Today he’s wearing a suit and tie, as he sits onstage, with his legs crossed and his platinum blonde hair carefully smoothed over. He could’ve just as easily shown up wearing a stripper’s police uniform (he’s done that before). Nonchalant and arrogant, he laughs when the moderator asks: “Why are you so mean?”
An outspoken, alt-right journalist and speaker, with little concern for the feelings of those whom he derides openly and with clear enjoyment, Milo Yiannopoulos is not just unconventional—he’s outright offensive. He’s been banned from Twitter for harassing Leslie Jones, the Ghostbusters star and SNL favorite. He’s constantly making fun of feminists and lesbians—the latter of which he admits, “I don’t entirely believe in.” In Milo’s recent attempt to speak at UC Berkeley, riots formed in protest against him. The self-proclaimed “world’s most fabulous supervillain,” is everything the current political environment detests: politically incorrect, informal, rude, an invader of safe spaces and an unapologetically white male. And it is my honest belief that the United States, during this time and political climate, needs him.
Milo responded to the moderator’s question: “At times when it becomes socially and politically dangerous to talk about facts, [...] it takes people who are prepared to blow open the fire doors to start discussion in the first place, to even raise the subject at all.” I think this is as good a time as any to have someone like Milo come and start blowing open the fire doors.
I’ve considered deleting my Facebook several times since the election, due primarily to the reactions I’ve seen across social media. It doesn’t surprise me that silent voters brought Trump into presidency, considering the backlash that the conservative demographic has received. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that voting for Trump doesn’t mean you’re a racist, a sexist, homophobic, or an ignorant backwoods hick—just like supporting Hillary doesn’t mean you’re the paradigm of morality. Politics—and any interpersonal dynamic for that matter—is never that simple; when it appears simple, you can be sure that you’re being lied to. The current political situation is not “little lamb” liberals versus “big bad wolf” conservatives, but that is how the situation is portrayed across society and social media.
Milo Yiannopoulos fits the role of villain perfectly, because he’s complicated. He doesn’t fit any of the stereotypes against conservatives. Sure, he’s male, white, rich, and openly Catholic—but he’s also openly gay and well-educated. He argues well and cites facts, and is never apologetic. Do I agree with everything he says? No. Definitely not. But the fact that he’s speaking without allowing himself to be limited by others’ disapproval is inspiring. I’m used to stories being told from a certain political perspective, with attempts at persuasion built within the news or social media or politician’s speeches—but Milo doesn’t mince words.
Freedom of speech is inconvenient—that’s how you know it’s being used and respected. We’re not supposed to hear what we like and agree with all the time. That’s groupthink. That’s the reason why the liberal, social media millennials were so shocked when Trump was elected; they’d begun to believe that all people with the ability to reason shared a single, morally correct opinion.
When you don’t allow people from an alternate viewpoint to speak their beliefs, when it becomes popular culture to deride Trump and his supporters, freedom of speech is going to be restricted. The opportunity to fully understand the other side disappears with that—as does your knowledge of the actual state of affairs. People are going to be unpleasantly surprised until they allow for the fact that they might not know everything, and that there might be something to gain from learning the other side—at the very least, knowing your opponent’s weaknesses so that you can expose all of the faults in his argument. You don’t have to like Milo—but you should acknowledge him and his arguments if you want to be able to have an argument past “you’re a racist, you’re inconsiderate.”
I like listening to Milo because he makes me question basic assumptions I’ve formed, even outside a political perspective. Why is it that I question some beliefs but won’t allow myself to question others? Why do I consider certain topics out-of-bounds? When you’re a supervillain, you can say whatever you want, and people somehow respect you for it. The nastier the better, and if there’s intelligence behind what you’re saying, you become more dynamic. You’re allowed to be an individual, filled with contradictions and singular thoughts that are original and stimulating, that don’t necessarily fit the social norms. You’re allowed to be human, essentially, with flaws and a freethinking mind. And regardless of what my role becomes in the eyes of the public, I’d like to have that freedom.