I’ve never seen so much publicity. It was madness.
February 7, 2017 6:06 PM   Subscribe

I Helped Create the Milo Trolling Playbook. You Should Stop Playing Right Into It. In which Ryan Holiday [former director of marketing for American Apparel] writes for The Observer about creating desire and popularity by courting dissent and scandal, how effective it is, and how possibly to combat it with defined strategies.
posted by hippybear (275 comments total) 47 users marked this as a favorite
 
In my experience, trying to ignore bullies doesn't work. They just take more extreme actions to try and provoke you.
posted by Zalzidrax at 6:17 PM on February 7 [44 favorites]


How successful is it, really? American Apparel went out of business.
posted by Ndwright at 6:27 PM on February 7 [27 favorites]


his book has since been to #1 on Amazon twice,

so was a pretend book about a foot
posted by poffin boffin at 6:31 PM on February 7 [142 favorites]


"There is absolutely nothing that Milo has said (and more importantly, done) that ought to revoke his First Amendment right to give a speech on a college campus." So that's how the First Amendment works.
posted by user92371 at 6:32 PM on February 7 [20 favorites]


Milo explicitly names people for targeted harassment during his talks. That's kinda his gig now, instigating harm to innocent people through his platform. It wasn't a free speech issue when Twitter banned him for harassment, and it's not now.
posted by krinklyfig at 6:34 PM on February 7 [113 favorites]


One of the best ways to sow and exploit division is to look for moral hypocrisy.

I will however agree with this point, and point out that it would be really good for the left to emphasize that Milo Yiannopoulos is a foreign national who incites his followers to make death threats against American citizens. And that he is exactly the sort of "bad hombre" we shouldn't let in this country, much less in our schools. Especially when we're perfectly willing to detain perfectly innocent doctors and surgeons just because they come from countries associated with terrorism.
posted by Zalzidrax at 6:34 PM on February 7 [64 favorites]


It’s profoundly hypocritical for the same activists who demanded safe spaces against microaggressions to march en masse and aggressively shut down a nerdy, gay conservative immigrant with a funny name (a minority if there ever was one)
...
There is absolutely nothing that Milo has said (and more importantly, done) that ought to revoke his First Amendment right to give a speech on a college campus.

This is why it's such a nightmare that Betsy DeVos got confirmed--if we're going to ignore education and not teach critical thinking skills, and let kids grow up to be stupid and gullible enough to buy this kind of disingenuous bullshit right here, then there really is no hope.
posted by elsilnora at 6:37 PM on February 7 [51 favorites]


Please, Straight White Guy, tell us how to achieve our goals despite their being diametrically opposed to yours.
posted by Etrigan at 6:41 PM on February 7 [65 favorites]


It's not obvious that you can go past a certain basic level of notoriety simply by amping it up more and more. The provocateurs of yesterday like Anne Coulter still linger like bad smells, but there's a definite life cycle to people like this, and their history becomes an albatross that seems to actively prevent them from being anything but the daily outrage they once were--like Tucker Max, as the author says.
posted by fatbird at 6:48 PM on February 7 [6 favorites]


*shakes head* He's doing provocative shit to get someone's attention. If we ignore him, well, someone who doesn't see the vile consequences of his crap will still respond because it will feel new and unique to such an empty-headed and ignorant fool, not repulsive and hateful. We his critics need to push back, and we need to do it in force. He's gotten too big for his britches and acquired too much of a fanbase to be ignorable. That shit is for someone who isn't spending so much time looking for easily led and mindless followers to pick up his hateful bile in response for the craven feeling of power they get in response.

Now, admittedly, the media needs to not give him a "both sides are equal?!?" platform. They're the ones for whom ignoring genuinely is a useful tactic. But in the absence of major media outlets growing both a spine and a conscience, we the citizens need to speak out--and not just taking them seriously, either, but also mocking him and anyone who follows him. They're not even scary, these alt-right Nazi-loving bootlickers--they're pathetic, and they're pathetic because of their own foul choices. And anyone who makes those choices should be pushed back on, hard, and driven out of his community until he makes some action to actually atone.
posted by sciatrix at 6:51 PM on February 7 [23 favorites]


Milo explicitly names people for targeted harassment during his talks. That's kinda his gig now, instigating harm to innocent people through his platform. It wasn't a free speech issue when Twitter banned him for harassment, and it's not now.

Quoting this because way too many people still seem to think he's just harmless and that ignoring him won't have *consequences* for the vulnerable people he targets.
posted by Proofs and Refutations at 6:55 PM on February 7 [84 favorites]


The article is based on the false premise that fascist organization is comparable to some jackass selling books. It's not.
posted by graymouser at 6:58 PM on February 7 [24 favorites]


Ugh, don't get me fucking started on this.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 6:59 PM on February 7 [8 favorites]


URGH too late.

The last thing you ever want to do is give an opponent the moral high ground

He doesn't have the moral high ground and he never did! The only reason people think he does is because no one has bothered to report on the actual, material harm he's done to people when they talk about him. It's always "controversial gay man and internet troll who says some pretty mean things!" He's not winning because the crybaby left is playing into his hands, he's winning because media assholes keep saying making patently false statements like "there is absolutely nothing that Milo has said (and more importantly, done) that ought to revoke his First Amendment right to give a speech on a college campus."

UGH, I need to stop now before my blood pressure gets too high.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 7:01 PM on February 7 [63 favorites]


So when do I get my invitation to talk on a college campus? Can I just walk in? It's my constitutional right!
posted by BungaDunga at 7:04 PM on February 7 [20 favorites]


Please, Straight White Guy, tell us how to achieve our goals despite their being diametrically opposed to yours.

Which goals does he have that are diametrically opposed to yours?

Are you trying to recapitulate his point?
posted by wildblueyonder at 7:14 PM on February 7 [3 favorites]


I dunno. I still say it's okay to punch a nazi.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 7:22 PM on February 7 [12 favorites]


Ryan Holiday has been selling the "I am a secret mastermind of getting attention" story for years, based solely on the fact that a couple of incurious publications ran stories he made up, and that Tucker max was selling books for .5 seconds. None of this negates the fact that basically no one has ever heard of him, so maybe he's not all that great at it. Certainly doesn't stop him from crawling out from under a rock and taking credit anytime a shit head acts terribly.
posted by to sir with millipedes at 7:25 PM on February 7 [30 favorites]


If you actually want to fight back against these trolls, here’s a strategy to consider: Organize all you want, get as many people as you can to show up at their events, but don’t try to shut them down. In fact, the only thing you should try to shut down are the instigators who try to incite violence. Regain the moral high ground by saying that you absolutely respect their right to free speech.

And then, actually listen and talk to them. To me, the most effective retorts against the alt-right were when Trevor Noah had Tomi Lahren on his show and when Elle Reeve profiled Richard Spencer for Vice. Both came off looking mostly like jokes. Tomi Lahren showed her age. Richard Spencer revealed his movement to be mostly a collection of a few thousand sad dorks. Wale’s Twitter exchange with Tomi was effective too—there was no outrage, no opposition, just teasing.

They say sunlight is the best disinfectant. But it is also what allows you to see whether the emperor has any clothes. And it’s this sad, and often pathetic reality, that the collective hysteria has beneficently covered up in those it’s trying to fight. What should be seen as farce somehow looks like real fascism.

I realize there is legitimate fear of normalizing repulsive behavior. I’m not suggesting anyone give credence to real Nazi doctrine. However, historically, it’s usually true that banning and blocking usually has the opposite of its intended effect. Effective counterinsurgency usually involves bargaining, partnering and the reestablishment of norms—not hardlines. And this is already happening, Politico Magazine’s profile reveals that the jockeying for power and mainstream acceptance is pitting various factions of the alt-right against each other.

posted by Sebmojo at 7:25 PM on February 7 [1 favorite]


so was a pretend book about a foot

Indeed.

I don't like trolling. I don't do trolling. I don't support trolling, for any reason. If I could I would make trolling go away. I guess I'm just an old, grumpy man. So be it.
posted by Splunge at 7:26 PM on February 7 [4 favorites]


Gods, please grant me the confidence of a mediocre white man.
posted by Deoridhe at 7:30 PM on February 7 [81 favorites]


Milo didn't write the playbook. Ann Coulter has been doing this since Milo was in elementary school.
posted by schmod at 7:31 PM on February 7 [10 favorites]


Please, Straight White Guy, tell us how to achieve our goals despite their being diametrically opposed to yours.

Why is it threatening to engage with his ideas.
posted by Sebmojo at 7:39 PM on February 7 [3 favorites]


To me, the most effective retorts against the alt-right were when Trevor Noah had Tomi Lahren on his show

Yeah, all those alt-right trolls tuned into the Daily Show like they always do and suddenly realized Tomi Lahren was wrong about stuff.

That whole "actually listen and talk to them" angle is a great way to normalize bigotry and open calls for genocide as, you know, things some of us just kinda disagree on. "But we don't let that get in the way of our friendship!"
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 7:40 PM on February 7 [57 favorites]


/Why is it threatening to engage with his ideas.

Because Milo's "ideas" are "here's a list of people you should harass until they are driven out of school/the country/to suicide"; he is literally trying to kill people with his speech.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 7:48 PM on February 7 [85 favorites]


So, by reading an article by Ryan Holiday…am I playing right into his playbook?
posted by adamrice at 7:56 PM on February 7 [2 favorites]


Why is it threatening to engage with his ideas.

"Here's a picture of a trans woman, here's her name, look how ugly she is." Isn't a fucking idea. Its targeted harassment and the only reason your so comfortable with it is that you're not the fucking target.
posted by Proofs and Refutations at 8:05 PM on February 7 [127 favorites]


Why is it threatening to engage with his ideas.

Milo and his ilk are like a virus that exploits the normal function of a cell to invade and destroy it. It is precisely due to the public norm of "engaging" with someone who has a following and treat them like a "normal" part of the public discourse simply because people are talking about him that allows his to sow his form of destruction and awfulness. Since he cannot be legally banned from speaking, he uses his platform to call out private individuals by name for harassment.

The question we should be asking is not, "how do we engage with these ideas?" The dilemma we have to grapple with his, "how do we address those who violate norms?" That's what Milo (and Trump) are doing here: violating norms about public discourse, honesty, and governance, knowing that there are no strict legal impediments to it, and taking advantage of existing norms that (in the case of Milo) involve giving prominent speakers a platform to speak at large public university events and (in the case of Trump) involve the media broadcasting your every word and acting with deference towards your policy proposals.

We've turned it into a public practice to treat "both sides" equally. When that happens, one "side" can simply take as extreme position or engage in as awful acts as it chooses and can be treated with equal respect as the other side, simply because our social default is, "both sides of ideas should be engaged." At a certain point, we need to realize that our practices like "engage with ideas of the other side" are practices that exist within a structure of social/moral norms, and are not a carte blanche for anyone and everyone to be owed engagement, especially those who violate the social and moral norms upon which those practices are based.
posted by deanc at 8:16 PM on February 7 [84 favorites]


So, what do we do then?

I agree, I don't feel like engaging is the best practice for a variety of reasons, but if protest and shutting down only draws more eyeballs and support, what do you do?

I suspect this is a much more deeply sociologically difficult process, one that will take generations, to educate from childhood about other societies and tolerance and curiosity and finding parallel experiences to create empathy and bridges...

Oh wait. This started back when I was an infant when Fred Rogers and Sesame Street and Electric Company and Big Blue Marble and Zoom and a bunch of other inputs (Dr. Seuss, anyone?) and it's been an ongoing experiment for the past several generations.

Something went wrong someplace. I wish I knew what, and how to fix it.

(Is it capitalism? I think it's capitalism. Combined with an "us vs. them" attitude and a concept of the entire world as a zero sum game and therefore of course if the brown-skinned people advance even a little then somehow the whites are being diminished. Is there another answer?)
posted by hippybear at 8:25 PM on February 7 [7 favorites]


In my experience, trying to ignore bullies doesn't work. They just take more extreme actions to try and provoke you.

Yep. With a bully, you have to kick their face off right away.
posted by turbid dahlia at 8:26 PM on February 7 [14 favorites]


In one forum I’m on, someone who was going to protest Milo was celebrating that he’d been shut down at Berkeley. The commenter noted that the anti-fascists had destroyed a car in the aftermath, and described it as reasonable celebration because their Milo shutdown was like winning the World Series.

And I’ll I could do was think how that wreckage was going to look to everyone the next day, and to think how low your aspirations are if canceling a single speaker at a college is “winning the World Series”.
posted by Going To Maine at 8:27 PM on February 7 [4 favorites]


In a lot of ways, just about anything could be "like winning the World Series". Chinese smorgasbords, getting out of bed, sharpening all your pencils... it just depends on your level of competence and your measures for quality.
posted by turbid dahlia at 8:43 PM on February 7 [3 favorites]


My personal response to news of the car thing (and wasn't it a generator after all?) was "Yeah, if Milo was coming to my town, I feel like setting a car on fire is a reasonable reaction."
posted by Scattercat at 8:45 PM on February 7 [3 favorites]


I'm trying to imagine the Chinese smorgasbord [multiculturalism FTW!] equivalent of winning the world series. Like, okay, so over 160 Chinese smorgasbords? Eaten over 6 months? Multiple nights in a row most of that time? And what constitutes winning such a thing? And then you have the record strong enough to get you into the playoffs.. So that's a lot more meals... And....

I mean, I get the getting out of bed thing. That's a major victory every time.
posted by hippybear at 8:46 PM on February 7


My personal response to news of the car thing (and wasn’t it a generator after all?) was “Yeah, if Milo was coming to my town, I feel like setting a car on fire is a reasonable action.”

As long as it belongs to you, that sounds fine by me. But I can’t say I’m going to ever look at flaming wreckage and think well of those who lit it up.
posted by Going To Maine at 8:50 PM on February 7 [5 favorites]


his book has since been to #1 on Amazon twice,

so was a pretend book about a foot

This is a totally sick burn that is sort of undermined by the fact that his book is currently #9 in the general category of “All Books”.
posted by Going To Maine at 8:54 PM on February 7 [4 favorites]


Please, Straight White Guy, tell us how to achieve our goals despite their being diametrically opposed to yours.

Why is it threatening to engage with his ideas.


I'm confused by the responses to this explaining why engagement with Milo would be a bad tactic, because it looks to me like the antecedent to "his" is Sebmojo's comment is "Straight White Guy," i.e., not Milo.

Am I wrong to think he's encouraging people to engage with Ryan Holiday's ideas?
posted by layceepee at 8:57 PM on February 7 [4 favorites]


I would really like people who think of themselves as journalists to stop working for Kushner and The Observer. At least until there's something more concrete on his divestiture than transfer of ownership to the family trust. Big deal.

(Not that this guy is any kind of a journalist. But still.)
posted by snuffleupagus at 9:06 PM on February 7 [1 favorite]


My conversations with these figures—including occasional friendly chats with Milo—brings me to this column: You guys are playing completely into their hands.

I see your 'friendly chats with Milo' and I raise you my 'two decades of being a woman on the internet'. We've been told to just ignore the trolls for as long as I can remember, almost always by the people said trolls aren't actually targeting.* "You're giving them what they want! Just ignore them, just dismiss them, just laugh at them quietly to yourself, just let them go ahead with getting their ideas out into the light, and they'll fall apart all by themselves!" And where's that got us? A whole fucking army of emboldened Pepe-wielding thugs inciting violence, that's where.

