Imagine a barren world where hateful posters inscribed with derogatory and demeaning messages span your horizon. You find people screeching, jeering, and crying with frustration. You find yourself stuck in the middle of a herd of people and they seem to creep ever so slowly towards a lone figure. The shrieks and screams get obnoxiously louder and your eardrums seem to give away. As you move closer to the lone figure, you find that he is towering over the rest in a cool cashmere sweater. Pure white pearls glisten on his wrists and his Raybans are the only thing shimmering in this dark, desolate and morbid world. He coolly chuckles and throws a smirk at the crowd. This only agitates them further and they screech in unison, “We hate Milo.” This is how the media has portrayed the University of California, Berkeley campus. However, this poignant and morbid story is far from the truth.
Milo Yiannopoulos is the bane of Berkeley’s existence. He is the leader of the alt-right movement, and recently, he was invited to speak at Berkeley about the significance of free speech. I was really intrigued by his ideologies and his outlook on free speech. So, naturally, I decided to carry out on an in-depth investigation on him. While studying his relationship with free speech, I reflected inwardly, and I realized that I often didn’t voice my opinion. Sometimes, this was due to societal expectations and others because I was just too scared. Either which ways, there were a few things that I found fishy about his actions and speech So, here is a compilation of it in the form of an open letter to Yiannopoulos:
Dear Milo Yiannopoulos,
You believe that people can, be, do and say anything. However, when people react to your comments, opinions, thoughts, and speeches, you are quite violent with your criticism. For instance, you berated Berkeley for not letting you speak during Free Speech Week. However, you didn’t seem to look at it from their perspective. Firstly, they are a university, so their priority is to keep students satisfied. Even the thought of having you on campus had intense fire and protests, so having you speak would be a total nightmare. Students aren’t the only stakeholders; parents, faculty members and fellow citizens voiced their opinion during the Free Speech Week debate conducted by Chancellor Carol Christ. Looking at it from their perspectives, it wouldn’t make sense to spend millions of dollars on security just so to see you abuse your free speech rights. In fact, it would no longer be free speech if they had to spend ridiculous amounts of money on security and logistics. Thus, I believe that neither your intentions nor your execution are moral and logical. In fact, they reek of malice and spite.
Furthermore, you are cheeky and obnoxious and I think that there is a better way to implement your ideologies! To make people realize that they are being too politically correct, you can’t do the complete opposite and expect people to understand the consequences. That is shrewd and vague! For example, you made a short speech at the #TheTriggering at the UMass stating,
Feminism is cancer.
To you, this might be a big joke, and other Alt-rights might agree with you. Even, I found it hilarious! I loved how you built anticipation by only to blurt one sentence and leave rather dramatically in a wake of silence. I was laughing out of surprise and consternation! But, the thing is I haven’t known anyone who has died from cancer or fought relentlessly for equality. I don’t know anyone who has to lose their close ones to the vicious claws of cancer nor do I know of anyone who has been ridiculed, mocked, bullied for dreaming of an equal world. I am just a seventeen-year-old Indian aspiring to become an astrophysicist. So, I wouldn’t think much of your comment. But, when I honestly think about what you said, I wonder how others would react. I wonder how people who have gone through cancer or been discriminated for their gender will react? And I realize that it is a sensitive issue. I realize that no one should make such harsh and flippant comments because it seems like you are mocking them. Now, predictably, you might say that that’s exactly what you are fighting against: you want people to be able to say whatever they want without having to face hate from the left. But, you must understand that there is a reason for the left’s political correctness. They are looking out for those “minority groups” that can’t stand up for themselves and those who have risked so much only to be demeaned by your shrewd, offensive, and obnoxious comments. Of course, the number of “groups” are increasing exponentially. What I mean by groups are the labels that people are categorized under. There are so many labels now that you have to be extra careful so as not to offend anyone. So, instead of just provoking people and then doing anything about it, you could help eradicate labels, just as Logic, the rapper did. He is a provocateur in the traditional sense, and he used his platform to send out a powerful and thought-provoking message:
I just want to take a moment right now and thank you for giving me a platform to talk about something that mainstream media doesn’t want to talk about: mental health, anxiety, suicide, depression and so much more that I talk about on this album,” Logic, who performed the song with Alessia Cara, Khalid, and men and women who had survived suicide attempts.
From racism, discrimination, sexism, domestic violence, sexual assault, and so much more; I don’t give a damn if you are black, white, or any color in between. I don’t care if you’re Christian, you’re Muslim, you’re gay, you’re straight, I am here to fight for your equality. Because I believe that we are all born equal, but we are not treated equally and that is why we must fight. We must fight for the equality of every man, woman, and child regardless of race, religion, color, creed, and sexual orientation.
– Logic, VMAs
You could also use your position to send out powerful and meaningful messages about free speech rather than just provoking the leftist Democrats and leaving it at that. Of course, I am implicitly instigating you to send a message like Logic’s! I am not restricting you; I am simply trying to show you what you could do, what power you have at your fingertips, and how you could influence the younger generation at your whims and fancies.
What I also find interesting is your belief that the range of acceptable thoughts and opinions that one can safely express is becoming narrower and narrower with time. I completely agree with you on that one, but I think it is an illusion. To clarify, it might seem like it is getting harder to express yourself without offending others, but I highly doubt that that’s the case. It’s clearly not bad as it was in the 60s, and it’s certainly not as horrible as it was in the 1860s. What I mean to say is that we are talking about race, sexual orientation, gender equality, and religion more clearly and openly than we ever have in the history of this Universe. So, when people say that it is getting harder to eloquently voice your thoughts and opinions, I disagree. People are just becoming more passionate about what they believe in. Of course, sometimes people get too passionate and so it gets hard to have a healthy conversation. But, then again, too much of anything is bad, and that’s a whole another story!
Although there are a few things that we completely agree on, there are a greater number of things that we completely disagree with. And you have taught me that that’s okay. I think that’s a big step in accepting one another. So, thank you for teaching me and making me realize what it means to be different and accepting.
Until next time, you can go on blabbering nonsensical, humorous rubbish while intermittently sharing insightful thoughts, and I will continue to explore your ideologies from the unchartered perspective of a seventeen-year-old Indian!