most extreme examples of ‘triggering’ and whatnot to make his point. This allows him to sidestep more reasonable issues. It draws the argument away from the fact that this speech is terrible, and towards the fact that it’s banned.
But on June 6 2016 Milo Yiannopolous was on his dangerous faggot tour at UCSD. The name alone should let bystanders know that his main aim was to offend. And man, did he. Going from campus to campus he met incessant protests. Administrations made him pay for security fees, which in my mind is a grey area, but certainly legal and justifiable. Violence became a hallmark when he visited. He made the argument, in short, that his words were inciting physical violence from those who said his speech, his words, were dangerous.
I have to admit, to a large part of the population that’s a pretty good argument. Oftentimes the violence was so substantial he wasn’t able to speak. And I suppose that, to some extent, is a win for those that protested him. But it also lets him make the argument that he’s being censored for his views.
At UCSD something happened. It was finals week. And that hurt Milo more than any mass protest could.
Whereas his prior stops had been plagued (or benefited from) numerous protesters, calling for him to be barred from speaking or taking over the stage and inarticulately yelling at him, the UCSD visit was notable for how uneventful it was. He entered to a Mariachi band, had a sip of a giant margarita glass thing, and talked for an hour and a bit. It was pretty uneventful and boring. Without a foil (rioters or people taking over the stage) Milo could give his normal anti-PC shtick and say offensive things.
Protests were unremarkable. As a reaction to previous Milo appearances there was a huge police presence. Again, a good talking point “my mildly offensive speech requires ALL THIS SECURITY!?”
But about four people showed up to protest and did so calmly.
Twitter supporters of Milo mocked the “low-energy” protest, but the event barely made the news, especially compared to previous events. With little to fight againt Milo became reduced to what he is: a guy who argues against political correctness and is offensive for the sake of being offensive. No longer could he martyr himself. Those who are going to accuse protesters of being low-energy likely already support milo himself. Those who would be inclined to defend his visit on the basis of free speech will see little reason to support the guy being a jerk for no particular reason.
Whenever Milo spoke Breitbart portrayed negative reaction as a reaction by the other of the regressive left. But with no such reaction he was stunted into how he could play his visit. Without a foil to play against his speech was quite ordinary.
The media mostly sat around taking lame shots of four protesters: no riots here
With no such opportunity to ‘media whore’ and be a martyr, Milo’s visit, in my mind was a failure. Far more than his previous protested visits or his cancelled one at Cal.
It is true that Milo has disparaged trans students and been a jerk. But he’s constitutionally able to do this. And providing a larger platform via protest only spreads these views.
It’s all well and good to oppose him on principle. But to truly minimize the impact of Milo on a campus, the best thing to do is to ignore him. When the man’s sole goal is media attention and outrage, the best thing one can do is to deny that from him.