Milo gets de-platformed again

by Grania Spingies

Milo Yiannopoulos, vainglorious defender of Free Speech, or at least, defender of speech if it’s the sort that he approves of, has had yet another event cancelled on him.

While those responsible for threatening the security of the school that invited him will no doubt be crowing over their victory over their favorite bête noire, they have simply provided yet another opportunity for the alt-right’s self-appointed Jesus to pose and pout like a Batman villain. They haven’t shut him down, but they have succeeded in making the Left look censorious and ridiculous again. You can be sure that Milo won’t overlook a gift-wrapped opportunity like this to scream censorship and oppression from the rafters and back to his fans over on Breitbart. The problem is that in this case, he won’t be wrong.

milo-yiannopoulos

The story as reported in Kent Online goes like this: Simon Langton Grammar School for Boys in Canterbury, UK invited Milo to give a talk. More than 220 students signed up for the talk (with parental consent). Then the Department For Education’s counter extremism unit warned of “concerns for the security of the school site” after the threat of demonstrations at the school by organised groups. The school felt it then had to cancel the event.

It is curious that the Department For Education’s counter extremism unit would get involved at all in a small local school event. The only extreme thing about Milo is his mental masturbation, and his need to share it with the world. His ideas are not so much outrageous  or provocative as they are just silly (there’s no such thing as lesbians, y’all, because he’s been told they don’t have sex. Much. After a while.) His power lies in his unfailing vanity and love of the podium where he will hold forth for any amount of time so long as there is a working microphone in front of his face on subjects with as much sense of reality as Alice in Wonderland. He’s entertaining and charismatic and utterly unbothered by fact-checking which is why he makes an alarming opponent to those who think that being offended or outraged by his nonsense is an effective way to combat him in a debate. It isn’t. In fact, unless you have the same sort of rhetorical flair as he does, you shouldn’t debate him at all. Debates are won by those who put on the best show, not by the one with the facts. (Think William Lane Craig for comparison). It may be a better tactic to refute his arguments (and I use the term “arguments” in its loosest sense) point by point in writing afterwards when the eye-rolling and amateur dramatics have subsided and taken themselves off home for the night.

So I suppose it makes sense that the next tactic reached for by the outraged and offended is to try and shut down their opponent so that they don’t even have to try to combat him. Joanna Williams over at The Spectator gives the censors both barrels.

milo

Some of the ‘splainers of the Internet have been out on Twitter tonight. There were these geniuses answering the question Why should Milo be banned?:

untitled

Yes, let’s ban people who we find boring and stupid. This can only end well.

 

2

I suppose if Milo achieves anything, it’s to expose the problems that people have – on both sides of the political spectrum I might add – with speech they disagree with. This is not as Left-only problem by any stretch of the imagination as Trump and his supporters have amply demonstrated in recent days. Only time will tell if society ever comprehends that we get nowhere if we spend all our efforts trying to muzzle people we don’t really like very much. At very least censorship is a terrible waste of time and effort because in the days of the Internet you can never shut anyone up entirely. But the time could be so much better spent by refuting bad ideas with better ones.

46 Comments

  1. Posted November 21, 2016 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

    sub

  2. Posted November 21, 2016 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

    Deplatforming is very, very bad, but why in the world are skeptics so concerned whether this contemptible and perpetually trolling jackass is given a forum or not? I get it, the regressive left are wrong. But are they so wrong that a forum should be created in which the left faces withering criticism for what are often rather petty grievances while the right is given a free pass on virtually everything? Because such a forum is exactly what the Rubin Report and other mainstays of the “skeptic” community have become. Milo didn’t get to throw a public and factually inaccurate temper tantrum. Yes. That’s a much, much bigger problem than a Presidential Administration that is 50% creationist and 100% climate change denier. And for the record, Twitter was perfectly within their rights to toss his useless ass out. The first amendment doesn’t guarantee anyone access to a given forum, a private organization has the right to determine its membership and as far as Twitter “silencing” Milo, those claims are just feeble. The man still, has a column with Breitbart, but I guess it’s only overwrought and childish when liberals say things like that.

    • Posted November 21, 2016 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

      Pretty sure I didn’t mention Twitter. But I don’t think that anyone has ever said that Twitter didn’t have the right to toss out Milo. But Twitter does have a tendency to shut down conservative Americans disproportionately often though, and that is distasteful, don’t you think?

      Also, I think I made it fairly clear that this isn’t a problem that is confined to the Left.

