Monday, December 19, 2016

Stop Appeasing Bullies Like Milo Yiannopoulos

My faith in the current leadership of this country and its institutions is pretty much zero. It's not hard to see why when you see shit like this happening.

I won't summarize that article. I'll just advise you to read it before you continue to read to the next paragraph.

My first criticism will be for the mainstream media and their consistent, infuriating failure to accurately call people like Milo what they are. Bullies. They are NOT "trolls." They're bullies. Milo and the rest of the alt-right filth like him. Milo isn't some mischievous gadfly or edgy rebel fighting off a tyrannical "politically correct" mainstream. He's a vile, cruel, petty sociopath driven purely by the desire to bring human suffering to very real people for no reason other than that he enjoys it.

He rose to prominence in late 2014 by spearheading GamerGate--a group of reactionaries and anti-feminists gamers--in an attempt to drive feminist voices out of gaming, whether they be players, critics, journalists, or developers. Considering how apathetic the gaming community is towards social issues in general, it's no surprise that they were unsuccessful. The majority of gaming celebrities on YouTube ignored GamerGate completely.

When GamerGate fizzled out, Milo decided to take to harassing people he didn't like on Twitter, mostly leftists. Technically, he didn't do the harassing himself, he allowed his fans to do that for him by quote tweeting his targets. Over the summer, he did this star of the Ghostbusters reboot, Leslie Jones, and the resulting barrage of racist and misogynistic harassment she received resulted in Milo being suspended from Twitter permanently. He still has his job at Breitbart, where he regularly writes poorly-written, unfunny, vacuous drivel that would embarrass a 7th Grader. And he goes on "tours" of college campuses regularly as well.

This is insane to me. Why are colleges inviting the man to speak? I hear answers like, "it challenges students by opening them up to new ideas and different perspectives." That's a load of bullshit! He's as bad a writer as he is a human being. Are college deans reading his shit and thinking, "This is an intelligent example of right-wing thought; let's invite him to speak?" If they are, why not invite every troll that's ever shitposted on 4chan? Why not invite the people raging about the evils of feminism on Reddit? The speeches Milo gives and the articles he writes are on the exact same level of intellectual merit as the rest of those guys. His articles have titles like, "Trannies Are Gay," and "Master Baiters: The Leftists keeping America's Race War Alive." Nothing he offers is going to sound like a new perspective to anyone who's ever been on the Internet ever.

When Milo was invited to the University of Milwaukee, he inevitably degraded a transgender student. This is what he does. He degrades and dehumanizes people from marginalized minority groups, and turns them into objects of ridicule. A near textbook example of bullying. Doing exactly what he's done here caused him to get banned from Twitter back in July. And given how publicized his banning was--it opened a brief debate online about how far is too far when it comes to free speech, and should it still be considered free speech if he's inciting harassment on people--there's no way the leaders of UWM couldn't have suspected something like this would happen if he invited him on campus to speak.

The chancellor of UWM, Mark Mone, did the typical damage control routine that people in power tend to do when they fuck up and it causes someone to get hurt. He released an e-mail to the campus where he said he was “disappointed” that Milo “chose to attack a transgender student.” Wow. A guy who campaigned to have the “T” dropped from “LGBT,” and who has a track record of calling trans people, “trannies,” “freaks,” and “mentally ill,” and spread libel against a trans person by the name of Sarah Nyberg, decided to attack a trans person? Who could possibly have guessed that?

 As for Milo stirring up shit on a college campus, it’s not like he hasn’t done this before. He did so several times earlier this year. His entire schtick is to provoke people into an emotional reaction by saying and writing horrible things. He created a charity called, “the Privilege Grant,” which was exclusively for white men, for God’s sake. A grant that, by the way, was discovered to be a scam back in August.

No, Milo has a clear pattern of singling out marginalized people and targeting them for abuse. He specializes in targeting activists for progressive ideas, slandering them, and trying to ruin their lives. He's what a bully looks like all grown-up. Why he still has an entire college campus tour planned out--why campuses are inviting him at all--is beyond me. He has nothing of intellectual merit to offer our students.

Those are just two examples of what to expect from Milo. Not worthy of speaking on any campus. 

I think I know why he keeps getting invited, though. Our establishment is full of cowards. They believe in the balance fallacy. Lest they be accused of "censorship" or "suppressing conservative speech," they feel the need to give a platform to people who would have never have been considered intelligent conservative voices in the past. Can you imagine a ridiculous internet troll being invited to speak on college campuses--places of Higher Fucking Education--even five years ago? I couldn't have. But over the last several years, the media have been inviting increasingly extreme and ridiculous people to speak publicly, whether or not these people had anything of merit to add to national discourse. In 2011, the media decided to give Donald Trump a platform to bullshit about Obama's Birth Certificate. In 2013, Bobby Jindal was giving the Duck Dynasty cast the opportunity to speak on behalf of "conservative principles." What political experience did the Robertsons have? What knowledge did they have on the country's issues? Apparently, these questions weren't important, because the media treated these people as worthy of helping shape national discourse. 

