Milo Yiannopolous, self-identified conservative, gay, provocateur, has done what he does best, ruffled some feathers. He was invited by the College Republicans at DePaul University to speak. Knowing that the Chicago campus isn’t exactly the safest, most open-minded, progressive utopia it claims to be, Milo asked for security at the campus. DePaul forced him to pay for it himself, a somewhat curious stance that should be investigated further.
Protesters were outside of the event even prior to it starting (something that should have cued the university into perhaps intervening in some way). In the middle of the event, while Milo was speaking, Edward Ward, a Black Lives Matters…member, shirt-wearer, participant (?), and “church minister” came on to the stage and began to yell in “protest” – eventually threatening to hit the smug Milo.
Let me go ahead and say that I am not quick to come to Milo’s defense. I do not find much favor in the provocative types such as he and Coulter. They love to poke people in the eye and then make fun of their response. They don’t offer much in the arena of helpful dialogue and help paint the picture that those on the right are a hateful. While I typically roll my eyes at the notion that the right are a bunch of “hate mongers”; Milo may accurately fall into that description. One need only browse his twitter feed for a while or read any of his blog posts at Breitbart (RIP) to make these conclusions. It’s not enough to disagree with someone, quite thoroughly, but you must also make fun of their hair, face, etc. It’s no wonder that Milo is a big Trump supporter.
What I do defend, however, is MIlo’s freedom of speech. It was perfectly fine for the BLM to protest this event. It was perfectly okay for them to call out Milo on his rhetoric and speech – it was even fine to call it for what it perhaps is at times, hate speech (though that term is over-used and often wrongly). However, it was not okay to shut down the event Milo was speaking at. Further, and perhaps more worrying, it was wrong for the university to facilitate the disruption. While the President has come out against the disruption, they did nothing to stop it in the moment. The security did nothing to stop the protesters, but they did shut the event down and tell Milo that if he didn’t leave he would be arrested. Further, another conservative blogger was arrested, apparently, for filming the protest afterward.
Ward, the interrupter, said to Heat Street, “When [speech] is coming from a point of ignorance, when you make these blatant statements about feminists, when you make blatant statements about the LGBTQ community, when you make statements about black people – then it becomes a problem, because when you use this kind of hatred people like us end up dead,” said Ward. “You get Charleston. These are what you get as a result of his type of speech and rhetoric.”
An ironic statement on so many fronts – chiefly that the only person threatening violence was Mr. Ward. I get being angry about people within your identified community dying for reasons that you find illegitimate (like trying to take a cop’s gun after committing a crime and then bull rushing him), but threatening violence for the purpose of muting the speech that could potentially and indirectly lead to violence is absurd on all fronts. This isn’t a free-speech argument, it is a violent demagoguery. One could, and should argue, that the left is the side of true hate speech. They constantly threaten the right to stop their veiled hate. This point is highlighted by the chants outside “faggot go home”; liberal tolerance in practice and rhetoric.
There was another interrupter on stage. A young female rushed the stage and ripped the mic from the moderator. Wearing a “Straight Out of Chicago” shirt, (a throwback to the “Straight Outta Compton”), she then begins to dance on stage after yelling. Her participation in the event intrigues me. I understand the mindset of Mr. Ward (be it convoluted), but what provokes a person to get on the stage, yell at someone “in protest” and then begin dancing? My own perception is that it is part of a show. She wants to bring attention to herself and finds this mocking dance routine a way to celebrate the moment. One need not dig too deep into their memory bank to recall when Rosa Parks trademarked the “finger wag” dance after being told to move to another seat or when Martin Luther King ripped the mic from Bull Conner’s hands. It’s fashionable to call yourself a “minister” so as to align yourself with the incredible men of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, but their character has been forfeited. No doubt I will be accused of cultural insensitivity.
We’ve lost our way in regard to free speech. We think free speech applies only to us or the type of speech we approve of. In fact, the purpose of the First Amendment was the opposite; to protect speech that we don’t like. I encourage the BLM to speak freely regarding their concerns about the black community. I find many of them legitimate. Why are so blacks disproportionately in prison? Why do we have such poverty in their communities? Is there still racist elements that they need to overcome and if so, how can we move beyond them? I even defend their right to protest and speak on behalf of their crazy notions that their violent criminals who attack cops are victims of a racist police force. Unfortunately, we keep getting Ferguson. The pacifism of MLK Jr, which proved incredibly effective, has been replaced by the celebration of violence and wrapped up and in a “Straight outta Compton/Chicago” shirt.
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