Progressives Cry Over ACLU’s Defense Of Milo Yiannopoulos

August 10th, 2017
Milo Yiannopoulos Getty Images/Drew Angerer

The ACLU’s decision on Wednesday to defend right-wing firebrand Milo Yiannopoulos’ right to free speech has prompted numerous progressives to raise their voices in protest.

The strength of the First Amendment allows anyone to speak freely—whether from the left, center, or right. Across the political spectrum, the right to free speech enables civic discourse without the threat of violence, and it allows the marginalized to protest inequality and right injustices.

Perhaps unaware that their right to exercise free speech is guaranteed by the First Amendment, social justice warriors have condemned the ACLU, declaring Milo’s rights unworthy of protection.

Brianna Wu, a Democrat and congressional hopeful who spent an entire weekend fighting Trump supporters in a mobile video game, expressed her displeasure at the ACLU.

“I understand the ACLU has to protect the worst speech, but the day they work for Milo is the day I decide to never give them another dime,” wrote Wu in a now-deleted tweet on Wednesday.


Former conservative and now resident Twitter progressive loudspeaker Charles Johnson (not to be confused with the alt-right Chuck C. Johnson) was also among those to lash out against the organization. Quoting the ACLU’s Wednesday tweet, Johnson declared it a “wrong-headed position.”

Freelance journalist Andrea Grimes demanded to know why the ACLU was defending Milo against the publicly-funded WMATA instead of people who are banned on Facebook.

Robyn Kanner, a transgender advocate and senior designer at Etsy expressed her regret at donating to the ACLU, which has defended numerous LGBT individuals in the past. Milo Yiannopoulos, who is openly gay, may not be the right kind of LGBT.

Speaking to The Washington Post, ACLU DC legal director Arthur Spitzer said that they always expect “some unhappiness” with who they decide to defend. He pointed out that the organization recently supported the Redskins’ fight to keep its trademarks, which didn’t go over well with some people working for the ACLU.

“When I went to court on behalf of the KKK in 1990 … we got plenty,” he said.

In that vein, the ACLU attorney who defended Chelsea Manning lashed out against the organization late Wednesday. He stated that he did not believe in protecting the principle of free speech because he took issue with Yiannopoulos’ views.

In response to the many comments calling Yiannopoulos’ views on transgender people and mockery of feminists to be “hate speech,” the ACLU offered a rebuttal to its detractors.

“’Hate speech’ isn’t a legal term, but the law is clear— speech expressing hateful feelings is protected,” the ACLU wrote. “If the government gets to decide which speech is hate speech, the powers that be may later feel free to censor any speech they don’t like. Restricting any group or individual’s speech jeopardizes everyone’s rights. The same laws used to silence bigots can be used to silence you.”

Ian Miles Cheong is a journalist and outspoken media critic. You can reach him through social media at @stillgray on Twitter and on Facebook.

Ian Miles Cheong