Milo Yiannopoulos should be allowed to speak

If you supported Bill Nye’s presence on campus, then you would have to be a hypocrite to speak against Milo Yiannopoulos’ upcoming event. Bill Nye came to campus last year to give his opinions on teaching evolution in schools, an idea some Alabama residents heavily oppose. On Oct. 10 of this year, Yiannopoulos is scheduled to bring his own speaking tour to the University of Alabama campus, one that is surely bringing opposition itself.

In July of this year, Yiannopoulos was actually permanently banned from Twitter for “participating in or inciting targeted abuse of individuals.” This was done subsequently after several tweets, albeit rude ones, were made to Leslie Jones regarding her appearance in the Ghostbuster’s reboot. Celebrities often have harsh exchanges over the character-limited social media platform, such as the ones between Zayn Malik and Louis Tomlinson after Malik decided to pursue a solo career or Charlie Sheen calling Rihanna a “village idiot.” The difference between these instances and what happened with Milo is that they are not right-wing political speakers and their accounts were not banned.

Twitter is a private company, and therefore allowed to make rules that limit the speech people present on its platform, but they should not cherry-pick personalities whom they choose to enforce those rules upon. Facebook as well has recently come under fire for similar acts, keeping conservative news out of the site’s “Trending” section. What’s important is that people learn about these blatant expressions of bias and incite change through their own free-expression to urge the platforms towards honesty.

The University of Alabama, as a public institution, does not receive that same “luxury” of selection. The Constitution lays out the rights of the people in which the government cannot take away, and in this case the University is an extension of the government and must abide by the First Amendment. Effectively, campus should be a place where all opinions (even incendiary ones) can be expressed. I am proud that Alabama has allowed hot-topic speakers from both political poles to speak on campus; it should never be expected that public institutions will limit opinions they do not agree with but it happens over and over again. Texas Tech professors tried to ban him and the University of Miami cancelled his Oct. 3 event due to “security concerns.”

The event for Yiannopoulos is already scheduled on campus, in fact it is already sold-out. It is true that what he says is not going to be popular with everyone, but that is the beauty of a college campus. Bill Nye’s opinions were a little less “fabulous” and a little quieter but they were political opinions either way. On Oct. 10 protests may occur, but on a campus that keeps 100,000 people safe on game day, no amount of “security concerns” could be legitimate reason for this event to cancel. I urge The University of Alabama and its students to continue their support for free speech at a time when it has never been so contested.

Sarah Howard is a junior majoring in chemistry. Her column runs biweekly.

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