One of the joys of free speech in this country is tolerating speech you hate. To combat speech you hate, the best solution is more speech. But with everyone talking and screaming at each other, is any listening going on?
The CSUF Republicans at Cal State Fullerton are outraged that the college’s Associated Students Inc. (ASI) voted in favor of a resolution denouncing alt-right former Breitbart editor Milos Yiannopoulos’ appearance at CSUF on Halloween night as an assault on freedom of speech.
The press release is below (apologies for the different fonts, but its cut and pasted from a PDF and their PR contact has failed to return two calls this morning):
Update: from Brooke Paz, a spokes person for CSUF Republicans: “In response to your inquiry, the reason the CSUF College Republicans decided to bring Milo was to start a conversation about free speech on campus. Milo is a big proponent of free speech, and his unique style definitely draws attention to the issue. With free speech under attack on college campuses today, we think this is a timely issue to bring to the forefront.”
CALIFORNIA STATE UNIVERSITY – FULLERTON STUDENT GOVERNMENT PASSES RESOLUTION TO DENOUNCE SPEAKER MILO YIANNOPOULOS
[FULLERTON, CA] – On October 12th the California State University, Fullerton Associated Students, Inc. (ASI) Board of Directors committee voted in favor of a resolution to denounce Milo Yiannopoulos.
Members of Students for Quality Education, an unregistered radical leftist organization funded by the California Faculty Association, spoke to ASI on Thursday in support of this resolution. The resolution states that the student government “officially denounces Milo Yiannopoulos’ Troll Academy Tour…”
“This is about freedom of speech,” said CSUF Republicans President Amanda McGuire. “With a vote to denounce Milo, ASI is sending a signal to conservatives that their voices don’t matter and are not represented. Conservative voices are, once again, the first to be silenced. ASI has remained neutral for this long and any deviance from their prior stance would show the student body that conservatives are excluded.”
Yiannopoulos will be speaking at CSUF as part of his Troll Academy Tour on Halloween, October 31st, at 6:00pm in the Titan Student Union Pavilion.
“I have never been politically active because I was afraid to speak my opinion,” said club Member Flint Giedt. “ASI condemning Milo instead of staying neutral shows they do not care for the many students that stay silent in fear like I used to.”
The entire student government will vote on the resolution Tuesday, October 24th at 1:15pm in the Titan Student Union Board Room.
“Organizations on my campus are seeking to define my speech as hate speech and violence,” said club Event Director Ryan Hoskins. “This resolution is just one more step towards accomplishing that goal. I hope the student leadership will make the right decision and stand up for free speech.”
To purchase tickets for Milo’s CSUF appearance, visit https://www.csufgop.com/milo/. To learn more about the CSUF College Republicans, visit their website https://www.csufgop.com and social media @csufgop.
And a position paper from CSUF Republicans explaining their position:
Position Statement “The current issue is about one thing one thing only: free speech on college campuses. The constitution promises free speech for all, and colleges and universities are a place where students and the speakers they invite should be free to express their ideas.
We, the College of Republicans of California State University, Fullerton, have seen the ability for free speech and free association threatened on our campus and on campuses across the United States. On almost every university, conservative groups and the speakers they invite are faced with threats of unrest and violence. Their widely used scare tactics to “shout down” anyone who disagrees. To draw attention and to create dialogue on this issue, our club has invited Milo Yiannopoulos. This speaker’s provocative style advances and discusses the issue of free speech by challenging the notion of “political correctness” and the idea that offense alone can be a justification for censorship. We chose a controversial speaker because we strongly believe that free speech means free speech for all. We hope that many who want to hear a speaker on this issue of free speech on college campuses will attend. We also hope that those who are trying to squash free speech by asking the school to “protect us” from Milo’s ideas, will rethink their position on the wrongful notion that schools should protect their students from the ideas of others.”
Details Where: Titan Student Union- Pavillions When: October 31st, 2017 Time: Doors open at 5pm, Event begins at 6pm Ticket pricing: $35 per person. Info to come for online ticket sales soon.
Press info: Limited press space available, please contact Amanda McGuire by email at firstname.lastname@example.org for special details. Press will be admitted into the event with the necessary credentials and pre-approved by the club. Space is very limited
The resolution simply affirms a number of previous resolutions against discrimination and points out the high costs of providing security at other CSU and UC campuses where Yiannopoulos has already appeared. The resolution doesn’t call for Milo not to speak, which makes this announcement that the Alt-Right leader’s and CSUF Republicans’ free speech rights are somehow being trampled when clearly, they aren’t.
