Matt Teitelbaum, who is the President of the College Democrats of Maryland, wrote a piece for the Huffington Post in which he claimed that liberals should give Milo Yiannopoulos a chance to speak. This comes after Yiannopoulos’ appearance at U.C. Berkeley was canceled just last week in the wake of rioting. Teitelbaum expresses disappointment towards the protesters for shutting down Yiannopoulos’ platform for free speech, labeling them the “regressive left.”
The core of Teitelbaum’s argument is based on the notion that, by definition, liberals are advocates for liberty. In his own words: “I am a liberal because I believe in liberty.” This is overly simplistic reasoning, as simplistic as the reasoning behind libertarian ideology. Because just as libertarians fail to see how their economic policies end up oppressing the social groups they aim to help, liberals all too often fail to see how so-called free speech is damning to the people they stand with in solidarity.
What Milo Yiannopoulos says when he speaks to universities shouldn’t be protected by free speech; in fact, often times, the things that he says fall into the category of hate speech. The things that Teitelbaum describes as *gasp* offensive may be just that to him, but to others, especially marginalized people, it’s a lot more than simply offensive. To them, it’s hateful. It’s oppressive. It’s violent.
Take the reason that Yiannopoulos is permanently banned from Twitter, for example. Last summer, Yiannopoulos sent downright hateful tweets to actress Leslie Jones. Mobs of his fanboys followed his lead, eventually causing Jones to log off of Twitter “with tears and a very sad heart.” This is an illustrative example of the type of hatred Yiannopoulos spreads. His “free speech” on Twitter led to a brutal attack on someone who was entirely innocent. If Yiannopoulos is okay with doing this, what would he do on a college campus?
Unfortunately, we know what he would do on a college campus. And it’s just as disgusting. In December, Yiannopoulos used his “free speech” at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee to target a transgender student who had pushed for her right to use the women’s locker room. This, for obvious reasons, had a profound effect on the student, to the point that she never returned to the school again.
And after the event at UC Berkeley was canceled, The Independent reported that Yiannopoulos planned to publicly name undocumented students at the university. This may be *gasp* offensive to Teitelbaum, but to the students who would have been named, it would have been violently life changing, especially given the tendency for Yiannopoulos’ supporters to harass those he calls out.
It’s beyond clear that Yiannopoulos has a track record of using platforms intended for free speech in order to engage in hate speech. And just as Twitter was right in banning Yiannopoulos, the leftists at Berkeley were also right in shutting his event down. Liberals shouldn’t be afraid to look at Yiannopoulos for what he is (a neo-Nazi who violently targets the underprivileged with hate speech). And they shouldn’t be afraid to deny him a platform that he will invariably use to promote oppressive hate.