I fact checked Milo Yiannopoulos’ speech and it was nonsense

He came to campus about a month ago and claimed ‘it’s hard to tell the truth’ in society

I actually don’t mind Milo Yiannopoulos. I think he’s funny, a talented public speaker, and I defend his right to say whatever he wants, whenever he wants. About a month ago, Milo visited the University of Pittsburgh after being invited by the campus Republicans. His presentation was titled “Free Speech in Crisis” (part of his larger “Dangerous F*ggot” tour) and he spoke at length about problems facing college campuses from the “regressive left.” Many of these issues were complaints about political correctness, Black Lives Matter, feminists, lesbians, and the political establishment.

He spent the majority of the time voicing his opinions with little to no factual statements accompanying them, despite his ironic and repeated insistence that he was just stating “facts.” Thanks to a video of his presentation posted by YouTube user Jacob Pritchett, I was able to view his speech retrospectively. While some of the things he said were true, many were not.

Milo claims that in society, it has become harder to “tell the truth.” In the spirit of this truth-telling, here were twelve of his most incorrect statements, corrected.

‘Gregory Alan Elliot…this man was put on criminal trial in Canada for disagreeing with and mocking feminists on the Internet…and that was really the extent of his crimes’

Gregory Alan Elliot was put on trial in Canada for criminal harassment, not for simply disagreeing with and mocking feminists. The reason he was found not guilty was because there was not enough evidence to meet the threshold for a conviction. What happened is much more sinister than Milo’s statement claims.

Elliot met with one of the women he was accused of harassing about designing a poster for her feminist organization. The deal didn’t pan out, because the woman, Stephanie Guthrie, and Elliot did not see eye-to-eye. She claimed that he “creeped” her out, and advised other women in her organization to steer clear of him. That should have been the end of the skirmish, but it wasn’t. Elliot kept tweeting her, asking to meet up, and even requesting that Guthrie spend the night with him. The situation went from bad to worse, and Elliot began tweeting her and two other women daily, spewing vulgar insults, harassing them, and frequently referencing their location.

While I don’t disagree with the verdict, as there wasn’t anything of an overtly physically or sexually violent nature, Milo’s statement that Elliot was simply charged for criticizing feminists was not an accurate representation of the situation. Elliot did not behave like an innocent man with a dissenting opinion. He behaved like an obsessed, bitter stalker.

‘Lesbian domestic violence epidemic…Attack of the killer d*kes’

Domestic violence between lesbians is actually, according to Dr. Suzana Rose, a Ph.D. at the University of Missouri at St. Louis, “about as common among lesbian couples as among heterosexual couples.” An “epidemic” would suggest that this level of domestic violence is unprecedented, when in reality, it is statistically on par with heterosexual couples’ domestic violence rates. The Center for American Progress also concurs, stating, “Research indicates that domestic violence among same-sex couples occurs at similar rates as domestic violence among straight couples.”

Often, domestic violence is overlooked in the LGBTQ community because the “traditional” image of intimate partner violence (IPV) is between a man and woman, with the former as the aggressor and the latter as the victim. This traditionalist view of IPV is harmful to male victims, LGBTQ victims, and others. While it’s important to draw attention to this problem, it is not productive to make light of it, or to claim that there is no violence against women at all.

‘The Department of Justice statistics suggest that women who identify themselves as victims of sexual assault…identify as lesbians. Possible explanations for this: straight men are going out and specifically seeking out lesbians to sexually abuse, which seems unlikely, given how they look. The other explanation is that lesbians are raping each other at unprecedented rates’

I was unable to find statistics to corroborate what Milo said here. However, I did find, according to the National Center for Lesbian Rights, that one in eight lesbians experience rape. I would like to point out that lesbians can be raped by men, as well as by women.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one third of lesbian women who suffered from intimate partner violence (including rape, physical violence, and/or stalking) were victimized by a male perpetrator. Looks are also not a factor when it comes to likelihood of being raped, and while Milo may have intended that as a joke, there is no evidence to back it up. Rape is about power and control – sexuality and appearance of the victim are not factors.

‘Campuses are the safest place for young women to be’

According to the Association of American Universities, 23 percent of undergraduate females have reported being the victim of sexual assault or misconduct while in college. Keep in mind that this definition includes a broad range of unwanted sexual contact, not just rape. These results came from about 150,000 students at 27 different “IHE’s” (Institutions of Higher Education). An empirical assessment would show that Milo’s view of campuses as crime-free, rape-free zones is simply untrue.

Milo’s issue with the “1 in 5” statistic seems to stem from the fact that he thinks it is misleading, as it is not just about rape, and includes a variety of other forms of sexual abuse. If you read the study itself, there is a clear description of what is included in the definition of sexual assault. This information is not concealed from the reader, and although Milo seems to think that rape is the only form of sexual assault, he is sorely mistaken. It is not the fault of the AAU if people refuse to read the study in full and are unaware of how non-consensual sexual contact is defined.

The AAU survey used data from over 150,000 students from 27 IHEs

‘There’s a vast over-representation of gays and transgendered (sic) people who work in technology companies’

While tech companies’ policies do score well with LGBTQ watchdog groups, there is an important distinction to make here. It’s hard to gauge how many LGBTQ people are in the industry because, according to Out & Equal, a nonprofit workplace equality group led by Selisse Berry, it’s difficult to track how many LGBTQ people actually work in a certain place. You can analyze the inclusiveness of the policies a company has, but information on workers’ actual sexual orientation is often not disclosed for confidentiality purposes. It is misleading to claim that there is an over-representation of a group when you cannot see stats on them due to privacy reasons.

