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Milo Yiannopoulos should not speak at the University of York unchallenged

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Image credit: Breitbart, http://cdn.breitbart.com/mediaserver/Breitbart/Breitbart-London/2014/12/14/Screen-Shot-2014-12-14-at-232933png.png

Recently, as I’m sure you’re aware, there has been a scandal that has exploded to national proportions regarding International Men’s Day, a day intended to bring attention to men’s issues in society as listed in this statement by the university. As soon as it was introduced, it received much deserved criticism and backlash, so the university decided to cancel the event releasing a statement explaining why. 

Now, personally, I think that we should have a men’s day at the university, for the reasons cited in the statement: the biggest killer of men under fifty years of age is suicide and there are still many roles that are expected of men. Men are meant to be the breadwinners, men are meant to be able to deal with their emotions on their own, and so on. If you go through the original statement however, there is only a single throwaway sentence about it, with the rest being about financial and academic “disadvantages” that men face.

This then exploded into a scandal where lots of different national news outlets ran the story, and events seemed to get quite out of hand. The debate fumbled on, out of control, no one person being able to get a grasp on it and the university responding in a very non-apologetic way; Men’s Rights Activists coming to the fore and being disgusted by the university’s actions in retracting their statement, feminists reacting with jubilation that the event had been cancelled; whilst others like me who sat in the middle believing we should have an International Men’s Day but in a different way to the university’s proposition. The 200 or so people who signed the open letter wanting the day to be scrapped now face a counter-letter wanting the day to be reinstated, signed by over 3000.

Then something happened. At some point on the 18th November 2015 (at the time of writing, the details are unclear) a male student at the university committed suicide, sustaining many self-inflicted injuries, and later passing away in hospital.

This is a tragedy. The student passed away for reasons of which we are not aware, but on which we can only speculate. Yet, Breitbart, in its article linked above (and here), wishes to make a clear (but not explicitly stated) correlation between the university’s cancellation of International Men’s Day and the death of a male student.

The article was written by one Mr. Milo Yiannopoulos, an individual with whom the university’s UKIP Society are currently in talks, to invite him to the campus to give a talk about “militant feminism”. By no means is feminism a sacrosanct topic that is immune from debate, but Mr Yiannopoulos is a very problematic individual to be inviting to the university.

First coming to the fore as part of the GamerGate debate, an issue that appeared at first to be about ethics in journalism, but quickly devolved into feminist witch hunting in the video games industry, Mr Yiannopoulos quickly seized upon the opportunity (with no interest in the industry prior to the scandal) to criticise feminists. One such figure, Anita Saarkesian, who has been making a series of videos on YouTube about the problematic roles of women in video games, is one such figure of derision, even after she suffered much abuse from many of his supporters. He has constantly used his position as a journalist to stir up much hate towards feminists, labelling them as “ugly” simply because of what they believe in.

The list goes on: here he can be found criticising those who believe that consent needs to be taught to be better understood; here he criticises Zoe Quinn for promoting her free game that helps people understand depression in the wake of Robin Williams’ suicide whilst here he is using the recent death of a student at the university to further his personal political agenda. Again, here he is, revelling in the anguish of anti-Gamergate journalist Veerender Jubbal, as a picture of him was crudely PhotoShopped to make him look like a suicide bomber and was picked up by international media in the wake of the Paris bombings.

Furthermore, here he is posting an image of our LGBTQ officer to his followers. (Mr. Yiannopoulos goes by the name of ‘Nero’ on Twitter.)

A simple browse of the replies shows exactly why he chose to do it:

nero replies
Image credit: Twitter, @Nero, screenshot taken by Ben Pearson

Anyone who disagrees with Mr. Yiannopoulos comes under a barrage of hatred, as an anonymous victim chose to tell me “Any well-intentioned attempt to broaden the discussion over mental health and gender has been vastly overshadowed by the abuse feminists such as myself are receiving online.” Mr. Yiannopoulos is not someone with whom I want the University of York to be associated in any way. He is someone who encourages the harassment of individuals who hold the views that the student union stands behind: promotion of equal rights; increased awareness of consent; and the embracing of Syrian refugees in York (oh yeah, he opposes that too).

