Opinion: Do not let Milo Yiannopoulos' event turn ASU into Berkeley

The sick normalization of violence against conservative views should not be tolerated

On Friday, Feb. 23, Milo Yiannopoulos will be speaking in Phoenix at an undisclosed location. The purpose of the secrecy surrounding this upcoming event is to deter potential rioting and protesting from occurring outside of the venue.

The location will not be disclosed until 24 hours prior to the event. The event is being presented by marketing organization XVSocial.

Yiannopoulos, a notoriously provocative and outspoken figure, is known to attract violent riots and protests at his events, especially those involving college campuses. Recent events at the University of California Berkeley illuminate the intolerance that lives within college campuses, preventing numerous conservative speakers from having a chance to practice First Amendment rights. 

No matter the views of the speaker, it is ridiculous that a conservative activist must refuse to disclose the location of an event in order to avoid violent protests from taking place.

The head of one of the organizations involved said that while he had originally planned to have Yiannopoulos come to ASU's campus, talks had broken down for several reasons, including that ASU feared protests.

"When we were in negotiations with our club and ASU, we got a lot of pushback," said Richard Thomas, president of College Republicans United (not to be confused with the ASU College Republicans) and primary education senior. "They didn’t say no, but they did tell us to reconsider. A big label is that if you support Milo, you’re alt-right, which isn't true. There’s no hard feelings against them, but it is partly why ASU wasn’t considered to be a venue for this event." 

The normalization of college students’ intolerance towards conservative views is frankly ridiculous. Yiannopoulos’ decision not to disclose the location of his event is warranted by the riots that have occurred in the past, but it should not be necessary. 

ASU students should protest if they so desire, but they should not restrict fellow citizens and students from attending Yiannopoulos’ event. Peaceful protest is the answer, especially in a situation where a speaker has repeatedly been shut down by far-left groups.

College students should not be so opposed to a different opinion that they resort to violence, rioting and destruction. Limiting the disclosure of the event to 24 hours prior may prevent a larger-scale protest from the public, but with enough dedication, I fear a lot can happen in a day’s time. 

Students should not let ASU become Berkeley. 

With ASU being an incredibly diverse campus, it is necessary that students support differing political perspectives. Having difficult conversations about policy, economics and social issues is crucial to unifying ASU’s campus and providing opportunities for compromise. 

If students do violently protest and riot at this event, it will be disgraceful to ASU’s diverse reputation. Preventing others from attending Yiannopoulos’ speech violates the First Amendment rights of both the speaker and the attendees. 

"I don’t think there will be any riots," Thomas said. "There will probably be a scuffle, somebody pushing a police officer — that's very likely. But to say there would be a riot ... I am hopefully doubtful."

The normalization of college students’ violent reactions to differing opinions should not be ignored. College should be a place where education and unique perspectives are encouraged, not restricted. ASU students should carry out their duty of preserving the rights of education and free speech by respectfully allowing Yiannopoulos’ event to occur. 

The hatred that has been thoroughly emanated out of UC Berkeley’s campus is not reflective of ASU’s values. Hopefully, ASU students will prove that they are better than this by recognizing the importance of peaceful protest and First Amendment rights. 

Reach the columnist at amsnyde6@asu.edu or follow @AnnieSnyder718 on Twitter.

Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors. Milo Yiannopoulos' official website misidentified that an ASU Republican club was hosting Friday's event. The article has been updated.

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