CPAC Did a Faceplant While Jumping off an Out of Control Bandwagon

The American Conservative Union’s invitation and subsequent dis-invitation of Breitbart writer and traveling sideshow Milo Yiannopoulos has raised the discussion about what the word “conservative” really means today. ACU Chair Matt Schlapp defended his decision to invite Yiannopoulos by arguing that he is fighting for free speech on college campuses, then under mounting pressure, Schlapp rescinded the invitation based on Milo exercising his right to free speech in support of men having sex with boys.


Then in less than 24 hours Schlapp took this position.

Even without the creepy defense of ephebophilia, I thought inviting Milo was a bad decision and I don’t believe for a second that a fight for free speech was the primary reasoning behind it. That Milo is controversial and his invitation would lead to a lot of earned media for the conference was probably the main motivation. The brouhaha that erupts when Milo speaks on campus doesn’t constitute a First Amendment issue in the first place.

I don’t condone members of a community shouting down anyone’s voice, least of all on a college campus where diversity of thought is supposed to be paramount. Being protested doesn’t violate someone’s First Amendment rights. It’s pretty ludicrous to claim that someone who regularly writes for an outlet with a large web footprint, appears on major television shows, and is promoting a book is having is free speech rights infringed upon.


The Bill of Rights guarantees you the right to say what you want. It does not guarantee you a venue. Nor does it obligate anyone to pay attention. What is happening on college campuses with regard to public discourse is bad, but being cancelled as a guest speaker because of protests isn’t a Constitutional issue any more than getting banned from Twitter or Facebook is. At best Milo’s schtick is exposing intolerance and hypocrisy on campus, which doesn’t exactly make him unique.

The irony of it all is that CPAC rescinded its invitation to Milo for basically the same reasons as various college campuses have. People don’t like him and the things he says. If Milo’s fight with a bunch of university social justice warriors is a violation of his Constitutional rights, then so is his being disinvited from speaking at CPAC.

All of this is really a continuation of what has been happening throughout the right wing in the era of Trump. People want spectacle rather than principles. They want someone to rage against oppressors, not defeat them. They want to be entertained and experience vicarious catharsis as someone with a microphone attacks people they hate. Exploiting this is not conservatism. It’s opportunism. CPAC jumped on the bandwagon in the name of free speech then jumped off because they didn’t like what someone said.




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