      ~Grania

      • Posted November 21, 2016 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

        Yes, you did and my apologies if it seemed as though my antagonism was directed at you, it wasn’t intended to be. My point is that far too many skeptics have been focusing on the regressive left issue for over a year, while issues on the right aren’t addressed. Until the GOP stops trying to defund planned parenthood under false pretenses and until they allow a meaningful debate about gun control to happen on the floor of the Capitol, I really don’t care what happens to Milo Yiannopoulos.

      • Posted November 21, 2016 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

        “Twitter does have a tendency to shut down conservative Americans disproportionately often though, and that is distasteful, don’t you think?”

        How often do liberals say racist, sexist, xenophobic, or bigoted things against minorities groups that might get them banned from a platform trying to grow a diverse worldwide audience? Now one might find it distasteful that they ban anyone from a platform which has become somewhat of a digital town square, but I see nothing distasteful about them disproportionately choosing to ban conservatives if they don’t see it that way.

    • eric
      Posted November 21, 2016 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

      are they so wrong that a forum should be created in which the left faces withering criticism for what are often rather petty grievances while the right is given a free pass on virtually everything?

      What does your hypothetical scenario have to do with a grammar school inviting him to speak?

      There’s really only two ways to go here. You can support their right to bring in speakers. Or you can demand every potential invitation be reviewed by some authority for ideological balance and then rejected, altered, or approved by them before the kids hear anyone speak. IMO I find the latter to be a cure worse than the disease.

      Personally, I have no idea why the school invited him in the first place. Had that been decided in a PTA meeting in which I was involved, I would’ve stood up and strongly objected. I would’ve voted against such an event. But once the decision is made and the invite is sent, I think at that point the best ‘opposition’ action is (a) better speech during the Q&A, or (b) not showing up. In terms of strategic wisdom, demanding he not be allowed to speak is a distant umpteenth place.

  3. Posted November 21, 2016 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

    This seems to be a favourite censorship tactic of the Regressive Left — threaten violence, and hope that the event gets pulled owing to “security concerns”. It is basically a fascist tactic.

    By the way, if anyone is wondering why Milo would go to talk at a mere school, I gather that it is his old school.

    There was a fairly entertaining interview of Milo on the UK’s Channel 4 News a couple of days back. The interviewer took a highly aggressive line of questioning, frequently interrupting him. Milo defended himself robustly.

    I have no complaints about that interview, but what was notable in its contrast was the softball interviewing of a Milo critic straight afterwards; no hard questions, no interrupting.

  4. geckzilla
    Posted November 21, 2016 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

    I read something interesting regarding Milo at your favorite unfavorite news venue recently; I have to say the whole article has a lot more polish (actual investigation!) than the most ridiculous of HuffPo’s articles. Contained within I was surprised to see that the alt-right itself was conspiring against Milo and was what threatened him at a previous university. Search for “Milo” if you don’t wish to read the entire thing, which is indeed quite long.
    http://highline.huffingtonpost.com/articles/en/alt-right/

    No doubt this confluence of events is also very convenient to already uneasy university hosts. I’ve struggled with this topic myself because I see the utility of “censorship” when it comes to moderation. For instance, left unmoderated, this website would quickly turn into a cesspool of fact-deniers incessantly writing out falsehoods while fact-checkers would fight against them with futility. Is it worth weeding out public speakers who are not much different from online trolls and charlatans?

    • geckzilla
      Posted November 21, 2016 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

      Whoops, HuffPo is Jerry’s favorite unfavorite. I admit I didn’t realize this was Grania writing, because I skimmed too quickly. Sorry, Grania! Or maybe the opinion is shared. I am unsure.

    • eric
      Posted November 21, 2016 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

      Is it worth weeding out public speakers who are not much different from online trolls and charlatans?

      There’s a huge difference between kicking a boor out of your house party vs. preventing them from speaking on the street corner. Jerry’s web page is like his living room. Public speaking is like the street corner. See the difference?

      • geckzilla
        Posted November 21, 2016 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

        I doubt the students and faculty feel that their universities are mere street corners. It’s a kind of home for them, too. I was in a discussion with a student whose university rejected Milo, and his observation was that if he could get kicked out or at the very least reprimanded for the kind of speech Milo presents, why should the uni allow Milo to speak? An interesting question which will also no doubt lead you to the conclusion that the university’s own rules governing its student body are flawed. It’s an interesting conundrum that we’ve found ourselves in.

        • Posted November 21, 2016 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

          To me, it is interesting that the student, instead of free speech for himself, wanted censorship to be spread to others.
          As we say, “I do not to be well, I want Vute [i.e. my neighbor] to fare poorly”.