(*and no this does not in fact give you the objective distance needed to see the sensible approach without being blinded by emotion)
posted by Catseye at 9:08 PM on February 7 [109 favorites]


Am I wrong to think he's encouraging people to engage with Ryan Holiday's ideas?

That's the way I read it. There's also the idea that, in the era of Trump (and Milo), it's a good idea to some how build bridges (not with Milo) and build a movement. Embrace the flag, claim your Republic, and behave in a civilized, yet strategic way to claim the high road, and the principles and values that, at one time, made the United States what it was.

It's just an idea though. For discussion.
posted by My Dad at 9:09 PM on February 7 [1 favorite]


There's a video I think about a lot that often comes up when there's a mass shooting. It's a forensic psychologist doing a talking head segment on CNN or something similar where he's pleading with the media to cover these stories differently, because if they don't, copycat events will inevitably occur. His suggestions are to avoid sensationalizing the event, to not make the perpetrator into an anti-hero, and most importantly to shift as much of the coverage as possible to the victims and the damage this has done to the community. Now, Yiannopoulos and Spencer haven't yet directly killed anyone (to my knowledge), but I think treating them in the same way in the media might do some good.

These guys aren't teenage punks or dapper bad boys, they're well-educated men in their 30s who spout violent eliminationist rhetoric and encourage their followers to act on it. They publish pieces debating whether all non-white people should be killed or merely sent overseas and they target individuals for retribution whenever something makes them angry. That and the very real damage it causes to people is what the media should be covering, because people being upset by that and trying to take away someone's platform to do those things isn't surprising or interesting, it's what we should expect. The focus needs to be on the very real harm they have caused or intend to and what communities are doing to combat that and as little as possible on them themselves.
posted by Copronymus at 9:13 PM on February 7 [69 favorites]


Maybe it's totally hopeless to ever expect any different, but chanting crowds mobilizing outside of a Milo speech are giving him exactly what he wants. The demo in Berkeley amplified Milo's message by an order of magnitude. I had heard of Milo before, of course, but I never even thought of him. But it would be impossible to coordinate a non-confrontational approach to his speaking engagements. Which Milo is depending on. It's kind of like how terrorists work, exploiting the very things that make our democracy work.
posted by My Dad at 9:13 PM on February 7 [3 favorites]


So when do I get my invitation to talk on a college campus? Can I just walk in? It's my constitutional right!

Milo was invited to Berkeley by the Berkeley College Republicans. Berkeley is constrained by the First Amendment and cannot engage in viewpoint discrimination in deciding which guest speakers campus clubs are allowed to invite to campus. Now there may have been other issues for Berkeley to consider in allowing his speech, such as if he was going to name undocumented students on campus. (That probably gets into questions of prior restraint, which is generally frowned upon.) But Milo was an invited guest, and the general Constitutional protections for speech do apply in that situation.
posted by andoatnp at 9:20 PM on February 7 [4 favorites]


Maaaaaayyyyyyyybbbbeeeeeeeeeee an admitted troll isn't the kind of person whose statements should be taken at face value? Just going out on a fucking limb with that one.
posted by tobascodagama at 9:21 PM on February 7 [22 favorites]


I don't think you should just ignore a troll. I think you should swat them off and make them know that all it takes just the li'l bit of effort and care for you to swat them off. That they're below your concern, they're annoyance, that they're infinitely contemptuous and will pass away as broken and forgotten, neither beloved nor hated, but shunned, and the world moves on. "Oh, fuck off."

These guys love being the Joker. And what makes the Joker mad? When you laugh at him instead of with him. And when you refuse to play into his jokes.
posted by Apocryphon at 9:23 PM on February 7 [4 favorites]




And I like that people appeal to some kind of Xanatos Gambit shit to explain what guys like Fuckface McGee "really want" when they try to speak on college campuses. What they really, really want is... To go and speak on a college campus. If they didn't want that, they wouldn't do it. Literally the only way to "give them what they want" is to let them give their shitty little talks.

No platforms for Nazis.
posted by tobascodagama at 9:35 PM on February 7 [26 favorites]


Imagine a world in which there was enough effective education happening across life into college where Whats-His-Face could book a date on a campus and end up with nobody attending.

That's my hope for the future. I just don't know how to get there.
posted by hippybear at 9:37 PM on February 7 [8 favorites]


One more time... Milo was reportedly going to name Berkeley students that he believed to be undocumented in his speech. This speech was going to be livestreamed in Breitbart. Milo was knowingly going to put people in harm's way. This is not trolling. This is stochastic terrorism.
posted by LindsayIrene at 9:37 PM on February 7 [108 favorites]


And I like that people appeal to some kind of Xanatos Gambit shit to explain what guys like Fuckface McGee "really want" when they try to speak on college campuses. What they really, really want is... To go and speak on a college campus. If they didn't want that, they wouldn't do it. Literally the only way to "give them what they want" is to let them give their shitty little talks.

It’s possible to assume that it’s bad to give Nazis platforms and that street riots against said platforms work to their benefit. Like, not in a Xanatos gambit ho-ho-ho-whatever-my-foes-do-I-win but in the sense that these are two bad outcomes and we shouldn’t want either one.
posted by Going To Maine at 9:44 PM on February 7 [1 favorite]


tobascodagama: "And I like that people appeal to some kind of Xanatos Gambit shit to explain what guys like Fuckface McGee "really want" when they try to speak on college campuses. What they really, really want is... To go and speak on a college campus. If they didn't want that, they wouldn't do it. Literally the only way to "give them what they want" is to let them give their shitty little talks.

No platforms for Nazis.
"

Also, don't be McGeeist.

(Among other things, you don't want a mod hitting you with the banhammer.)

#NotAllMcGees
posted by Samizdata at 9:50 PM on February 7 [3 favorites]


Yiannopolous outed a trans student at UW Milwaukee by name and described raping her. This student wrote a furious letter to the chancellor that you ought to read. Because of how Yiannopolous' actions, she has left the university because said university allowed an extremely hostile, hateful environment to arise that denied an equal opportunity for education.

Seriously, this guy actively harasses people in these "talks" -- he literally goes around drumming up hate mobs. If you're a cisgender dude, it might be a good time to sit down, read her letter, and listen to someone who has recently been terrorized by this guy. His actions aren't free speech: They. Are. Harassment.
posted by Excommunicated Cardinal at 9:54 PM on February 7 [96 favorites]


Embrace the flag, claim your Republic, and behave in a civilized, yet strategic way to claim the high road, and the principles and values that, at one time, made the United States what it was.

When?
posted by invitapriore at 10:12 PM on February 7 [4 favorites]


Embrace the flag, claim your Republic, and behave in a civilized, yet strategic way to claim the high road, and the principles and values that, at one time, made the United States what it was.

When?

Each of us is answering that question for themselves right now. But it seems to have multiple parts; after all the principles that made us what we once were include violent revolt, property destruction, civil war, and peaceful protest. There are many ways to drape yourself in the flag.
posted by Going To Maine at 10:30 PM on February 7 [1 favorite]


so 1491 then
posted by poffin boffin at 10:32 PM on February 7 [9 favorites]


If there’s enough people.
posted by Going To Maine at 10:34 PM on February 7


Nobody considers this to be concern trolling?
posted by billjings at 10:47 PM on February 7 [5 favorites]


It’s a sad irony for me, since I wrote the book as an explicit warning about how broken our media system was and why it needed to be fixed. As I would say in interviews, the strategies that I used were designed to market books and clothes for companies like American Apparel, but I was exposing how they worked because I worried how others might soon use them to sell something more nefarious.

Oh, please. He used these methods to sell misogyny and now others are using them to sell the exact same thing + racism + homophobia. His distinction between technique and message breaks down at its inception. You can only use other people's outrage as marketing if the thing you are marketing is, in fact, outrageous - in this case, that means actively focused on harming others. I absolutely accept that this is the strategy that the modern clutch of Nazis and racists are using but the reality is that just-ignoring-them was never going to work because it would have meant ignoring racism and misogyny and homophobia, which would also produce bad outcomes.
posted by Aravis76 at 11:22 PM on February 7 [22 favorites]


There's also some background to the Milo invitation that people don't know about outside Berkeley (this is all from memory, but it's at least a rough summary). Berkeley is a famously left-wing school, but the Berkeley College Republicans are actually the largest club on campus. Starting last year, the BCR started openly campaigning for Trump. Lots of clubs set up tables on the main plaza, and the BCR had a Trump yard sign on theirs, along with a full size cardboard standee of Trump (for whatever reason they insisted they weren't campaigning for any one candidate, but they were).

Tension built up as the year went on. A group of Latino men reportedly grabbed the standee and ripped it in half. Genuinely troubling was the report that someone had punched a BCR member in the head while they were tabling on the plaza. That started a conversation around campus about the right to free speech and the right for students to feel safe expressing their views. As I recall, the campus assigned a UC police officer to stand by the table, but they never figured out who wrecked the standee or punched the BCR member.

Then Project Veritas came. Word leaked ahead of time that James O'Keeffe was coming to campus to stir something up; I don't remember if he was able to successfully recruit BCR members to help him or not, but what he did was stage a pro-Trump "rally" right at Berkeley's iconic Sather Gate. During this rally, he had people use cardboard bricks to "build a wall." A much bigger counter protest formed around it, with people chanting "fuck Trump." People would stack the bricks to make a "wall," and counter-protesters would run up and kick it down again.

This set things over the edge. The BCR started calling themselves "The New Free Speech Movement." Op-eds appeared in the college paper. They cited people kicking down the fake wall as stifling free expression. The president of another student group (I can't remember exactly which group it was, but it was something along the lines of diversity in higher education) spoke out against the BCR for openly campaigning for a candidate running on a platform of hate, and pointed out that students on campus stood to be harmed by Trump's proposed policies; the BCR described him online and in print as the #1 enemy of free speech. Every time someone said "you're advocating someone who wants to deport me," they'd call them anti-free speech.

So Milo's invitation didn't come out of the blue. The BCR had been holding themselves up as the lone champions of free speech on campus for many months before this event was announced. Previous attempts at having conservative speakers had already failed, including Dinesh D'Souza and Ann Coulter (I'm not sure if the BCR invited either of them). So I'm fairly convinced they invited Milo precisely because he was the most offensive person they could find. They knew there was tension around this, they knew they were allowed to invite him, and having him speak would rub our noses in their right to free speech.

100 faculty members signed a letter urging the campus to refuse to allow him to speak out of concerns for student safety, noting that harassment is not protected speech; both the BCR and the university administration said that no, this is just a free speech issue.

The day before he was scheduled to speak, the administration sent the BCR a message making it clear that Milo was planning on debuting a program specifically targeting undocumented students on campus, in cooperation with the ultra-right Horowitz Freedom Center. They basically told them it was their right to invite Milo, but that urged them to consider that there could be very serious consequences for his speaking. I don't remember if it specifically said any harm that came to the community would be their fault, but that was the gist of it anyway.

The day after the event was cancelled, the BCR wrote that "the Free Speech Movement is dead," and said it was ironic that it would die at the place where it started. They were always the only real victim here. When undocumented students got together to protest after the election to express their fear of being targeted and deported, who do you think wrote all over Facebook about crybabies? When the student demonstrated against hate, who do you think wrote all the shitty comments about anti-intellectual crybabies?

So that's a little bit of a fuller story there.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 11:34 PM on February 7 [104 favorites]


Also, just a side note, but I eventually left a Berkeley Facebook page because people kept filling it with troll trash articles. Stuff like "college students are whiny babies who can't handle intellectual challenges," and that sort of thing. Lots of posts and comments about how sick and tired they were of everyone being so PC. Any pushback would be met with stuff along the lines of "U mad XD." I started recognizing a lot of the same names. When I started seeing articles with quotes from BCR officers, guess whose names I recognized? I'm not saying they're all trolls, but I will say there seems to be a healthy troll/BCR crossover, at least based on my interactions with them online.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 11:43 PM on February 7 [14 favorites]


He doesn't have the moral high ground and he never did!

yiannopoulos and this toxic moron basically believe the same thing: shut your mouth, sit still, and absorb my abuse. if you resist, or if you let my abuse hurt you in any way, then not only do you lose, but you are also weak and morally compromised. YOU are the bad one for letting me hurt you, and the only palliative is to ignore your dignity, dam up your selfhood, and accept my abuse as proof that you are something less than human.

bullies and fascists and broken people have exploited the just-world fallacy since forever. if i believe that my rage at injustice is truly futile, i'll find a way to convince myself that i must somehow deserve injustice; the prospect of powerlessness is too frightening to withstand. but if i ever realize that i'm not powerless, that if i fight i might actually win, then the dam breaks. and god help whoever convinced me to build it.
posted by Vic Morrow's Personal Vietnam at 11:44 PM on February 7 [60 favorites]


Holiday's analysis of how to exploit outrage and resentment is spot on but his conclusion is insipid and dumb. He talks about "bargaining, partnering and the reestablishment of norms" but none of these things happen without real or perceived power.

It's a little pathetic, really. Sleep in your bed, dude. I don't care if it's riddled with fleas and bad dreams.
posted by dmh at 11:49 PM on February 7 [2 favorites]


I do agree to an extent though. This piece is set up to provoke (via Milo), so we don't notice what a sad, irrelevant man Ryan Holiday is.
posted by dmh at 11:54 PM on February 7 [1 favorite]


Oh it didn't escape me.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 12:01 AM on February 8 [2 favorites]


Wow this article makes some really good points. I guess if we'd not protested, Milo would have cancelled his tour even earlier!

🍔
posted by rum-soaked space hobo at 12:05 AM on February 8 [5 favorites]


There have been a lot of mentions of how "violent" the Berkely protest was, but I think it's equally relevant that when Milo spoke in Seattle one of his fans actually *shot* a protester in the stomach. Of course the shooter walked free without so much as a slap on the wrist. Apparently that's not a threat to free speech though because the victim wasn't a fucking Nazi.
posted by Proofs and Refutations at 12:21 AM on February 8 [55 favorites]


It's genuinely infuriating that some pieces of broken but insured property got more press and more tutt-tutting than someone getting shot in the gut.

If you ever meet someone complaining about the Berkeley protests in real life, ask them why they care more about a window than the life of a protester. Ask them why they think breaking a window is an escalation from someone sneaking a gun onto a school campus to shoot a protester. Ask them why they think someone should get a platform to tell their supporters who have already shot someone who their next targets should be.

Don't let it stand.
posted by flatluigi at 12:27 AM on February 8 [55 favorites]


When I was at Berkeley a decade or so ago, I only knew one BCR guy well, and he was kinda a jerk. My impression overall was that the conservatives on campus had a chip on their shoulder, being unfairly oppressed by the environs of "ultra-liberal" Berkeley and all. But I'd say most students were apolitical overachievers who weren't interested in political activism.

It's unfortunate that these guys didn't get the memo that you're not supposed to troll and shitpost in real life. The proper internet response would be to Not Take The Bait, but it's different when there are truly harmful things being said publicly in real life. We're not in the seedy cantinas of the web anymore. So who are the enablers? BCR and similar groups seem all too happy to invite trolls with dank rightwing memes as long as the result is "lol u mad libruls". And they don't care that people are hurt; just look at the victim-blaming by the UWM club person in the article Excommunicated Cardinal posted upthread. As we've seen on the national level, the establishment right is quite happy to hang with the fringes when it serves their purposes.
posted by Standard Orange at 12:51 AM on February 8 [3 favorites]


The demo in Berkeley amplified Milo's message by an order of magnitude.

