NYU Cancels Milo Yiannopoulos, Feared ‘Attacks’ on Islamic and Gay Students

Milo YiannopoulosNew York University will not allow the College Republicans to bring Milo Yiannopoulos to campus because the venue for his speech was located near the Islamic and LGBTQ Centers, and students who belong to those communities are “subjects of Mr. Yiannopoulos’s attacks.”

That’s according to an NYU administrator’s letter to the CRs, as reported by Inside Higher Ed.

It’s true that Yiannopoulos is a venomous critic of Islam, feminism, and some aspects of LGBT culture (though he is gay himself, as he frequently notes). But he hasn’t “attacked” anyone—he hasn’t assaulted anyone, and his followers haven’t either. Indeed, I would be more worried about someone committing violence against Yiannopoulos. In reality, these sorts of safety concerns are overblown, and are being used to chill speech.

What’s really going on here is administrators are keenly aware of the fact that Yiannopoulos’s message is deeply offensive to a whole lot of students. NYU, as well as a host of other universities, is using the imaginary threat of violence as a pretext to silence a point of view it doesn’t like.

As the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education’s Ari Cohn told Inside Higher Ed:

“It’s incumbent on administrators to not cut off debate and discussions because people are offended by them,” Cohn said. “Nobody is being forced to go hear the speaker. In fact, students who are offended and disagree with the viewpoint should seek out the speaker to raise questions and try to them prove them wrong. It’s an intellectual exercise.”

And if students are tired of Yiannopoulos’s shtick, they should stop legitimizing his perspective: censoring Milo doesn’t stop him, it only proves him right about the state of open dialogue on campuses.

Related: Columbia University Students Tear Down Posters Advertising Christina Hoff Sommers Visit

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King Dork Speaks! Frank Portman on High School, Individualism, and the War on Free Speech

Forget what you’ve heard, kids.

Life “doesn’t get better” when you graduate high school, says Frank Portman, one of the great chroniclers of adolescent angst and alienation over the past 30 years. Or, as he titles a recent song, “High school is the penalty for transgressions yet to be specified.” Still, he’s not completely downbeat: “You get better at navigating it, or fighting it off.”

Portman is a novelist (King Dork, Andromeda Klein) and musician (The Mr T Experience) whose latest project is a soundtrack for the new paperback edition of his third novel, King Dork Approximately. Writing a soundtrack for his book is an attempt to recapture a uniquely intense and focused multimedia experience that the California native fears has gone missing in an age of information overload. (You can buy the book and download the album immediately here or get the book and a download code at Amazon.com.)

Like his earlier literary offerings, King Dork Approximately drew rave reviews for its honest, urgent, and wickedly funny take on the big and small ways that our high-school years mark us for the rest of our lives.

In a wide-ranging conversation with Reason’s Nick Gillespie, Portman talks about his literary inspirations (including Philip K. Dick) and musical heroes (Pete Townshend of the Who and Ray Davies of The Kinks), and whether the world is getting more tolerant of oddballs and weirdos or increasingly more repressive of kids and adults who think and act differently. As a musician who made his bones in the post-punk world of the Bay Area before becoming a best-selling writer, Portman brings an absolutely perspective on contemporary American cultural and political life.

Produced by Ian Keyser.

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Powerful: GOP Congressman Scott Rigell Video Endorsement of Libertarian Gary Johnson

That’s Scott Rigell, a Republican congressman from Virginia who broke party ranks to endorse Libertrian presidential nominee and former two-term New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson back in August. The mere fact of partisans such as Rigell splitting their votes is important, of course—it’s a bold, even courageous example, and a necessary one for an era in which voter identification with the major parties is going down like the Titanic:

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But Rigell’s specific argument in the video is also important. In less than two minutes, he stresses that nobody has to accept the two unacceptable major-party candidates or the awful platforms they are espousing (protectionism, statism, overseas interventions, increases in the size, scope, and spending of government). There’s a different way says Rigell. “We don’t just have two choices. We have a third choice, a better choice….We can change things. We can change the system.”

Among the many ways “we can change the system” is by evacuating the duopoly in politics the same way that we’ve evacuated false binaries and harshly limited choices in all other aspects of our lives. We no longer allow, for instance, our options in automobilies to be dictated by the Big Three automakers and we’re better off for it. On more important levels, we no longer our cultural choices to be forced on us by the three or four TV networks or a handful of book publishers, record labels, and film studios. When it comes to our most lifestyle choices and identities, we no longer submit to dualistic categories such as black/white, male/female, gay/straight as the only way—or even a particularly meaningful way—to structure our world.

