Opinion: UC Davis Should Not Give a Platform to Milo Yiannopoulos
By Amber Enderton | December 20, 2016 |
Milo Yiannopoulos is a media figure who is loved by few and loathed by the rest. A hero of the alt-right, a group of white nationalists who coined the name because the term neo Nazi has too much of a stigma attached to it; he has gained infamy for his crusades as an anti-feminist. From holding up a sign at Slut Walk reading ‘Regret isn’t rape’ to writing pieces about how college rape is a myth, he is the kind of person who makes decent people’s skin crawl. He was even banned from Twitter after directing a hoard of racist abuse at ‘Ghostbusters’ actress Leslie Jones
We cannot excuse the hate Mr. Yiannopoulos espouses and directs towards the vulnerable. His crusade against feminism has led him to go after many women, using his platform at Breitbart to direct harassment and ridicule their way. He has also gone after transgender individuals on numerous occasions, releasing pre transition photos and birth names of the individual to inflict serious mental harm. Most recently, at an appearance last week at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, he targeted a transgender student on that campus. Referring to her by her birth name and displaying a picture of her earlier in her transition, he proceeded to mock her as she helplessly watched on in the crowd. Suggesting she is a sexual predator for using the ladies facilities on campus, he then proceeds to contemplate if he would engage in sex with her as a baseline for whether or not she passes as a woman.
Mr. Yiannopoulos’ views are revolting, and while the law shields him from prosecution, he is not entitled to a platform in which to share them. On January 13th, Milo is scheduled to appear at UC Davis as part of his ‘Dangerous Faggot Tour’ hosted by the Davis College Republicans. After what happened last week at UW-Milwaukee, I strongly advise UC Davis to cancel that event and dis-invite Mr. Yiannopoulos from speaking there. His targeting of a transgender student led to her dropping out, and the safety of students at UC Davis should be their number one priority; not presenting a platform for Mr. Yiannopoulos to spread his hateful views.
I reached out to chancellor Ralph Hexter for comment, and received a reply from the interim director of news and media relations, Kimberly Hale. My questions to them were:
I am writing an article for the Elk Grove News about the upcoming appearance of Milo Yiannopoulos on January 13 at UC Davis. Just this week, at UW-Milwaukee, Milo called out a transgender student on campus, displaying her picture and misgendering her and using her birth name, while suggesting she was a sexual predator for using the ladies room and speculating on if he would like to have sex with her. This resulted in the student dropping out of school. I would like to know if you have any comment on the situation, if you still intend to have Milo Yiannopoulos speak on campus as part of his “Dangerous Faggot” tour, and if so how you intend to protect the privacy of your students on campus from Mr. Yiannopoulos.
Ms. Hale’s response is as follows:
As you may know, Milo Yiannopoulos' upcoming visit to UC Davis is being hosted by the Davis College Republicans, a student-run organization.
Like most places of higher learning and teaching, UC Davis is a community for all ideas. As a public university, we remain true to our obligation to uphold everyone’s First Amendment freedoms. This commitment includes fostering an environment that avoids censorship and allows space for differing points of view. Therefore, we will not ask the Davis College Republicans to cancel their event.
We are mindful that this event may be upsetting to community members who do not agree with Yiannopoulos’ perspective, and we will continue our work to ensure that people feel safe and supported at UC Davis, as reflected in our Principles of Community:
We affirm the right of freedom of expression within our community. We affirm our commitment to non-violent exchange and the highest standards of conduct and decency toward all. Within this context we reject violence in all forms. We promote open expression of our individuality and our diversity within the bounds of courtesy, sensitivity and respect. We further recognize the right of every individual to think, speak, express and debate any idea limited only by university regulations governing time, place and manner.
They did not respond to my questions regarding the privacy and safety of transgender students at UC Davis, so I can only assume that isn’t a top concern for the administration. I also reached out to transgender students at UC Davis to contact me, but I received no response; unsurprising, given the risk of being targeted and the university hanging them out to dry. I will keep you posted on any further developments.
Amber Enderton is an Elk Grove, Calif. resident with an interest in labor and LGBT issues.