Breitbart Troll Milo Yiannopoulos’ Iowa State Tour Stop Canceled

Milo Yiannopoulos. Photo: @Kmeron/Wikimedia Commons

Update, 12/5: The Dangerous Faggot Tour’s Iowa State University stop has been canceled, according to an email ISU Students 4 Trump sent the Iowa State Daily Monday evening.

Original post: As the Informer has previously reported, the unofficial Iowa State University group Students for Trump recently invited Milo Yiannopoulos — a Breitbart writer and key figure in the “alt-right” movement of internet trolls, white nationalists, and misogynists — to speak at the campus’ Memorial Union Dec. 9 as part of his Dangerous Faggot Tour.

With the date fast approaching late last month, ISU requested event security fees from the group’s organizer, Austen Giles, who took it as an attempt at censorship in light of postponements and cancellations of Yiannopoulos events scheduled at other universities. That prompted Breitbart, the alt-right news outlet run by Donald Trump’s chief strategist Stephen Bannon, to blare a Nov. 30 headline: “IOWA STATE UNIVERSITY ATTEMPTS TO CENSOR MILO EVENT WITH SECURITY FEE HIKE.”

“I had paid in full September 7th an amount of $1070 out of my own pocket, which including the rental space, lighting, AV, tech, and the whole shabang,” Giles told Breitbart in an email responding to a request for comment for the article. “Just yesterday, the event manager at ISU said the ISUPD is requiring 6 officers to secure the rental space which will cost additional but did not say amount. Today, the event manager sent out an email saying it will require an additional $1944.”

Giles went on to say he wasn’t aware of any events hosted by liberals on campus that had been subject to similar security fees. The article itself suggested ISU was in violation of a 1992 Supreme Court ruling prohibiting security fees determined by “the amount of hostility likely to be created by the speech based on its content,” pointing to a Yiannopoulos event canceled over security fees at the University of Maryland.

However, it’s far from clear that censorship is the intent of the security fees for the ISU event. In October, Giles signed a rider for the event (embedded below) provided by Glittering Steel LLC — a company that shares a corporate address with Breitbart and its financier, the Trump-supporting hedge fund CEO Robert Mercer — that stipulated he had to provide a “campus security detail” of three to five police officers to “assist with Milo’s personal security detail.”

A message asking about the security request for six officers that the Informer left with the ISU Police Department was not immediately returned Friday (the rider was signed by Giles but not ISU, which is not sponsoring the event). In a press release issued the day after the Breitbart article ran, ISU said “the university does not support or condone Yiannopoulos’ message or tactics”; and, as with any event hosted on campus, “organizers must comply with legitimate requests necessary to protect university property and ensure the safety of event participants, as well as the campus community.”

The press release linked to Breitbart articles about “[p]hysical altercations” and “bomb threats and threats of weapons violence” that have tripped up Dangerous Faggot Tour events scheduled at other universities to justify its request for additional security measures at the MU. “Modifying the security requirements as the risk assessment changes closer to the event is standard practice for Iowa State University,” it said. “The event organizer had several phone calls with the Memorial Union director, during which he was informed that additional security would be required. Again, as stated in the policy, event organizers are responsible for the costs of that support.”

MU Associate Director Corey Williamson, the media contact listed on ISU’s press release, did not respond to requests for comment. But the Informer has learned that the initial fee Giles paid in September for the event covered costs including room rental and technology use but not security; and that police did not provide MU staff with a cost estimate for the security until earlier this week, two days before the Breitbart article ran.

Breitbart has since published two additional articles criticizing the university, including one today with a threatening statement from Yiannopoulos: “All President Leath is accomplishing with this fee is giving his college a reputation for slippery censorship tactics. … Because make no mistake: if Iowa State University opts for the route of censorship and suppression, I won’t let them, or the public, or their alumni, or potential students, forget it.”

Gavin Aronsen
Gavin Aronsen is an editor and reporter for and founding member of the Iowa Informer. He previously worked as a city reporter for the Ames Tribune, research assistant to investigative journalist Wayne Barrett at the Village Voice, and in various roles at Mother Jones, where his work contributed to a National Magazine Award nomination for the magazine's digital media coverage of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Email: garonsen [at] iowainformer [dot] com.