Over 800 people waited outside the Titan Student Union for Milo Yiannopoulos to speak Tuesday, ready to pack into the pavilions as law enforcement officers in riot gear kept watch with assault rifles and K-9 units.
The doors to the event opened at 5 p.m., and it took at least a half hour for College Republicans club members wearing red t-shirts reading “free speech lives here” to direct everyone inside to be seated. Some members of the audience came in costume, keeping Halloween alive in the crowded space.
When Yiannopoulos emerged from the left side of the stage at 6:20 p.m. in clerical clothing, the crowd burst into uproarious cheers and applause that continued as he shed the robe to reveal a purple, patterned jacket and a clerical collar.
“My name is, for the purposes of this evening, Father Milo: The spookiest man in America according to freakish journalists, predatory Hollywood producers, your decaying professors, the ghoulish Hillary Clinton.”
Yiannopoulos spoke for an hour in the TSU. Over the course of his speech, he tackled recent sex scandals, conservatism in universities, Halloween, free speech and more with his characteristic brand of provocative humor.
Hollywood Sex Scandals
One of the main topics of his speech was the recent sexual assault allegations made against Kevin Spacey, Harvey Weinstein and other “leftist legends” in Hollywood and beyond.
Much of what he said was jokes, particularly in regards to Spacey, suggesting 14-year-olds would be knocking at his door on Halloween night to be let out.
However, he also took the conversation to a more serious point at times, talking about how Spacey’s coming out following the allegations is a major step back for gay people trying to distance themselves from the stereotype of being pedophiles.
“Kevin Spacey, in reaching for his sexuality as an excuse for his alleged, disgusting behavior, has done something he didn’t mean to do, which is reveal forever to the entire American people how utterly bankrupt the idea of identity politics is,” Yiannopoulos said.
Yiannopoulos also made fun of a variety of leftist figures like Nancy Pelosi, who he called 100 years old, and Michelle Obama, who he called an “unattractive transsexual.”
He said he hopes to see more figures from the media and academia exposed so they also soon fall to scandals.
Protecting Conservatives on Campus
Yiannopoulos talked about how Republican students in California are “very brave” and under attack from more than the “Buzzfeed bloggers.”
“Now, I used to caution prudence to conservative students. I used to say ‘We live in a liberal world, so be careful.’ I think the moment in history where that was good advice has passed,” Yiannopoulos said. “It is time to be defiant. It is time to rebel, and if the left wishes to become ungovernable, we must become uncensorable.”
He recommended that if the left fights back, conservatives should organize more speeches, jokes and opinions their opponents don’t like, “even if we don’t believe them.”
To avoid being called an “insubstantial clown” by news organizations like CNN, Yiannopoulos spent time teaching attendees about the origins of Halloween.
He told the audience that the common notion of Halloween being a mishmash of pagan traditions is wrong. Rather, he said the holiday is a Catholic invention that Protestants tried to change the perception of, because they were “killjoys.”
“The Protestants in America in the 1800s were a bit like feminists or Muslims today without the piercings, hair dyes and burqas, but with the same lack of a sense of humor and hatred for anything remotely resembling fun,” Yiannopoulos said.
At one point, he stopped his speech to ask members of the audience wearing costumes to stand up. Among the standing audience members was a girl wearing a blue outfit covered in snowflakes, poking fun at a liberal jab for everyone being special and fragile, and a man in a stereotypical Native American outfit.
The speaker even gave suggestions for future costumes, including an antifa member on the hood of a Dodge Challenger, referencing an attack on the counterprotest to a white nationalist march in Charlottesville, Virginia in mid-August.
However, he talked about how there is a “War on Halloween” similar to the “War on Christmas” being run by the American left to stop these sorts of costumes.
“The political left these days spends more time telling you what kinds of costumes you should wear than teaching you to think critically about history or about society. They’re more concerned with policing sexist language than outing rapists,” Yiannopoulos said. “The left believes that words are more important than actions.”
Statistics on Free Speech
In an attempt to show that conservatives were on the right side of the free speech argument, Yiannopoulos also talked about a study released the day of his speech from the Cato Institute titled “The State of Free Speech and Tolerance in America.”
He mentioned a number of statistics from the study, like how 71 percent of Americans say political correctness has silenced important discussions and how 63 percent of Republicans say a free press is the enemy of the American people.
“These universities, these spaces where those percentages are reversed or worse, aren’t just destroying free speech. They’re doing so with your money,” Yiannopoulos said.
To back up that remark, he mentioned an American Enterprise Institute article saying that 26 of the 30 institutions that received the most federal research funds in 2015 had policies in place to restrict the First Amendment in some way.
“Here in universities, the solution is simple, easy, quick and definitive. Just stop giving the f—ers money,” Yiannopoulos said. “If you’re a student, I urge you to call for the defunding of your own institution, because nothing will terrify the administration more. Nothing will horrify your professors more than their own students calling for the defunding of the university, because they deserve it.”
The morning of Yiannopoulos’ visit to CSUF, eight people were killed and 11 were injured in a supposed terrorist attack in Manhattan, according to the New York Times.
The conservative speaker mentioned the attack a number of times, namely to assert that the left trying to silence speech that makes some people laugh is dangerous.
“People just got mowed down in New York,” Yiannopoulos said. “The greatest disservice to their memory is to allow terrorists … To stop us from laughing.”
He followed up by saying he was glad the only people hit were cyclists and “not actual human beings.”
The Next Step
Yiannopoulos ended his speech by talking about how, in his eyes, the last 30 years have been about “social justice warriors” intimidating and bullying conservatives, but with the election of Donald Trump, the next 30 years will be about “liberation.”
“This is the greatest place in the history of human civilization,” Yiannopoulos said, having to break for the cacophonous cheers and shouts of “USA” from the crowd. “This is a place you should be able to be, do and say anything. Tonight, of all nights, I encourage you to do so.”
College Republicans club public relations manager Brooke Paz said the event was “very successful,” as they sold out of tickets and everyone attending the speech was excited and animated during the event.
“I’m really relieved and I’m so happy that this actually happened,” Paz said. “Just the fact that this happened in general is a win for college conservatives and for conservatives around the country to see that you can make these events happen. You can get the university to work with you, and you can do it very peacefully for the most part.”
She said that with Yiannopoulos’ speech out of the way, the club is preparing to do more campus-based activism and social events.
They initially made their request to reserve the TSU in May and officially booked Yiannopoulos to talk in mid-September.
Since his talk was confirmed, both the CSUF Academic Senate and Associated Students, Inc. have passed resolutions denouncing trolling and hate speech, both conversations brought about by Yiannopoulos’ visit despite his name being taken out of the documents.
“The content of the speech isn’t something the university would have a comment on, but the student group had a chance to have their event here, and by all observations, it seems to have been a success,” said CSUF Chief Communications Officer Jeffrey Cook.
Yiannopoulos came to CSUF as part of his “Troll Academy” tour. Every other stop over the next two months is set in Australia at “secret locations,” according to the Troll Academy website.