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Letter to the editor: Yiannopoulos affair highlights need for reasoned, respectful discourse

By Arik Schneider

Feb. 20, 2018 10:25 p.m.

With the recent cancellation of the Milo Yiannopoulos speaking event hosted by the Bruin Republicans, Young Americans for Freedom at UCLA, a conglomerate of Bruin conservatives, believes it is important to learn from the mistakes of such events, clarify the purpose of inviting speakers and reiterate the importance of having an open marketplace of ideas.

YAF supports the Bruin Republicans’ decision to cancel the event with Yiannopoulos. Offering to bring Yiannopoulos to campus was a mistake to begin with. Despite the fact that many wanted to “purchase” conservative ideas in the marketplace, few people at UCLA, liberal, moderate or conservative, wanted to
“purchase” Yiannopoulos.

Any contributions to the marketplace of ideas should be courteous and done with respect to others, contrary to Yiannopoulos’ style. In fact, our Founding Fathers appealed to this principle of one’s virtue in both behavior and character, stating that the very existence of a free society depends on citizens who are careful to consider not just the content of their speech, but the way in which they speak. There exists no society that can “secure liberty or happiness without any virtue in the people,” according to James Madison. Without a set of values governing how people treat one another, a marketplace of ideas cannot exist.

UCLA is no exception.

Yiannopoulos runs contrary to these values, demonstrating a complete disregard for civility in dialogue. Even the title of his speech, “10 Things I Hate About Mexico,” shows a lack of nuance and respect. Yiannopoulos’ previous remarks, such as “I delight in offending people,” likewise misrepresent conservatives as provocateurs. Yiannopoulos inflames simply for the sake of inflaming. The overwhelming majority of conservatives do not share this goal, instead demonstrating a desire to hear, learn and discuss.

YAF acknowledges the right of Yiannopoulos to speak at UCLA and does not suggest that conservatives should cave to leftist pressure. However, we must consider the repercussions of our actions on the larger conservative movement.

Undoubtedly, the Bruin Republicans have made great efforts to advance free speech at UCLA, as evidenced by their event with Ben Shapiro in November. We wish them the best in their future endeavors to represent the conservative movement with accuracy and integrity in an intellectually stimulating fashion.

Schneider is a first-year political science and economics student and member of YAF at UCLA.

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