Update: I’ve said previously that, in light of Yiannopoulos’s unconscionable attack on a transgender student in Wisconsin, he should be allowed to speak on campuses with the proviso that he be told to refrain from singling out and attacking individuals students from his bully pulpit. (There may be exceptions if those students are seen as public figures.) I stand by that. Elsewhere, people like Dan Arel are apparently calling for him to be permanently and irrevocably banned from speaking elsewhere. I disagree with that.
Charles Wofford, a graduate student in music at the University of Colorado at Boulder (CUB), has started a petition at Change.org to disinvite Milo Yiannopoulos from speaking there. (Wofford also has a similar letter to the editor in the Boulder newspaper.) According to the petition, Milo was invited by CUB President Philip DiStefano himself, who’s quoted in the petition as saying ““Personally, I feel strongly that discrimination and harassment have no place on our campus.”
CampusReform adds another quote from Wofford, who apparently considers speech as equivalent to physical violence:
Charles Wofford, the petition organizer, wants the campus to be a safe space for students.
“It is, I think, the university’s responsibility to defend its students from being literally attacked, and physical harm isn’t the only kind of harm out there. The university ought to be a safe space to learn and be who you are without fear of reprisal,” he said.
Wofford explained that he’s “not a censorious person,” but rather that he was motivated to start the petition because he believes the administration shouldn’t be giving Milo a platform to spread his message.
But the CUB website itself says this, which implies the petition is wrong on one point and misleading on another (my emphasis).
Conservative journalist Milo Yiannopoulos will talk at the University of Colorado Boulder on Jan. 25 as part of a national college speaking tour.
The CU Boulder student organization chapters of the College Republicans and Turning Point USA invited Yiannopoulos, technology editor for Breitbart News, to speak on campus. The free event will be held at 7 p.m. in the Mathematics Building, room 100. Ticket details and other information can be found at www.yiannopoulos.net.
Over the years, the CU Boulder campus has hosted events featuring prominent figures with liberal and conservative perspectives. Those include appearances by Edward Snowden (via videoconference), Antonin Scalia, Karl Rove, Howard Dean, Sonia Sotomayor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, John Ashcroft, Ann Coulter and Rudy Giuliani, to name only a few.
And they give the full quote from the college President, which shows he’s drawing a distinction between his personal views and his approval of free speech. The petition, of course, also omitted that.
CU Boulder Chancellor Philip DiStefano said that the campus will continue to be a forum for a variety of viewpoints, including those that are controversial.
“Personally, I feel strongly that discrimination and harassment have no place on our campus,” DiStefano said. “With that said, we must support the free exchange of ideas. I would hope that any speaker who comes here can present his or her opinions in a respectful manner. We understand that some topics will be supported by some students and denounced by others. Hosting a speaker on campus does not mean the university endorses or has other viewpoints on that speaker’s message.”
But the best part is at the end of the petition:
He’s already been invited, so yes, disinviting him is infringing on his right to freedom of speech. These Illiberal Leftists (is that better than “Regressive Leftists”?) have no idea what freedom of speech is really about.