No it didn't. The news media chosing to report on this demo and Milo and the way in which they did so that did it.

Fox interviewed Milo Wankinus after the protests and the usual useless idiots on Twitter blamed it on the protesters, but it was Fox who decided how to report it and to give MY a new platform to spout his fascism from.

Which you might expect from a rightwing news organisation like Fox, but the socalled Liberal Media isn't much better. For example, you got the Grauniad trolling its own readership by letting one Matthew D'Ancona defend MY's freedom of speach without ever mentioning the trans student he outed or the fact that one of his fans shot a protestor previously. Let alone write columns about those.

These are deliberate choices made by people and organisations that call themselves liberal, or leftwing to be more outraged by (at worst) property damage and the occassional nazi getting a light smack than by people getting shot and a campaign of intimidation against e.g. trans women or "illegal" migrants.
posted by MartinWisse at 1:14 AM on February 8 [19 favorites]


I have been beyond furious at every news article about this that has failed to mention past offenses on the part of him and his audience, to say nothing of how furious I am that no one mentions how his stated plan for the evening was to publicly intimidate and threaten undocumented students on campus on a worldwide live stream. Instead they all interview him, and he says, innocently, "what could they have against little harmless gay me?" The BCR gets a voice, Milo gets a voice, free speech activists totally uninvolved in the campus community get a voice, but not a single person speaks on behalf of the people who stood to be seriously harmed by his planned speech.

It makes me absolutely sick, and as much as I knew the news got things wrong, this is one of the few times in my life that I've been close enough to something to see just how badly they fucked people over. Because really, the activists are one thing, but the people getting really fucked by this media treatment are the queer students and the undocumented students who were always at the center of this. Because we knew they were going to be attacked, and nobody listened, not the administration, not the news media, and certainly not the effin' BCR.

And for serious, there's a special place in hell for the guy, who was apparently involved in the original Free Speech Movement, who was quoted in the NY Times article as saying this was all just "oh my goodness, cover my ears." That was his characterization of this whole thing: "oh my goodness, cover my ears." Fuck you, dude.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 1:51 AM on February 8 [29 favorites]


I agree, I don't feel like engaging is the best practice for a variety of reasons, but if protest and shutting down only draws more eyeballs and support, what do you do?

You don't take it seriously at all. Only hollowed-out hacks like Holiday frame the world purely or primarily in terms of "eyeballs". There is some value in being tactical in response to provocation and that includes considering whether to respond at all. That's just the reality of the world. But focusing everything through that lens makes it difficult to see where you want to be going in the first place. It makes it harder to say what needs to be said without hesitation. A single word at just the right moment can sway a crowd. Don't dissipate that moment by catering to dumb shit like this.

Holiday is like an alcoholic making a case for being a functional drunk. It really isn't worth considering even for a second. Just say no.
posted by dmh at 2:33 AM on February 8 [3 favorites]


[A couple deleted. Sorry, but Metafilter remains a place where we don't organize/egg people on to do stuff like dump urine on people, etc. (Also please don't post "surprise" execution photos. Also please remember that there are some people who would like nothing better than to bait you into mob violence. Let's be smart.)]
posted by taz at 3:26 AM on February 8 [9 favorites]



"Here's a picture of a trans woman, here's her name


The letter that woman wrote to the school afterward was absolutely heartbreaking - she attended the event looking different than in the photo and was not recognized, and she was terrified that someone would spot her and turn the mob on her. And that terrifies me, and should terrify the fuck out of the administration. In fact, that reminds me that I was going to write them a letter about their failure in duty of care toward students. Campus is not a public square - it exists fundamentally for the benefit of the students, and no administrator with their head screwed on right should ever, ever consider bringing a speaker onto campus who targets a student or a class of students for harassment or violence. Student organizations are, in fact, regulated - they can't just do whatever the fuck they please, and their budgets are dependent on complying with school policy. Leaving any other question aside, it is a disgraceful failure for an administrator. I'm going to write a letter to our administration here, just in case someone is getting some bright ideas, too.
posted by Frowner at 4:54 AM on February 8 [44 favorites]


In short, campuses are not in fact places of unremitting free speech first and foremost - how much free speech people should have on campus is debated and regulated, and it is not even remotely unlimited. There's all kinds of room for contesting speech on campus and for debating what speech is harmful to the public wellbeing, but "anything ought to go because free speech" isn't even how things work on any campus anywhere.

If there's one ur-problem with Americans it is that we completely fail to understand that society is created by rules and practices; it's not a state of total 100% freedom that is sadly confined by boring rules.
posted by Frowner at 4:59 AM on February 8 [31 favorites]


Also, don't be McGeeist.

(I think it's clear that I was referring to the author of TFA, not our beloved Eyebrows. But point taken.)
posted by tobascodagama at 5:50 AM on February 8 [1 favorite]


Yes to everything Frowner just said.

Look, you fuckers, campus is my workplace. For many of my students, campus is their home. Free speech does not obligate us to invite people who hate us into our workplaces or homes, and students and academics deserve to have workplaces and homes that do not invite people who personally call for violence or harassment against them to speak and provide a fucking audience!

If I see that our Young Republicans invite Milo or another alt right leader to speak, I will damn well be out there shouting him down and shaming the administration for allowing it to happen just as Berkeley did and just as happened a few months ago at Texas A&M. (In that case I believe the university rescinded the request for space made by someone who was not currently a student.) You who hate me and my children, my students, the people I am responsible for - - you have the right to say your piece in speech or print without the government censoring you. But you do not have the right to block fellow citizens from shouting you the fuck down. You do not have the right to a captive audience. And you do not have the right to bring that shit into folks' homes and work without them getting to respond.

Fucking hell, I'm angry on Berkeley's behalf.
posted by sciatrix at 6:04 AM on February 8 [43 favorites]


I've been disappointed in news coverage of this event (including the linked article) that implies that the protests were because leftist students simply disagreed with speaker-I-shall-not-name's positions, or that the speaker was engaged in mere "hate speech." That's not the case.

The speaker's previous speeches have included sections that go like this: "Here is the name and photo of a transgender student attending this school. [Claims falsely that the individual has committed crimes against decency, throws in a bunch of gratuitous insults, implies that violence against this individual would be justified without ever crossing a legal line into explicitly calling for violence.]"

Prior to the Berkeley event, the speaker stated that he would be using the speech to identify individual undocumented immigrant students -- aka, "Well, I'm not an ICE officer and I don't personally have the power to deport anyone, but by the way, here are the names, addresses, and photos of some undocumented immigrants who are students on this campus. [Gratuitous insults, etc.]"

At some point, the speaker said to himself, "Using only my words, how can I do physical harm to individual people without getting arrested?" and these are the tactics he's come up with so far. This goes beyond "hate speech." This is doxxing, incitement to violence, and an attempt to use the law as a weapon against individuals you target (much like swatting). Like yelling "Fire" in a crowded theater, this is malicious speech intended to cause physical injury to the targeted individuals. How does a free society deal with this kind of behavior?

As a start, I think we need some new language to describe these actions, or we need to use the language we have better. I don't want to see another article that claims that lefties were protesting "hate speech." I want to see an article that explains that this speaker uses his speeches to incite violence, that the university administration refused to take action to prevent him from inciting violence, and by the way, here are some anonymous interviews with the victims of his previous incitements to violence.
posted by ourobouros at 6:42 AM on February 8 [23 favorites]


Aren t the protests of the speaker free speech? isn't it a good exercise in amendment #1 to shut the speaker off?

The thing about no platforming...it's a weapon of the weak, this dude is selling mad books, and that has nothing to do with people protesting and trying to protect themselves.

I wish, on our side, that more people would explain what this Milo kid is doing, because i didn't understand it until i spent 5 hours looking through his shit.

But he's like Ann Coulter, except he does this incitement to doxx / incitement to harass thing buried under all the bad humor, right? That needs to be highlighted, let not the lede be buried, people. This dude mobilizes his people to harass targets of his choosing.
posted by eustatic at 6:55 AM on February 8 [1 favorite]


thank you ouroboros!!
posted by eustatic at 7:02 AM on February 8


Also worth noting-- it isn't just hatespeech inciting people to commit acts of violence. I have also heard, several times, that he uses his fan networks to encourage people to come armed to his rallies.

If shouting "fire" in a crowded theater isn't free speech, then neither is "Come with your concealed carry weapon to an event where I will aim you at people who need hurting because I dislike them".
posted by a fiendish thingy at 7:08 AM on February 8 [5 favorites]


yiannopoulos and this toxic moron basically believe the same thing: shut your mouth, sit still, and absorb my abuse.

Wow this article makes some really good points. I guess if we'd not protested, Milo would have cancelled his tour even earlier!


Holiday explicitly endorses protest -- see the first sentence of Sebmojo's pulled quote above.

And in fact, the second sentence seems to indicate a belief that if an institution is careful about what they make it about, they could well disqualify Milo without suffering the same blowback.

And that's one takeaway from Holiday: be careful what you make your fights about. "How dare you?" isn't specific enough, neither is "this is offensive."

"Mr. Yiannopoulous has recently named individuals as targets and suggested vigilante violence against classes of people in his speeches. This is as an exception to free speech, like the famous 'fire in a crowded theater' exception. UCB regrets it cannot sustain his invitation to speak without evidence of change, both on legal principle, and for student safety." might work. And yes, both right wing mendicants with persecution complexes and professional trolls would *still* play the oppressed victim card, but then the conversation has a chance of being about "What are the limits of free speech?" instead of "Why don't I have free speech when liberals SAY they value it?"

You could do similar things with protest.

Milo sucks. Holiday isn't trying to validate him, he's trying to elaborate on a theory of how the attention/discussion ecosystem works. Perhaps he's wrong, but there's a lot of conversation in this thread that's on about how much Milo sucks rather than attempting to engage Holiday and even some incorrectly confusing the two.
posted by wildblueyonder at 7:46 AM on February 8 [8 favorites]


Hell, shouting "fire!" is merely reckless. What Chucklefuck & Friends do is actively malicious.
posted by tobascodagama at 7:47 AM on February 8 [5 favorites]


There is an important semantic distinction between "campuses generally don't allow unlimited free speech" and "harassing speech isn't considered 'free speech'" that seems to get easily collapsed. The former suggests that your speech can be limited in a venue, while the latter suggests that a free society can't tolerate certain kinds of abusiveness.
posted by Going To Maine at 7:52 AM on February 8


while the latter suggests that a free society can't tolerate certain kinds of abusiveness.

It can't. It's not a suggestion, it's an outright statement. When people are limited in their participation in society because they need to make the choice between participation and safety, because participation will make them targets - then you don't actually have a free society.
posted by NoxAeternum at 7:58 AM on February 8 [28 favorites]


> If shouting "fire" in a crowded theater isn't free speech, then neither is "Come with your concealed carry weapon to an event where I will aim you at people who need hurting because I dislike them I'm trying to sell my book" .

FTFY
posted by fragmede at 8:19 AM on February 8 [1 favorite]


There is nothing more infuriating than people who don't see through his bullshit

Milo Quote: "We ban drunks from driving because they’re a danger to others. Isn’t it time we did the same to trolls?"

This is a quote that is part of a larger quote about limiting access to the internet from the man himself, seriously as the wind blows, so do people like this.
posted by NiteMayr at 9:12 AM on February 8 [5 favorites]


he's trying to elaborate on a theory of how the attention/discussion ecosystem works. Perhaps he's wrong, but there's a lot of conversation in this thread that's on about how much Milo sucks rather than attempting to engage Holiday and even some incorrectly confusing the two.

But being able to "elaborate a theory" implies some measure of safe and comfortable distance. A good many of the students on the ground at UCB felt literally and tangiably unsafe with a Milo event happening.

"Theorizing" happens a few steps up on Maslow's hierarchy - you can't always get there if you're worried about being harassed or deported.

I think that's where Holiday and Milo are getting lumped together (not confused). They are both safe enough to engage in media strategy conversations. Not everyone is.
posted by pantarei70 at 9:27 AM on February 8 [1 favorite]


As a start, I think we need some new language to describe these actions, or we need to use the language we have better. I don't want to see another article that claims that lefties were protesting "hate speech."

Maybe he's got better PR game? I mean, a bunch of kids protesting on campus wouldn't necessarily know you have to pre-chew journalists' food for them, but... is there such a thing as pro bono PR work?
posted by Leon at 10:45 AM on February 8 [3 favorites]


Great, another piece that wants me to empathize with poor oppressed Milo, just what I needed today.
One of the biggest problems with mainstream liberalism is its fetish for abstract principle over material reality. It is prone to forgetting that in a democracy, principles exist as a means to an end: the guarantee of maximal rights and liberties for the greatest number of people. A right is a tangible thing for the person who needs it most: a freedom from imprisonment by the state, food on the table, a roof over one’s head, a life free from deprivation. The abstraction of that right in legal documentation serves only to ensure its guarantee for the most people; when examining specific cases, we must always drill back down to the material in order to properly assess what is ethical and just.

What liberalism’s fetish for abstraction does, however, is leave it woefully unprepared for rights conflicts, which are inevitable in a complex society. At some point, one person’s exercise of their rights will come into conflict with another person exercising theirs, and this dispute must be adjudicated upon. Someone’s rights will be abridged as a result, which will be necessary to guaranteeing democracy’s stated aims.
The right to free speech is essential; it is very, very far from abstract. Ask anyone who had their phone searched at a border crossing this past week. That scenario is the very reason we have a First Amendment: uniformed, armed officers of the state, searching the correspondence of a civilian to see whether they criticized the president, punishing them if offending material is found. More than anything our First Amendment exists to protect the rights of the ordinary person to criticize those in power without fear of reprisal from the state. Yet instead we debate the right of an already rich man to use his exalted platform to take away the speech rights of others.
-Katherine Cross, What Liberals Don't Get About Free Speech in the Age of Trump
posted by ActionPopulated at 11:03 AM on February 8 [14 favorites]


A right is a tangible thing

youkeepusingthatword.gif
posted by Etrigan at 11:24 AM on February 8 [1 favorite]


Great, another piece that wants me to empathize with poor oppressed Milo, just what I needed today.

There are reasons to complain about this piece, but it certainly isn’t written to make one empathize with Milo or assume that he’s oppressed. It’s very specifically written as a discussion of what the author thinks are the best tactics to keep Milo’s message from being heard. None of them have anything to do with caring about about his feelings or ideas.
posted by Going To Maine at 11:26 AM on February 8 [2 favorites]


My first thought was, "If this guy's rhetoric is so pursuasive, then why isn't it turning you into a hatemonger?" My next thought was, "It is." Damn.
posted by Mr. Fig at 11:31 AM on February 8


I realize there is legitimate fear of normalizing repulsive behavior. I’m not suggesting anyone give credence to real Nazi doctrine.

"Real" Nazi doctrine as opposed to... the ironic kind? The pretend kind that doesn't actually advocate genocide and target groups or individuals for acts of harassment and violence? Who is this guy that he is an expert on discerning the "real" kind?
posted by rtha at 11:44 AM on February 8 [13 favorites]


Milo sucks. Holiday isn't trying to validate him, he's trying to elaborate on a theory of how the attention/discussion ecosystem works

It's a dumb theory. How can you maintain that "sunlight is the best disinfectant" and at the same time worry that Milo is getting too much attention?
posted by dmh at 12:18 PM on February 8 [1 favorite]


Milo sucks. Holiday isn't trying to validate him, he's trying to elaborate on a theory of how the attention/discussion ecosystem works

It’s a dumb theory. How can you maintain that “sunlight is the best disinfectant” and at the same time worry that Milo is getting too much attention?

