A Media Milwaukee journalist was banned from taking photos in the Milo Yiannopoulos event, hosted by Turning Point USA at UWM, as well as outside of the event anywhere on the second floor of the Union, and no media passes were available for the event.
The student organization said it reached out to Yiannopoulos and asked about getting press passes but never received a response and couldn’t allow anyone to take pictures inside of the event. After the Media Milwaukee reporter had been taking pictures outside of the event for half an hour, they told her that she couldn’t take pictures anywhere on the second floor of the Union, although the event took place in the Wisconsin Room.
UWM Director of Media Services Michelle Johnson requested that the reporter keep her camera in her bag or put it in a room off of the Union. The reporter was eventually able to get into the event as a student but was told she couldn’t get in as a journalist.
“Turning Point had advised me that pictures were not to be taken inside the event in the Wisconsin Room,” said Johnson. “[The reporter was] completely free to take pictures in other areas of the Union or elsewhere on campus.”
Although Johnson didn’t keep the reporter from taking pictures outside of the event, Turning Point USA did. According to Bill Lueders, president of the Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council, it was within the reporter’s rights to take photographs in the Union because it’s a space in a public university.
“There is no reason I can think of that cameras should not be allowed,” said Lueders. “If the organizers of this event want to exclude the press and hold a secret meeting, they should not be using public areas in a public university.”
According to the Wisconsin Photographers Bill of Rights, “…if the general public can photograph or videotape a location or event, the media can too.”
Although the Media Milwaukee reporter was told that no cameras were allowed in the event, the majority of the audience was openly taking photos and videos with their phones. One audience member brought a video camera that he used to record the speech. None of them were approached by security.
“Even though the Union is publicly owned, the Union in essence grants control of the event to the group that is using it,” said Professor David Allen, who teaches a media law class at UWM. “The group then gets to exercise some type of control over who is allowed in and under what conditions. The more difficult question is whether there is an ethical obligation for these types of events to allow media access, especially when they become newsworthy.”
When the reporter asked a Turning Point USA member why she could not take photos outside of the event, the member replied, “That’s just how we’re doing it.”
Yiannopoulos is an editor at Breitbart News, a far-right news website, who is speaking at colleges as part of his “Dangerous Faggot” tour. His speech at UWM was titled, “Master Baiters: The Liberals Keeping America’s Race War Alive,” and discussed the Black Lives Matter movement, freedom of speech and Hillary Clinton.
He also called out a member of the UWM community, Adelaide Kramer, because she is transgender and has been demanding change from UWM after she was told she couldn’t openly change in the women’s locker room at the school’s Klotsche Center. Yiannopoulos referred to her as “Justine,” which was her former name, and displayed a picture of her from last year when she was, “earlier in her transition and appeared significantly more masculine,” according to Kramer, who was in the audience at the event.
Less than an hour after the speech, Chancellor Mark Mone sent an e-mail to all UWM students saying he was disappointed that Yiannopoulos targeted a transgender student and that he won’t stand by silently when a student is attacked. Kramer responded with an angry e-mail that she began by telling the chanceller to, “Go f**k yourself.” She accused the chancellor of “goddamn lip service” and not actively doing anything to help transgender students or preventing the event from happening. Kramer said that multiple people told the chancellor this would happen and that the event should be cancelled.
A group of students known as the Coalition Against the Ultra Right delivered a petition to Mone on Dec. 7 asking that he disavow Yiannopoulos. They also organized protests for the night of the event in opposition to his speech, which they described as hateful. Turning Point USA members said they support the protestors’ right to free speech.
“The worst thing you can do to another person is enslave them and remove their ability to flourish,” said Yiannopoulos in a rare moment of seriousness.
He spent most of his time discussing race. According to Yiannopoulos, liberal politicians would act differently if they truly cared about black people.
Yiannopoulos also focused his aim on UWM’s Inclusive Excellence Center, which works for equality on campus, which he called sinister and described as being “neither inclusive or excellent.”
“Their purpose is to control the speech of students,” said Yiannopoulos.
