Milo Yiannopoulos, alleged far-right demagogue, has now been banned from entering Australia due to the risk that he might ‘incite discord in the Australian community or … a segment of [the] community’. Poor Milo. He now finds himself languishing in the visa appeals queue with Tommy Robinson and Gavin McInnes, having been granted a month to appeal the decision. Milo is undoubtedly a controversial figure, and his political positions aren’t exactly universally appealing. However, we already know what they are – he’s written a New York Times bestseller about them – so what precisely do we gain as a country by censoring him further?
Firstly, it is self-evident that banning entry to Australia based on some supposed risk of ‘inciting discord’ is a terrible standard to apply to any immigration decision. Donald Trump manages to upset certain Australian citizens so much that they gather in public places to protest the mere fact that he’s president of another country – how much discord would The Donald be expected to incite if he ever decided to tour Down Under? Should we pre-emptively veto him as well, or does he attract special dispensation by virtue of his elected office?
Such a spineless, subjective condition of entry serves as nothing more than a method by which vocal protest groups get to dictate visa grants by proxy. Nevertheless, politicians like Tanya Plibersek sneer at the idea freedom of speech is under threat in Australia in any domain whatsoever. In a perverted way she’s perfectly correct – you can say nearly anything you like in public until enough people see fit to turn up and assault your supporters, and you’re welcome to opine freely on a university campus lest you do so on the myth of campus sexual assault or any other topic deemed verboten by a militant student union.
Putting aside the ridiculous reality of refusing entry to those who raise the ire of violent protesters we must also ask what additional damage Milo manages to cause by being physically present. Presumably, most politically engaged Australians already know exactly who he is and what he stands for. His books remain on Amazon, his podcasts and YouTube videos are freely available 24/7 online. His gospel single awaits your download on iTunes. Anyone interested in the political musings of Milo can access them at will – alternatively, they could purchase the print edition of The Spectator Australia and read his columns. He has every possible digital platform at his disposal (with the famous exception of Twitter) – is Australian society in disarray? Do we cower in fear of imminent discord?
Those to whom the Milo entry ban panders don’t deign to address his political influence in the abstract. And why would they bother, when a supposedly conservative government panders to their every whim every time he threatens to catch a plane here?
Perhaps Milo can take some joy from the Streisand Effect – the more joyously the media celebrates his visa being turfed on the reject pile the more opportunity he has to connect with someone who’s never heard of him before – and the more likely it is that such a person would do their own due diligence and fail to understand what makes him so awful in the first instance.
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