As Matt Welch and I argued in The Declaration of Independents, politics is a lagging indicator of where America is headed and always the last institution to change its ways. What we have been witnessing throughout 2016 is a damn-near perfect illustration of our thesis that the same sort of proliferation in choice and increasingly individualized options in our work, cultural, and social lives is coming to politics. Characters such as Scott Rigell are in the vanguard of that movement, if only because he dares to speak as a Republican what we all know to be true: The established parties can’t even represent their own members any more. We need more, better choices in politics just as we needed them in cars and we’ll get them sooner or later.

And it’s important to note that the push for more and better choices isn’t simply limited to the historically string response to Gary Johnson this time around. The Bernie Sanders insurgency suggests that many in the Democratic Party feel cheated by that party’s current iteration, as does a continuing lack of enthusiasm for Hillary Clinton. That Trump won the GOP nomination is evidence of the same and so does relatively strong showing by late-to-the-race independent Evan McMullin and stronger-than-expected polling by Green Party nom Jill Stein. Something is happening here that is actually different than in the past, even though the winner of the 2016 election will be from a party founded before the U.S. Civil War.

Former political consultant (he worked with both parties) and current ABC News analyst Matthew Dowd is framing a similar scenario to the one in The Dec. of Ind.:

It is time we reject the messaging from the two major parties, and make choices in our own hearts that help bring the country together. If you don’t feel good about either major party choice, then don’t be shoved into choosing between what they describe as “the lesser of two evils.”

Make an independent and innovative choice that may not win this year, but over time will be successful in reuniting us as a country. We need independents to take back our country and unite us. It is only a binary choice if we listen to the duopoly.

More on that here.

If the 20th century was in many, necessary ways a “binary century,” the 21st is something altogether different but it won’t be called into existence without the independent actions of individuals refusing to conform to pre-existing categories that stultify and squelch what we actually want out of life. We didn’t stand for it in our personal lives, our economic lives, our cultural lives—and now we are refusing to take it in our political lives.

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Guitar Globalization: New at Reason

President Barack Obama has taken his Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) pitch on the road, hoping to rally support for the controversial trade deal. Meanwhile, reports Vincent Caruso, ex–Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello has kicked off a politically fueled road trip of his own. With the support of nonprofit Fight for the Future, Morello’s own Firebrand Records, and a musically diverse lineup of ideologically unified comrades, the nationwide Rock Against the TPP tour will compete with the president for hearts and minds with the ultimate goal of stopping “the biggest corporate power grab in history.”

View this article.

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The Anarchy Inherent in the System: New at Reason

Donald Trump says the presidential election is “rigged.” Of course, he equivocates over the word rigged to include voter fraud along with news-media/polling bias—two very different things. The former suggests that the outcome is predetermined, the latter only that influential organizations try to move voters in a particular direction. One might also say that Trump has helped “rig” the election against himself with his inveterate estrangement from the truth and his braggadocio about sexual assault.

But there’s another side to the “rigged election” charge that’s bound to go unnoticed, writes Sheldon Richman. The American political system, like all political systems, requires a good deal of peaceful cooperation to operate. This is obviously relevant to the much-touted peaceful transfer of power in the United States, which Trump is now said to jeopardize. And the peaceful transfer of power in America is relevant to the case for anarchism, argues Richman. Most people who reject anarchism do so largely because they believe that without the state as an enforcer of at least last resort, internally generated cooperation would be inadequate to sustain a peaceful and efficient society. Thus an ostensibly external agency—the state—is necessary to impose the minimum degree of cooperation required for society to run smoothly. But if the public’s implicit or explicit ideology can sustain a state, we have no reason to believe it could not sustain a stateless society?

View this article.

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Donald Trump Accused of Kissing Porn Star Jessica Drake Without Her Consent, Offering to Pay Her $10,000 for Sex

Adult-film star and sex educator Jessica Drake is the latest woman to accuse Donald Trump of moving on her sexually without consent. At a live Los Angeles press-conference Saturday with lawyer Gloria Allred, Drake accused the Republican presidential nominee of “uncontrollable misogyny, entitlement, and being a sexual assault apologist,” and claimed he kissed her and two other women without their consent upon meeting them in 2006. Drake also said Trump offered to pay her for sex.

According to Drake, she and the other women were invited by Trump back to his Lake Tahoe hotel suite after meeting him at a golf tournament. Once there, Trump allegedly grabbed each of them tightly and kissed them. Later, a Trump representative called and invited Drake back to the suite alone, she said, but she declined—after which Trump personally called to extend the invitation. “What do you want? How much?” Trump allegedly said before offering her $10,000, which she rejected.