He cited the center’s Just Words campaign as an example, saying it discussed phrases the center thought shouldn’t be said and that he planned to say all of those things during his speech.
The description of the campaign on the IEC’s website reads, “We seek to raise awareness of micro aggressions and dismissive terms, their impact, provide an insight into their meaning. We are not seeking to tell people what they can/cannot say.”
“Asking ‘Are you deaf?’ is offensive,” said Yiannopoulos. “How? How would they know?”
Another term Yiannopoulos said the campaign discourages is “illegal alien,” opting for “undocumented immigrant” instead.
“Like it’s a clerical error!” said Yiannopoulos.
According to him, democrats want illegal immigrants in the country so they can import new voters.
After Yiannopoulos finished taking apart the campaign, he set his sights on Kramer. He said transgender people are using Title IX as a way to get men into women’s bathrooms.
“He’s not passing as a woman,” said Yiannopoulos. “The way you know he’s failing is I’d almost still bang him.”
Yiannopoulos started the night with a video of the UWM protestors chanting phrases like, “No Milo, no KKK, no fascist USA.”
The footage drew laughs from the majority of the audience throughout the few minutes that it played.
“If this is the face of neo-Nazism in America, Nazis got really gay,” said Yiannopoulos, referring to himself.
He cited Wisconsin as the land of cheese, alcohol and clinically obese lesbians.
“I’m in Wisconsin to celebrate the recount with you!” Yiannopoulos announced to cheers from the audience.
He congratulated the state on turning red and called Jill Stein, the former Green Party presidential candidate who demanded the recount, an “opportunistic f**k.”
Yiannopoulos spent most of his time talking about the Black Lives Matter movement, calling it the ultimate divisive movement and saying that it had moved race relations a few decades backwards. He called Shaun King, a man involved in the movement, “the whitest black supremacist in America.”
“He’s as shady as they come,” said Yiannopoulos. “He’s the ultimate Black Lives Matter opportunist.”
Yiannopoulos discussed people who he thought have hurt black people the most, including Lyndon B. Johnson, Jesse Jackson, the Clintons, Al Sharpton and Deray McKesson. He also included Rachel Maddow, calling her a “dangerous dyke.”
“Why did lesbians turn themselves into that?” said Yiannopoulos. “Why don’t they just f**k a man?”
A few protestors challenged Yiannopoulos during his speech. One of them stated that he hadn’t said a single fact while on stage. He responded by reciting a long list of statistics about African-Americans and homicide rates, but did not cite his sources.
“Is that enough facts for you?” said Yiannopoulos.
Members of the crowd jumped to their feet and cheered.
“If any of you have been offended this evening, good,” said Yiannopoulos as he ended his speech.
Breitbart Identifies UWM Lecturer for Supporting Protests
Yiannopoulos’ employer, Breitbart News, published an article on Dec. 12 about a UWM professor who posted on social media that he would be attending the protests against Yiannopoulos.
Journalism, Advertising and Media Studies Professor Malcolm McDowell Woods’ post read, “Teach until 8. I’ll walk over following that.”
Woods said that he was flummoxed to find himself discussed in an article on the far-right news website.
“I believe they aim to intimidate by naming participants,” he said. “And I’m not intimidated.”
Woods said he had mixed feelings about Yiannopoulos coming to campus.
“I think free speech is enormously important in maintaining a democracy, and I think a public university should accommodate free speech, even when it is this distasteful,” said Woods.
Woods said he believes that the best way to counter Yiannopoulos’ speech is by protesting to voice support for the people he attacks.
Yiannopoulos did not mention Woods during his speech.
Thoughts on the Alt-Right
Attendee Uri Ayalon, who lives in Milwaukee part of the year and Israel for the rest, believes that there’s a political shift that Yiannopoulos is tapping into, specifically with what he calls “disaffected liberals.” He considers himself to be one and said that he thinks the left has moved farther in that direction and people have been left behind.
“I would call Milo and his movement the new right, not the alt-right,” said Ayalon. “The right describes America, people subscribing to shared values in the Constitution. The alt-right rejects constitutional conservatism and advocates a white ethno-state.”