Unfortunately this puts YUSU in a very unfortunate position: by inviting the man to the university to give a talk, you’re allowing him to encourage a view that you oppose; but by no-platforming him, it provides the UKIP Society with ammunition to argue that the student union wants to censor their political ideas, an issue with which I’m sure YUSU is familiar.

Although I can’t stop him from coming to York and speaking, I think it’s best that YUSU brings him to the university and force him to defend the crude postulations he continues to make. Invite someone else to debate him or possibly even to debate our Woman’s Officer or LGBTQ officers as well. Whatever happens, he cannot come to this university and have his views spouted uncontested given how he embodies so many values that the student union opposes.

Failing this, well, I guess we can all get together and tell him to “get in the sea”.

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Ben Pearson

Ben is an avid fan of video games and movies, and if you're reading an article by him then he likes you very much.

Latest posts by Ben Pearson (see all)

  • Josh Everson

    ” he can be found arguing that rape is okay because the danger of it is exciting,” Give me an exact quote for that insane accusation, you sniveling worm.

  • GermanArmyBoy

    If you’re a follower of Milo, you’d know that a lot of his posts are deliberately made to counter the PC brigade. This article is nothing but hot air, if you actually listened to what he says you’ll find out he deals with facts and not salon ideologies. If you ban him he’ll just become more famous. And his rise to stardom is going to make all the bleeding heart feminists sleepless very soon. Most regular folk find these campus movements to be the joke of the millenium. If you disagree with what he has to say, prove him wrong instead of labelling him “problematic”.

    • The Dart

      That sounds about right.

  • Samuel Benjamin Busch

    Why the fear? if he’s as bad as you claim he’ll only say something to embarrass himself.

    People can think for themselves, believe it or not.

    • hurin

      Behold the real reason behind no-platform.
      They are not afraid Milo will harass people, they are afraid that he won’t.

  • Josh Everson

    ” he can be found arguing that rape is okay because the danger of it is exciting,” Give me an exact quote for that insane accusation, PLEASE.

    • Ben Pearson

      Hi, I recognise the error I made there, it meant to be about how he’s okay with rape culture and feminists’ definitions of it, but seeing as I couldn’t phrase it in a way that made it sound like that, I’ve just removed that line from the article.

      • Josh Everson

        Is he okay with rape culture or does he deny that it exists in the west like any sensible person would? Those are two very different things.

  • Live the dream

    Why do you guys continue to make progressives and liberals look bad?

    Free speech and question everything were ideals once had that were firmly planted in the left. You provide no quotes but assume bad faith to every second hand quote you can find.

    • Ben Pearson

      Hi, due to the way the Yorker is formatted, hyperlinks don’t appear in a different colour, so if you do run your cursor over parts of it, you’ll see where I have provided evidence.

      • Live the dream

        1. ” but quickly devolved into feminist witch hunting in the video games industry,”

        Umm it wasn’t gamergate that made it about feminism it was the constant acusations of misogyny. Disagreeing with someones opinion became a crime. Feminists saying everyone who disagrees with them hates women is not the fault of the people being accused.

        2 i don’t see how the article was about associating blame to the university for the suciide itself but rather the institutional blindness and the minimizing of it by saying equality should only focus on women when its obvious there are inequalities that hurt men. Its not blaming it for cauisng the suicde but blaming it for seemingly willing to sacrifice bringing up mens issues just to appease certain ideologues.

        What exactly was wrong with the original mens day proposition? The fact that it didn’t buy into the almost religious dogmatic beliefs of feminists belief in female oppression?

