Milo Yiannopoulos is a species of stand up comedian in the tradition of Lenny Bruce. The ability to shock your elders and betters has always been a winning quality.
Have a read of his article, published last year on Breitbart, in which he explains how his opponents can defeat him, and why they fail to do so.
Milo Yiannopoulos has a keen sense of how to bring the worst out of his opponents. That is because, until a few years ago, his views on the dangers of the coarsening of public discourse weren’t that different from those who oppose him. Here he is, calling for censorship, in 2012:
Glibness and superficial charm. Manipulation of others. A grandiose sense of self. Pathological lying. A lack of remorse, shame or guilt. Shallow emotions. An incapacity to feel genuine love. A need for stimulation. Frequent verbal outbursts. Poor behavioural controls. These are just some of the things that social media are encouraging in all of us. They’re also a pretty comprehensive diagnostic checklist for sociopathy – in fact, that’s where I got the list.
It’s clear that existing hate speech laws are inadequate for the social media era. And if we decide, as we perhaps might, that a lifetime ban on the internet is unworkable and disproportionately punitive, given the centrality of the internet to our professional and personal lives these days, what on earth are we to do? No one has yet offered a convincing answer. In the meantime, we are all, bit by bit, growing ever more fearful of the next wave of molestation.
If people cannot be trusted to treat one another with respect, dignity and consideration, perhaps they deserve to have their online freedoms curtailed. For sure, the best we could ever hope for is a smattering of unpopular show trials. But if the internet, ubiquitous as it now is, proves too dangerous in the hands of the psychologically fragile, perhaps access to it ought to be restricted. We ban drunks from driving because they’re a danger to others. Isn’t it time we did the same to trolls?
At some point, Milo Yiannopoulos reached the conclusion that calling for censorship, setting off fireworks in universities, and trying to get public meetings cancelled isn’t a winning strategy. That is particularly true in the United States, where the First Amendment elevates Freedom of Speech to a form of constitutional theology.
Conversely, he realized that standing up to such threats is a surefire way to popularity: particularly with those who have themselves experienced aggressive and hysterical opposition.
Imagine what would happen if – for a change – Milo Yiannopoulos were opposed by somebody with a little charm grace and humor, and who wasn’t calling for him to be gagged.
SIGN UP FOR OUR NEWSLETTER They don’t realize what a Herculean task it would be to defeat me. In fact, if the thirteenth Labour of Hercules after defeating Cerberus was “Get Milo to Shut Up” he probably would have failed miserably.