Editorials

Show some class, Cal Poly Republicans, and stop inviting Milo to SLO

Milo Yiannopoulos speaks at Cal Poly in 2017

Right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos spoke at Spanos Theatre at Cal Poly on Tuesday, January 31, 2017, launching into his “No More Dead Babies” talk in front of a full house. Warning: Video contains adult language.
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Right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos spoke at Spanos Theatre at Cal Poly on Tuesday, January 31, 2017, launching into his “No More Dead Babies” talk in front of a full house. Warning: Video contains adult language.

Dear Cal Poly College Republicans,

Enlighten us, please. Why bring the hateful, divisive Milo Yiannopoulos back for a return visit ... especially now?

Haven’t the past couple of weeks been gut-wrenching enough for Cal Poly, what with the string of ugly incidents — including a white frat member appearing in blackface and despicable, racist fliers left on campus?

Granted, Milo’s invitation was extended before those events, but it could have been rescinded. That’s what a UCLA Republican club did when it decided it couldn’t quite stomach being associated with his topic: “Ten Things I Hate About Mexico.”

And that’s what the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) did after a taped interview surfaced, in which Yiannopoulos appeared to defend pedophilia.

Given what Cal Poly — and especially students of color — are going through right now, you could have listened to your better angels and decided that maybe it’s not such a great idea to bring Milo back after all.

But being staunch champions of free speech — and, we suspect, unable to resist the impulse to “trigger” the snowflakes — you’re bringing Milo back, to speak on the subject of “fake news.”

We agree, Yiannopoulos does have the First Amendment right to speak on a public school campus and spew his venom.

At its height, about 150 people came to protest the Milo Yiannopoulos' show at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo on Tuesday, January 31, 2017. They carried signs proclaiming “No Trump, No Milo,” and “Good Night, Alt-Right.”

Some examples: All Muslims should be expelled from the West. Feminisim is cancer. Cultural appropriation is great. Native Americans should have spent less time “doing powwows” and “more time inventing guns ... or the wheel.”

But here’s the thing: Like elections, free speech has consequences. (Just ask the student who appeared in blackface.)

So, we ask you, College Republicans, are you willing to take responsibility for the consequences of Milo’s visit, including the possibility of violence, further damage to the university’s reputation, and sticking taxpayers with a hefty bill for security?

The university and the city of San Luis Obispo plan for a massive law enforcement presence, similar to what we saw when Yiannopoulos spoke at Poly in January 2017. More than 100 police officers, including SWAT and riot police, were there to quell a potential melee, which never materialized. At the height on the anti-Milo demonstration, there were no more than 150 protesters.

Even so, it’s smart for Cal Poly to again take a better-safe-than-sorry approach, given what’s happened on other campuses. At the University of Washington, for example, a protester was shot in the abdomen during a demonstration outside a Yiannopoulos speech last year by a woman who came armed with a gun. Her husband carried pepper spray.

The couple were later criminally charged; prosecutors said they attended the protest for the express purpose of intending to goad demonstrators. According to the charging document, the man, Marc Hokoana, had messaged a friend on Facebook, stating, “I can’t wait for tomorrow. I’m going to the milo event and if the snowflakes get out off hand I’m going to wade through their ranks and start cracking skulls.”

We wonder, Cal Poly College Republicans, did you consider what could happen here if goons from either the far left or the far right show up to “crack skulls”?

For your sakes — and for the entire community — we hope that doesn’t happen. We hope any protests that do occur are peaceful, and that a good number of people will chose to simply ignore Yiannopoulos — whether they attend a community potluck, as SLO Mayor Heidi Harmon suggests, or sit home with Netflix and a bowl of popcorn.

Who knows? Deprived of the attention he craves, maybe Milo will quickly fade into irrelevance and you, College Republicans, will step up to the challenge of sponsoring events that will actually benefit the entire community.

For starters, College Republicans, instead of bringing obnoxious, bigoted blowhards to campus, how about finding a smart, reasonable speaker — someone whose presence won’t require the university to spend $50,000 on extra security?

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