Last Friday, just after Donald Trump was sworn in as America’s first alt-right president, Milo Yiannopolous addressed the University of Washington College Republicans in an auditorium on Red Square (named for bricks, not politics), in the heart of campus. Left-wing activists had tried unsuccessfully to persuade the university administration to cancel the talk because Yiannopolous’s views violated campus speech regulations and because his visit would pose a heightened risk of hostility and even violence. A petition supporting this view garnered nearly 5,000 signatures.
But it failed. University President, Ana Marie Cauce, whose brother, Cesar Cauce, was murdered in the infamous Ku Klux Klan massacre in Greensboro, NC in 1979, argued that her brother’s memory demanded, in fact, that she permit the free exchange of ideas that Yiannopolous’ appearance would generate. I’m not quite certain of her logic, but in light of the tragic outcome of Friday’s protest it seems darkly ironic.
Add to this that Yiannopolous has loudly advocated the right to bear arms on college campuses (excerpts from his talks on this topic are included in the video, which Ronnie Barkan produced). One could argue that he stoked the fires that raged on Friday with tweets like this one:
“Thought there were riots in D.C. today? Wait until the Milo event tonight at @UW.”
One must ask, why would a university officer whose own brother was murdered by right-wing crazies permit a campus event with a speaker who advocated bringing guns to campus? I’d also like to ask President Cauce what lessons, if any, she may’ve learned from this horrible incident.
While around 200 people managed to enter Kane Hall to hear him speak, 1,000 protesters milled around outside. The majority were Antifa (anti-fascist) activists sprinkled with a handful of pro-Trump, pro-Breitbart, alt-right troublemakers. Some of them poured paint on the heads of the left-wing demonstrators. Tension was extremely high.
The police milled on the periphery of Red Square and didn’t intervene in the various fistfights that broke out among the crowd. But then suddenly a shot rang out. Later, video footage and still photographs would show a short, heavy-set male with Asian facial characteristics wearing a yellow baseball cap. I’ve posted still photos of the shooter both before and during the shooting. Some protesters say he had torn down signs and provoked fights before the shooting. During the fateful prior moments he’s seen waving a cloth in the face of the demonstrators. From the video, it’s not possible to see his hands clearly. But onlookers say that he brandished a gun and was rushed by an antifa activist who saw it in his hands. The shooter then fires and the activist falls to the ground wounded critically in the stomach.
Only then did police rush to the scene. The victim was taken to the hospital with “life-threatening injuries.” As of today, he is now in stable condition. But the authorities have not released the names of either the victim or the shooter. The University police, under direction of the King County prosecuting attorney, Dan Satterberg, released the shooter. Media reports say he claimed self-defense, though it’s difficult to see how brandishing and firing a gun among hundreds of unarmed people constitutes an act of self-defense.
This is, by the way, the same prosecutor who, under fierce Jewish community pressure, pursued first-degree murder charges against the mentally-ill Pakistani-American who attacked the Seattle Jewish federation and killed one staff member and injured several others. Satterberg refused to consider mitigating charges that acknowledged the killer’s mental illness. So we know Satterberg can be aggressive when he chooses.
The incident is a nightmare for the University given it’s refusal to consider altering the plans for Yiannopolous’s appearance. In effect, it permitted a public health menace on its grounds and then was forced to pay the price for its faulty decision.
The Seattle media have not been aggressive in asking questions of either the University, police, or prosecutors. Why would a man who shot and almost killed someone go free? Unless the prosecutor is trying to tamp down the incident and hope it goes away. We will see if charges are filed and how severe they are. If they are lower-level then we will know for sure this is the case.
I’m looking forward to the Seattle activist community speaking up more loudly than they have thus far. The prosecutor’s indecision calls for a protest at his office.
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“One must ask, why would a university officer whose own brother was murdered by right-wing crazies permit a campus event with a speaker who advocated bringing guns to campus?”
Well, George Orwell had an answer to such questions:
“If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”
and another statement that is relevant here:
“Most people do not really want others to have freedom of speech, they just want others to be given the freedom to say want they want to hear.”
― Mokokoma Mokhonoana
and last but not least:
“It’s not the word that’s important, it’s the right to say any word you want to and to form any sentence you want to, that’s the point and once they start to legally restrict what we can say and what we can’t say then we are on a slippery slope to authoritarianism.”
“We’re talking about racists,” said Karen.
“No one should be allowed to be racist,” said Mark.
“But that’s not down to the Government or the courts,” said Rob desperately, “that should be down to us, we should make it difficult for people to be racist, we should frown upon such language and activity, it should be by peer pressure that we stop people from being abusive and unpleasant, not down to the Government.”
“Why not?” demanded Karen, “they make the laws so it’s down to them to make the punishments.”
“It’s not about punishment,” pressed Rob, “it’s about morality and social conscience, it’s about standing up for what’s right versus moral laziness, it’s about courage versus cowardice.”
― Arun D. Ellis, Daydream Believers
Richard Silverstein says
@Amico: Read the comment rules again. Their purpose is not for long disquisitions or quotations from external sources ( short ones are OK). Comments must be concise.
The classic Supreme Court ruling defining unprotected speech says you may not shout “fire” in a crowded theater. Yiannopolous clearly did that by inciting his followers to riot. This incitement almost led to death. No one has an obligation to stand idly by while provocateurs bring guns & mayhem to their campus
You are officially done in this thread.
[comment deleted: this is not a substantive comment. Any further comment rule violations may lead to moderation.]
Until the Duck’s Ass au l’Orange is impeached, convicted and removed from the WH, the loose fascist pistoleros will continue to shoot w/impunity.
RE: “Thought there were riots in D.C. today? Wait until the Milo event tonight at @UW.” ~ Yiannopolous
MY COMMENT: The word ‘abomination’ comes to mind. This guy is like a never-ending, self-contained, mobile episode of The Jerry Springer Show.
Consequently, he has reportedly received a $250,000 advance payment from Simon & Schuster for his autobiography titled “Dangerous”. A day after the recent announcement of its publication (scheduled for March), pre-sales for the book elevated it to first place on Amazon.com’s list of best-sellers.