We are quite comfortable with the idea that there’s free speech and there’s speech-that-looks-free-but-is-just-harassment. Similarly, there’s attention that is sunlight and there’s attention that looks like sunlight but isn’t. See also: the President, and the fragmentation of media coverage.
posted by Going To Maine at 12:30 PM on February 8 [3 favorites]


I mean, I can't formulate everything I think about this in a concise and cogent comment, and I'm not done deciding everything I think, but one point I think is important is this: "Free Speech," the way a lot of people use it, is a complicated and risky idea. I think there are views that people *should* be afraid to express in public. I think as a society we should make it clear that you *should* be afraid to stand up in a crowd and say, "some human beings are not actually human beings and we should hurt or kill them." Words aren't "just words"; speech is an action and actions have consequences. People like Yannopoulis and Spencer should be made aware that choosing to say the things they say in a public forum may have consequences they don't like.
posted by BlueNorther at 12:48 PM on February 8 [8 favorites]


We are quite comfortable with the idea that there’s free speech and there’s speech-that-looks-free-but-is-just-harassment

That distinction, however, seems lost on Holiday. He says that we should "absolutely respect their right to free speech" and that "There is absolutely nothing that Milo has said (and more importantly, done) that ought to revoke his First Amendment right to give a speech on a college campus."
posted by dmh at 12:56 PM on February 8 [1 favorite]


> This is why it's such a nightmare that Betsy DeVos got confirmed--if we're going to ignore education and not teach critical thinking skills, and let kids grow up to be stupid and gullible enough to buy this kind of disingenuous bullshit right here, then there really is no hope.

We're well past that point. "Critical thinking skills" is a term that far, far too many people already think means "lefty bullshit."
posted by The Card Cheat at 1:00 PM on February 8 [4 favorites]


However, historically, it’s usually true that banning and blocking usually has the opposite of its intended effect.

Which is why MetaFilter is overrun with racist, sexist trolls.

Oh wait. It's not. It seems that maybe banning and blocking does work, if you have actual standards and stick with them.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 4:19 PM on February 8 [29 favorites]


It's really worth taking a step back and asking if "letting someone speak freely and unopposed" is really a better choice than "stopping them from spreading their ideas" if you want their ideas to not become commonplace.

It's also worth remembering that the Milo situation isn't a case of ideas being spread, it's active attacks against minorities that he outright names to a crowd that're so ready to act on his word that one of them snuck a gun onto campus and shot a protester at his speech.

The time to oppose was long ago, but the least one can do is attempt to oppose now.
posted by flatluigi at 6:27 PM on February 8 [7 favorites]


tobascodagama: "Also, don't be McGeeist.

(I think it's clear that I was referring to the author of TFA, not our beloved Eyebrows. But point taken.)
"

It was getting rather tense in here, so I decided to do what I can to inject a little harmless levity. It's what I do when I get uncomfortable. Or there's good straight lines in the vicinity.
posted by Samizdata at 12:01 AM on February 9 [1 favorite]


This article is NOT about "keeping milo from being heard"or how to outsmart troll provocateurs. This writer makes a living advising attention seekers on trolling and manipulation. He obviously loves people like Milo and Spencer. The real intended message of the article is: anything you do is playing into their clever hands. You can't win against these tactics. Give up.
posted by newton at 10:41 AM on February 9 [13 favorites]


I think if Holiday is who you think he is -- and that's possible -- then any "real" intended message is about reinforcing his value to others interested in manipulation. He has incentive to avoid sending the message "anything you do is playing into their clever hands" because that reduces the value proposition of "hire me and I'll keep you from playing into their hands -- or advise you how to do it yourself."

But even if Holiday's various motives include some measure of desire for personal advancement (and he's a human being, so that's likely enough), I mostly care about whether the insights he's trying offer are useful.

And as far as I can tell, they're definitely useful, at a minimum as a starting point for starting to think about how reactions to your reactions will likely play out, and how to frame them so that they don't reinforce counterproductive frames.

I really respect the engagement here about the limits of free speech. If there's one criticism that I think sticks to Holiday it's against his assertion that Yiannopoulos hasn't done anything that should restrict his principled right to speak on a college campus. If he's using his platform to target individuals for violence or vigilante action, sure, that's probably not legally protected by the 1st amendment and it's certainly a moral basis for distinguishing when someone should have a right to speak.

I also think Holiday makes correct points about the contra, though: there can be limits to the effectiveness of efforts to shout or otherwise shut someone down ("Ev'ry action has its equal opposite reaction"). Trying to look more closely at something someone is trying to suppress is one natural human reaction, perhaps particularly in a society in which free speech is given a high value. And there isn't an easy binary here, there's a somewhat subtle tension that has to be navigated. The low-resolution proposition "free speech is good" is true at a low-resolution level of analysis, but it also leaves anyone who values free speech open to charges of hypocrisy when the moment comes that you have to kick up to the higher resolution understanding required by the presence of someone who intentionally uses provocative speech.

How do you bring everyone up to the higher resolution understanding? You can't let the conversation become "free speech, but not for you." You have to try to steer the conversation to "everyone has the same free speech rights, but they don't include inciting violence."

How that happens is probably fertile ground for discussion. Maybe UCB should have done things differently. Maybe they should have said no to a Yiannopoulos speech and gotten out in front of the discussion about why. Maybe they should have said yes, but told the college republicans who invited him "You're free to invite anyone you wish, but if they use their platform to target individuals, incite panic, or engage in other forms of non-protected speech, you will lose your privilege to invite anyone to campus for two years, so it's your job to make sure they don't. Freedom of speech comes with responsibility. And yes, we'll be giving those opposed to you freedom to protest, too." Maybe what they did was correct, but the protestors could have been smarter and clearer about their message so that it was harder to stomp down to a low-resolution where charges of hypocrisy get thrown around. Maybe they did everything right but subsequent failures largely are about how coverage came out through some of the wide variety of media outlets.

But then again, how coverage comes out through media outlets is what this is all about, and the highest point of the article is to encourage people to think about that and how to shape it.
posted by wildblueyonder at 1:16 PM on February 9


Maybe it's totally hopeless to ever expect any different, but chanting crowds mobilizing outside of a Milo speech are giving him exactly what he wants. The demo in Berkeley amplified Milo's message by an order of magnitude. I had heard of Milo before, of course, but I never even thought of him. But it would be impossible to coordinate a non-confrontational approach to his speaking engagements. Which Milo is depending on. It's kind of like how terrorists work, exploiting the very things that make our democracy work.

This, as well as the article, has a hint of truth in it but fails because it boils down to a binary either/or where one action is good and another bad.

The reality in life is that choices are very often between shitty and super shitty. That hand has advanced gangrene? Your choices are ongoing painful death or amputation. They're both going to suck. When it comes to someone who already has the visibility and reach of Milo your choices are already in this category. You potentially give him something new to jaw about or you leave him unchallenged to hurt other people.

The article writer is sort of on the edge of acknowledging the difference, and even sets up the ways it's different by specifically talking about how they amplified a media budget in Chicago. But either because it's in his financial interest to miss the difference or because he just doesn't get it, he doesn't concede that Milo is, at this stage in his operations, running a different game. Milo isn't growing his viewership as much as he is just continuing to keep it fed so it'll go on. And to do that he needs to keep upping the offense.

And that's where this tips and why it's different than Tucker Max. TM was looking for new audience and book sales (and maybe licensing etc whatever) and going from lesser to better known. Starving the operation at that point is doable. Yafuckhead isn't, and he's not starveable anymore. He's in the out-and-about actively causing harm phase and you can't ignore him into submission anymore. It would take a long time, if ever, given his existing audience, and more importantly he'd do concrete harm to people along the way.

tl;dr: Milo is large enough that avoiding the Streisand Effect is no longer a primary concern.
posted by phearlez at 2:06 PM on February 9 [6 favorites]


Maybe they should have said yes, but told the college republicans who invited him "You're free to invite anyone you wish, but if they use their platform to target individuals, incite panic, or engage in other forms of non-protected speech, you will lose your privilege to invite anyone to campus for two years, so it's your job to make sure they don't. Freedom of speech comes with responsibility. And yes, we'll be giving those opposed to you freedom to protest, too."

Yeah, that would have been a step up. I don't know the details of their private correspondence with the BCR, but as far as anyone knows it was pretty weak. If anyone's curious, this is the memo that was sent to the College Republicans the day before the event. The tl;dr of it is that they acknowledged everyone's concerns, but only so far as to ask the BCR "what will you to address these concerns?" But the BCR didn't care, so they never bothered to address anything; all they cared about was their right to invite a controversial speaker.

I think campus guidelines would have allowed the university to revoke the BCR's right to invite speakers in the future, and it is very possible that would have happened had things gone as expected. But to my knowledge, no statement on that was ever made to the public, nor even to the BCR themselves. So it was never really a deterrent so much as the potential for some cold comfort after what could have been a brutal event. "Well he did everything we said he'd do and the damage is done, but hey, now the BCR can't invite him back, whoopee."

The protest was sanctioned by the university. In fact, the BCR was outraged because they had to pay, I think, $6000 towards security fees because of anticipated protests (it may have been $10000). "We wouldn't have to pay this much if people weren't so fanatically opposed to free speech!" Blah blah. The university covered the rest, and I'm not sure how much the university ended up paying. Fun fact -- when a BCR spokesperson was asked how they were able to come up with such a large amount of money, they cryptically said (and I'm paraphrasing) "we had some outside funding, and I'll leave it at that." But from the start, everyone knew and acknowledged that there was going to be a protest. The university made it clear that protests were welcome -- they even said that this speaker was a "vile troll" fundamentally opposed to university values. It's just that they never really acknowledged concerns about safety until the very last second, and only in the context of "so, BCR, you guys have anything to say about that?"
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 5:00 PM on February 9 [5 favorites]


Even with their trolls conservatives won't acknowledge externalities and their costs.
posted by phearlez at 9:43 AM on February 10 [1 favorite]


Mother Jones's Shane Bauer responds to the Holiday piece in a long Twitter thread that probably should have been made into a blog post, but when asked why he didn't publish his thoughts as a blog post for Mother Jones, he responded:
I would, but my editors won’t let me. Apparently Kevin Drum represents the range of analysis allowed @motherjones.

A shame, because how this country reacts to hate is an important discussion rn. We need more than the “stop playing into their hand” takes.

Media isn’t serving its function when the @davidfrum and @RyanHoliday takes represent most of what’s been published about protest online.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 11:11 AM on February 10 [9 favorites]


Bauer's thread contains a couple of images of a long list of things UCB students tried in the months leading up to Milo's appearance. They're very important to read and spread, because what they communicate is that the UC Berkley administration knew that allowing him to speak presented an active danger to students, faculty, and staff, and knew that death threats were incoming to the aforementioned students, faculty, and staff, and didn't give a shit.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:11 PM on February 10 [11 favorites]


At least one ACLU lawyer is defending (with words, not legal action) Milo's supposed right to have a platform wherever the fuck he wants one. I'm gonna tell them what I think about that stupid fucking argument, maybe some of you other ACLU members would like to do the same.
posted by tobascodagama at 1:06 PM on February 10 [1 favorite]


I still think the most effective thing would be for him to book a talk on campus, have nobody talk about it, and have as close to zero show up for the talk as possible.

If that happens 2 or 3 times, he'll disappear off the radar. The problem is it's unlikely to happen. Even once.
posted by hippybear at 5:02 PM on February 10


So, FWIW, On The Media had a 10 minute interview with Holiday this week. I found it to be a worthwhile listen, especially to hear his tone while talking about the subject.
posted by hippybear at 6:51 PM on February 10 [1 favorite]


I still think the most effective thing would be for him to book a talk on campus, have nobody talk about it, and have as close to zero show up for the talk as possible.

If that happens 2 or 3 times, he'll disappear off the radar. The problem is it's unlikely to happen. Even once.


I would say that the problem is it's likely that he'd step up his doxxing game to the point that people would die. He wants to be a martyr. I'd rather he get that without taking other people with him.
posted by Etrigan at 8:07 PM on February 10 [8 favorites]


I still think the most effective thing would be for him to book a talk on campus, have nobody talk about it, and have as close to zero show up for the talk as possible.

If that happens 2 or 3 times, he'll disappear off the radar. The problem is it's unlikely to happen. Even once.


I have no idea why you think this would work. He has a devoted online following that he's already calling shots for. The campus tour is a fairly recent development. Even if nobody protested, local shitrags would still show up for his talks, and even if they didn't, he wouldn't just go away- he'd keep escalating his vileness in the same feedback loop he's in with his followers now.

You can't attention starve bullies to win. That's something people like to believe for a number of reasons (some of which aren't even malicious!) but is pure fantasy.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:24 PM on February 10 [8 favorites]


Since I wrote that comment I saw a couple of tweets that changed my view on that as a strategy, anyway: this and this
posted by hippybear at 8:30 PM on February 10 [1 favorite]


I keep seeing this misinformation floating around about this trans student that was reportedly outed by Milo. Here are links to the student paper, and the talk exactly where he brings this person up. I let them speak for themselves.

Dec. 9th: http://mediamilwaukee.com/special-projects/uw-milwaukee-transgender-locker-room-policy-remains-under-wraps
Dec. 13th: Milo lecture: https://youtu.be/-t1ufzttyUM?t=2984
Dec. 14th: http://mediamilwaukee.com/top-stories/milo-yiannopoulos-milwaukee-tour-twitter-uw-uwm-transgender-lockerroom-policy-breitbart-alt-right
posted by whorl at 6:00 PM on February 11


What "misinformation" are you talking about?
posted by rtha at 9:34 PM on February 11 [5 favorites]


He wants to be a martyr.

Bull. One of the things we should have learned from gamergate is that Milo is an endlessly hypocritical, money and publicity crazed huckster who will tweak his British-and-gay-and-camp act enough to suit any audience that will eat it up. He'll be enough of a martyr as it takes to sell himself, and no further. (At least, not deliberately.)
posted by Going To Maine at 10:41 PM on February 11 [1 favorite]


What "misinformation" are you talking about?

The point, I believe, is that Milo cannot out someone who is publicly out in a newspaper. He can, of course, raise their profile and incite an angry mob against them. This seems like a substantial distinction to me.

That said, it's clear from the context in the student's letter that she was talking about being outed as in attendance at Milo's talk, not being outed as trans. So this seems kind of silly.
posted by Going To Maine at 10:53 PM on February 11 [1 favorite]


At least one ACLU lawyer is defending (with words, not legal action) Milo's supposed right to have a platform wherever the fuck he wants one. I'm gonna tell them what I think about that stupid fucking argument, maybe some of you other ACLU members would like to do the same.

Rights that don't apply to obnoxious shitheads (who you hate) aren't rights, they're temporary privileges that can be removed when convenient. And if they can be removed from obnoxious shitheads who you hate, they can be removed from you.
posted by Sebmojo at 11:06 PM on February 11 [2 favorites]


I do, at times, wonder how well the ACLU's defense of the nazis' right to match would go down these days.
posted by Going To Maine at 11:14 PM on February 11 [3 favorites]


That said, that essay in the Post seems like a whole bunch of nothing. A little handwriting but hardly a defense of anything beyond that nothing Milo or his publishers have done is illegal and the suggestion that we talk more about why Milo is bad. But then, what are peaceful protests if not part of loud talk?
posted by Going To Maine at 11:28 PM on February 11 [1 favorite]


oh lol cool whorl she wasn't outed just harassed and mocked publicly by a disgusting little shitboy provocateur. why so defensive?
posted by beefetish at 4:46 PM on February 13 [3 favorites]


oh lol cool whorl she wasn't outed just harassed and mocked publicly by a disgusting little shitboy provocateur. why so defensive?

