Controversial political commentator Milo Yiannopoulos and two conservative YouTubers participated in a much-anticipated fake news forum at Cal Poly Thursday evening while numerous police officers stood guard.
Protesters stood with signs outside the fenced-off Mott Athletic Center, where the College Republicans-sponsored fake news forum took place. The event proceeded peacefully, as did Yiannopoulos’s previous appearance at Cal Poly in which he delivered a speech titled “No More Dead Babies.”
Thursday’s forum followed an aborted fake news panel that was slated to take place in February but was canceled after uproar over the alleged racism of one of the scheduled participants. After other participants backed out of the event, the College Republicans planned their own fake news forum.
Flanked by YouTubers Carl Benjamin, commonly known as Sargon of Akkad, and Austin Fletcher, also known as Fleccas, Yiannopoulos pinpointed social media, and specifically Facebook, as sources of fake news. Yiannopoulos said Facebook is altering people’s brain chemistry, in addition to contributing to the spread of fake news.
The panelists agreed that social media has a significant role in the spreading of fake news, though some also noted the responsibility of social media users to sort out facts from fiction. Likewise, the panelists criticized media for biased reporting.
At the end of the event, Yiannopoulos called Jews in the audience to come up to the stage to received a check. Yiannopoulos said he wanted to donate to Jewish groups at Cal Poly because, in the aftermath of the recent blackface incident, protesters requested that the university provide more funding to cultural groups on campus, with the exception of Zionist organizations.
Yiannopoulos also joked about the blackface incident prior to arriving at Cal Poly. On social media the controversial speaker stated, in light of the “horrific” blackface incident, he was getting the darkest spray tan possible before his talk at Cal Poly.
Then, Yiannopoulos elaborated on the controversy in an interview with KSBY.
“Oh my goodness, somebody dressed up in blackface. It’s the worst racial scandal of the century. Who cares?” Yiannopoulos said. “Maybe it was stupid, maybe it’s the sort of thing that people shouldn’t do in 2018, but it is not worth creating this hysterical moral panic over.”
Yiannopoulos also gave his thoughts on the political climate in San Luis Obispo and at Cal Poly in the KSBY interview.
“I don’t know what it’s about with this sleepy little town,” Yiannoupoulos said. “It looks like a little town from the movies. It’s a very sensible college with a lot of sensible majors, you know, which seems to attract the left wing crazies. Every time I speak here, there seems to be this unnecessary gigantic police presence on the threat of crazies.”