Breitbart editor and bon vivant, Milo Yiannopoulos, is the ultimate troll. Eloquent, mischievous, and energetic, Yiannopoulos has a unique brand. Avowedly explicit about his sex life, and reveling in British-accented disdain, Yiannopoulos has won many followers. Most weeks he’s traveling across America to address crowds of college students. And Milo’s is a lucrative endeavor. Combined with his book deals and other speaking earnings, Yiannopoulos earns hundreds of thousands of dollars each year.
Yet, Yiannopoulos also holds firm to some rather odd views. He refers to President Trump as “Daddy,” and before being banned from Twitter, Yiannopoulos regularly incited his followers to engage in sexist rants.
That said, in a net-positive to a net-negative comparison, Yiannopoulos is good for society.
First off, he’s honest. Milo knows he’s a troll and he makes no effort to deny it. But he deserves credit for that honesty. Today, far too many commentators gravitate to fulfill the editorial line of their media outlet. They say what they say because they know that doing so will earn them their keep. Yiannopoulos, however, says whatever he says because he wants to spark controversy. He regards self-censorship as a natural wrong, and his supporters love this. Ask a Yiannopoulos fan why they like him, and you’ll hear simple answers like: “his honesty,” “his humor,” “his hatred of political correctness.”
That latter point, aversion to political correctness, is where Yiannopoulos provides value to our society. And he often does so with a sense of humor. Facing college students who reject the left’s self-flagellating fetishism (encouraging white students to recognize their “white privilege” etc.), Milo has set up a scholarship fund for white male students. It’s a gimmick, but one that the left and many in the media cannot help themselves but bite at. They flail with fury, giving Yiannopoulos the attention he desires.
And this is where the cleverness of Milo’s game becomes apparent. Because when it comes to it, Milo’s supporters are not those who buy his books and enjoy his speeches, but those who hate his books and protest his speeches. Rather than ignore him, Milo-haters overplay their hand. Sometimes their protests are violent, but they are always loud and disruptive. Regardless, by disrupting Milo’s events, the far-left makes Milo’s case for him. Leftist disruption proves that they do not tolerate debate that challenges their orthodox thought.
Yes, much of what Milo says is unpleasant. But by drawing out those who would silence all speech, Milo highlights the threat to free speech in our modern society. It’s no surprise then that so many students support Milo. They know that on their college campuses, anti-speech threats are very real. Too many academics are extraordinarily biased. And too many activist students believe their viewpoints are more equal (to borrow a term from Animal Farm) than the views of others with who they disagree. In this sense, Milo is the ultimate irony. He preaches silly, but mild-intolerance so as to draw out physical and structural intolerance. And the left can’t help but be enraged.
Tonight, Yiannopoulos will be at UC-Berkeley. The Police forces are standing by, the protesters are readying their placards, and Milo’s supporters have their tickets in hand.
Milo? He’s just looking forward to another night of lucrative show business.