          • geckzilla
            Posted November 21, 2016 at 11:18 pm | Permalink

            Consider this: That student is trans. I imagine that they make him feel safer; like people care for and respect him. Sure, people may still think hateful things about him, but with rules in place, he has a way to fight back. Perhaps they even helped him begin his transition where before he was too afraid. So it is not hard to see that there is a lot of motivation to put and keep those rules in place. Obviously not everyone agrees, but we can understand opposing viewpoints easily enough.

            • eric
              Posted November 22, 2016 at 8:19 am | Permalink

              I am not sure strangers in a community of 5,000-10,000 are under any social obligation to make people doing things they dislike feel cared and respected by them. Second, I don’t see this principle being applied equally. I don’t think, for example, that the Yale students felt they were under any social obligation to make the Christakis’ feel cared and respected. Third, its arguable whether, in practice, this principle even can be applied equally across the board. What practical action would be required for the Christakis’ case, if all parties are supposed to ‘care and respect’ each other by not saying things that the other group says makes them feel unsafe? You quickly get into a situation where everyone has a heckler’s veto towards any and all speech by others. It is (IMO) simply impractical to have important conversations about morals, politics, etc. if the requirement is 100% community consensus on the appropriateness of speech before it is spoken. The ability or at least potential to offend is practically a necessity for any speech to occur.

              Yes everyone should feel safe from physical harm. To that end, speech that incites or threatens violence can and should be regulated. AFAIK few or no speech advocates object to those sorts of restrictions. But feeling social acceptance /= feeling physically safe. You can have the latter without the former. And I think trying to conflate the two (with the noble intention of tolerance) is exactly the sort of extreme leftist strategy that gets them laughed at and drives political moderates towards conservativism. Someone hating you /= a physical attack on you. Society has an obligation to protect you from the latter, but I have a hard time accepting the notion that society has an obligation to protect you from the former.

        • eric
          Posted November 22, 2016 at 8:04 am | Permalink

          The solution to the students’ conundrum is to support nobody getting kicked out for speaking their mind.

          “An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind” – Ghandi.

  5. colnago80
    Posted November 21, 2016 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

    Actually, I’m rather surprised that ole Milo wasn’t banned from entering the country like Michael Savage is.

    No such things as lesbians? That’s rich coming from a queen like him.

    • Posted November 21, 2016 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

      Actually, I’m rather surprised that ole Milo wasn’t banned from entering the country like Michael Savage is

      He’s British.

  6. Posted November 21, 2016 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

    I think it’s interesting that even his opponents refer to him with the more friendly sounding ‘Milo’ rather than ‘Yiannopoulos’.

    Having a difficult to spell name gives you a definite rhetorical advantage.

    • Gregory Kusnick
      Posted November 21, 2016 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

      I noticed that too. Maybe people who don’t want to “flatter Milo beyond all credibility” should stop referring to him like he’s some kind of rock star.

  7. Posted November 21, 2016 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

    Whenever I see him I can’t help thinking he’s about to give me instructions on how to build an interociter.

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interocitor

    • Posted November 21, 2016 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

      Wow, its not often you see a reference to an Interocitor!!!What a fabulously wonderful bad movie.

      • Posted November 21, 2016 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

        I did fear the reference might be too obscure even for me…

        Cat fans might be interested that the film has a cat called Neutron.

        (‘We call him that because he’s so positive.’ Really?)

      • Posted November 21, 2016 at 10:52 pm | Permalink

        Watch the MST3K Movie version of it. Pure joy!

  8. Posted November 21, 2016 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    Squelching speech may not be the exclusive purview of any one side, but liberals are the only ones who police themselves for it. We hold ourselves to a standard that our opponents would never acknowledge and we lose.

    • Posted November 21, 2016 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

      I think the problem is we care what happens on campus, and right now they are dominated by the Left.

      Most of us don’t care if the NRA an invitation because they find a guest is a bit of a Lefty.

      Shooting things isn’t an institution most of us have an emotional investment in, education is.

  9. Mike Anderson
    Posted November 21, 2016 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

    Yiannopoulos is ignorant and hateful. There’s no law against it, but why should a school promote that?

    Should a school give platform to a speaker that espouses creationism as scientific fact because some students request it? Or how about the scientific basis of white race superiority?

