I wrote an article about Milo Yiannopoulos on my MCXV platform following the Berkely University riots and I’d be interested to hear what people think of the whole thing.
All About Milo
Some of you may remember that I wrote an article last year following a frankly embarrassing TV debate involving Milo and a few feminists who shouted over him, accused him of calling for someone’s assassination and were generally rude and obnoxious to everyone including other female speakers. This doesn’t mean I’m a fan of Milo and his political opinions, but at least when he turns up to a debate he attempts to address the question, he allows others to speak and he comes across as calm and logical rather than angry and crazy.
If you actively hate the guy then this is actually a really big problem, because if he really is as dangerous as some people need then the last thing you want is to make him look like the good guy. And unfortunately, when he gets into debates this tends to be what happens. People spend so much time calling him a bunch of names that they never try to respond to what he says, and that just makes it look like there is no good counter argument so he must be right.
Freedom From Speech
The thing is that people are growing concerned with what is happening. It’s becoming really hard to talk about politics at all because the people who believe in a particularly rigid type of identity politics seem to have decided that everyone who disagrees with them isn’t just wrong, they’re bad. It is obviously true that hate speech is not the same as free speech and just shouting insults or going on racist tirades should not be tolerated in the public sphere, but I’ve been watching a lot of ‘discussions’ in the past year and that doesn’t seem to be what’s happening.
What is happening is that a lot of people has such a binary view of things that they refuse to take anyone who doesn’t agree with /everything/ they say seriously because they think they are just bad, ignorant people who don’t want to learn the ‘proper’ way of thinking. And the thing is their ideas aren’t particularly problematic or hard to follow: Yes you should listen to people and not dismiss their personal experiences, yes you don’t know what life is like for someone else, yes we should fight for equality, yes there are still problems and it’s not okay.I haven’t really seen anyone actually disagree with these things. It’s the way they put them across and all these other beliefs mingled in with them that are the problem.
The problem is the idea that you are either a feminist or a misogynist, that you are either left wing or a member of the alt-right, that you either believe all white people are inherently racist or you refuse to ‘let go of your privilege in favour of equality’. That you are either an SJW or a member of the alt right. That’s not how it works. You may disagree with the things typical social justice people focus on whilst equally disagreeing with the alt-right. You may be left-wing and critical of identity politics.
People should develop their ideas through a mixture of listening to other people, learning via reading up on things, and their own rationale. You can’t just be told: “this is what is right and you have to agree or you’re bad”. A lot of this stuff came from sociology and if you have studied sociology then you know that the whole point is to learn about different theories and arguments, not just decide that this one theory is now suddenly absolute fact and everything else is evil. It all comes down to the different ways people are defining things and even though there is truth behind these ideas they should NOT be above criticism.
Debate Is Not Hate
It is getting to the point where people are being banned from the very groups that are meant to be ‘safe spaces’ for them. I’ve known of trans people who have been kicked out of discussion group for disagreeing that something was transphobic. I’ve known of mixed race people who have been told to ‘check their white privilege’ by a white person because they didn’t disagree with something someone said about racism. People forget that the world is made up of individual people with their own experiences, opinions and ideas. It is not made up of all-encompassing groups which necessarily speak for each other. Surely the whole point of equality is that we are not judged by whatever ‘group’ we belong to but by what we actually do ourselves.
Disagreeing with someone’s solutions or someone’s particular take on the world does not mean you are disagreeing with equality itself. People need to be able to have open, civilised and respectful discussions where they do actually listen to people with different points of view so they can see where the other person is coming from and either strengthen or question their own arguments. I’ve been getting into YouTubers recently and I’ve seen videos by people like Blaire White and Roaming Millennial, people whom I know a lot of people seem to regard as ‘dangerous conservatives’, but even though I may disagree with what they are saying they are not spreading hate speech, they are just giving their view of the world which you are then free to disagree with.
Back To Milo And The Riot
So getting back to Milo for a moment. Some of the things he says are pretty bad (especially his fear of Islam and rejection of refugees) and others are more reasonable (his criticism of the wage gap as misleading is pretty well acknowledged by economists and statisticians). He says things in a deliberately provocative way, he is quite obnoxious and realistically he is just a bit of a dick, but does that justify rioting on your own campus to stop him giving a talk? Is he really the epitome of all evil? Is he even worth the effort? Isn’t it just fuelling his growing fame?
Some people think he or Breitbart or both orchestrated the whole riot thing for publicity and if they did it was very effective. Milo has a new book due next month which is already on Amazons best seller list and so this recent media attention has happened at a very good time for him. Milo’s book is about how college campuses are closing themselves off from debate, how they police points of view and refuse to give anyone with whom they disagree with a platform. The Berkeley university riots were the perfect advertisement for his book. Maybe he did orchestrate it because it seems to have worked out very well for him.
What do you think?