Milo quotes spark ‘homophobia’ scare at UC Irvine
The University of California, Irvine is encouraging students to attend “Safe Zone training” in response to the “offensive language” used to advertise an upcoming appearance by Milo Yiannopoulos.
According to The Tab, members of the Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) and College Republicans (CR) student groups placed several provocative posters around campus promoting Yiannopoulos’ speech, sparking a backlash from classmates on social media and condemnation from the administration.
The event will be titled “Social Justice is Cancer,” alluding to a comment Yiannopoulos made recently at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst that reduced one progressive student to hysterics, a now-viral temper tantrum caught on video by Campus Reform.
Playing on Yiannopoulos’ theme of antagonizing liberals with humorous references to his own homosexuality (his current speaking tour is called the “Dangerous Faggot” tour), the posters include messages such as “Make America *Gay* Again” and “If you can take a dick, you can take a joke!!!”
By Friday, the outcry had become so great that some students began to fear that the university would try to cancel the event, though others said they appreciated the online outrage for making them aware of Yiannopoulos’ appearance.
Dr. Douglas Haynes, UCI Vice Provost for Academic Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, subsequently sent an email to the campus community Monday night denouncing the “offensive language” used in the posters and recommending that students participate in “ Safe Zone training,” which Haynes credits with helping him become an “ally” to the LGBT community.
“Homophobia—as well as other forms of bias—contradicts our campus’ enduring commitment to inclusive excellence. Let me be clear: Bigotry has no place here or anywhere,” Haynes wrote. “This type of incident should be a reminder about what connects us: UCI. Every member of our community has chosen to come to UCI to learn and teach and explore and create in an environment that is supportive and affirmative.”
The incident is “all the more distressing,” he added, because “it occurred a day after the third annual Anteater Equity Games,” which are dedicated to “learning about and appreciating the richness of our campus diversity, including the lesbian, bisexual, gay, transgender, and queer community.”
The UCI College Republicans responded to Haynes’ email with posts on the Facebook event page for Yiannopoulos’ speech, lamenting that the administration felt compelled to condemn the posters and pointing out that there was no such reaction when unnamed students tore down posters advertising an address by David Horowitz last week.
“The posters we created to promote the event, I have been told, invaded some ‘safe spaces’,” CR President Ariana Rowlands told The Tab. “Despite their controversial nature, the posters generated a reaction … The posters did their job: they created a thought within the minds of students that they would not have otherwise had.”
The YAL group, however, was more circumspect, issuing a statement acknowledging that some of its members were involved in hanging the “inflammatory” posters, but adamantly denying that the messages had any official sanction, even as the group defended their content.
Pointing out that “the statements made on these posters are strictly direct quotes from Milo Yiannopoulos,” YAL argues that “anyone who takes issue with use of homophobic slurs ought to note that Milo has titled his speaking tour as ‘The Dangerous Faggot Tour’ and this is simply a statement of fact, not at all an attempt to be derogatory.”
The group then goes on to distance itself from the posters, saying “our love of free speech is tempered with the recognition that inflammatory speech for the sake of being inflammatory is largely meritless,” and explaining that the goal in bringing Yiannopoulos to campus is merely “to bring an alternate perspective [to] the largely liberal and politically correct culture on our campus.”
On Sunday night, the CRs announced that the event had been postponed until June 2 due to scheduling conflicts with Yiannopoulos’ other tour dates (he had originally been scheduled to appear on May 24), but Rowlands reassured those interested in attending that she had spoken with administrators, who told her the university has “no intention of shutting it down whatsoever.”
Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @FrickePete