    • Posted November 21, 2016 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

      The school wasn’t promoting “it”. What made you think that they were promoting it? They invited him to talk at an event where he would have certainly been challenged (see Joanna’s article – she is the mother of one of the school’s children), and they did not want to cancel the event either. They were pretty much forced to cancel against their own wishes. Why is that okay?
      ~Grania

      • Mike Anderson
        Posted November 21, 2016 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

        > What made you think that they were promoting it?

        Providing a venue and advertisement is often considered “promotion”.

        • Posted November 22, 2016 at 4:04 am | Permalink

          Yes, in essence your argument is that schools shouldn’t give a platform (“promote”) anyone who is “ignorant and hateful.” What you don’t seem to realize is that that excuse is always used to ban people that the banner doesn’t like. It’s used here at my university to ban those in favor of Israel, attorneys general supposedly responsible for the murders of black men, and so on. It is used to ban critics of Islam like Mayram Namazie. Your argument is not a good one, because it is an argument for banning anyone who causes “offense.”

          Saying that having a speaker constitutes promoting a speaker is one of the misguided arguments against free speech.

          • Posted November 22, 2016 at 5:22 am | Permalink

            Excellent post, Grania.

            This misguided interpretation of free speech is the reason why many tweeters say in their byline that the content of their tweets/retweets are not to be considered their views.

            My own code of conduct is to identify narcissists and then to have no contact if possible or limited contact if not. It works for me but what others do regarding narcissists is their choice.

          • Mike Anderson
            Posted November 22, 2016 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

            > Yes, in essence your argument is that schools shouldn’t give a platform (“promote”) anyone who is “ignorant and hateful.”

            Exactly. Again, should a school give a platform to someone who presented scientific evidence that birth control makes women crazy? Or scientific evidence of the superiority of the white race?

            > What you don’t seem to realize is that that excuse is always used to ban people that the banner doesn’t like.

            That’s just naive. Of course I realize that.

            • eric
              Posted November 22, 2016 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

              Again, should a school give a platform to someone who presented scientific evidence that birth control makes women crazy? Or scientific evidence of the superiority of the white race?

              Should a science teacher recommend such a speaker because they think the person’s ideas have merit? No. Should a higher administrator carry such a recommendation forward? Probably not.

              But what about a rhetoric teacher who recommends such a speaker specifically to give their students some red meat to chew on? Hmmm, that’s not as clear. How about a social studies teacher doing it to make a point about free speech? Also not as clear. In both these cases, the school system isn’t advocating the retrograde idea but its still a teacher introducing kids to pedagogically questionable material for the teacher’s own purposes. So you have to wonder about their curriculum choices, and whether the same point might be made a better way.

              But now what about a request by a student first amendment group intentionally looking to bring in an offensively retrograde speaker? In that case, should the administration prevent the students from bringing them in? Now I’m firmly on the “no on prevent, yes on allow” side.

              So, IMO its nuanced. But in general IMO outright bans based on speech content should not be our first, reflexive position, even if the speaker is a racist holocaust-denying conspiracy freak. Its worth asking who is doing the asking, why, and to consider the time, place, and manner of presentation.

              Ultimately if you give administrators a banhammer to use on any speech they deem inappropriate, that banhammer is eventually going to land on you and your liberal head. And really, with Trump being elected and nominating an old school racist for AG, I would think that would be obvious. Look at our government now. Do you really want them to have content control over public discourse? If the answer is no, then learn the lesson, and don’t give lesser groups of government that content control even in the times they are controlled by people who agree with you. Because that won’t always be the case.

              • Mike Anderson
                Posted November 22, 2016 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

                I think we’re in agreement that there are few hard lines here and that it is nuanced.

                >Ultimately if you give administrators a banhammer to use on any speech they deem inappropriate, that banhammer is eventually going to land on you and your liberal head

                But we’ve always had banhammers and while they have at times gone against my interests – that’s life. You can’t say “I have a bomb” on an airplane without punishment, etc. Society has always imposed restrictions on public expression. Always. The argument is about the nature of those restrictions, not whether or not they should exist.

                I don’t think creationism belongs in a science class (other than as an example of psuedo-science) and probably most readers here would agree with that banhammer.

                I don’t think schools should promote (or “give platform”) to racist holocaust-denying conspiracy freaks because it does tend to lend legitimacy to it. It could well resonate with 1% of the audience (especially a teenage audience).

                Another issue I have with worrying about Milo’s “deplatforming” is that it invites comparisons to people like Ayaan Hirsi Ali. That’s like putting Sam Harris in the same basket as David Duke because they’re both critical of Islam. These comparisons are detrimental. Clowns shouldn’t be subject to the same considerations as serious thinkers, just as scientists and creationists shouldn’t be subject to the same considerations (in my judgement). Creationism should be kept out of science studies and hatemongering should be kept out of education in general.