‘There’s no such thing as dangerous speech’

I agree free speech should be absolute, but claiming that there is no such thing as dangerous speech is false. Libel and slander are two examples of defamatory speech that can do monetary damage that results in a civil lawsuit. The court case Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire was where the famous “fighting words” proscription was coined. “Fighting words” consists of speech used to incite an immediate “breach of peace.” This is very narrow category, and I do not think Milo was using fighting words during his speech, but claiming that the first amendment excuses speech that can incite a riot or panic is not accurate.

I don’t believe Milo was using fighting words during his speech, despite the accusation from one protester that he was. Although much of what Milo said was offensive, I don’t think that anything he discussed could provoke the average person to commit an immediate act of violence.

‘One in five women will be sexually assaulted…leftists widen the definition of sexual assault to include touching boobs, or an unwanted kiss. You know, this is just normal human sexuality’

See point number four for a further discussion on the “1 in 5” statistic and why Milo’s complaints about it are unfounded.

Milo’s claim that the definition of sexual assault is widened to include “normal human sexuality” is untrue. Sexual assault does not just include rape, and his breast-groping and non-consensual kissing examples are, indeed, illegal. The Department of Justice defines sexual assault as “any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient.”

Sexual assault statistics are not all made up of rape, and it is never suggested in AAU surveys that they are, which, once again, Milo would know if he read the study in question. But it’s also ridiculous to say that some unwanted sexual acts (yes, touching someone’s breasts or kissing them IS sexual) are okay, when, legally and morally, they are not permissible.  If someone does not give you consent to touch them in a sexual manner and you do so anyway, that is a crime punishable by law.

‘There is no basis in science to suppose that gay people were born that way’

There simply isn’t enough scientific evidence to endorse either side of the argument (biological versus environmental) with 100% certainty. There are biological considerations that factor into someone’s homosexuality. An example of a study supporting the theory of a genetic cause is one done on Finnish twins. The research showed that 25-30% of the differences in the twins’ sexualities (one gay, the other straight) was caused by a genetic divergence. There are also possible hormonal and cranial explanations. The science is unclear (so far) on what the definitive cause is, and, frankly, it doesn’t matter whether it’s a “lifestyle choice” or a biologically immutable trait. But to say that there is “no basis in science” is false.

“I don’t get offended.”

While I doubt Milo has hurt feelings, I don’t think it’s an overreach to assume that his description of feminism as “evil” shows that he is, in fact, offended by feminism. You can’t claim to not be offended when you bear all the denotative and connotative signs of someone who is taking offense. Most people who are not offended by something do not spend an hour and a half talking about the thing that supposedly does not offend them.

“The number one killer of black men is black men.”

Yes and no. It depends on the age of the black man in question. According to the CDC, for black males ages 15-34, homicide is the #1 cause of death. However, aside from those age ranges, heart disease and cancer take the top spots. In fact, according to those same CDC statistics, when it comes to the mortality of black men of all ages, heart disease is responsible for 24% of deaths, cancer for 22.4%, unintentional injuries for 5.8%, stroke for 4.7%, and homicide for 4.5%.

Homicide is the fifth most prevalent “killer of black men,” not the first.

‘Black Lives Matter wants segregated dorms’

While there is a push for segregated dorms from some Black Lives Matter activists, there are two points I want to make.

Firstly, Black Lives Matter is not a monolith. There is occasionally disagreement within the movement, and activists often hash it out over social media, as seen in the recent exchanges between Deray McKesson and Shaun King, two B.L.M. leaders. Claiming that requests from some activists are emblematic of the organization as a whole is not accurate.

Comparisons between Black Lives Matter and the Ku Klux Klan are wrong on so many levels, but the first thing that comes to mind is that the Black Lives Matter movement doesn’t prance around in ridiculous costumes because they’re too afraid to show their faces. (Photo courtesy of the Arkansas Times)

Secondly, this statement originated from a comparison Milo was making between Black Lives Matter and the Ku Klux Klan, a white supremacy group. Black students demanding segregated dorms are doing so because they believe that they are in danger from white students, and they want a space among others of their same ethnic group so that they can feel safe. White students demanded segregation not too long ago because they felt that black people were racially inferior, dirty, and subhuman. These are two very different motivations, and, whether you agree with their reasoning or not, claiming that the KKK and black students possess the same rational for wanting black-only/white-only dorms is not true.

‘We [white people] invented all the good shit’

A concise list of what black people invented includes: carbon filaments, which allow light bulbs to burn for hours, as opposed to minutes, traffic lights, the folding bed, the use of peanuts and peanut oil in over 300 different applications, potato chips, the multiplex telegraph, the shoe lasting machine, blood banks, the gas mask, and much, much more.

Also, a case can be made that black people helped create the American economy because they were the source of labor for our most profitable exports and commodities, which gave us the financial capital to become autonomous from Britain, Milo’s country of origin.

I don’t necessarily care that Milo Yiannopoulos is against feminism, and in the scope of things, his speech doesn’t matter. I agree with his stance that free speech should be absolute, regardless of content, and that the bar for what constitutes “hate speech” should be heightened as well. But while Milo is entitled to his freedom of speech, he is not entitled to his own facts.

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