People at yet another university are demanding that their school cancel a Milo Yiannopoulos speech because it would be “dangerous,” and that’s exactly the kind of reaction that’s keeping Milo in his job.
Yiannopoulos was invited to speak at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee, and a student-faculty group called “Coalition Against the Ultra Right” wrote a letter demanding that the school call it off because his “ideologies are dangerous” and “promote violence,” according to an article in Campus Reform. A faculty group, “UWM Against Hate,” launched a petition demanding the same thing, explaining that they are “afraid for [their] students” should Milo be allowed to speak there.
UWM has yet to comment on the letter, but if they do decide to cancel Milo’s speech, it wouldn’t be the first time that that’s happened. For reasons running from opposition to his rhetoric to concerns over threats of violence, Yiannopoulos’s appearances have been canceled at almost too many schools to count, including Florida Atlantic University, Iowa State University, New York University, Villanova University, University of Miami, and University of Maryland — and each cancellation gives him the publicity he needs to stay popular.
Now, I’m personally not a huge fan of Yiannopoulos. It’s not that he enrages me; it’s more that I’d rather spend my time doing things other than getting offended or trying to figure out what he really believes versus what he says because it’s fun to say it. And although I’ve never cried over or felt threatened by his comments, you’d never hear me argue that he hasn’t said some things that could easily be described as “terrible.” But the fact is, the whole reason that Milo says “terrible things” is because he’s learned that saying “terrible things” is all he has to do in order to have a career.
Make no mistake: It’s not Milo’s fans who have given him his media-celebrity staying power, and the harder people try to stop him, the easier it gets for him to continue. Think about it. Yiannopoulos’s entire schtick is that he’s an advocate for “free speech” in a world where “free speech” is under attack, and the best way to keep this narrative going is to keep him from being free to speak. What’s more, the people who threaten violence against him — such as the DePaul University students who went so far as to rush the stage, grab his microphone, and threaten to punch him in the face during his speech in May — only manage to make the guy who once wrote that “birth control makes you a slut” seem like more of a sympathetic figure.
#related#Now, I’m not saying that it is always best to ignore the things that we think are harmful. All I’m saying is that in this case, it couldn’t be more clear that the negative attention is exactly what’s giving Milo the influence that his detractors are so terrified of him having. Remember: This is a guy who is famous for being — as he describes it — “The Dangerous F*****” and “the most fabulous supervillain on the Internet,” and the only reason he has been able to stay famous for those reasons is because people keep describing him that way. Campuses freaking out about him won’t end his career, because “Look at how much people freak out about me coming to campus!” is the foundation of that career. Milo’s supporters may be the ones inviting him, but ultimately, it’s the people uninviting him who are keeping him employed.