        Also the accusations that ideology makes someone ugly… if people said that about the kkk would that be grounds for them to not talk about racism?

        You also hilariously suggest he is pro rape… in the opening paragraph he describes it as a dysfunction. He isn’t pro rape he is anti ridiculous and very silly measures that don’t have any of effect on the amount of rape that occurs. Being against the broadening of the definition of rape or the ridiculous measures being taken is not being pro rape. Its being anti absurd nonsense.

        This is stretching minor things and trying to frame everything in the worst possible way. This is far worse than any hit piece milo has written.

        Let him speak evalute the arguments not the judge the person arguing. Its the liberal thing to do. Discussing ideas is what university is all about.

  • hurin

    Zoe Quinn falsely accused WizardChan, a board for suicidal males, of harassing her, and used the publicity to get her game trough greenlight on Steam.
    She is not the nice lady you think she is.

  • Violater

    The reason non-gamers like Milo and CH Sommers we welcomed by gamergate is because the criticism against gamergate was very feminist in nature. And arguing ideology is not something gamers have much experience with.

    • hurin

      Lol!

      I am a Gamer and a GamerGate supporter, and I have read Huxley, Orwell and Koestler. But please explain to a poor plebe like me how you know more about ideology than I do.

    • Steven Lindsay

      So arguing against ethics in gaming journalism is feminist in nature? Gotcha, tons of sense made.

      • Violater

        No, but the attacks against gamergate generally went like this “they’re misogynist man babies who are afraid women will take their games”
        You had news outlets that ordinarily don’t report on games start reporting on Gamergate and they continually mischaracterized gamers.
        So yes “misogynist” is the preferred term feminists use when describing someone who disagrees with them

        • Steven Lindsay

          My apologies, I misconstrued that you were in the anti-gamergate camp. I’ve been on morphine for a few days due to surgery and this isn’t the only post that I’ve managed to muck up.

  • Matt

    You seem utterly confused by the notion of free speech. It is quite a binary decision: you are either pro-free speech no matter how abhorrent you find the subject matter; or you are in favour of shutting down debate and censoring inappropriate content. There is no in between, I’m afraid, and your concluding paragraph is utterly nonsensical regarding this point. If his views are as ugly and offensive as you imply, then why don’t you “give him enough rope” to hang himself? People are fully capable of drawing their own conclusions, without the need to be “protected” by you or your university.

  • The Dart

    Interesting piece. I see nothing wrong with sharing your opinion, even if a few of your points are fairly misled and incorporate steep leaps in logic. That’s the point of free speech. I may not agree with you, but who cares? You can say whatever you want because it’s your right to.

    Where it gets problematic is when you try to deny others with the right to free speech. You see this all too often on University campuses now where the league of super PC heroes must stop at nothing to deny the “bad guy” a chance to speak and save the day.

    You’re not giving individuals enough credit. They’d be smart enough to think for themselves and not take everything this speaker says for fact.

    The point is, let students think for themselves, and allow them their right to free speech. They can say the sky is orange for all you care – but you can’t oppress them by taking rights away. Your privilege would be showing… Oh no!

    Keep writing!

  • Thumbalina Von-Doom

    This, as others have pointed out, is a fluff piece entirely devoid of substance and packed instead with shamelessly biased ad hominem attacks on the man instead of – even once! even for a moment! – honestly reporting his actual arguments and ideas, because the author knows he is not capable of doing so without looking a completely hysterical fool.

    This entire article is ideological propaganda doing its desperate best to pretend it is anything but an attempt to poison the well and thereby prevent anyone hearing an alternative opinion on modern feminism with open ears. Which is, after all, nothing more in the long run than the most cowardly and pathetic form of censorship.

    Personally, I am loving all things Milo and can’t wait to see him turn up in all his fabulousness in York, and getting to see him debate any feminist in the world would be just the cherry on the cake and all my birthdays come at once.

  • arrow2010

    Milo should be banned because… reasons.