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.
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.
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?:
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.