FIREBRAND

Milo Yiannopoulos has been annoying people for a very, very long time

Milo Yiannopolous has been “permanently suspended” from Twitter after claims he incited his followers to bombard Ghostbusters actress Leslie Jones with racist and misogynistic tweets.

Yiannopoulous, who has been suspended from the site in the past for violating its terms, has made a name for himself as a firebrand contrarian. He found out about his ban 20 minutes before hosting a “Gays for Trump” event in Cleveland and his response was typical:

With the cowardly suspension of my account, Twitter has confirmed itself as a safe space for Muslim terrorists and Black Lives Matter extremists, but a no-go zone for conservatives.

The 32-year-old, an editor at Breitbart, is a leading voice of the conservative, populist alt-right movement (paywall). He has been skilled at exploiting the nexus of politics, technology, and publishing to boost his notoriety, dating back to his time as a British journalist.

In 2012, at the helm of the technology blog The Kernel he co-founded in London, Yiannopoulos was quick to capitalize on the sordid allegations around Luke Bozier, a former aide to Tony Blair. “Luke Bozier wants to legalize sex with 13-year-olds and dead bodies,” went one typical Yiannopoulos missive on the scandal.

(Bozier later said his life was “utterly destroyed” by the allegations, which arose after his email account was hacked. He was arrested on suspicion of viewing indecent images of children and received a caution.)

The Kernel itself folded shortly after. But Yiannopoulos leveraged a cash infusion from new German backers into an acquisition by Austin-based publisher The Daily Dot. This gave him entry to the world of US identity politics, an opportunity he relished. In short order, he poured fuel onto the Gamergate controversy, elevating himself to the status of an icon of the “men’s rights” movement online.

Yiannopoulous has delivered a series of talks at universities in the US this year as part of his “Dangerous Faggot Tour,” many of which are interrupted or banned in some way. One held at the University of California, Irvine was titled “Social Justice is Cancer.”

In October 2015, the University of Manchester banned both Yiannopoulous and feminist campaigner Julie Bindel from speaking at an event, referring to Yiannopoulos as a “rape apologist” and citing concerns for students’ safety.

Of safe spaces, Yiannopoulos has said any student who seeks one “should be immediately expelled… They’ve attended a university whose purpose is to broaden their horizons, to explore dangerous and difficult ideas. They’ve demonstrated they have no interest in doing that.”

He has also rallied against what he sees as a “moral panic” around rape culture and sexual assault on college campuses. Women and progressives, he says, are to blame for this narrative. “This isn’t about protecting women,” he has said. “It’s about man-hating.”

Earlier this year, he set up the Yiannopoulos Privilege Grant, a scholarship fund exclusively for white men that was initially created to “wind up social justice warriors.” He’s referred to the Black Lives Matter movement as “preposterous and socially counter-productive,” and claims that Donald Trump would be “the real first black president.”

At a protest against sexual violence in Los Angeles last October, he held up a sign that read: “Rape culture and Harry Potter: both fantasy.”

Image taken by Kmeron on Flickr. Used under a Creative Commons license (CC BY 2.0)

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