So one must conclude that this generation of Young Republicans at Cal State Fullerton embraces the very things that Yiannopoulos has said before.
From The Guardian:
Free speech has limits. You aren’t allowed to shout “fire” in a crowded theatre because someone’s probably going to get hurt. Your right to say what you like is trumped by your responsibility to stop me being trampled to death by a stampede of panicked theatre-goers. Death threats; rape threats; bomb threats; online abuse that drives someone to suicide – these are all things that free speech doesn’t cover – and which aren’t appropriate to defend in its name. Doing so makes it even harder for people to speak freely – not least because that idea of “speaking freely” becomes co-opted by people who mistake it for “I should be able to shout ‘free speech’ at you until you stop talking”.
Self-proclaimed super-villain Yiannopoulos has made a living from saying and doing hateful things, and has successfully embroiled himself in numerous headline-grabbing controversies. Whether it’s saying that “gay rights have made us dumber”, calling transgender people “mentally ill”, calling rape culture “a fantasy”, or being banned by Twitter for allegedly encouraging trolls to attack Ghostbusters actor Leslie Jones with a tirade of racist and sexist abuse, you can usually find him saying something pathologically awful.
So when a major publishing house pays $250,000 to print the work of an alt-right figurehead like him, it gives credence to these ideas, and makes them part of the mainstream. It endorses them. It empowers everyone who agrees with them to act on their worst impulses, and spread hate speech.
Hate speech is not compatible with reasoned debate. You can’t talk to it. When you try, it talks over you and ignores you and calls you a fat ugly whore and publishes your address online. If you’re not scared out of engaging with it for fear of reprisal, chances are you’ll die of exhaustion. How many times do you have to explain to people that “racism is bad” or “women are not worse than men” before you give up because it’s not worth the bother? These are not discussions worth having. They shouldn’t even be discussions.
With the ascendancy of Donald Trump and the rise of the alt-right we have seen a dangerous normalisation of ideas that we would once have rejected as too outrageous to endorse with our attention. We now publish endless think-pieces on them, have panel discussions about them, and publishing houses pay a quarter of a million dollars for someone to write a book about them.
For free speech organisations to stand up and defend Yiannopoulos is a dangerous miscalculation. It further supports the narrative that he’s a radical visionary being oppressed by the system, rather than an opinion-spamming hack who brings out the worst in people. In their statement, the coalition write that “only vigorous disagreement can counter toxic speech effectively”. But if you’ve been on the internet lately, you’ll know that we’re not short of vigorous disagreement, and that there’s more toxic speech than ever.
Free speech is vital. Of course it is. But is defending it like this really helping?
I’ll point out a few other things Yiannopoulos has said and done recently that surely these CSUF Republicans endorse.
Teens ought to hurt themselves rather than talk about transgender issues online.
Women will be happy when birth control and washing machines disappear.
A January 2016 episode of the podcast Drunken Peasants, in which Yiannopoulos appears to defend sexual relationships between adults and “younger boys” in their teens. Hard to find the original show online anymore.
Other quotes include these gems:
“If white privilege is a thing, why are people working so hard to be black? All of the award shows and cultural events favor black culture.”
“Donald Trump is obviously the most pro-gay candidate in American electoral history.”
“Western culture is what keeps women and gays safe.”
“Muslims are allowed to get away with almost anything.”
By all means College Republicans at CSUF, embrace this speaker and what he preaches as “free speech” and lets hold your speaker up as a mirror to your current value system. Yiannopoulos’ most recent lie was that Hurricane Irma destroyed his Florida home; the Miami Herald reported that wasn’t true and that rumor was started by Milo himself to generate publicity. But it’s fake news, right?
I’m sure there will be a number of liberal, progressive and Democratic CSUF students who would love to protest this event. Don’t. That’s exactly what Yiannopoulos wants. Don’t give him the attention he craves.
It’s Halloween night. Throw a Party. Have fun. Ignore these racists, bigots and haters and let them have a free speech love fest where they embrace hate speech.
And by all means, use your free speech rights to ridicule your Right wingnut classmates who belong to the CSUF Republican group as those who agree with Yiannopoulos and they share his bigoted, racist, homophobic and offensive views on women, sexual identity and pedophilia.
And do it every day for the rest of your college career.
It’s your free speech combatting theirs.