In case I was unclear: by “this” I meant the complaining about some false outing narrative, since it’s pretty clear exactly what the author was concerned about. I certainly wasn’t trying to imply that her concerns were moot, since the mob sounded pretty riled up.
posted by Going To Maine at 9:15 PM on February 13


Rights that don't apply to obnoxious shitheads (who you hate) aren't rights, they're temporary privileges that can be removed when convenient.

Yeah. Ok. Here's the thing. You have a right to free speech. YOU DO NOT HAVE A RIGHT TO A PLATFORM. You have a right to free speech. YOU DO NOT HAVE A RIGHT TO INCITE VIOLENCE. There are established limits to free speech. Milo violates them, routinely and flagrantly, for fun.
posted by tobascodagama at 5:34 AM on February 14 [19 favorites]


Yes, but there are larger problems with prior restraint. Milo should be held accountable for the consequences of his speech. Freedom of expression is not freedom from consequences. The problem is that there's not a fantastic mechanism for that here.

Although if someone would like to grace me with a litigation fund, I'm happy to go looking for one.
posted by snuffleupagus at 4:13 PM on February 15


Actually, considering the Gawker fiasco, maybe there's legs there. I wonder how the Wachowskis feel.
posted by snuffleupagus at 4:15 PM on February 15


Jelani Cobb at The New Yorker: “The Mistake The Berkeley Protestors Made About Milo Yiannopoulos”
posted by Going To Maine at 5:35 PM on February 15


In that New Yorker article:
Scott Adams, the creator of the comic strip “Dilbert,” stated that he was ending his support for Berkeley, where he received a master’s degree, because he would not feel “safe” on the campus.
Oh no. I think I speak for all of UC Berkeley when I say this is really a blow. Not Scott Adams. How will the campus be the same without Scott Adams' support. How will we carry on.

I do have more substantive feelings on that article, but I've got things to do at the moment. Also our chancellor wrote an op ed in the campus paper saying that he, as a student of Indian history, thinks we could learn something from Gandhi, and... just, ugh.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 5:48 PM on February 15 [10 favorites]


Yes, but there are larger problems with prior restraint.

Nope. There aren't. Not in this case. Sorry.

Milo should be held accountable for the consequences of his speech.

Like maybe not getting a platform to do it again?
posted by Etrigan at 6:34 PM on February 15 [3 favorites]


Nope. There aren't. Not in this case. Sorry.

Completely wrong, unless you want to see speakers you support (pro choice activists, trans activists, BLM, etc) banned from public colleges across the Rust and Bible Belts on a pretense of preventing unrest due to violent counter-protests, or protecting bigots in the student body from being called out and protested against (i.e. 'doxxing' unpunished student rapists).

This is how we lose our rights. By charging at the red flag and right onto the blade.

Like maybe not getting a platform to do it again?

How about losing all of his money (which is really what he cares about) to his victims? And THEN never getting a platform to do it again, not by sacrificing freedom of speech, but by making his tactics and presence a liability to his heretofore admirers.
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:20 AM on February 16


Milo is actively doxxing and inciting violence against actual people. He has never promised not to do it again. Trying to make it a high-minded discussion of rights and sacrifices and freedoms is a breathtakingly tone-deaf privileged attempt to hand-wave away his actual actions. Proposing some sort of market-based solution for after he does these things ignores the fact that we know that people will be hurt, and by not giving him a platform, we can take steps toward preventing those people from being hurt.

And frankly, claiming that the American Right needs an opening, specifically some sort of misstep by the Left, to take people's rights away is ignoring basically the entire 21st Century. They have flat-out made shit up to justify taking away people's rights, and they will continue to do so.

Slippery-slope victim-blaming is bad.
posted by Etrigan at 8:51 AM on February 16 [12 favorites]


I don't need my tone policed.

Who said anything about the "American Right?" This is a problem of bad cases making bad law. We would be doing it to ourselves, in this scenario. Prior restraints, once authorized, will be way way worse for the dispossessed and the oppressed and the victims of state violence.

Proposing some sort of market-based solution for after he does these things ignores the fact that we know that people will be hurt, and by not giving him a platform, we can take steps toward preventing those people from being hurt.

That is a rather sharp misreading of my comment. I'm talking about suing him into the ground like Thiel/Hogan did to Gawker, for the consequences of his reckless speech. Use their tools against them. But someone would have to fund that crusade.
posted by snuffleupagus at 8:55 AM on February 16


Just chill out, harmed people and those Milo has promised to use his platform to go after. We'll take care of you as soon as some mystery billionaire decides to get involved!

You can keep misusing "prior restraint" if you really want to but if you're really a law guy you know perfectly well that it doesn't remotely mean "no longer letting jackholes come and talk in your auditorium."
posted by phearlez at 10:07 AM on February 16


I'm really a law guy. I think it does require that in some circumstances.

I am not remotely telling harmed people to chill out. I'd like to see the harmed people take action. I'd like to see the people with money on the left put it where their mouths are and help victims of this asshole go after him. Why is that so terrible?
posted by snuffleupagus at 10:10 AM on February 16


The school papers should be asking the clubs that invite Milo whether they are aware of his past attempts (successfully and otherwise) to harm students on campus. Then ask if they are prepared for the liability that harm generates given their invitation.

Then actually pursue that angle afterwards. Both against Milo and against the club that invited him in to cause harm. Doesn't necessarily have to be through a court case for the club if the school itself has a process for addressing harm and harassment. My alma mater would pick up an issue, get basic documentation, and kick it immediately to the dean of students or whatever his title was, YMMV.
posted by Slackermagee at 8:49 AM on February 19 [3 favorites]


It's only in the last couple of weeks that I had any idea who this guy was, so I guess his antics are successful in that way. However I was surprised to Google him and see that he appears to be a body double for Vanilla Ice. Does he know what decade it is?
posted by freecellwizard at 9:00 AM on February 19 [5 favorites]


Maybe his weak spot is the distinction he's established as the root of his identity. His tactics are old, his words are Coulter'ed, so the only thing new about him is this "I'm a gay white guy who likes black guys."

Could Milo be Fake Gay?

So, immigrants need to be kicked out, lefties suppressed, etc...but how are we supposed to take him seriously with those shoes? Disengage from him being the originator of anything and focus on him being a bad version of what he purports to be representing. No such thing as gay women because dildos? Then he's not a gay man because hands, mouths, and buttholes are all vagina-like. I think the key is to attack these peoples' sources of credibility among their fans. Milo as an outsider who "gets it." A president who acts like I would if I had my boss's job (who I hate).
posted by rhizome at 12:00 PM on February 19


Slackermagee at 8:06 AM (from We are only one... thread): Inform the host of why Twitter finally banned him. Ask them if they reaaally want to risk having the guy do something actionable on their platform. And do it quietly...

I'm thinking it might be more effective to inform the show's lawyers than the host. Hosts are paid to make the circus entertaining; lawyers are paid to retire the elephant before it hurts somebody.

snuffleupagus at 7:13PM, 10:20 AM (butchered for brevity): ...problems with prior restraint. Milo should be held accountable... there's not a fantastic mechanism. Although if someone would like to grace me with a litigation fund... making his tactics and presence a liability to his heretofore admirers.

IANAL, and don't work for a media property, but it seems likely that lawyers for media properties occasionally write up arguments about how allowing certain people on the platform may present a liability risk, and that these arguments are probably taken quite seriously. I mean, more than a decade later Janet Jackson is still effectively blacklisted.

I suspect that preparing such an argument regarding Milo and making sure it's readily available to the relevant corporate or institutional counsel is a much more tractable project than a free-ranging anti-Milo litigation fund, can be done quietly through back-channels, and might be as effective, or more effective, for the purpose of shutting him out of the conversation. The prospect of a highly politicized death or dismemberment lawsuit might sound like good TV to O'Reilly, but even the lawyers at FOX are going to be pretty risk averse about that sort of thing. It may simply be that it hasn't been brought to the attention of the right people in the right frame.

I see that there are first amendment implications if the tactic were to be abused, but I don't really buy that there's a particularly slippery slope from here to rampant prior restraint. Milo's incitement to violence makes him a member of a microscopic minority about whom such an argument can be made persuasively. Maybe one could worry that Thiel's lawyers will send out letters about defamation liability for everybody who's ever said anything mean about him? But I'm pretty sure they already do that, and most media properties understand defamation pretty well and are fairly sanguine about it.
posted by dirge at 12:18 PM on February 19


IANAL, and don't work for a media property, but it seems likely that lawyers for media properties occasionally write up arguments about how allowing certain people on the platform may present a liability risk, and that these arguments are probably taken quite seriously. I mean, more than a decade later Janet Jackson is still effectively blacklisted.

Janet Jackson is a black woman - most large-scale media outlets are eager for a reason to not promote her and resent when they have to unless the coverage makes her look bad. Milo is a white man - even if they murder people, large-scale media outlets urge us to be sympathetic and consider their horrible childhoods while ignoring the victims - even when the victims are white children.

I don't think we can ignore the distortion of white and male supremacy here; it is what gives Milo his platforms and influence and allows him to spew hatred while even those who claim to dislike him frame it as a "free speech" issue. Meanwhile, black and/or woman public figures who even mention that racial or gender inequality exist are accused of spreading hate speech.

Shutting Milo up would be balancing the scales, but we can't even with blatant hate speech and encouragement of violence because the number of people able to consciously correct for unconscious white male supremacy is so slight; most people don't even acknowledge either exist.

There is one commonality to this "trolling" and the people urging us to let the "trolls" have free access to widespread influence - they want to reinforce white male supremacy because they either perceive themselves as white men or want to be white men. They want anyone who disagrees with them to shut up, and they're willing to use violence to get it even while throwing the few who fall prey to calls for stochastic violence under the bus.
posted by Deoridhe at 12:39 PM on February 19 [3 favorites]


It drives me crazy that Milo has done more direct harm than the Westboro Baptist Church has ever done, but people love him for it because he excuses their views. What the hell do we do when vast amounts of the public are doing the cultist work of social separation, misinformation, and dehumanization themselves? Maybe constantly bringing up groups like WBC and Scientology who are considered terrible by a vast majority might jolt people enough to stop and think.
posted by halifix at 2:13 PM on February 19 [2 favorites]


I forgot to exclude the internal harm WBC has inflicted on children and family members by controlling contacts and education. My comments can't keep up with all the flavors of hate in the world and it breaks me sometimes.
posted by halifix at 2:19 PM on February 19 [1 favorite]


I don't want to annoy people with legalisms, but this isn't a slope. It's a cliff. Either you preserve content-neutral limited public forum doctrine, or you don't.
posted by snuffleupagus at 2:52 PM on February 19


I don't think we can ignore the distortion of white and male supremacy here...

Absolutely true. It's much of the reason to want to get rid of Milo. Still, I'm not sure that distortion so much changes the game as it tilts the playing field. I think the tilt is probably a bit less when dealing with legal professionals, who have objective criteria to curb their biases, than it is with people on the media end of the business, who are just subjectively judging for agreeable personalities.

Either you preserve content-neutral limited public forum doctrine, or you don't.

Here we're talking about venues that are already exercising extensive editorial control as to who and what appears. I think it's safe to assume that there are already content-specific legal judgements being made about liability exposure, as part of routine business process. All of that implicates first amendment issues only indirectly, as we're talking about privately owned platforms, not government communications or common carriers.

I'm not sure I see how it opens a new can of worms to, for example, draw the attention of CNN's general counsel to a potential liability he may not have previously considered. I don't see how it'd be especially problematic for him to say, I'm sure not for the first time, that we can't put this guy on air because somebody could get hurt.

It's obviously entirely possible that I'm missing something really important here. If so, I'm genuinely interested in an explanation of what that is.
posted by dirge at 5:27 PM on February 19


Here we're talking about venues that are already exercising extensive editorial control as to who and what appears

Wait. Which venues? I'm talking about auditoriums and the like at public universities. Not Real Time... and other outlets looking to profit on controversy.

This is a decent background page:
Restricting Speech in the Limited Public Forum (from a project of U. of Missouri @ KC).

The famous example:
The Court's first explicit statement of the designated public forum doctrine came in Southeastern Promotions v Conrad. Southeastern Promotions sought permission to use Chattanooga, Tennessee's municipal auditorium for performances of the musical "Hair." Although the auditorium had been rented for a wide variety of expressive activities prior to Southeastern's application, Chattanooga city officials refused Southeastern's request, citing Hair's nudity, tacit approval for drug use, sexual themes, and bad language. The Court found the municipal auditorium to be a designated public forum, and the city's refusal to permit use of its auditorium to be an unconstitutional prior restraint.
The more recent cases mentioned, Widmar v. Vincent and Christian Legal Society v. Martinez are pertinent. Here's Justice Ginsburg writing for the Court in CLS:
First, in a progression of cases, this Court has employed forum analysis to determine when a governmental entity, in regulating property in its charge, may place limitations on speech. Recognizing a State’s right “to preserve the property under its control for the use to which it is lawfully dedicated,” Cornelius v. NAACP Legal Defense & Ed. Fund, Inc. , 473 U. S. 788, 800 (1985) (internal quotation marks omitted), the Court has permitted restrictions on access to a limited public forum...with this key caveat: Any access barrier must be reasonable and viewpoint neutral, e.g., Rosenberger , 515 U. S., at 829. See also, e.g., Good News Club v. Milford Central School , 533 U. S. 98, 106–107 (2001) ; Lamb’s Chapel v. Center Moriches Union Free School Dist. , 508 U. S. 384, 392–393 (1993) ; Perry Ed. Assn. v. Perry Local Educators’ Assn. , 460 U. S. 37, 46 (1983).
And the truth is, most of the time these protections are much more important to people on the left than those on the right. Suppression of free expression and restrictions on access favors totalitarianism and we should not be goaded into it by turds like Milo even though he is doing actual harm. We should hold him accountable instead. Doing so would help give other institutions that "reasonable" basis to refuse him.
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:01 PM on February 19


Denying access to anyone who has a history of targeting students for harassment is a perfectly reasonable restriction.
posted by phearlez at 6:39 PM on February 19 [4 favorites]


It sounds like the biggest problem at Berkeley was that those of us opposed to his appearance couldn't definitively prove that he was going to harm anybody, just that there was a serious risk of it. Setting aside that he's a controversial speaker, there is at least one instance of him using his platform to harass a student -- at what point can you point to that prior incident as reasonable cause to suspect he'd cause direct harm to someone on our campus?

I feel like his being controversial just makes it harder to argue that he shouldn't be allowed to speak, because instead of being an issue of prior harassment it can be treated solely as an issue of his being controversial -- which is what the administration and all the media has done. If he were just some otherwise normal guy who had happened to use his platform to target and harass a student onstage at a previous speaking engagement, would it have been nearly as difficult to keep him from speaking at Berkeley, or would it have just been a similar "we'll hope nothing bad happens" kind of scenario?

I did watch his appearance on Bill Maher, and I thought it was noteworthy that he said the student he harassed had already withdrawn from the university at the time of the incident. That is, they were no longer a student, so he can reasonably claim that he's never actually harassed a student at any of his appearances.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 6:47 PM on February 19 [1 favorite]


Limited Public Forum

Ah. Got it. Dealing with public universities is rather more delicate.

