Controversy around Milo Yiannopoulos’ Australia visit is being cultivated by Mark Latham’s alt-right linked outfit before the internet personality has even arrived in the country.
With fewer than 1000 names on a petition to ban Yiannopoulos because the “clear risk that members of the public will react adversely to his presence”, the former Labor leader has issued a call to fight the effort.
“Milo Yiannopoulos is coming to Australia in early December but anti-free speech extremists want to stop him from entering the country,” Latham posted on Facebook. “He criticises lunatic feminists, cultural Marxists, Islamists and the politically correct. And that’s why they want to keep him out.”
In making his pitch to the public, Latham posted the link “Don’t Ban Milo”, which was purchased by Rebel News Network only five days after the tour was first publicised, in other words, before any sizeable outrage built.
Rebel Media, which hosts Latham’s web-only Mark Latham’s Outsiders website, has been at the centre of a number of scandals linked to the alt-right overseas, including the coverage of the Charlottesville, Virginia protest that left three dead, as well as the MacronLeaks which sought to sway the French elections.
As of Tuesday morning there were less than 850 signers on the Change.org petition. By early Thursday morning, after further media attention, the number of names still had not reached 1000.
University of Sydney linguistics professor Nick Enfield likens the media strategy of fighting the feared ban of Yiannopoulos to the “Streisand effect”.
Named for the singer, it is the tendency for the suppression of information or idea – in this case Yiannopoulos himself – to actually generate more interest and publicity among the public.
The reality, says Professor Enfield, is in terms of free and open debate “you want to have people like Milo precisely so you can tear them down with good arguments.”
Fairfax Media has sought comment from Rebel Media and tried to contact Latham.
Yiannopoulos’ tour also appears timed to coincide with the aftermath of the same-sex marriage postal vote.
As the Change.org petition notes: “To allow a visa to be issued to a provocateur who encourages right wing activists to troll on social media while the debate is still happening is to encourage those opposed to marriage equality to act in a similar manner.”
In a one-time departure from Australia’s traditional mandatory voting, the nation is conducting a postal survey of households to learn whether voters approve of allowing same-sex people to marry.
Yiannopoulos’ tour is being planned for capital cities, and yet the locations aren’t being released until a week before the event at the end of November and start of December.
For all of the furore around Yiannopoulos, Professor Enfield is sceptical about how well he will play in Australia because Australians, he says, are more moderate and less ideological in their views than Americans.
Latham, a former leader of the Labor Party, was a columnist for the Australian Financial Review who resigned following controversy over his views on feminism and other social issues.
Since then, Latham has joined the libertarian-leaning Liberal Democrats. The AFR is owned by Fairfax Media, publisher of The Age and Sydney Morning Herald.
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This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.