Massachusetts Daily Collegian

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A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Panelists criticize political correctness at UMass GOP event

(Katherine Mayo/Daily Collegian)
(Katherine Mayo/Daily Collegian)

British journalist and entrepreneur Milo Yiannopoulos joined author and former philosophy professor Christina Hoff Sommers and YouTube comedian Steven Crowder to discuss feminism, social justice and microaggressions at the University of Massachusetts Monday night.

The event, titled “The Triggering: Has Political Correctness Gone Too Far?” took place at the Bowker Auditorium and was hosted by UMass College Republicans. The three speakers, known for their conservative viewpoints, drew long lines of supporters as well as pockets of protesters.

When Yiannopoulos stepped into the podium to introduce himself, he received a wave a cries from supporters and dissenters alike. His introduction was brief.

“Feminism is cancer. Thank you very much,” Yiannopoulos said.

Hoff Sommers claimed that feminist scholars have invented sets of victim statistics used in conversations about sexual assault and gender-biased wages. The one-in-four on-campus rape statistic and the gender pay gap statistics, Hoff Sommers claimed, are fabricated exaggerations.

“All of these claims are reckless exaggerations,” Hoff Sommers said. “So often, they are now, in some places, beyond the reaches of rational analysis.”

“Gender scholars, along with mischievous and credulous students have formed an axis of intolerance,” Hoff Sommers said.

The speakers were given an opportunity to define political correctness in their own words. Yiannopoulos described political correctness as an organized system of lying, one which is designed to “save the feelings of delicate wallflowers at the expense of reason, fact and truth.”

Yiannopoulos went on to say that political correction, at its worse, could be deadly. He cited that political correction stopped people from reporting the Fort Hood shooting in 2009 for fear of being accused as an Islamophobe.

Yiannopoulos was referring to an incident that took place at Fort Hood army base in Texas where Nidal Hasan, a psychiatrist and major in the U.S. army, killed 13 people. Leading up to the attack, Hasan had reportedly shown signs of radicalization. Officials labeled the attack as an incidence of workplace violence and not terrorism despite the opposition of conservative legislators.

Other members of the crowd were not pleased to see the panelists.

Some members of the UMass Interfaith Alliance protested Monday’s event before it started, holding signs that read “Milo does not speak for me,” and “Stop Islamophobia.”
“We do not approve of this kind of speech,” said Bahiya Nasuuna, an UMass junior majoring in public health.
“I’m here because it’s super insensitive for UMass would allow this speech to happen,” Lily Wallace, an UMass junior majoring in political science, said. “Especially on a campus that is coming out of so much anti-Semitic and Islamophobic graffiti everywhere.”
As some members of the audience began to yell at Yiannopoulos and the panel, Crowder used the demonstration as an example to make his point on political correction.

“These people don’t want to hear anything about differing opinions, that’s what political correctness is,” Crowder said. “These people don’t have arguments; they just yell out racist.”

Yiannopoulos argued that all speech, no matter how controversial, should be allowed. He used an example where BBC allowed the chairman and then-president of the British National Party, a far-right political party, Nick Griffin to be included in a debate where his extreme right views were challenged. Following the debate, the party began to lose elections.

“This is why it isn’t just important to give a platform to all normal speech, it’s important to give a platform on all speech,” Yiannopoulos said.

“I’m surprised to see the anger that came from some of the people in the crowd,” Michael Moschella, an UMass sophomore said. “I feel like (the panel) should be allowed to speak, even when people disagree with them.”

Hoff Sommers also challenged the gender pay gap further by citing the work of Claudia Goldin, a professor of economics at Harvard. Hoff Sommers claimed that Goldin said she “can’t find a smoking gun” when searching for a wage gap based on recent studies. Hoff Sommers referred to an appearance Goldin made on the NPR radio show “Freakonomics.”

Goldin said that on the surface level, a pay gap does in fact exist but not in the form generally referenced in public discussion. Goldin used her own methods of analysis to offer a more nuanced analysis of the talking point, according to her interview with “Freakonomics.”

“If it were really true that you can pay a women 23 cents less than a man, what intelligent employer wouldn’t fire all of their male employees and hire only women,” Hoff Sommers said.

Yiannopoulos followed by criticizing political correctness again. While political correctness is quick to label dissenting opinion as racist, Yiannopoulos said, he and the panel believe in a marketplace of ideas.

“If you believe in an open market of ideas, creative freedom, intellectual diversity, today, your enemies is the regressive left,” Yiannopoulos said.

Danny Cordova can be reached at [email protected].

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  • D

    David Hunt 1990Sep 20, 2016 at 12:40 pm

    @J King:

    It’s very simple. It’s free speech for me, not for thee. Or, to quote Andrew Klavan… “Shut up!”

  • J

    J KingApr 29, 2016 at 8:34 am


    The speakers were invited to give their views and were then going to allow a Q&A session, that was to be the open forum. That is the civilised way this events are handled. The “protesters” were not interested in a dialogue, they were trying to shut down speakers they disagreed with, you know like Brown Shirts. So tell me, the next time some Black Lives Matter group speaks on campus, will they be required to “provide a forum to discuss their opinions on an equal level with proponents?”

