Know it when you see it

Milo. Why do we keep having to talk about Milo? Milo is ridiculous and we should never have to talk about him.

But we keep having to.

A speech by the divisive right-wing writer Milo Yiannopoulos at the University of California, Berkeley, was canceled on Wednesday night after demonstrators set fires and threw objects at buildings to protest his appearance.

The university announced the cancellation on Twitter around 6 p.m. local time, about an hour after a section of the campus erupted in protest.

Look, he’s not “right-wing” – that’s not the right way to name him. He is right-wing, of course, but that by itself isn’t why people don’t want him giving speeches. “Divisive” doesn’t name him either – that’s a silly word, an empty euphemism for “sadistic” or similar.

The point about Yiannopoulos isn’t that he’s right-wing, much less conservative, it’s that he’s a nasty bully. It’s entirely possible to be conservative without being a nasty bully. Trump doesn’t have to be the loathsome bully he is, and the same applies to Yiannopoulos.

There are thousands of conservatives who could give good talks at universities, good talks appropriate for universities – reasoned, argued, informed. Milo is just a troll – a troll is all he is. Trolling is his one and only claim to fame. Universities should not be elevating trolls.

I don’t think he should be “no-platformed,” because there’s too much no-platforming about and most of it is way too mindless. But what I do think is that universities should refrain from inviting him to give speeches.

Conservative doesn’t mean belligerent or hateful or proudly sexist and racist. There’s no need to foster a range of views by welcoming belligerent sexists and racists to spew their sexism and racism at universities. There’s a difference between views and abuse. Universities should skip the abusive types.

That of course would include our shiny new president, sad to say.

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