Milo being mainstreamed is a continuation in this decline of standards. With various political clickbait sites (Breitbart is one of the worst of these) spreading wildly inaccurate information over social media in the blink of an eye, mainstream media sources have lowered their standards of accuracy and research so that they can compete. This results in ridiculous buffoons like the Robertsons, like Trump, like Milo, being invited to speak on CNN, FOX News, ABC, you name it. This increases their media exposure, and effectively normalizes them. Because of this, university leaders are more willing to invite these idiots into the lecture halls, instead of more qualified and more experienced individuals. University leaders--especially those higher up--are older and have less knowledge of the internet and social media, and aren't as likely to be aware of who people like Milo actually are.

That being said, Mark Mone has no excuse. Because Milo stirred up enough mainstream attention when he was banned from Twitter for inciting racist harassment of Leslie Jones back in July. At the very least, he could have done some research. But no, he invites Milo to the campus, and wouldn't you know it, he uses this opportunity to incite people against another minority. Only this time, it was a lot worse. At least with Leslie Jones, she was a celebrity with a large fanbase and several friends in the industry who could come to her defense (she also didn't take the abuse lying down, she dished out quite a bit of it herself against her attackers). The trans student that Milo targeted? She had none of those advantages. If you read this student's response to Mone's e-mail, you'll discover that, like many trans people, her life has been hell. Having no friends while growing up is hard, and I can't even imagine how feeling trapped in the wrong body must feel like. Then she is publicly humiliated in the most degrading way imaginable. Milo showed a picture of her from when she was still transitioning in front of a crowded lecture hall. He joked about her "fuckability."

 The worst parts where when he describes her as a predator, "forcing" her way into the girls locker room. "He got into the women's locker room the way liberals always operate, using the government and the courts to weasel their way where they don't belong." This is dehumanizing rhetoric. Milo is making her out to be more of a thing than a human being. Ben Tillman did this to black people. Joseph Goebbels did this to the Jews. And now Milo Yiannopoulos does this to trans people. This type of rhetoric is called demonization. Its consequences? At best, de facto discrimination (an in cases such as North Caroline, de jure discrimination as well). At worst, violence and hate crimes. 24 trans people have been murdered in America in 2016 as of last month

Aside from expressing "disappointment," Mark Mone also said that he will "not stand silently by while a member of our campus community is personally and wrongly attacked!" Mr. Mone, that's exactly what you fucking did! According to this student, you were informed several times about Milo's true nature before his speech, and heeded none of the warnings. Hell, according to her, you called the cops on a student group that organized a protest to cancel Milo's speech. Way to listen to their concerns! Way to show support to your students!

The only response Mark Mone had to this was damage control and to encourage a lame hashtag, #UWMstandstogether. They clearly DO NOT stand together! If they did, Milo would never have been invited in the first place. People will defend Mone, saying that "it's the leasts he could have done." They're right. It LITERALLY is the least he could have fucking done! I suspect Mone's motivations for inviting Milo to speak stem from the recent "Professor Watchlist," going around social media. Since the Bush years at least, a popular right-wing conspiracy theory is that college professors are "indoctrinating" students to become radical Leftists. I remembering seeing this bogeyman for the first time ten years ago, as a Freshman in High School. My thoughts at the time were, "wow, you guys are really fucking desperate to avoid any acknowledgement of the fact that the Iraq War is a fucking disaster and that there are perfectly legitimate reasons to be opposed to it." These were the same people that would push the "Obama is a radical Muslim Marxist who was born in Kenya" line of bullshit during the 2008 election. 

When the Right swept into power after the 2010 midterms, they gained control of all decisions regarding social and budgetary policy in many states, including Wisconsin, where UWM is located. Wisconsin politicians have proposed cuts in state funded grants to universities several times already. When the default response of Milo and his ilk is to cry censorship if they're not invited, UWM runs the risk of being perceived as politically biased--or the more scary sounding, "agenda driven," if you prefer. Since the Right has power in Wisconsin's government currently, UWM leadership is afraid of any bad PR that politicians could use to stir up popular support for funding cuts. As a result, UWM invites Milo to speak, heedless of the risks and consequences. 