Nonetheless, limited public forums aren't open mic nights. They're still able, indeed obligated to, make judgements as to what content is appropriate. They're simply limited in the criteria they can legitimately apply.

I'd like to think that "may get up on stage and openly advocate white supremacy" crosses a line that putting on a subjectively maybe obscene play doesn't. Even if not, surely "may incite violence against members of the student body" is a reason for rejecting a speaker that would survive any level of scrutiny. That seams like it ought to fall into the "crying fire in a crowded theatre" category.

Suppression of free expression and restrictions on access favors totalitarianism...

Yeah, they do. Also, weapons favor homicidal maniacs. It doesn't follow that we should unilaterally disarm.

We should hold him accountable instead. Doing so would help give other institutions that "reasonable" basis to refuse him.

Right, so the relevant questions are then: what kind of accountability is needed for a reasonable basis to refuse him, on an institution by institution basis. If that level has been met for any institution, how do we most effectively present that argument to them? If, for other institutions, it has not been met, how do we get there?

I don't think we need to meet an "is trying to get people killed, beyond reasonable doubt" standard against the guy, even for limited public forums. Protecting against even remote risks of that is a very legitimate interest.
posted by dirge at 6:57 PM on February 19 [1 favorite]


On the more general topic of Milo, perhaps the grift is about to end, or at least be curtailed.

Chris Enloe at The Blaze: “Video surfaces of Milo Yiannopoulos defending pedophilia, ACU board reportedly not consulted on CPAC invite”
posted by Going To Maine at 7:22 PM on February 19 [11 favorites]


Jake Tapper is tweeting about it as well. I can only imagine how eagerly the conservative establishment is awaiting that tape to show up on prime time on CNN.
posted by murphy slaw at 8:09 PM on February 19 [2 favorites]


Surely, if the president said the same thing about women, he would get in trouble. Surely...
posted by Going To Maine at 8:27 PM on February 19 [1 favorite]


Love this. Only wish they'd sat on the tape until closer to the CPAC speech.
posted by great_radio at 8:29 PM on February 19


Wait, all this was without it being established broadly that he was, at least in the edgy "I'm joking but not" defending pedophilia (or ephebophilia as the common 4chan dodge went) bucket? I thought this was fairly well known by now. Look at a lot of the logs from his Slack "Army of chan interns" and Gamergate days. If this is only breaking broadly now, he's going to have a lot of anger/reveals coming up. Dude's got a projection streak a mile wide. Why did people think he was focusing on "Trans people are connected to sex crimes" in false & disgusting ways as a part of outing/directing violence towards his targets?
posted by CrystalDave at 8:31 PM on February 19


all they knew was that he can reliably extract liberal tears and that is the only bona fide required to speak for the conservative movement anymore.
posted by murphy slaw at 8:34 PM on February 19 [8 favorites]


The Daily Caller: Milo Angrily Denies Defending Sex Abuse: ‘A Vile And Disgusting Crime’

> "The videos do not show what people say they show. I did joke about giving better head as a result of clerical sexual abuse committed against me when I was a teen. If I choose to deal in an edgy way on an internet livestream with a crime I was the victim of that’s my prerogative. It’s no different to gallows humor from AIDS sufferers,” he wrote in his statement posted on Facebook.

Violentacrez invoked gallows humor in his CNN interview and that didn't go over so well.

I never thought I'd ever link to The Daily Caller but here we are.
posted by guiseroom at 8:52 PM on February 19 [1 favorite]


Hah, violentacrez. Now there's your St. Peter.

[only to mean origin-adjacent. I have no biblical knowledge. Could be some other saint.]
posted by rhizome at 8:59 PM on February 19


John The Baptist, I think.
posted by Going To Maine at 9:01 PM on February 19 [1 favorite]


Once this shtick stops working for Milo, he'll rebrand himself has a moderate (a la David Brock or Andrew Sullivan*) and people will continue to give him a platform. Because somehow being a raging asshole and then trying to be a decent human being makes you more relevant than if you had just always tried to be decent.

* Andrew Sullivan is not a moderate. He's not even trying that hard to be decent.
posted by great_radio at 9:03 PM on February 19 [4 favorites]


A moderate pedophile should go over well in the midwest.
posted by guiseroom at 9:06 PM on February 19 [1 favorite]


A moderate pedophile should go over well in the midwest.

These are crazy times!!!
posted by great_radio at 9:08 PM on February 19


Did Secretary of the Interior get filled yet?
posted by rhizome at 9:30 PM on February 19 [2 favorites]


@liamstack: This is a good thread on why some conservatives like Milo but are uncomfortable with the Log Cabin Republicans.
posted by Going To Maine at 10:07 PM on February 19


Do visitors and immigrants here on visas get those 1st Amendment protections?

Which makes me wonder. What's his visa status? Can he legally work here? What's ICE's phone number?
posted by mikelieman at 3:34 AM on February 20 [1 favorite]


And you know what? Garbage Milo is just giving ammunition to the kinds of conservatives who assume that "gay" means "pedophile". You prop up a racist asshole like him and say "well, he can't actually be racist and oppressive, he's gay", like he's some kind of Categorical Gay Dude, and then it turns out that he's an apologist for sexual abuse - well, I bet a lot of people will turn on him really fast, because they're already primed for that narrative, and that's in itself pretty terrible.
posted by Frowner at 5:24 AM on February 20 [21 favorites]


Looks like the ACU decided that they hate free speech and rescinded Milo's invite to CPAC.
posted by octothorpe at 10:35 AM on February 20 [3 favorites]


Fantastic! Now hopefully Simon and Schuster yank his book deal.
posted by great_radio at 11:26 AM on February 20


"...there is no disagreement among our attendees on the evils of sexual abuse of children."

So they do have a line.
posted by Miko at 12:17 PM on February 20


Yeah, except when they don't.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 12:27 PM on February 20 [2 favorites]


Yeah. I find that old "live boy or dead girl" thing chilling for exactly this reason: women's lives and safety matter not that much even when they're underage and being preyed on by pedophiles, but throw in maleness and homosexuality and suddenly everyone is outraged. It stinks from every direction.
posted by Miko at 12:31 PM on February 20 [21 favorites]


“…there is no disagreement among our attendees on the evils of sexual abuse of children.”

So they do have a line.

Yeah, except when they don't.

It’s not a line - it’s a strange set of moral contusions that has built up over years of normalizing trolling the opposition as a means to attaining policy goals. Ann Coulter called John Edwards a “faggot” from that stage, and it didn’t meet with much disavowal or outcry. There’s a real nihilism at the heart of the movement.
posted by Going To Maine at 12:32 PM on February 20 [5 favorites]


I can confirm I've had some of my tweets shadowbanned on Twitter.

(Sorry not sorry @_rumpHotels . @_RumpVancouver at least had the decency to block me)
posted by Yowser at 1:51 PM on February 20


Also if the mods aren't going to delete links to a hate site like Hea tst, can ppl at least tag it NSFW? It's the little things that count :(
posted by Yowser at 1:55 PM on February 20


Apparently Breitbart employees calling for his ouster too. Huh.
posted by emjaybee at 2:14 PM on February 20


Simon and Schuster has cancelled Milo's book.
posted by murphy slaw at 2:20 PM on February 20 [19 favorites]


Also if the mods aren't going to delete links to a hate site like Hea tst, can ppl at least tag it NSFW?

I nixed the comment just now, if Going To Maine or anyone else wants to dig up a less sketchy link for that subject that's fine.

I'll say for what it's worth that site hasn't been on my radar at all previously though it sure looks like a hive of grossness pretty immediately and I'll keep an eye out for it now.

But beyond that, we can't delete stuff we don't know about, so flag or contact form is a pretty key part of the process—worrying that we haven't taken action on it without first giving us an opportunity to do so puts us in a pretty weird position, so please do reach out when somethings up and make sure we're actually aware of it.
posted by cortex at 2:21 PM on February 20 [4 favorites]


Simon and Schuster has cancelled Milo's book.

Anyone know if their standard contract let's them get their advance back?
posted by mikelieman at 2:27 PM on February 20


Sorry, I've flagged heat links before to no avail. Thanks Cortex!
posted by Yowser at 2:38 PM on February 20


Which makes me wonder. What's his visa status? Can he legally work here?

He has claimed to be on an O-1B visa, which is for "extraordinary ability in the arts" (some grade inflation on display there in recent years) and if he changes his primary employer, then he's obliged to update his visa.
posted by holgate at 2:52 PM on February 20 [1 favorite]


While I would approve of taking back money from Milo, I'm also perfectly comfortable with his revenue stream simply drying up going forward and Si&Sh suffering enough financial pain to maybe make them think twice the next time they're tempted to buy the works of an awful person.
posted by phearlez at 2:53 PM on February 20 [2 favorites]


Simon and Schuster has cancelled Milo's book.

Anyone know if their standard contract let's them get their advance back?


There's a 20 year old contract between S&S and Culinary Institutes of America online. If that's still similar to their current form, it probably depends on the grounds S&S invoked to cancel it. See e.g. Part 2 (the authors warranties, particularly Sec.s 40 & 41) and then Sec. 83(a) and 83(b).
posted by snuffleupagus at 2:56 PM on February 20 [1 favorite]


Meanwhile, Milo has been replaced at CPAC with Jay Aeba, chairman of the Japanese Conservative Union. The JCU has denied both the Nanjing Massacre and the existence of comfort women. So, uh, there's your line.
posted by Going To Maine at 2:57 PM on February 20 [20 favorites]


This is a pretty great poem about the situation and I've never linked to a tweet before in my life.
posted by great_radio at 4:39 PM on February 20 [3 favorites]


I'm disturbed that what got him ousted is pedophilia, given what a homophobic slur that is.
posted by Deoridhe at 5:48 PM on February 20 [2 favorites]


I’m disturbed that what got him ousted is pedophilia, given what a homophobic slur that is.

It’s a conundrum - Milo’s crime is joking egregiously about pedophilia, which it seems no one wants to condone, regardless of their side of the aisle. The fact that that kind of joking plays to a distasteful stereotype an odd side issue. Who will speak for the gays who are okay? What will we say when people start talking about Milo as if he’s a practicing pedophile? As was noted upthread where it was suggested that Milo will reinvent himself as a moderate on the left in the future, perhaps the next grift is indeed how he was victimized by the right.
posted by Going To Maine at 6:15 PM on February 20


It's also a problem that he claims he was abused by a priest (I don't know to what degree that's substantiated) and his remarks were in a part out of denial of his own victimhood. He's hiding behind that now, but it's still a thing people do.
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:18 PM on February 20 [1 favorite]


Simon and Schuster has cancelled Milo's book.

Sweet Clyde! Laugh derisively at him!

posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:14 PM on February 20 [1 favorite]


For whatever it is worth, /pol/ is blaming the downfall of Milo on Eggs. If that is true, yay Eggs.
posted by bootlegpop at 7:39 PM on February 20


Well the knots and conspiracies that Milo supporters are coming up with to explain the pedo tape are quite the thing to behold.

The tape is fake, somehow, and obviously been faked through editing and some other magic. Also it's totally weird that that it's been around for 13 months and it's only coming out now!

Hillary is involved, because she just signed a book deal with Simon and Shuster a couple of weeks ago so OBVIOUSLY AMIRITE?

This is obviously part of a massive psy-ops campaign by the Left to make the Right fight with each other.

Evan McMullin is involved! He was part of a group that paid people to get the goods on Milo and make fake things. Also may be an actual pedophile because, duh, he's obviously in league with Hillary and since the Dems are all living in total terror right now because PIZZAGATE, Evan must be involved because this is obviously just the Pizzagate cabal trying to deflect their pedoness onto the Right to get the pressure off of them and they're using Milo because he's so popular and important. So of course this is exactly who they are going to go after! See it all makes total and complete sense! OMG we cannot let this happen....
posted by Jalliah at 7:39 PM on February 20 [1 favorite]




For whatever it is worth, /pol/ is blaming the downfall of Milo on Eggs. If that is true, yay Eggs.


Ha! I didn't read about Eggs on /pol/ so it's other places too. I got it from Twitter and a couple of places on Reddit including r/t_d.
posted by Jalliah at 7:42 PM on February 20


For whatever it is worth, /pol/ is blaming the downfall of Milo on Eggs. If that is true, yay Eggs.

Nazi Punks Fuck Off
posted by jason_steakums at 7:43 PM on February 20 [5 favorites]


they are convinced that mcmullin spent 250k to do "oppo" on milo.

i don't even.
posted by murphy slaw at 8:29 PM on February 20



According to my twitter Trumpie and Alty R people with large social media followings are getting all paranoid that the Deep State is after them. Cause they took out Milo and weird things happening and something, something, they're using us to take down Trump.

I'm not super upset that they are feeling this way.
posted by Jalliah at 8:30 PM on February 20 [2 favorites]



I guess the Deep State = old you-tube videos?
posted by Jalliah at 8:32 PM on February 20 [7 favorites]


I guess the Deep State = old you-tube videos?

Every British tech person who remembers him as a punchable dipshit (including a few who remember him getting punched for said reasons) must now be part of the Deep State, then.
posted by holgate at 8:41 PM on February 20 [7 favorites]


omg i can only imagine the self-aggrandizing bourne identity fantasies that mike cernovich is spinning about himself at this very moment
posted by murphy slaw at 8:42 PM on February 20 [3 favorites]


omg i can only imagine the self-aggrandizing bourne identity fantasies that mike cernovich is spinning about himself at this very moment


We must have similar twitter feeds. I don't follow him but his paronoid Deep State thing is popping onto mine and then a bunch of replies confirming that 'yes we are experiencing the same thing Mike.'
posted by Jalliah at 8:45 PM on February 20



Oh wait. The Deep State is in Twitter!!! I just found a tweet of a supposed twitter list of problem accounts.
Legit? Who knows it supposedly came from 4chan.
posted by Jalliah at 8:54 PM on February 20


A while back I remember a metatalk started by a user who was concerned that the NSA was infiltrating metafilter - maybe this was just in the aftermath of Snowden? Anyway, I assume the reaction is similar. Take a dollop of coverage of leaks from bureaucrats that folks have been happy to construe as a wholly unified deep state, add some paranoia, and there you go.
posted by Going To Maine at 8:55 PM on February 20


Oh my god it just hit me that Milo is Nazi Poochie.
posted by jason_steakums at 9:04 PM on February 20 [6 favorites]



I just had a Trumpzi lecture me about sexual assault re Milo and how I need to give him the benefit of the doubt here.

This timeline is messed right up.
posted by Jalliah at 9:11 PM on February 20 [2 favorites]


All of this just leaves an awful taste in my mouth. Milo wasn't the cause of anything, he was just the symptom. He was in a position to advocate for a lot of bigotry, and now he doesn't have that platform, but I don't know, this isn't sitting well with me. He wouldn't have gotten so successful if so many people weren't ready and eager to hear what he had to say, and they're not going anywhere.

