Conservative blogger, Milo Yiannopoulos will appear this Wednesday evening to a sold-out crowd on the University of Colorado’s Boulder campus. Yiannopoulos, is a gay editor for the “alt-right” website Breitbart News and was permanently banned from Twitter for inciting racist abuse against actress Leslie Jones.
The event is being organized by the CU College Republicans and by the CU chapter of Turning Point USA, a conservative student activist group.
Protests have erupted at college campuses around the country in response to the blogger’s nationwide tour. A 34 year old man is in critical condition after being shot in the abdomen outside a Yiannopoulos event last week on the University of Washington campus in Seattle.
Student groups and local community activists have called on the University of Colorado to cancel Wednesday’s event.
Philip DiStefano, the Chancellor of CU Boulder tells KGNU’s Miriam Schiff that the CU does not endorse Yiannopouls but he believes that it is his duty to uphold the university’s dedication to free expression. “I’ve been approaching this from the standpoint that our students and any campus group are always welcome to invite any speaker they wish. There’s no litmus test or content test on whether someone can come to campus or not. The courts are clear on that and if our students fill out the proper paperwork and just because a speaker is controversial, doesn’t mean that they have the university’s endorsement and I can tell you that Milo does not have the University’s endorsement from my standpoint as Chancellor and certainly from the faculty and staff that I work with on a daily basis.”
Community activist Darren O’Connor tells KGNU that Yiannopoulos is a figure of hate and his speech should not be protected. “I would describe him as a blatant white supremacist…what he brings is hate speech and I would argue as well, inciting to violence which is not protected speech under the First Amendment.”
On 12-21-16 Darren O’Connor sent the University Board of Regents a community letter highlighting concern about Milo Yiannopoulos. The letter expressed concern for the LGBTQ community, women and mulsims, all of whom have been targets of Yiannopoulos.
“The content of Yiannopoulos talk has been undisclosed but we fail to see any area in which he is an expert other than promoting hate. His most recent claim to fame is getting permanently banned from Twitter for harassing Leslie Jones, a talented Black actor, with racist rhetoric. His accomplishments in academia are two years of university focusing on English literature, before dropping out. He started a tech company that failed. He seems to have found his footing in promoting racist and sexist ideas. He currently sells T-shirts saying “Feminism is Cancer” and “Islam kills Fags”. At a recent speaking engagement at West Virginia University, Yiannopoulos showed a photo of faculty member and LGBT advocate labeled “Fat Faggot”. When the event was challenged, audience members began chanting, “Grab her by the pussy!” repeatedly. This was certainly language inciting an illegal act and not freedom of speech. Is this a valid voice needing to be heard on campuses where rape culture is being officially challenged? We think not.”
Laverne Cox, a transgender actress, will also appear on campus on the same day as Yiannopoulos. Cox will speak at 7.30pm at Macky.
Another counter-event is organized for Wednesday January 25th: #BuffsUnited: a celebration of the CU Boulder community in support of our shared vision for an inclusive, affirming campus. Organizers say the event is meant to be a positive event, where all members of the CU community can feel welcome and valued.
“Through music, spoken word, theater, and art, dynamic performers and presenters will highlight important social issues and help audience members share their own voices.”
The event is free and open to the public from 5-7pm at Old Main. The first 100 CU student attendees – with a valid CU Student I.D. – of the #BuffsUnited event will also receive a free ticket to see Laverne Cox.