Controversial speakers on American university campuses like Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopolous have been unerringly blunt, so far, in their provocation.
Martin Shkreli—the former Turing Pharmaceuticals CEO accused of jacking up prices on drugs for HIV and cancer patients and currently awaiting trial for securities fraud—opts for a more subtle approach.
Shkreli (often referred to in the news as “the pharma bro” and “the most hated man in America”) spoke at Harvard yesterday, and coolly beat down scattered protests from his 250-person undergraduate audience. During his speech on financial investing, some students raised banners and chanted “pharma greed kills.” Several dozen walked out of the hall—after which Shkreli said, “Nobody cares, bye. Take an economics class while you’re at it.”
Shkreli defended his actions as the founder and chief of Turing, calling his price hike of an HIV treatment pill from $13.25 to $750 necessary, because the drug was previously underpriced. “It’s that everyone was getting a free ride before—not that this is price gouging,” he said.
Some other choice exchanges at the event, per the Harvard Crimson:
Student: Martin Shkreli is a sexual predator!
Shkreli: I have a tame sex life. I have a girlfriend, we have sex once a week, it’s consensual.
Student: Martin Shkreli is a racist!
Shkreli: How am I racist? I’m friends with Lil Wayne.
At the end of his speech, Shkreli showed a slide of Lauren Duca, a freelance journalist who he had pestered on Twitter to the point that his account was suspended by the company for “targeted harassment.” Shkreli called Duca “the love of my life.”
Over to you, Milo.