  • J

    Jamie RundellApr 28, 2016 at 12:42 am

    Mr Danny Cordova

    just a quick note… when using auto correct, check it after it ‘corrects’ you. It may not have chosen the right word and if you are a media or journalism major YOU should already know this.

    Just saying

    Am I allowed to use the prefixes ‘Mr.’ in today’s society or is that considered to be a trigger word, or making an assumption of gender association that based on the namee’s parents assumptions not on the named’s feelings of association…

  • M

    Moishe PopekApr 27, 2016 at 6:32 pm

    Who was that morbidly obese woman who was screaming “Stop Treating Us Like Children?” I feel sorry for her parents, or whoever it is paying $62,000/year to send her to Amherst. (I hope it’s not the taxpayers!)

  • N

    nurse jackieApr 27, 2016 at 11:32 am

    I’m posting because I saw a video of a very rotund woman and am deeply concerned. Ma’am you were SITTING, waved your arms once, yelled a few times and you became very visibly winded.

    Ma’am you are not healthy if doing nothing physically taxing causes you to become out of breath. Please see a doctor. You might have a heart problem or in need of weight loss….and I don’t for minute believe a doctor has ever said you are healthy. You cannot be hhealthy and get Windex SITTING!

  • A

    Alex RichardApr 26, 2016 at 10:12 pm


    The first amendment does not provide those with different opinions to engage in a hecklers veto. Go visit the and educate yourself on the 1st Amendment rights of the speakers and their host.

  • T

    Tim KoernerApr 26, 2016 at 7:45 pm

    Lily Wallace and Bahiya Nasuuna need to grow up, they sound like children. It’s embarrassing, they’re going to be infor a rude awakening once they graduate college.

  • H

    Harrison ShecterApr 26, 2016 at 5:13 pm

    While I certainly didn’t agree with the panelists on most things, it was nice to hear another perspective. I don’t think any of the protesters expected dialogue in the event- it was clearly a show put on by three professional presenters. The real dialogue happened before and after the event between the different groups of audience members who digested the show in different ways. This event was an opportunity for the community to face foreign, often frustrating opinions and to try and confront them in an intellectual manner. In the Q&A section, most audience members (including those of dissenting opinion) chose to do so.

  • D

    David Hunt 1990Apr 26, 2016 at 3:32 pm

    PC = silencing critics. It has Communist roots.

  • J

    JacobApr 26, 2016 at 1:44 pm

    If these opponents of political correctness they would provide a forum to discuss their opinions on an equal level with proponents of it. Instead, people who likely had educated opinions on the topic had no forum of response other than interrupting the proceedings.

    They say they are pro-free speech and open intellectual discussion, yet their event is clearly set up to advance their own agenda without any feedback or differing opinions. Then when people with differing opinions voice them, they claim their first amendment right is being infringed upon. No. The first amendment does not protect you from being told you’re wrong. If you feel like a victim for your opinion then maybe you should reexamine it.

    • D

      Dillird ThurmanApr 26, 2016 at 3:11 pm

      College campuses are places of Political Correctness, where speech criticizing Leftist ideology is shouted down, pathologized or elevated to the level of violence -i.e. Leftist ideology is the only acceptable viewpoint. One side is represented, and the other side is blotted out by intolerance.
      The only solution is to hold events like this where the other side actually has a chance to voice opposition to Lefitst ideology (the point being, the expression of contrary view points is deemed “politically incorrect,” or “hate speech,” so as to censor the opposition).
      Because only Lefitst ideology, under the doctrine of Political Correctness, is permitted to be expressed openly on college campuses, there needs to be events specifically intended to challenge this tyranical doctrine.

      We see the results: intolerant hate mobs shouting, and disrupting the presenters of this event- simply because they disagree with what is being said. Or: can’t handle the truth(?).

      Events like this are so important because they attempt to create a “safe space” for Right leaning ideas. The goal is civil discourse, reason, and calm consideration of facts without another person being shouted down or made to feel bad merely for presenting ideas or opinions different from prevailing popular opinion.

      Obviously there is a lot of work to be done before we can achieve any sort of interest in civil discourse from the Left.

  • D

    Dillird ThurmanApr 26, 2016 at 11:32 am

    Political Correctness is the absence of politeness, its a shutting down of anyone daring to speak views and ideas that run counter to the Leftist agenda.

  • R

    rabbitApr 26, 2016 at 11:19 am

    Those brats yelling out insults disrupted the proceedings, but also served to drive home the point that the far left has become distinctly fascist.

  • D

    David Hunt 1990Apr 26, 2016 at 9:25 am

    Inside every liberal is a tyrant screaming to get out.

  • C

    Cmoon SenseApr 26, 2016 at 8:54 am

    Ever notice how the people who oppose free speech the most have the most foreign (non western) names.