Drake’s accusations add to the growing chorus of women from Trump’s past now accusing him of kissing, grabbing, and groping them against their will. What’s novel here is the allegation that Trump solicited sex for cash.

Libertarians don’t think that last part should be illegal, and I guess it’s not surprising that Trump doesn’t, either—Trump’s (handlebar-mustachioed) immigrant grandfather first made his money in America by running a Seattle brothel, after all. But Trump hasn’t shown much willingness lately to buck with GOP tradition when it comes to freaking out about sex, signing a recent pledge to get tough on internet porn and repeatedly denouncing Anthony Weiner as a “pervert” for sexting.

At the press conference, Allred stressed that Drake’s profession as a porn actress and director was irrelevant here. In her work, Drake consents to certain sexual activities, said Allred, while she did not agree to Trump’s advances.

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Obama’s Broken Guantanamo Promises: New at Reason

Barack Obama’s first official act in office addressed not the economy or health care but Guantanamo. In a moment of high drama, surrounded by a phalanx of retired military brass, the president signed a series of executive orders acknowledging that “the individuals currently detained at Guantanamo have the constitutional privilege of the writ of habeas corpus,” providing that the executive branch would undertake “a prompt and thorough review” of whether the “continued detention” of the men at Guantanamo “is in the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States and in the interests of justice,” and ordering that “the detention facilities at Guantanamo…shall be closed as soon as practicable, and no later than 1 year from the date of this order.” Obama issued a separate executive order banning the use of “enhanced interrogation techniques,” i.e., torture.

As far as Guantanamo was concerned, those executive orders would represent the high-water mark of the Obama presidency, writes Gary A. Isaac, counsel at Mayer Brown LLP. The first year of his administration was noteworthy not for the closure of Guantanamo but for a series of unilateral actions that were starkly at odds with the president’s rhetorical defense of habeas corpus and that doomed his much-heralded directive to close the island facility.

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Captured, Tortured, and Left to Rot at Gitmo: New at Reason

Within days of his first inauguration, Barack Obama signed a presidential order directing his administration to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base (GTMO) within one year, following up with astonishing alacrity on his campaign promises, despite many competing policy priorities. Martha Rayner, an associate professor of law at Fordham University and director of its criminal defense clinic, did not expect an immediate parade of planes ferrying her clients and other GTMO prisoners to their home countries but did imagine that that GTMO, and the indefinite imprisonment without trial that it stood for, would soon end.

A week later, she was in Camp Echo, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, visiting one of her clients: Sanad al-Kazimi, a husband and father of four from Aden, Yemen. He had been abducted by some arm of some government in the United Arab Emirates in January 2003 and subjected to brutal torture, without being formally arrested, charged with a crime, or provided an opportunity to be heard. He was not captured by soldiers on a battlefield and registered with the International Committee of the Red Cross, an independent organization that monitors treatment of war detainees. He was disappeared.

After that, al-Kazimi was relocated multiple times. One of the stops was at a CIA-run site in Afghanistan dubbed the “Dark Prison” by detainees who emerged to describe the complete darkness they had been held in, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. While there, Mr. al-Kazimi tried to kill himself on three separate occasions by hitting his head against the wall of his cell. Each time, his U.S. captors intervened and injected him with drugs that put him out.

Following his time at the Dark Prison, al-Kazimi was transferred to the United States’ Bagram Airfield Military Base in Afghanistan. This move, writes Rayner, was designed to transform what was unquestionably illegal detention by the CIA into military imprisonment that had a veneer of lawfulness. The U.S. military then colluded in torture by attempting to erase what the CIA had done.

View this article.

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Columbia U. Students Tear Down Posters Advertising Christina Hoff Sommers Visit

Individualist-feminist author Christina Hoff Sommers is giving a talk at Columbia University, but some students don’t want anyone to know about it.

Posters advertising Sommers’ visit were tore down in buildings across campus, according to Toni Airaksinen, a reporter for Campus Reform and student at Columbia-affiliated Barnard College. Airaksinen wrote on Twitter that only one of about 20 posters survived for a full day.

Look, if students really don’t want to listen to Sommers, they are under no obligation to attend her talk. But other students might appreciate the chance to hear from someone who represents a perspective they are unlikely to learn about in class.

And if Columbia’s leftist-students are so afraid of alternative perspectives, they can’t have very much confidence in the persuasiveness of their own beliefs.

Sommers’ talk, “Victims, Victims Everywhere,” is at 7:00 p.m. on November 1.

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