Penn State student group to host controversial and well-researched alternative right-wing political commentator provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos for a discussion on “Free Speech, Faith, Conversion Therapy, Hairdressing and More” on Wednesday November 3 at 101 Thomas Building.
Although it was announced just a few days ago, the event has already sparked some controversy among students due to Past comments from Yiannopoulos. The event’s slogan, “Pray The Gay Away,” also garnered attention.
The Yiannopoulos lecture is hosted by Uncensored American, a student organization founded at Penn State in 2020 that is “dedicated to the fight for free speech.” His mission statement says he seeks to “empower young Americans to fight for free speech to make American culture free and fun again.”
Yiannopoulos is a former editor-in-chief of Breitbart News, who The New York Times once called a “curiosity of the fringe of the right” which diffuses “material qualified as misogynist, xenophobic and racist”. After being accused of pleading in favor of pedophilia in 2017, Yiannopoulos was forced to leave his post at Breitbart and not invited to speak at that year’s Conservative Political Action Conference.
Live in 2016, Yiannopoulos said adult-adolescent relationships could be beneficial. He added that the age of consent was not black and white and that relationships between boys and men “can be extremely positive experiences.” Yiannopoulos later said his comments were attempts to deal with his own victimization.
In addition, Yiannopoulos has already advocated for violence against journalists. In 2018, he would have told a New York Observer reporter that he “can’t wait for self-defense teams to start shooting journalists on sight” and doubled down, saying it was a “standard response”. Yiannopoulos later said his comments were meant only to taunt reporters.
Today, Yiannopoulos is banned from major social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.
Last March, Yiannopoulos Recount LifeSiteNews that he is an “ex-homosexual” and that he would begin to advocate for homosexual conversion therapy, starting with himself. He would have “demoted” her husband to the rank of “roommate”. The Penn State event website says Yiannopoulos plans to open a therapy clinic “for men experiencing gay attraction.”
Yiannopoulos comments also touched on child sexual abuse. A 2015 video that surfaced in 2017 showed him describing survivors of clerical abuse as “whiny, selfish kids.” He also said child sexual abuse was “really not a big deal” and urged survivors not to let them waste their lives.
Over the years, Yiannopoulos has embarked on a number of university tours across the United States and Britain, including “The Dangerous Fagot Tour” in 2015. He was originally supposed to speak at Penn State in 2016, but its appearance was canceled due to ticketing issues.
At a conference in 2017, Penn State President Eric Barron said his university “dodged a bullet” when Yiannopoulos stepped down.
“He’s building his own anti-free speech movement wherever he goes because his message really is, ‘Tear down the university. These are just a bunch of liberals who don’t want to listen to anyone, ”Barron said. noted during that year’s Quality Advocates session.
State of pennsylvania issued a statement Monday evening denouncing Yiannopoulos’ previous comments and messages. The statement was co-signed by Vice President and General Counsel Steve Dunham, Vice President of Student Affairs Damon Sims and Vice President of Education Equity Marcus Whitehurst.
“Deep down, Yiannopoulos is a social provocateur – a figure whose central public goal is to deliberately create controversy, hurt and disruption. This is something we should all recognize, ”the statement read. “The posters promoting his presentation are largely designed to elicit reactions. The message is heinous and divisive, and we wish we could just erase it, but we cannot, just as we cannot prevent Yiannopoulos from appearing next week.
Penn State won’t stop Yiannopoulos from speaking, however, since it is the “undeniable constitutional right” of uncensored America to harbor him. More importantly, the university has no power to stop it.
“As a public university, we are fundamentally and unchangeably obligated under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution to protect various rights of expression, even for those whose views offend our core institutional values. To do otherwise would not only violate the Constitution, but would infringe the fundamental freedom that each of us shares to think and speak generally as we wish, ”said Penn State. “A public university cannot impose the risks of censorship on those whose views it dislikes without also risking censorship for everyone, including the views it strongly endorses.”
Penn State said it hopes students and members of the community will “avoid being prompted to react” and ignore it to stand against anyone “determined to make a living by dividing us.”
Tickets for the Yiannopoulos conference are free but compulsory for entry. Students can pay up to $ 55 for “royalty” tickets that include front row seats and an opportunity to meet.
Doors open at 7:45 p.m. on November 3 and the event will begin at 8:00 p.m. Although students have priority access, tickets do not guarantee entry.
Penn State’s full statement on Yiannopoulos is available below:
University leaders issued the following statement regarding Uncensored America, a recognized student organization at Penn State, inviting Milo Yiannopoulos to speak out on the topics of censorship and free speech at University Park on November 3 in the Thomas Building .
Milo Yiannopoulos, an alt-right-affiliated media figure, was invited by Penn State student organization Uncensored America to appear at University Park on November 3. Yiannopoulos has a history of remarks that disparage various groups, including the LGBTQ community. His past presentations on college campuses across the country have been contrary to Penn State’s values, and we share the deep dismay others have already expressed in response to his upcoming appearance here. Even the posters produced by Uncensored America to promote next week’s event, which are now displayed at the HUB-Robeson Center and elsewhere on campus, are disturbing and disturbing – though consistent with University policy and protections. constitutional.
Yet as offensive and offensive as Yiannopoulos’ comments were and still are likely to be, and despite our own aversion to such statements and the promotional tactics used, Uncensored America has the undeniable constitutional right to sponsor this presentation on our campus. The University is not allowed to do anything to stop it. Student organizations can select the speakers they invite to the campus without the approval of the University, or even with the dissatisfaction of the University, as is the case here. As a public university, we are fundamentally and unalterably obligated under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution to protect various rights of expression, even for those whose views offend our core institutional values. To do otherwise would not only violate the Constitution, but would infringe the fundamental freedom that each of us shares to think and express ourselves generally as we wish. A public university cannot impose the risks of censorship on those whose views it dislikes without also risking censorship for everyone, including the views it strongly supports.
But let’s be clear. At its core, Yiannopoulos is a social provocateur – a figure whose central public goal is to deliberately create controversy, hurt and disruption. This is something we should all recognize. The posters promoting his presentation are largely designed to elicit reactions. The message is heinous and divisive, and we wish we could just erase it, but we cannot, just as we cannot prevent Yiannopoulos from appearing next week.
Rather, we hope that students and other members of our community will avoid being prompted to react – as Yiannopoulos wishes. To do otherwise will only ensure the national attention that a provocateur needs and upon which his brand of hatred is fueled and propagated. Instead, if you oppose bigotry, misogyny, transphobia, and anyone who is determined to make a living by dividing us, publicize this opposition by uniting against Yiannopoulos in the most effective way possible – by ignoring it. Instead, commit to expressing your care and support for those who are the object of his hatred. Unify as an empathetic, compassionate, and thoughtful, one-on-one university community, determined in its commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, and in its determination to silence hate-mongers by turning them around back and denying the attention they seek.
– Steve Dunham, Vice President and General Counsel
– Damon Sims, Vice President of Student Affairs
– Marcus Whitehurst, Vice-President, Equity in Education