I'm not saying I'm not happy he's lost his book deal, but I don't know, I can't put it into words.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 10:09 PM on February 20 [2 favorites]


I think the reason this whole story upsets me (however satisfying it's been watching this grotesque fascist wannabe's career implode over the course of a day) is that it proves that for conservatives (and for publishing companies), there *is* a line. It's just that extremely open racism, Nazi imagery, targeted harassment campaigns of black actresses--none of that stuff crosses it. It would, in a way, be more comforting to believe that there was some substance to all the free speech talk. It's strangely disheartening to get this confirmation that no, they're not really for unfettered free speech and will certainly make an effort to disassociate themselves from speech they find to be unacceptable. It means that all the horrible racism and harassment that came before just didn't strike people--whether it be Bill Maher or Simon and Schuster as all that bad.
posted by armadillo1224 at 10:44 PM on February 20 [27 favorites]


Iain Martin wrote a piece today on how he provided m*l* with a platform in the 00s, and IF ONLY WE'D KNOWN.
What really caused concern was the capacity his allies outside the building had to fight back in nasty fashion against anyone who crossed or questioned the self-styled guru and supposed intellectual renegade. The tone was horrid and unappealing. Like Ayn Rand, only even less humane and less forgiving.
It chimes with a story I heard fairly often from my London-based tech friends: that he was very obviously a shit, that he was a hanger-on who assembled a pack of hangers-on, and when things like The Kernel went tits-up, the feeling was that the people who got hurt the most -- by expecting to be paid and not getting paid -- were the ones who were stupid enough to glom onto this utter fucking arsehole. Everybody with a clue shunned him, or occasionally lamped him one when he gatecrashed their parties. Now, of course, they wish they could have lamped him three or four.

What everybody underestimated was the hangers-on bit: that a glib amoral fuckweasel could go from calling gamers sad shut-ins to leading the goobergob army as long as they were all united behind hating (and harassing and demonising) the "right" people. He somehow got into a position to grant terrible people permission to be terrible. Actually, not somehow: Steve "President" Bannon put him there.
posted by holgate at 11:07 PM on February 20 [3 favorites]


Armadillo1234, if I could favourite your post a thousand times, I would.

This is the line for Republicans.

Think about all the horrible things Milo did before he crossed it.
posted by Yowser at 11:32 PM on February 20 [3 favorites]


Anyone know if their standard contract let's them get their advance back?

Don't worry he still has the $100K he stole from donors to a fake scholarships-for-white-men charity.
posted by PenDevil at 11:46 PM on February 20 [3 favorites]


Milo wasn't the cause of anything

He singled out a transgendered student in Milwaukee for harassment so I wouldn't say he didn't cause anything.
posted by drezdn at 4:51 AM on February 21 [5 favorites]


Is there really a "line", or is there a "we can't deal with the scandal unless we dump this guy"?

We live in a society that is divided between a big chunk who get that kids/young teens categorically can't consent to sex with adults, and that substantial power or knowledge inequalities in relationships are bad no matter what the ages of the people involved; a chunk of people who never think about this stuff except when they get the emotional satisfaction of blaming either a "slutty" person or a pedophile; and a chunk of people who think that if you can compel or trick someone into having sex with you that's great, and that having sex with kids or young teens is fine as long as their parents can be paid off or cowed, particularly if the kids are from poor backgrounds.

Consider Epstein's sex parties. Consider the sheer number of elite people who have been buddies with him - even if they didn't actually do anything wrong sexually, they don't see a problem with associating with him. Consider all the other sexual abuse scandals of the past decade.

The first chunk pretty much hated Yiannopoulos already. The second group will turn on him if it's fun to have someone new to hate. The third group is simply worried about no one finding out how horrible they are - they don't care about Yiannopoulos.

Frankly, my response to this is "thank god this wasn't the incident which proved that IOK to advocate raping children IYAR". We're in a moment where the right is saying "we're racists, we're rapists, we're violent and we no longer need to pretend that we're high minded or care about the country". I'm relieved that this trend isn't powerful enough to get us to "we also think it's fine to rape children as long as you're rich and hate Blacks, women and taxes".
posted by Frowner at 5:11 AM on February 21 [7 favorites]


it proves that for conservatives (and for publishing companies), there *is* a line

Yeah, on reflection, I think what it shows is not so much that there is a moral line for behavior in the conservative institutional sphere, but that there is a quick move to separate from public scandal they know they would suffer from. It's not really that they believe what he said is wrong (I'm very sure that many privately agree with it) but that they recognize they could not successfully fend off the legitimately morally/religiously driven wing of conservatism. They have always been ready to drop one of their own like a hot rock if that person puts them in the position of alienating part of their coalition.
posted by Miko at 6:15 AM on February 21 [1 favorite]


I finally watched the Maher cliP. It's the first time I've actually heard him speak, and, wow. I assumed that he'd made it this far because he had some kind of bullshit gravitas but he's like a bad Weekend Update guest on SNL. Opera Man had more gravitas, ffs.

I understand why the local trolls under the bridge dig him. I can even see him gaining local notoriety with trolls that live under the bridge two towns over. The fact that he did not, at some point, run into brick wall after brick wall...the fact that we know his name, shows how totally shameless and craven the right has become. If the right thought that enough people wouldn't care about the statements he made he'd still have those deals. They didn't drop him because he crossed some magic line that was just too much to bear, they dropped him because they were concerned about his shit dirtying their own brand.
posted by Room 641-A at 6:18 AM on February 21 [3 favorites]


dude makes ann coulter look like a deep thinker with unbreakable convictions
posted by murphy slaw at 8:30 AM on February 21 [2 favorites]


it proves that for conservatives (and for publishing companies), there is a line

Yeah, on reflection, I think what it shows is not so much that there is a moral line for behavior in the conservative institutional sphere, but that there is a quick move to separate from public scandal they know they would suffer from.

Very few lines in any sphere are really single black-and-white moral lines, because morality is itself a collection of shades of grey. You won’t find any cases like Milo on the left at the moment, but I’m reminded over quibbles over HRC and Goldman Sachs and/or Kissinger and/or Juanita Broaddrick during the election. Not that I want to debate those issues - but rather, that for different people on the left those came across as different degrees of negative association.
posted by Going To Maine at 11:34 AM on February 21


Reports coming that Bad Hair Nazi has resigned from Breitbart.
posted by zombieflanders at 11:35 AM on February 21 [1 favorite]



I'm sure he'll still be around in some manner but wow that fall was fast. Went from being Con-nazi version of high on life to rock bottom in a matter of a few days.
posted by Jalliah at 11:39 AM on February 21 [4 favorites]


I have seriously not been able to stop cackling about this since I got home and saw the news yesterday afternoon. Angry as fuck that all his previous hateful acts weren't enough to stop his rise, but so gratified to watch his impossibly swift fall now. My god, bruh, no one has your back. No one.
posted by palomar at 11:46 AM on February 21 [8 favorites]


Reports coming that Bad Hair Nazi has resigned from Breitbart.

Presumably he wants to spend more time working on that book he's wri— ohhhhhh.
posted by cortex at 11:51 AM on February 21 [14 favorites]


I’m sure that Vox Day will be selling him on the merits of self-publishing any time now…
posted by Going To Maine at 11:58 AM on February 21 [8 favorites]


yeah, VD has already offered to publish his book through his little vanity press.
posted by Roommate at 12:01 PM on February 21 [3 favorites]


Vox Day is an expert at absconding with other people's money, so I can see it.

What, you think it's a coincidence his dad went to jail for tax evasion at exactly the same time Vox permanently left the country?
posted by Yowser at 12:02 PM on February 21


@joshtpm (1, 2, 3):
Milo’s move to the big leagues went bigly. (GIF of tiny dog going flying.)
You build a great career around rule-breaking, racism & hurting people and then one slip and you’re in a feeding frenzy and it’s all gone.
In fairness, he’ll probably land at The Daily Caller and be fine.

This is a decent point for touching on the start of the thread. Milo has always been pretty small scale, and the recent series of events -starting with Gamergate- has been getting his profile moved into the mainstream, with CPAC as a kind of major league debut.

It was a combination of the book deal, Berkeley, and both the protests and Trump’s response to the protest that got him the CPAC (and Maher?) gigs. It was that attention that got people to dig up a video that had existed in the record for a long time that had an unsavory quote. While we quibble about the direction that such protests should have gone in, I think it’s okay to assume that, with no protests, none of this would have blown up. (We might also argue that if Berkeley had just shut down the speech there would have also been no protests and no corresponding implosion of his career, as well, but that feels like a bit of a distressingly ends-justify-the-means argument.)
posted by Going To Maine at 1:04 PM on February 21 [3 favorites]


Reports coming that Bad Hair Nazi has resigned from Breitbart.

So... What does this do to his visa status?
posted by mikelieman at 1:07 PM on February 21 [10 favorites]


dude makes ann coulter look like a deep thinker with unbreakable convictions
If you're talking about Maher, he gave Ann Coulter her first big break as a regular panelist on his first show. Of course, he did the same for Ariana Huffington. His influence on the crap that currently passes as media in America is scary large.
posted by oneswellfoop at 1:12 PM on February 21 [2 favorites]


Was huffington a close pal with Andrew B at the time maher gave her a big break?
posted by Yowser at 1:18 PM on February 21


World of weird Nazi Edition

Okay so Richard Spencer thinks people like Cernovich and Prison Planet that are upset about Milo are
being hippocrites and have no souls.

Link to pictures of Spencer tweets.
posted by Jalliah at 1:43 PM on February 21 [1 favorite]


So, what do we do then?

Train them like you'd train a dog. Do a good thing, get a treat/praise. Do a bad thing, get corrected/punished. It's not "punish" in the sense of an attempt to balance the moral scales, just a negative thing to be associated with their negative actions.

I agree that the issue here is breaking social norms. When social norms are broken, society should correct it. So, his book deal should be cancelled, all his speaking engagements should be cancelled, and he should be banned from every platform he uses to send his message. Those consequences shouldn't even be controversial. The only story should be, "Another asshole opens his asshole mouth to say asshole things so now society has to carry out this distasteful chore." Meanwhile, we all wonder why that's even news.

Basically a united, "Shut up Donny, you're out of your element!"

If the person changes their tune, great! Pile cookies and praise on them! It doesn't even matter if it's genuine, they'll be backed so far into a corner with their new message that they'll have no choice but to keep supporting it.

For dipshits like Milo here, I'd be fine with something like the tech from the episode of Black Mirror where people outcast from society are only seen as fuzzy outlines and can't talk to anyone. He's welcome back when he decides to stop being a dipshit.

posted by VTX at 2:02 PM on February 21 [1 favorite]


mikelieman: "So... What does this do to his visa status?"

My layperson's understanding is that if he was here on an O-1 visa, his visa status is terminated once he turned in his resignation... unless he's already lined up another employer (either because he had been previously sponsored by multiple employers or he's been real quick to get hired on at Heat Street or Daily Caller or whatever other lower-rung, right-wing propaganda outlet will have him). If he's out of status, he would normally be required to leave the country within 10 days. But, since he's a UK citizen and hence subject to the Visa Waiver Program, I'm not actually sure if he does have to leave or if he's allowed to stay for another 90 days (the normal amount of time you're allowed to visit on the visa waiver program). Also, if he's in the process of getting a Green Card, I believe there may be other allowances for him to stay until that process resolves.
posted by mhum at 2:10 PM on February 21


Ugh, great, next act: Milo the Iconoclast Refugee.
posted by snuffleupagus at 2:16 PM on February 21


O-1 status is a little more flexible than, say, a H1-B: the sponsor can be an agent for someone whose work typically resembles self-employment (for instance, a musician) as well as a more conventional employer.

From USCIS:
If there has been any material change in the terms and conditions of the beneficiary’s employment or the beneficiary’s eligibility, the petitioner must file an amended petition on Form I-129 with the Service Center where the original petition was filed.
Also [my emphasis]:
If the employment of an O nonimmigrant beneficiary is terminated for reasons other than voluntary resignation, the employer must pay for the reasonable cost of return transportation to the O nonimmigrant’s last place of residence before entering into the United States.
Hmm.
posted by holgate at 2:55 PM on February 21


I...shit what the fuck is the rationale behind Milo's O visa?

"Individuals with Extraordinary Ability or Achievement" what on earth is his extraordinary ability? I thought this was a visa for Nobel prize laureates or you know, actually extraordinary people.
posted by Tarumba at 3:18 PM on February 21 [1 favorite]


Someone pointed out that for the people who are suddenly disavowing Milo, this proves that it was never really about the principle of "free speech," it was about them agreeing with the shit he was saying... until they didn't. Like, come on people, if you're really free speech advocates, you're gonna need a stronger stomach than that. You have to stand by this guy, no matter what lunacy he starts spewing. After all, free speech is not just about protecting the speech you agree with, it's about protecting the speech you find abhorrent...

*all of which elides the point that nobody's first amendment rights were ever actually being infringed for fucksakes*
posted by Vic Morrow's Personal Vietnam at 3:20 PM on February 21 [7 favorites]


I thought this was a visa for Nobel prize laureates or you know, actually extraordinary people.

There's been a steady climb in O visa issuance over the past decade or so, from 7000ish to 14000 per year. I know that it's used by tech companies to bring over foreign acquihires, where a H1B doesn't make sense and there's no clear-cut category within the existing visa classes -- "we bought this company for $Xm, therefore its founders are pretty extraordinary" -- but there's also been a bit of grade inflation on the "extraordinary".
posted by holgate at 3:29 PM on February 21


@Vic, I doubt that those supposedly "disavowing Milo" over this were really fans to begin with and that there are actually any significant numbers there because it requires you, as a fan, to take what's being said by many outlets at face value which works for the actions we've seen from CPAC but not so much for fans. Much like the case with PDP, his fanbase isn't really going anywhere.
posted by whorl at 3:42 PM on February 21




Oh Laurie, your pretty little lies. "I wasn’t supposed to be here. I came expecting to report on both sides of the line"
posted by Yowser at 5:25 PM on February 21


Say what you will she has class. /s
posted by whorl at 5:37 PM on February 21


So I've just been cruising through the archives.

Boy howdy, has my opinion of Laurie Penny ever taken a nosedive since she started writing semi-affectionately about MY.
posted by Yowser at 7:06 PM on February 21


Imagined conversation in the Breitbart editorial meeting:

"It turns out Milo is a pedophile apologist. He has to go."

"OK, I'll assign someone else to write anti-Semitic, Islamophobic Pro-white-nationalist columns that harass trans people. Pedophile stuff is just taking things a bit too far, BTW, how's the Pizzagate expose coming along?""
posted by Cookiebastard at 7:50 PM on February 21 [5 favorites]


Laurie Penny with her hot take.

Why are we using archive.is to link to Pacific Standard?
posted by Going To Maine at 8:31 PM on February 21


It's not Pacific Standard I'm using the archive for...
posted by Yowser at 8:35 PM on February 21 [1 favorite]


It’s not Pacific Standard I'm using the archive for...

I guess color me confused - that article hardly seems sympathetic to Milo or his retinue, and it doesn’t downplay the consequences of his speech. Indeed, it rather astutely captures at least one aspect of the “doing it for the lulz” crowd. To my mind the problem with Penny’s writing is that it tries to make out Milo as being exceptionally appealing to the US, which is something that seems to play a bit loose with the history of neo-nazi groups in the UK.
posted by Going To Maine at 8:54 PM on February 21 [5 favorites]


Atrocious middle-class British right-wingers who move to the US have generally found it somewhat more fertile -- politically and financially -- than the UK. Wingnut welfare is more of a thing, and they don't have to deal with Ofcom or restrictions on political fundraising or libel or incitement to hatred laws. That's started to change, but it's mainly because of the American influence.

