At his event at UC Santa Barbara, Breitbart Tech editor Milo Yiannopoulos entered the room on a gold throne carried by four men he referred to as “very brave and strong” with a student waving an American flag before him.
Visiting the UC Irvine, Yiannopoulos entered dressed as a police officer leading a student wearing a Donald Trump mask by a chain collar to the front of the room to “fire” current president Barack Obama, played by another masked student.
On Monday, Yiannopoulos will be speaking at USF in the Oval Theater as one of the four Florida stops in his officially titled “Dangerous Faggot” tour.
Yiannopoulos’ past tour stops have been the subject of protests by Black Lives Matter and feminist groups. People have stormed the stage, shouted and blown whistles in the crowd, smeared fake blood on their faces, and picketed outside for hours prior to the event, as evident in several videos online.
Yiannopoulos was born in Greece, raised in Britain and educated at the University of Manchester in Manchester, Indiana. He is an editor at Breitbart, a conservative opinion website based in the states. He is openly gay.
The Young Americans for Liberty (YAL), a student organization at USF, are bringing Yiannopoulos to campus. Ryan Hoskins, YAL president and the event’s organizer, said the club’s aim in inviting Yiannopoulos is more about starting a conversation than sparking controversy.
“I am glad that we have him now because the conversations that this has started is more than we ever could have anticipated, and frankly, I’m just really happy that we ended up getting it because of the conversations it’ll start,” he said. “Not necessarily that I believe in what he has to say, but that he has the chance to say it.”
Hoskins sent a request at the beginning of the summer when Yiannopoulos tweeted about finding universities to visit during his upcoming tour. And though Hoskins thought actually being elected was a long shot, he received a response a few weeks later saying that the team was interested.
At the time of publication, about 400 people had reserved tickets to the free event and Hoskins is looking at extra staff, which means it’s not clear yet how much the event is costing YAL, he said. However, he said that he’s not expecting the price tag to be very high as YAL is only paying for security and microphones.
“I just hope people (will) appreciate other people’s ideas a little more and aren’t so quick to silence them when they haven’t had the chance to listen to the primary source,” Hoskins said.
University Police (UP), as well as a third-party security company, will be providing security for the event. UP Public Information Officer Renna Reddick said UP is not doing anything for this event that it wouldn’t do for others but was unable to disclose details on the security plan.
Reddick also said the force hasn’t heard about any planned protests and Dean of Students Danielle McDonald said she hasn’t received any complaints about the event.
However, some students are up in arms.
Sam Beutler, a student in his third year majoring in history and a member of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), said some members are involved in a protest. He is expecting between 30 and 50 students.
“This protest is being organized in reaction to Milo being invited to campus,” Beutler said. “That Milo is being allowed on campus to spread his violent brand of homophobia and sexism shows administration’s complete rejection of LGBT rights and protection on campus.”
Yiannopoulos has spoken at past events about how he feels that trigger warnings and safe spaces are ridiculous, that a gender-related gap in salaries is exaggerated and that the number of sexual assault cases on college campus is inaccurate. His last tour was titled “Feminism is Cancer.”
“Supporters of Milo stress free speech as a principle, but free speech doesn’t exist in a vacuum,” Beutler said. “Milo’s free speech is hate speech in a time where hate crimes against Muslims, police shootings of African-Americans and homophobic legislation are on the rise around the country.
“It is our job as SDS and as a larger student body to tell Milo and administration we will not (give) them a free platform to spread hate on campus.”
The protest will take place outside of the Marshall Student Center, but Beutler said there are “no safety threats or anything of the sort.”
“Knowing some of my colleagues and fellow Bulls here, I’m not surprised,” Hoskins said. “We’re about free speech and we don’t mind if you dissent, but once you start disrupting the event its not free speech anymore because you’re disrupting something.
“These people have gathered, they ordered tickets, they waited in line, they got there, they want to come to this show. If security deems it too much of a problem, they’ll take care of it on their own hands.”
Some schools, like Miami, canceled Yiannopoulos’ visit when a panel of faculty members said the event created “security concerns” that the school wasn’t prepared to handle, according to Fox News.
While in Florida, Yiannopoulos is also scheduled to visit FSU, UCF and Florida Atlantic.
The event is scheduled to take place 7 p.m. in the Oval Theater.
“He says crazy, outrageous stuff,” Hoskins said. “I’m not even going to lie. He says crazy stuff and sometimes it gets my attention. I don’t really agree with a whole lot of what he says, but it gets me thinking.”