Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos has been banned by his own alma mater, the University of Manchester, from participating in a debate on campus about free speech.
Manchester’s student union also banned Yiannopoulos’s debate opponent, Julie Bindel, from discussing whether modern feminism has a problem with censorship. Yiannopoulos briefly attended Manchester as a Philosophy undergraduate before dropping out to take up a place at Cambridge.
According to their announcement, the student union believes that Yiannopoulos and Bindel could compromise the “safety” of students by “inciting hatred.”
As reported by award-winning journalist Victoria Brownworth, the same student union could not come to a decision about whether or not to sanction the terrorist group ISIS, but has decided that a lesbian feminist and a gay conservative columnist represent a threat to student safety. The Manchester Student union also invited a Muslim preacher who called for gay people to be killed.
The student union accused Yiannopoulos of being a “rape apologist” and claimed that his presence could “incite hatred” against people who have “experienced sexual violence.” They provided no evidence to support either claim. This appears to be a typical misrepresentation by campus radicals, who often accuse critics of dodgy rape statistics (such as the notorious “1 in 4 women on U.S. campuses will be sexually assaulted” claim) of “apologising” for rape.
Yiannopoulos is a leading hate figure for feminists. This weekend, organisers of the Los Angeles Slut Walk called the LAPD after they discovered he and Rebel Media broadcaster Lauren Southern were interviewing attendees. He regularly receives death threats from feminist activists, although he insists that such threats are not to be taken seriously.
Safe space policies, which are typically used as an excuse to ban politically unwelcome speakers, have attracted growing concern from across the political and academic establishment in recent months. In a recent Atlantic cover story, social psychologist Jonathan Haidt and free speech campaigner Greg Lukianoff warned that safe spaces were stifling the intellectual and emotional development of college students.
The Manchester Student Union Safe Space policy claims it is “committed to providing an inclusive and supportive space for all students.” They also claim to “believe strongly in the right to free speech.” Breitbart has approached the student union for comment. A Change.org petition has also been started to reinstate Yiannopoulos and Bindel.
Follow Allum Bokhari @LibertarianBlue on Twitter.