Conservative troll Milo Yiannopoulos is scheduled to speak at Pennsylvania State University at a November 3 event called “Pray the Gay Away,” a nod to his recent claim that he is a “ex-gay.”
In an open letter to students, university officials wrote that they oppose his presence but cannot cancel the event due to First Amendment free speech rights.
The letter — signed by the university’s vice president, vice president of student affairs, and vice provost for educational equity — called Yiannopoulos “odious” and “divisive” and said his views are “antithetical to Penn State’s values.”
“Yet as offensive and hurtful as Yiannopoulos’s comments have been and are likely to be again, and despite our own abhorrence for such statements and the promotional tactics used, Uncensored America (the student group that invited Yiannopoulos to speak on campus) that has the undeniable Constitutional right to sponsor this presentation on our campus. The University lacks the right to do anything to stop it,” the letter said.
Student organizations may select invite speakers to campus without the university’s endorsement, the letter added.
“But let us be clear,” the letter continued, “at his core, Yiannopoulos is a social provocateur — a personality whose central public purpose is to deliberately create controversy, hurt and disruption. That is something we all should recognize.”
Instead of being “baited into reacting” and ensuring him the “national attention a provocateur craves,” the letter’s authors advised students who “oppose bigotry, misogyny, transphobia, and anyone who is determined to make their living by dividing us” to ignore Yiannopoulos and instead “[express] care and support for those who are the object of his hate.”
Yiannopoulos’s speaking engagement was spearheaded by the student group Uncensored America, which was founded last year. The group called him the “ultimate free speech martyr,” according to the Centre Daily Times. In a statement, the group said it invited him to “facilitate an honest and open dialogue on controversial issues.”
“The reaction to our event — with many demanding Penn State cancels it just because they don’t like Milo — proves we don’t live in an environment where people can truly speak freely,” the group’s statement read. “We don’t live in a country where we can have an open conversation without fear of intimidation or censorship. We cannot grow and live in a better nation if we aren’t willing to discuss any issue from all sides.”
If one of the “controversial issues” is conversion therapy, then it’s hard to see what other side needs to be discussed at a university. The practice is a pseudoscientific form of psychological torture that claims to change people’s sexual orientation or gender identity. It has been disavowed as ineffective and harmful by every major professional American mental health organization.
In response to Yiannopoulos’s event, the university’s LGBTQ organization, Lion PRIDE, and other groups will host a “Spread Love, Not Hate” event on campus on the same night as Yiannopoulos’ speech.
Yiannopoulos spent years growing a fanbase for his misogynist, racist, and transphobic antics, which came crumbling down when he was accused of defending pedophilia. He didn’t take it well and acted out for years, and last November he swore “vengeance” against Republicans after Donald Trump lost his reelection bid.
Since being de-platformed from most social media networks, Yiannopoulos has since appeared on the far-right conspiracy theory web show Info Wars to sell useless nutritional supplements. He is nearly $2 million in debt due to wedding and legal costs and also served as the grand marshal of Boston’s Straight Pride parade (which was attended by a whopping 100 people).
Recently as proof that he’s “ex-gay,” he threw his “sodomy stone” — his $150,000 engagement ring — into the ocean while drunk on a boat.