Yiannopoulos might be controversial but his message is necessary for free speech

In Opinion
Milo Yiannopoulos being silenced is counterintuitive to the free speech his opponents fight so vehemently for. While his tactics might be questionable, the dialogue he produces is important.
(Cathryn Edwards / Daily Titan)

On Feb. 1, the highly controversial then-senior editor of Brietbart news and public provocateur, Milo Yiannopoulos, was scheduled to speak at UC Berkeley to continue his national speaking even

However, in the span of a month, his book deal was revoked, he was uninvited to speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), his appearance on Bill Maher’s show tanked and his image was tarnished all in the name of intolerance fighting intolerance.

Yiannopoulos faced the height of his criticism over a distasteful comment he had made in a 2015 interview with Joe Rogan, where he appeared to promote underage sex.

But while his comments were terrible, they shouldn’t detract from the dogma he preaches in regard to free speech. In some sense, Yiannopoulos has become a martyr for the first amendment.

It all started when Yiannopoulos wasn’t afforded the opportunity to speak at UC Berkeley.

Before Yiannopoulos could make his scheduled appearance, violent protests erupted, costing the school about $100,000 worth of damage, according to CNN.

I have been evacuated from the UC Berkeley campus after violent left-wing protestors tore down barricades, lit fires,…

Posted by Milo Yiannopoulos on Wednesday, February 1, 2017

This is nothing new for Yiannopoulos, who has been met with protests at schools across the country, but none have prevented him from speaking. While the demonstrations aimed to stop Yiannopoulos’ rhetoric, it ironically helped spread it even further.

Fortunately for Yiannopoulos, he was able to cash in on his rise in media attention. He scored an appearance on “Real Time with Bill Maher,” an invitation to speak at the CPAC and his upcoming autobiography “Dangerous” rocketed to No. 1 on Amazon’s best sellers list.

And although those ventures didn’t pan out as well as he might have hoped, the opportunities only came about because his opponents fed right into his ploy.

The violent protest failed in every regard. It not only made Yiannopoulos more famous, which in turn earned him more money, but it also further proved he and his colleagues’ views on the intolerant/regressive left and their refusal to hear opposition.

It’s ironic to think that the only thing that brought down Yiannopoulos was himself.

This is evidenced by the strategic resurfacing of pedophilic comments he made back in January 2015. Yiannopoulos, who claims he is a child abuse victim himself, said that 13-year-old boys are sexually mature and condoned relationships with adults. He later argued that the comments were his “usual blend of British sarcasm, provocation and gallows humor.”

And while he still has a large following–over 1.9 million likes on Facebook–his invitation to speak at CPAC was revoked, his book was canceled by his publisher and he resigned from Breitbart, facing the threat of his contract being terminated.

However, for all of Yiannopoulos’ misgivings, his voice is still an important one in today’s society.

His purpose is to create a dialogue and that is what this country needs more of. It seems clear in the past few months that there is a large political divide in this country, and much of that is attributed to not fully understanding each side’s motives and desires.

What helps to try to ease that divide and problem is if people talk and listen to each other, and blocking someone like Yiannopoulos from speaking is only going to further that divide. Even he, who describes himself as a “free-speech fundamentalist”, expressed in his press briefing when he resigned from Breitbart that, “America has a colossal free speech problem.”

If the people of Berkeley and across the nation want to let their voice be heard against the current political landscape, then they cannot start with blocking someone else’s voice as well.

If the goal is to stop intolerance, then it cannot be fought with intolerance

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One commentOn Yiannopoulos might be controversial but his message is necessary for free speech

  • Martha Althea Webber

    How can someone become a martyr for the first amendment if no first amendment violations have occurred? The first amendment states,”congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech…” What laws did congress make to abridge Mr. Yiannopoulos speech?

    You are confusing a right to free speech with a right to speak at any or all public platforms, which isn’t something protected in our Constitution.

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