‘Free speech’ panel triggers insults at UMass Amherst

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2016/04/26/free-speech-panel-triggers-insults-at-umass-amherst/

AMHERST – When three conservatives sought to speak about freedom of speech at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, they drew shouted insults, apparently from students at the state’s premier public university.

The event, billed as “The Triggering: Has Political Correctness Gone Too Far?” may have succeeded in proving its point, as people in the audience attempted to deny the speakers the chance to have their voices heard.

Milo Yiannopoulos, a technology journalist from the U.K., joined Canadian comedian and political commentator Steven Crowder and equity feminist Christina Hoff Sommers, in the panel discussion moderated by Kyle Boyd, president of the UMass Amherst College Republicans. But what should have been a lively discussion turned into a shoutfest almost from the start, a video shows.

“We have organized tonight’s event to explore a single question – has political correctness gone too far?” Boyd said as he tried to get the talk going amid shouts of both support and criticism.

The panelists didn’t back down, however, and some made comments aimed at provoking listeners. Yiannopoulos kept his introductory remarks short:

“Feminism is cancer,” he stated, and took his seat.

Hoff Sommers followed, only to be met with shouts of “racist” from members of the audience even before she spoke. Hoff Sommers, a Democrat and former professor of philosophy at Clark University in Worcester, is the author of numerous books, including “Who Stole Feminism?”, “The War Against Boys” and “One Nation Under Therapy.”

“Stop talking to us like children!” shouted one person from the audience as she tried to begin.

“Stop acting like a child and I will,” replied Hoff Sommers, who is now a resident scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute in Washington.

Throughout the evening, audience members interrupted speakers, accused panelists of being racist, yelled catcalls and insulted them while asking questions. But at least some cheered on the featured guests as they spoke about the elevated sensitivity of campus culture in recent years.

On his YouTube.com channel, Yiannopoulos, who offers what he calls a “privilege grant” college scholarship available only to “white men,” called the event “probably my most outrageous show to date.”

Senior Nicholas Pappas, one of the organizers of the panel, said that this year’s event had drawn more attention than any previous affair, as the combined video recordings of the discussion had been viewed about 72,000 times since Monday night.

Pappas said the protests were “expected” but not to the degree of intensity that occurred. “There was not a 10- to 20-second period during that time where there wasn’t an interruption,” he said in an interview Tuesday.

Several dozen people came to the event simply to “censor speech that they didn’t like,” Pappas said. He had told the Massachusetts Daily Collegian newspaper that the discussion was intended to “give other students our perspective.”

Watch the clip of Hoff Sommers’ attempted remarks below, which has been drawn from a longer recording on YouTube.