Controversial Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos to speak at WSU Thursday
Update Thursday, Jan. 19: Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos’ scheduled speech at Washington State University-Pullman tonight has been canceled, the WSU College Republicans announced on their Facebook page.
–Whether students like it or not, Milo Yiannopoulos is coming to Pullman.
The provocative far-right commentator is scheduled to speak at Washington State University on Thursday evening, less than a week after one of his speeches was canceled at the University of California, Davis.
Yiannopoulos, who is British and identifies as gay, is an editor of the “alt-right” Breitbart News website and is permanently banned from Twitter for leading a harassment campaign against “Ghostbusters” actress Leslie Jones. Since September he has visited dozens of college campuses as part of his “Dangerous Faggot” speaking tour.
There were rumblings that his WSU appearance would be canceled, too, as the event briefly disappeared from the calendar on his tour website. But a spokesman for Yiannopoulos said Wednesday the event will move forward.
Many students have taken to social media to voice opposition to his visit, and some have organized separate events in part to steal attention from Yiannopoulos.
“He obviously thrives off controversy,” said Hannah Krauss, a public relations manager who lives in Pullman and helped organize an event in neighboring Moscow, Idaho, at the same time as Yiannopoulos’ speech.
Another event titled “Civics 101” will take place in a different building on the WSU campus. Hosted by the Whitman County Democrats and other progressive groups, it’s billed on Facebook as a “refreshing, socially productive alternative to Milo.”
WSU spokesman Rob Strenge said he’s not aware of any organized protests.
In the run-up to Thursday’s appearance, the WSU College Republicans hosted an online fundraiser to pay for a private security detail – a requirement implemented by the campus police department. The club’s president, James Allsup, wrote on the GoFundMe page that the university waited “until the last minute” to inform him of the requirement.
Breitbart News has accused WSU and other schools of selectively enforcing security requirements to censor Yiannopoulos and other conservative speakers. WSU’s assistant police chief has disputed those allegations, according to a report in the student newspaper, the Daily Evergreen.
Allsup did respond to a message seeking comment Wednesday.
Yiannopoulos is known for singling out and harassing individuals online and in speeches. He’s also scheduled to speak Friday at the University of Washington.
Thousands of people have asked WSU President Kirk Schulz and UW President Ana Mari Cauce to cancel the appearances, reigniting debates about freedom of speech on college campuses.
Itai Bradshaw, an emergency medical technician who helped organize the Moscow event, said the goal is to show “that you don’t have to be silent when you see something that you know is wrong.”