By Olivia Pan, Opinions Editor
Recently I wrote an article entitled, “The Myth of Free Speech and Why Milo Yiannopoulos is a Whiner.” I received some positive feedback and fully expected for some to take issue with my opinion. An alumnus and I got into a verbal dust-up in the comments section about free speech and more. Our exchange is my article for this week.
- Michael Falivena HC’63: The “offensive” test and “insult” test are just too broad and harmless. If a table mate eats with her hands, is that hateful? Offensive yes, but HATEFUL? If I say I am frustrated by seniors who drive too slow, it is insulting to seniors, but HATEFUL? This new concept of “hate speech” is too often misused and is a cover for Political Correctness.
- Olivia Pan: Dear Michael, the simple definition of “hate” in Webster’s dictionary is “intense hostility and aversion, usually deriving from fear, anger, or sense of injury” or “extreme dislike or disgust.” It is my belief that the manner in which Mr. Yiannopoulos expresses himself on social media and in person is a textbook example of this definition. I am not the least bit politically correct. If you’ve read any of my other articles, you would know that. I am, however, exhausted by people who attempt to hide behind the First Amendment, when all they are engaging in is hate mongering.
- MF: You know the old saying “Sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never hurt me?” I wouldn’t expose young kids and even high school kids to Y’s words–but college students? Aren’t college students mature enough to separate the wheat from the chaff? Every time I hear about college students and professors saying it creates an “unsafe” environment, I see them whining “Mommy, make it go away!” Give me a break. Your protestations are nothing more than a cover for Political Correctness–whether you acknowledge it or not.
- OP: You and I agree on more than you think. I believe that our culture has gone over the top with political correctness, and that kills the real dialogue. However, Y was not allowed to speak due to the dangerous conditions created by the violent demonstrations, not because anyone was censoring him. As a young, bi-racial woman, possibly my perspective on what is hate mongering and hate speech is different than someone else’s. You stated that you wouldn’t expose high school students to Y’s words. Is there some magic that happens at 18, a few months after one leaves high school? The bigger question for me is why any institute of higher learning wants to give a forum to a fool and a hate monger? Why not invite the grand wizard of the KKK to speak? If you don’t think some people would feel unsafe about that, then you must be very white and very male.
- MF: I am white and I am male. I find it very interesting that you use the phrase “very white” and “very male.” By your standards, I would call your phrases hate speech. For example, supposing I called you “very bi-racial” and “very female,” how would you feel. Your use of the word “very” is subtly pejorative. Maybe you should examine your own racial and gender prejudices. In case you haven’t figured it out yet, here is one of the Principles of Political Correctness: Blacks can never be racists; only Whites can be racists. Just in case you think you and your like are the only ones to be victims of discrimination, you should know that I personally have been the victim of racial discrimination, gender discrimination, age discrimination and discrimination based on ethnic origin. As a matter of fact, older white males are the last bastion of folks that anyone can safely bash. That ever occur to you? You shouldn’t allow your sense of victimhood keep you in a bubble of victimhood. There are plenty of us out there. To answer your question as to “why an institution of higher learning (would) want to give a forum to a fool and a hate monger,” if such an institution’s highest aspiration was the pursuit of Truth, it would want to expose its students to everything in the world, the good and the bad. To do otherwise makes the institution an institution of indoctrination.
- OP: I do not doubt that any individual can be the victim of prejudice. That being said, you cannot believe that older, white men who control the vast majority of wealth in this country and who have the majority control of the government are such an endangered group in this country for bashing. The post-election hate crimes that spiked well over 6% were against Jews, African Americans, the LGBTQ community, Muslims, and Hispanics. We are now seeing a spike of hate crimes against Asians based on some of the vitriol that Trump is spewing about China. I am sorry, but I don’t see white men anywhere on that list. For white men in this country to complain that they are subject to racism is like whining about your dinner being late vs. being starving. Let’s be very realistic. Hate crimes do not exist within a vacuum. They commence with hate speech and allow oppression and abuse of others when we say and do nothing about that hate speech.
- MF: Was Obama, Sharpton, Jackson, Cummings, etc., etc. ever guilty of hate speech?
- OP: I think you’ve run off the track more than a bit here. I wrote an article about free speech and now you want to engage in verbal fisticuffs because you sense that I am clearly not a conservative, and clearly you are. I stated to you, and I stand by it, that there are vulnerable groups in this country who would absolutely, and should absolutely, feel unsafe around certain rhetoric. To deny that is to deny history. For the record, I have nothing but the greatest respect for President Obama, and given the three ring circus of this week in Washington, I miss him dearly.
- MF: You didn’t answer my question.
- OP: I’m sorry I did not answer your question in a timely manner. I was too busy setting up my foundation to support the oppressed white male masses. Let’s make a deal: I will answer your question when Mr. Trump answers a question about Russia, his taxes, or his conflict of interests with his businesses.
- MF: He answered about Russia in his new conference yesterday. Said he has never had any businesses in Russia, has no contracts with Russians, never borrowed money from Russians. There is more than one investigation under way concerning any contacts with Russians by others. Because of allowable deductions, depreciation, etc., real estate developers have low tax liabilities. Congress made those rules to encourage building buildings, which is great for jobs and the economy. Who is alleging that he has conflicts of interest? Give details of allegations. You obviously didn’t watch the press conference. Where do you get your news, from MSNBC, NBC, ABC, CBS, Black Lives Matter, CNN, etc? Suggest you stop swallowing their narrative hook line and sinker. Start thinking for yourself. Remember: If you’re not Liberal in your 20’s you have no heart; if you’re not Conservative by your 50’s you have no brains. Thanks. Keep up the good work. Good luck in your studies.
- OP: By the way, when I mentioned that I was bi-racial, you assumed immediately that I was black and white. I think that shows your limited world view. Bi-racial can mean many things such as being of European and Chinese descent, which is what I am. And lastly, truly intelligent people understand that one must have both a heart and a brain to survive. To state that I am not thinking for myself because I do not agree with you is somewhat insulting. I’ve been thinking for myself since I could tie my shoes. Don’t read my latest article because your head will probably explode. Have a great day and I will keep up the good work. Best to you.
That ended our exchange. I want to clarify that I do not see Milo Y as anything but a self-loathing, abusive narcissist making a buck. He is a fame whore who crashed and burned in England, failed to pay his employees, allegedly failed to file the proper documents for his Privilege Grant (his white boy-only scholarship grant) and has yet to disburse any funds. He is a fraud, but the alt-right is not. It is a polished up version of a white supremacy agenda and he is inciting that hatred and making it cool. He offers no substance or debate. He laughs all the way to the bank while his white male following eats up every last morsel.
Photograph courtesy of pbs.org