                Hatemongering is available to those that desire it, but we shouldn’t lend our institutions to it. (I’m fully aware that at this point the contentious definition of “hatemonger” comes into play – but again: that’s life.)

  10. Ken Kukec
    Posted November 21, 2016 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

    “Department For Education’s counter extremism”

    Now there’s a moniker could do Joe Stalin proud.

    Far as I’m concerned, Milo oughta be able to speak anywhere anyone’s willing to listen. But, damn, don’t know that I’ve ever seen a guy puts more effort into making it easy to hate him.

  11. Ann German
    Posted November 21, 2016 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

    I keep hearing our old friend Oscar Wilde intoning that the only thing worse than bad publicity is no publicity (or words to that effect). Banning him definitely gives him credibiity. Boycotting or not inviting in the first place works better.

    • Ann German
      Posted November 21, 2016 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

      Or, showing up in a clown suit.

  12. Posted November 21, 2016 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

    I thought this was going to be a post about Justin Bieber. Maybe it’s the sunglasses.

  13. Igor
    Posted November 21, 2016 at 8:50 pm | Permalink

    The work that Milo has done in order to ensure Trump’s victory was tremendous. That is why I enjoyed reading the scornful depiction of him by Grania Spingies. Poor HRC supporters just cant seem to let it go.

  14. somer
    Posted November 21, 2016 at 9:29 pm | Permalink

    +1 “Debates are won by those who put on the best show, not by the one with the facts. (Think William Lane Craig for comparison). It may be a better tactic to refute his arguments (and I use the term “arguments” in its loosest sense) point by point in writing afterwards when the eye-rolling and amateur dramatics have subsided and taken themselves off home for the night.” Its amazing how many smart people insist that in-person debate is the best way to assess everything

  15. somer
    Posted November 21, 2016 at 11:58 pm | Permalink

    Milo is an odious ass but this is a private event, and students attend with their parents permission. At any rate, with family discussion maybe its good for them to see what the alt right scene in America is about and what little regard for facts it has.

    It is no business whatsoever of these external groups that want to silence Milo and as Grania mentioned, it just gives him cache back at Brietbart.

  16. Andrew
    Posted November 22, 2016 at 3:38 am | Permalink

    Reading these comments justifying the censure of free speech just makes me realise how nazi germany was able to placate the aspirations of a dictator.
    All hail the rightouse left and down with any discerner opinion … because it’s only logical … the left are… always right.

    • Posted November 22, 2016 at 4:06 am | Permalink

      I, frankly, am appalled at how many of my readers on this thread are suddenly finding jusitifications for giving “exceptions” to free speech when the speaker is considered odious. Do they not know that it is the most offensive people who should be given the right to speak?

      • eric
        Posted November 22, 2016 at 9:25 am | Permalink

        The far left have definitely taken the lead in “free for me but not for thee” approaches to speech.

        I try to use the child’s cake-cutting game to make the point. But instead of “you cut the cake, I pick the first piece”, I suggest a game of: “you decide what censorship powers the authority will have. Then I play the authority and decide what content to use those powers on. And oh by the way, for the purposes of the game, I probably don’t like your causes.”

        In most cases, people get the point: the speech rules they thought of as ‘fair’ and ‘reasonable’ only seem reasonable when they personally get to cut the cake and pick the slice. They only like such rules, IOW, when they get to act as authoritarians. Take away that implicit assumption of power, and suddenly the rules don’t seem like such a good idea.

        Of course in some cases, I get the angry flounce. “How dare you suggest that [my cause] is in any way comparable to [bad speech I don’t like]!” 🙂

  17. Posted November 22, 2016 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    I’d be slightly more sympathetic to the “deplatformers” if they were to adopt some principles by which they would rule out speakers, and do it *in advance*…

    (After all, such events cost money, etc.)

  18. coolname
    Posted November 22, 2016 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

    Counterproductive, I believe.
    Milo has built his whole career on those overblown reactions of progressive activists.
    Without the scandals of for instance crazed student protestors, a Twitter ban or deplatforming he would be insignificant.

  19. Westi
    Posted November 23, 2016 at 6:59 am | Permalink

    Hmmm… I’don’t really know if I agree or disagree with de-platforming. Anti-vaxxers and climate hoaxers are given platform all the time and we are paying the price for it. I guess I have to support free speech and all that, some times I feel like there shouldn’t be discussion.


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