Sam Kriss, a reporter from the left-wing site Vice described the Breitbart Tech editor Milo Yiannopoulos’s talk at the opening of the Young British Heritage Society as “trolls announcing their revolution.”
“Last night, I watched the trolls announce their revolution. At the launch of the Young British Heritage Society – something describing itself as a “new conservative and libertarian national student organisation dedicated to opposing political correctness on the university campus” – chairman Danial Mirza asked his audience for a show of hands: who among them had been banned from Facebook or Twitter? A loose thicket of arms suddenly rose out of the crowd.
These are the inexplicably furious young reactionaries of the internet, the people who every so often make the news, whenever they’re accused of ruining the life of another liberal journalist or feminist campaigner. Most people have a vague idea of what they look like: fully monstrous online, safe behind their computer screens, spraying bile and resentment in all directions, but cringing, timid things in real life. And it’s not far off.
The article went on to rail against the “anti-PC brigade” for, well, fighting against PC.
Multiple speakers brought up student union no-platform policies, under which people such as Peter Tatchell and Germaine Greer have been disinvited from giving talks at universities. This is inconvenient, but it’s hardly censorship – I haven’t yet been invited to speak at a university, but my free speech is still broadly intact. However, most of the complaints were entirely non-specific; a censorship that wasn’t coming from governments or institutions, but everywhere.
The anti-PC brigade aren’t angry that they can’t say what they want; they’re angry that when they do say what they want, other people sometimes disagree with them. The society is a protest against the unacceptable censorship of people edging away from them at parties when they start holding forth about how feminism poisons everything; it’s a fury against the fact that people get offended when you’re offensive to them.
The article goes on to describe Milo’s appearance at the event, in a mixture of horror and fascination.
I realise as I write this that some of you might be normal, happy people – people who live your lives in the sunshine and away from the sad buzz of your computer screen, and who have no idea who Milo Yiannopoulos is. If this is you, you should probably stop reading now; just smash that share button and go on to enjoy the rest of a good and wholesome life. It’s not that Yiannopoulos is a particularly dangerous or disturbing person, although he likes to think he is, or that his views are more odious than any other media bigot; it’s just that what he wants more than anything is for you to know who he is, and he shouldn’t be allowed to get it.
For his fans, Milo Yiannopoulos isn’t just a washed-up journalist with a head like a broom and a knack for annoying overly serious students; he’s a living god and an object of desperate, panting desire. “I’d love to meet him,” one acolyte told me. “I love Milo so much. He represents truth, logic and common sense. He’s amazing.”