If you’ve been following recent news, you may have heard about a violent riot at U.C Berkeley, which broke out on campus during the protest of a speaking appearance by Breitbart News Tech editor, Milo Yiannopoulos. The stop was just one in a nationwide tour of college campuses, which Milo titled the “Dangerous Faggot” tour. Yiannopoulos intended to be provocative in naming the tour – he is openly homosexual.
I became aware of Milo Yiannopoulos roughly around the time that he was banned from using the Twitter platform. This event made national news. I love a good controversy, and I had to know why. The brief internet news snippets in my periphery indicated that he had launched a campaign of racial attacks and abuse toward Leslie Jones, a comedic actress on NBC’s Saturday Night Live. After brushing up on the coverage across multiple sources, here is my summary of what happened:
- Leslie Jones began expressing her dislike of messages she started receiving on Twitter regarding her role in the recently released Ghostbusters film (2016). I am unable to find these messages in order to learn of their content.
- Milo Yiannopoulos, under the handle @Nero, tweeted the following in response to Leslie Jones:“If at first you don’t succeed (because your work is terrible), play the victim.”
“EVERYONE GETS HATE MAIL FFS https://t.co/W572qB4Vqw”
“- Milo Yiannopoulos ひ✘ (@Nero) July 18, 2016”
- Leslie Jones reported this message as abuse of Twitter terms, and blocked Milo from following her account.
Stop right here. Read Milo’s tweet a few times. While you’re doing that, ask yourself: do you see anything you would consider racist in his comments? Hold that thought.
I have been fascinated by the expansion of Milo’s reach over the last couple of months, kind of watching in disbelief as events unfolded. The plot thickened quickly. I do not have the space to recount it all in one shot- this is going to be a multiple-part post.
What is interesting to me, however, is not only the provocative crossing of lines that has landed Milo in trouble; it is also the power of the media to assassinate one’s character, the free speech implications, and the current political climate.
Reading recent coverage in the mainstream news, you might already have the impression that Milo Yiannopoulos is a misogynistic, transphobic, Islamophobic white supremacist – a real life monster. The media have propped him up as some kind of alt-right demon, an embodiment of everything nasty they’d like you to believe the new conservative movement stands for. As always, there is more to the story.
Part Two forthcoming.