The Economist, which for the blinding simplicity of its content is recommended as an ideal “unbiased” subscription for university students, has got itself caught up in its own bias again.
The left leaning American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has come out in defence of PETA, Femhealth and conservative organisation Milo Worldwide over adverts pulled from Washington DC’s public transport network for supposedly “offending” passengers.
ACLU along with the other plaintiffs have said this violates their first and fourteenth amendment rights regarding free-speech and have filed this complaint with the court.
However, instead of reporting on the free-speech case in its entirety, The Economist decided to turn the article into a major bash at Milo Yiannopoulos – owner of Milo Worldwide LLC – and explain that because he is such an awful vendor of hate speech, having his advertisements censored from public view is not such a bad thing after all.
The ACLU has a record of putting aside political differences in the name of first amendment rights, one of its most notorious cases was 40 years ago when it defended the right for neo-Nazis to hold a demonstration in an area where many Holocaust survivors lived.
It is a strongly held belief of mine than hate speech is still free speech and until it becomes volatile and physical such as what we are witnessing in Virginia these last couple of days, it should remain a matter of free speech.
Whatever the beliefs of neo-Nazis and members of the alt-right, allow them to be heard. This is the liberty that underpins democracy. Let people hear what they have to say, it’ll be enough to bring about their own undoing providing their cause bares no legitimacy.
The Economist appears to disagree.
By contrast to the ACLU’s previous defence of free-speech and suitably deemed “offensive” content, this advertisement issue bares no similarity, The Economist however, would have you think differently.
The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) has a restrictive advertising policy. These are the advertisements that have been banned:
All of the above posters according to the ACLU should not have been banned due to the US Constitution’s first amendment. Needless to say, Milo’s is the least provocative if you’re going to compare the 3.
The posters from PETA and Femhealth never made it onto the streets and busses of Washington DC, however Milo’s did. It was after WMATA received a number of complaints from people regarding the ads for newly released memoir and New York Times bestseller ‘Dangerous’. Because of such pressure WMATA felt forced to remove the ads from circulation and offer to refund in full the $28,000 paid for the promotion.
WMATA’s excuses for removing the posters which simply featured Milo’s face and numerous reviews such as “the Kanye West of journalism” and “the ultimate troll” were that the adverts “intend[ed] to influence members of the public regarding an issue on which there are varying opinions” the same rule also states that adverts cannot influence “social policy” either.
I’ll give it to the writer of the article who was able to not take this bit out of context: They go on to write that the statement itself seems to prohibit basically anything being advertised, from “movies (mixed reviews), toothpaste (controversial chemicals) and coriander (some people claim it tastes like soap).”
Milo Worldwide LLC responded to WMATA by stating “You do NOT have our written permission[…] We consider this a violation of our first-amendment rights.” They then went on to clarify that should the ads be taken down, there would be consequences to that, to which I assume would be this legal action being taken.
With The Economist establishing some of the facts, the writer goes on to spend the next half of the typically short and erroneous article painting Milo Yiannopoulos as the leader of the ‘alt-right’ (an organisation which hates him).
The writer suggests – without stating specifically – that “attempting to silence anyone who tries to make you think”, in the words of ACLU, should be acceptable if the content is deemed hateful.
The writer incorrectly describes Yiannopoulos as being a gay-bashing homosexual who’s against same-sex marriage and “who frequently targets black, transgender and Muslim people for ridicule”.
Despite the fact that he is a gay man engaged to be married to a black man; in Milo’s book ‘Dangerous’ he eloquently explains the real social issues facing the black community and why groups such as Black Lives Matter are perpetuating many social problems, through manipulating the facts and outright lying.
You find the same kind of explanation from Milo on issues with the transgender community and Islam. The only “people” he has targeted are those such as Linda Sarsour, who is a radically anti-west and a supporter of Sharia Law. The writer also completely ignores (I’m saying ignores because they can’t be that dense) the comedy behind the ‘Milo’ brand to which millions of his fans enjoy.
The writer didn’t stop there either. They go onto state that Milo was banned from Twitter for being racist to actor Leslie Jones. This is also untrue, Milo was made responsible by Twitter for the comments that some of his followers made towards Jones and had his account subsequently suspended.
Kind of like how some of Beyonce’s fans hurl abuse at Taylor Swift, or how Selena Gomez’s fans sent death threats to Justin Bieber, yet Twitter doesn’t hold Beyonce or Gomez responsible for their fans actions.
Finally, the writer takes one statement so far out of context that I’m surprised the article was permitted to go to print. “…a video surfaced in which he (Milo) seemed to say that he was fond of paedophilia”. This story, when it emerged, forced Milo’s resignation from Breitbart.
Although Milo was sexually abused by a priest when he was younger, he did admit after the controversy that his personal experience didn’t necessarily warrant him to be able to make jokes and say what he liked no matter how offensive. He definitely did not say he was fond of pedophilia.
Not only are these points made by The Economist entirely false but they are also stories which have been clarified and corrected, and ultimately they are all beside the point of the article.
The need to place this false description of someone in an article is not to acknowledge that an injustice to free speech has been done by an authority, and that regardless of controversial differences, a left wing organisation is willing to fight for everyone’s right to free expression… It is instead an attempt to unearth previously disproven claims and controversies about someone with the intention of spreading this ignorant description amongst The Economist’s readership.
Hardly ethical journalism from the paper that pledges to “take part in a severe contest between intelligence, which presses forward, and an unworthy, timid ignorance obstructing our progress.” (Part of the The Economist’s mission statement).
Of course, Milo was quick to satirise Leslie Jones’ response to remarks made about her on Twitter.
Here was Milo’s response to the magazines flatteringly inaccurate description of his career:
Milo can defend himself on the matter and I’m sure we will hear more from him going forward on this.
The primary issue with this article is that not only is it ridiculously short for a piece that claims so much about one person (as with their rant on ‘Planet Trump’) but it appears to be completely aimed at this individual instead of the nature of the case.
What people have to say is not what is important, it’s their ability to say it. According to The Economist, it’s unheard of and unacceptable for a left leaning liberties movement to put ideology aside and support a conservative journalist in a free speech case alongside a pro-choice and pro-vegan organisation.
I don’t agree with PETA, I think they’re a bunch of raging lunatics. I’m not much of a fan of glamorising quick and easy abortions either. Just because I disagree, doesn’t mean I want to limit their exposure, harm their revenue, and tell blatant lies about any of their causes to sway an easily convinced audience.
It’s their right under the first amendment to say what they like, and it’s my right to disagree without attempting to censor their activities.
Lesson from this? Take everything the liberals at The Economist say with a absolutely gigantic container full of salt.