Restricting access to the former Breitbart editor to speak is not an attack on the First Amendment. But it is consistent with our Augustinian identity.
Ever since the provocative figure Milo Yiannopoulos was prevented from speaking at UC Berkeley, a debate on free speech broke out on whether or not it was wrong to do so.
This debate ended when video footage allegedly showed Yiannopoulos, an openly gay man, defending child abuse saying that it was a “coming of age” relationship for many young gay boys to have relationships with older men.
His invitation to speak at the Conservative Political Action Committee was rescinded, his book deal canceled, and he resigned from his editorial position at the right-wing publication Breitbart.
Many people who defended Yiannopoulos and said he should have spoken at UC Berkeley soon turned against him. What I’m saying is, why did it take so long for people to say this about him?
The last time he spoke at a college campus, he pointed out a transgender student in the audience at UW Milwaukee and mocked her, saying that she did not “pass” as a woman and intimated that she did such a bad job he would consider having sex with her.
Now, I wouldn’t be saying it was right to deny him a platform if that was all he did or said. Yiannopoulos is just one figurehead of the “alt-right” movement encompassing figures like Richard Spencer, advocate for “peaceful ethnic cleansing,” to your average Breitbart columnist.
What this movement has done is to allow for hateful speech to re-enter our collective dialogue and endanger minority groups that have historically and systematically repressed.
There are a multitude of reasons why I would support restricting the availability of platforms for the likes of Spencer and Yiannopoulos politically, and I can go through each and every one of them individually until I’m red in the face. I won’t do that here in this column, however.
What I will say is that this is just common decency. When we were being raised as children, our parents told us that we should be kind, polite, and considerate to everyone we meet in the world. Those three words are not what I would use to describe Yiannopoulos, and I hope I’m not alone when I say that.
Before the child abuse tapes came into our consciousness, people did not defend Yiannopoulos’ words, but defended his ability to speak to people on college campuses. However, after the tapes emerged, people quickly shut their mouths. We as a society drew the line at child abuse — and rightfully so — but can we not be a more kind and polite society than drawing the line at child abuse?
The speech of Yiannopoulos is not only repugnant and horribly offensive, but it goes against everything Malvern instills in us through our Augustinian values. We can’t be all in for these values when we’re on campus and discard them when we live the ring road, or else we’re no better than the hypocrites Jesus warned us about.
From day one, we are told that everyone here at Malvern is a brother of ours. They may be white, black, Catholic, Protestant, gay, straight, or even cis or transgender. Our values of Veritas, Unitas, and Caritas as well as the Gospels compel us to be loving to all inside and outside of Malvern Prep.
That is the reason why I believe restricting a platform for Yiannopoulos was the best thing for us as a society to do. Jesus taught that what we do for the least of us we do for Him, and if we allow others to make them feel marginalized, threatened, afraid, or unwanted we do that to Him.
I understand that people like Yiannopoulos will always have a platform to spew their hatred in this country. What we as a Malvern community need to realize that sometimes drawing the line on some speakers may not be in accordance to a marketplace of ideas or of free speech, but will allow us to better exhibit the Augustinian values we hold so dearly here at Malvern.