Penny has written before about the whole fascinating fascism shit of ending up in the retinue, and I think she is good at explicating what she calls the "unholy marriage of that soulless debate culture that works so well in Britain, transplanted to a nation with no social safety net and half a billion guns" and what you can do if you believe in nothing, can pretend to believe in anything, and come as a missionary to a land of people wanting to believe in something. (See also: Christopher Hitchens, whose Rizla-thin erudition played well.)

Still, you don't have to tag along.
posted by holgate at 9:14 PM on February 21 [2 favorites]


Still, you don't have to tag along.

Tagging-along is part of what a journalist does.
posted by Going To Maine at 9:18 PM on February 21 [4 favorites]


There's tagging along, and then there's tagging along. She and I have mutual friends in the activist/journalist world, and I value those friends, so I give her the benefit of the doubt here, but I'm not sure what additional insight is gained from her accounts of that up-close frenemy relationship. It mostly underlines things already known: he's a charismatic arsehole, he attracts a coterie, he fucks them over, rinse and repeat. If her tagging along prevents someone signing up for the next round, then job done.
posted by holgate at 10:38 PM on February 21 [2 favorites]


Given the on-again off-again debate that occurs here about whether Milo is an actual nazi or fake nazi, I’d say that that’s still useful in the pursuit of truth. That said, I’m not sure how much people are interested in that kind of nuance at the moment.
posted by Going To Maine at 11:19 PM on February 21


And the discussion is over long, long ago.

You think he called himself Milo Wagner, was wearing that iron cross in a photo dated 2005 or 2006 that he thought no one would see, and his book collection on the Third Reich. and that he deleted those photos as soon as someone "outted" him, for the lolz?
posted by Yowser at 11:40 PM on February 21


I liked the part where Penny said they hate being called Nazis. Cuz they've watched movies.
posted by valkane at 3:22 AM on February 22 [2 favorites]


You think he called himself Milo Wagner, was wearing that iron cross in a photo dated 2005 or 2006 that he thought no one would see, and his book collection on the Third Reich.

Archived link
posted by PenDevil at 3:56 AM on February 22 [2 favorites]


I think, honestly, that this type of journalistic relationship is too risky. It's one thing to infiltrate a group of terrible people, and one thing to report on them neutrally from an outside position, but quite another to journey around with them. It gives you details, yes, but anyone who isn't a heartless lump tends to end up with their loyalties a bit compromised. As the fellow said, everyone has their reasons, and that's the horrible part.

I sympathize with her on this because I too am a nerd-whisperer. I get on very well, usually, with disaffected young straight men. I would not want to write this story, because I bet I would end up with the same uneasy relationship with these people that Penny has, and I don't think it's a particularly worthwhile or healthy relationship.

From god's view, sure, we're all equally deserving of sympathy, we all have our reasons, we're all to be pitied. But we're not god. We live on earth; we have to fight for our causes. Getting too cuddly with people like this weakens our commitment and sense of right and wrong.

These aren't kids who are sort of going astray in a junior high - these are adults with political power and, apparently, plenty of money. Sympathy and cozening may change some poor child of thirteen, but it's not going to do much for an adult from a rich family.

We've got only so many hours in the day, so much emotional energy, so much life. We have to pick who we prioritize and where we put our feelings, and I think that putting our feelings into equivocal relationships with these people is a bad use of them.

I don't think you need to be a terrible person or a sympathizer to write this article, but I do think it's a waste of time.

Also, I strongly suspect that Yiannopoulos doesn't have friends, back home or anywhere, doesn't like himself or his sexuality and is comfortable being everybody's parody gay precisely because it assuages his self-dislike and gives him an excuse to avoid relationships with other gay people. If he spent time with other gay people - even fairly terrible ones - he'd get called on a lot of his shit, and called in ways that would matter. He'd have to face up to himself on some level. He spends his time around straight young men, straight old dudes and an comforting array of enemies - none of those people need be listened to in any way. I find it absolutely plausible that he could be a victim of sexual abuse. If he didn't have such repulsive beliefs, I would feel extraordinarily sorry for him.
posted by Frowner at 5:10 AM on February 22 [9 favorites]




Meet @ReaganBattalion, the anonymous squadron that destroyed Milo's career

Standing in front of a brick wall in downtown New York on Tuesday, alt-right provocateur and internet troll Milo Yiannopoulos had just experienced the worst couple days of his short career, and now he was having a contrite press conference about it. It was a stunning fall from conservative grace: he lost a lucrative book deal, a speaking slot at the upcoming Conservative Political Action Conference and his editor role at Breitbart News.

It was all thanks to an anonymous group calling itself the Reagan Battalion, which unearthed video of Yiannopoulos defending pedophilia and published the now viral clip to its twitter account, setting off a domino effect that led to Yiannopoulos' downfall.

posted by Johnny Wallflower at 6:05 AM on February 22


He somehow got into a position to grant terrible people permission to be terrible. Actually, not somehow: Steve "President" Bannon put him there.

I wouldn't be surprised if Bannon now also moved to get rid of him, which would be a wry comes-around. But let's not be taken in by small signs of normality. If Milo gets to have Damascus moment it has to be Niemöller rather than Sullivan.
posted by dmh at 6:13 AM on February 22 [1 favorite]


NYT: Bill Maher, criticized for booking Milo Yiannopoulos, takes credit for his fall: "Sunlight is the best disinfectant"

HAHAHAGETFUCKED
posted by PenDevil at 6:25 AM on February 22 [6 favorites]




sunlight is the best disinfectant and it works best when you compromise and find issues that you and the plague bacillus can agree on
posted by murphy slaw at 6:41 AM on February 22 [5 favorites]


NYT: Bill Maher, criticized for booking Milo Yiannopoulos, takes credit for his fall: "Sunlight is the best disinfectant"

Trump shudders, and moans, "Who will rid me of this troublesome 10 p.m. Friday premium-cable show..."
posted by Etrigan at 6:56 AM on February 22


Milo and his goons are going after George Takei now.
posted by palomar at 6:57 AM on February 22


Milo and his goons are going after George Takei now.

Not for nothing, but MY and 'his goons' better watch out. The number of LARP gangs that will take the edge guards off their shit and get positively medieval on their asses in defense of Takei is uncountable.
posted by mikelieman at 7:13 AM on February 22 [3 favorites]


Cool. How does that work on Twitter, where they're already screaming at Jake Tapper to investigate?
posted by palomar at 7:17 AM on February 22


Bill Maher, criticized for booking Milo Yiannopoulos, takes credit for his fall: "Sunlight is the best disinfectant"

@wyatt_privilege: if bill maher thinks sunlight is the best disinfectant then here's him saying the same shit as milo, that it's ok for adults to fuck kids
posted by zombieflanders at 7:29 AM on February 22 [12 favorites]




Maher's similar statements will of course do nothing to him, because they're in the safe-to-hyuck-hyuck about fatberg-in-the-moral-sewer misogyny zone. Those deep structures about feeeemales not really having sexual agency even when it's a boy with a grown woman; they're always objects.
posted by Drastic at 7:57 AM on February 22 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I'm pretty off Laurie Penny at this point, and I don't think her work is left wing in deep structure, even if you discount "cozying up with the fascists". I think her recent work is organized around "I am so special, I can get over with these creeps even though I'm ostensibly left-wing and feminist; unlike others, I can see their humanity; unlike others, I can thread this particular needle". I think the allure of Yiannopoulos and his entourage is precisely that they hate all other SJs, but they like her, therefore she is unique, special, better.

And that's really the opposite of socialism and any mass left movement - the whole point of those is that "special people" don't get a pass on bad stuff, and that "being special" is not the point of social change. What's important is what's right and wrong, not that the fascists are really, really fascinating. Saying "I'm going to embed myself with these evil people because it's gonzo journalism undertaken by a talented journalist such as myself" is a morally bankrupt thing fit for advanced capitalism.

Also, I kept asking myself, like, if Laurie Penny were a women of color or a trans women, would she have been able to do this safely? Of course not. She only gets to be a special nerd-whisperer girl because she's white and cis, and the whole thing is a betrayal of anyone who is not.
posted by Frowner at 8:10 AM on February 22 [15 favorites]


yeah, it's not a deep insight that sociopaths can be superficially charming when you're not standing between them and something they want
posted by murphy slaw at 8:44 AM on February 22 [3 favorites]


It gives you details, yes, but anyone who isn't a heartless lump tends to end up with their loyalties a bit compromised. As the fellow said, everyone has their reasons, and that's the horrible part.

What loyalty is being compromised here, though? What, exactly, is being said in this article that comes across as a positive portrayal? Sympathy, to even a limited degree, is not the same as justification. And sympathy, I note, that doesn't seem to be framed on an idea of outreach or compromise, contra pieces on the economic anxiety of Trump voters.

Alexandra Erin has been tweeting about Milo and so-called progressive journalist Laurie Penny.

That was an interesting read because Erin is in such a different place than I am on that article. She sees it as sympathetic when to me it reads as having, like, the barest hint of it - the kind that acknowledges that these guys have created justifications for what they do while also noting that those justifications are inadequate.

To me, those tweets are kind of a pile of nothing. They lay out a particular worldview of how Penny and Milo relate, use an excerpted paragraph to hang the story on, and then ignore everything else. It's a screed, and that's about it. Other folks get more out of it, I suppose, but that's it.


She's using her privilege to do something that others can't, yes, but she hardly seems unaware of that privilege in the reporting. I mean, a decent portion of the article is her noting that Milo's followers make a bunch of crude remarks about her after she leaves the room. Given the notes on Milo's deliberately racist and sexist appeal, it seems hard to assume from the writing that a POC or trans person would feel safe.

yeah, it's not a deep insight that sociopaths can be superficially charming when you're not standing between them and something they want

It's a news article, not a philosophical treatise on the nature of evil. If all news articles had to provide blinding insights, there wouldn't be any news.

posted by Going To Maine at 9:10 AM on February 22 [6 favorites]


Ash Sarkar (@AyoCaesar):

I'm sorry to have to say this, but the uncritical centring of white femininity in @PennyRed's new piece is utterly inexcusable politically.

I'm going to expand on this. The entire article is predicated on Laurie's own exceptionality. Wendy amongst the Lost Boys.

While there are moments of misogynist chatter, the presentation of "kids" enthralled by the faerie magic of a white woman's presence...is a gross insult to the women of colour harassed & attacked by the very same men; to the women whose hijabs are ripped off on the street; the women who Milo & his gang would see deported; the women excluded from the bathroom of their choice. We don't get let on the bus, Laurie. When we are sexually harassed, no one tells our tormentors to shut up and let us sleep, on account of our femininity.

These "kids", as you insist on calling them, would hound us to assisted suicide if they could. Ask Leslie Jones. Ask me, for fucks sake.

If you think fascism announces itself with jackboots and shaved heads, you're wrong. It starts with these milk-faced petit-bourgeois sorts.

Learn the lessons of history. Don't you for one second think that they're anything other than murderers who've yet to find their footing.

posted by MCMikeNamara at 9:29 AM on February 22 [16 favorites]


I’m going to expand on this. The entire article is predicated on Laurie's own exceptionality. Wendy amongst the Lost Boys.

I guess I’m repeating myself on this point, but it still seems strange that this is the issue - Penny isn’t the hero of the piece. She is a reporter, who happens to be white, and who makes references to the fact that everything Milo and his followers are doing is producing detrimental effects among his other communities. It’s certainly true that she doesn’t have a line along the line of “If I was black I couldn’t be here” or “Bob Milofollower told me specifically that he wants to kill all colored people.” But she talks about fighting with them over whether or not Sharia law has taken over England and whether gay marriage encourages the spread of AIDS.

These “kids”, as you insist on calling them, would hound us to assisted suicide if they could. Ask Leslie Jones. Ask me, for fucks sake.

She calls them kids, certainly, but the through-line of the article seems to be that they are children for whom she has no sympathy - the willfully immature who are smashing things up. She compares them to the “I was just following orders” Germans, for goodness sakes, and ends the article talking about how she’ll never forgive them for what they’re doing.
posted by Going To Maine at 11:44 AM on February 22 [3 favorites]


I think highly of AE but happen to disagree with her on this, and apparently some of you. This take on LP reminds me of how angrily denounced any examination of terrorist motives were in the years after 9/11. "This is not a monster, this is a person choosing to do monstrous things" is, to me, not an excuse. A monster has no choice; it is what it is. A person, choosing to be monstrous, is rejecting their humanity and that's way worse.

I understand the horror at the idea of normalizing someone like Milo but I never got that sense at all from LP's stuff. At most she reveals how banal an operation he runs, but never once did I perceive her as excusing anything. Yes, many people will excuse awful things with "he's just kidding; he doesn't really believe that" but Penny's work, to me, clearly says "it's the doing that's the awful, the believing is irrelevant."
posted by phearlez at 12:33 PM on February 22 [5 favorites]


Friends kept telling me to read the LP piece because it was "so enlightening" and I must admit that I came away from it quite .. surprised that people urged me to read it. I learned nothing new. I think the article is more of a mind blow if you've never been a woman having to deal first-hand with these types day in & day out. Well, if you've never been a woman.

I've lived with these guys, I've worked with them, I've had to interact with them socially, and - heck - I have had to stand next to them on public transport. Don't call them Lost Boys - the term just lends them an air of romanticism that they don't deserve. They are the jerks with empathy defects.
posted by kariebookish at 2:43 PM on February 22 [17 favorites]


The absolutely recurrent theme of LP's work seems to be the prioritising of The Specialness Of LP at the expense of all else, including any lick of her otherwise decent sense.
posted by ominous_paws at 12:22 AM on February 23 [2 favorites]


So…if a white woman can safely go into an environment that other people could not, for the purposes of exposing what is happening in that to the larger world, is that a reason for her not to go? That doesn't make sense to me.

Laurie Penny's earlier writing about Milo were my first exposure to his horrible self.
posted by adamrice at 8:48 AM on February 23 [3 favorites]


kariebookish: "I learned nothing new."

The one new thing I learned from that article is that the Berkeley direct action/protest/riot appeared to really rattle the 4chan keyboard warrior that make up his entourage.
posted by mhum at 9:25 AM on February 23 [1 favorite]


I just read Penny's latest Yiannopoulos piece and I think it's quite good. Of course it makes her special: there's a whole host of circumstances, including privilege, that make it possible for Penny to write this piece and not someone else. Using those circumstances to gain access to and report on the face of fascism in 2017 seems valid to me.
posted by dmh at 9:29 AM on February 23 [2 favorites]


CPAC organizer denounces ‘alt-right’ as ‘left-wing fascist group’
One of the first speeches at this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference challenged the media to stop referring to the “alt-right,” a small, far-right movement that seeks a whites-only state and that strongly backed Donald Trump for president, as conservative.
Yo, CPAC.. It is literally less than a week since you rescinded Milo's invitation to be a speaker at your convention. How f'cking stupid do you think we are?
posted by Nerd of the North at 10:58 AM on February 23 [6 favorites]


It's symptomatic of the right that they tend to think of everybody else as very stupid indeed, and to proceed on that assumption. It really ought to be their fatal flaw.
posted by Grangousier at 1:02 PM on February 23 [1 favorite]


CPAC organizer denounces ‘alt-right’ as ‘left-wing fascist group’

so you can just say words in any order and hope they mean something, huh
posted by flatluigi at 2:04 PM on February 23 [6 favorites]


so you can just say words in any order and hope they mean something, huh
It has become the default method of right-wing communication in light of Trump's success in using it. Of course, some people are better at it than others.
posted by oneswellfoop at 4:23 PM on February 23


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