There's an insidious element to all of this. The rise of Milo--and the mainstream media's treatment of him as a legitimate voice against "political correctness" rather than as the pathetic, loathsome bully that he is--is Orwellian in nature. Milo is as successful as he is because he casts himself as some sort of courageous voice against "PC Culture," against "feminism," against "social justice warriors." He rose to fame by hopping on the GamerGate bandwagon with a Breitbart article accusing "feminist bullies" of "tearing the gaming industry apart." Calling him out for inciting harassment would get you called a "professional victim," or a "crybully." For the months that GamerGate were relevant, they operated by using 4chan-style trolling raids. People who spoke out on social media were inundated with slurs and death threats. They justified this by claiming that their victims were "popular bullies appropriating gaming culture," or some shit. They cast themselves as the victims, and their targets as the bullies who were shoving diversity and SJW propaganda down their throats. Their aggression was justified--in their own minds--because they were being bullied by the people they targeted, and if their victims fought back it was "proof" that they were the bullies. Classic doublethink. 

GamerGate fizzled out in little over a year, but it's brief prominence and treatment as a legitimate group by the mainstream media enabled another group of Internet reactionaries--the alt-right--the rise in its place. Milo has been a major voice for the alt-right--I'd say he's one of their most recognizable "celebrities," for want of a better word. The alt-right was a dark corner of the internet only a few years the last year and a half, it's become a small but burgeoning cottage industry for young reactionaries. Breitbart, previously just a more belligerent and less factual online version of Fox News, has become the biggest site for the alt-right. 4chan is a big online voice for the alt-right as well, and tends to be much more overtly racist and bigoted than Breitbart. (It should be noted that Milo has used 4chan boards as "evidence" for his various libelous claims against his enemies). There are several YouTube channels dedicated to expressing alt-right ideology, such as Millennial Woes, Black Pigeon Speaks, Naked Ape, Davis Aurini, and Milo himself. Other YouTubers that aren't alt-right, but are sympathetic to the cause (i.e. "anti-feminist, anti-PC, and anti-SJW") include Sargon of Akkad, Chris Ray Gun, Undoomed, and Dave Rubin. All these people rant against "political correctness" and how regular everyday people are threatened by feminism/sjws/immigration/muslims/multiculturalism/insert-boogeyman-here. Does this sound familiar? 

A certain someone ran for President and fucking won by utilizing this kind of rhetoric. It's the kind of rhetoric that spreads fear and paranoia into the hearts and minds of the populace. And this kind of rhetoric has been mainstreamed by the media in frightening ways. Observe Mother Jones referring to alt-right founding father Richard Spencer as "dapper." This New York Magazine article details how the alt-right uses style as a propaganda tool. Milo Yiannopoulos is not an exception to this. Although he certainly does not dress in a manner than anyone would consider, "dapper," he dresses up in a way that makes him look a douchebag. Still, Milo doesn't look like your stereotypical neo-Nazi. He often looks completely ridiculous and impossible to take seriously. In other words, unthreatening. But I think I've proven him to be anything but that.

I think most of the people who don't believe in what Milo says haven't been taking him seriously. A lot of people thought the same about Donald Trump, and he's now President-Elect. I've seen a distressingly low amount of people speak out against these people, too. The people who did got shamed, trolled, and slandered on social media. Several people have had to delete their accounts. They were wrong to do that. Because by doing that, we are appeasing them. We're giving them what they want, which is power over us. Don't let the trolls and the bullies try and wreck your lives because you called them out on their bullshit. Continue to fight on. We need as many people speaking out against the likes of Milo as possible. 

Think back to when your were in Middle School or High School. The worst response you could have made is dropping out due to being bullied. You don't give into bullies, you stand up to them. Right now, a bully has been elected President. Milo and the rest of the alt-right? Those are the group of bullies that try to rule the school by terrorizing everyone else. Mark Mone and the mainstream media? They're the teachers and authority figures that do nothing no matter how many times you tell them you're getting bullied, and no matter how much proof you have of whose doing it to you. What's that make me? I guess that makes me the kid that's tired of seeing bullies get off easy--or worse, seeing authority figures side with them. 

I don't know the student that Milo targeted personally. I don't know any of his victims personally. But I sure as fuck know what bullying is--what predatory behavior is--and I'm tired of seeing nobody speak out against it. If society won't condemn them, I will! I'll do so in more than just this blog post--I'll make this into a YouTube video as well.

I'm not a celebrity. I'm not a leader. I'm just another nobody with an Internet connection and lot to say. If the trolls notice this, if they try to run me off of social media, I'll just use their comments as comedy for my next blog post or video. I'm not going anywhere. I'm just getting started.