Because, I don't know, maybe he hadn't registered sufficient public disgust and outrage at news of his UC Davis speaking engagement to reassure himself of his own existence, Troll Of All Media and alt-right conservative Milo Yiannopoulos is adding another loathsome creature to the bill at his talk, planned for later today. His sidekick will be "pharma-bro" Martin Shkreli, who gained infamy last year after hiking the price of the HIV drug Daraprim by 5,000 percent and much like Yiannopoulos only without the sense of humor, he has since designed his public persona (punchable) and positions (Trump-supporting) to generate maximum attention, no matter how negative.
The two will be "in conversation," and perhaps, CNBC speculates, will continue their deplorables' Abbot and Costello routine at other stops on Yiannopoulos' tour, such as Princeton University. Shkreli, who currently faces charges of defrauding the pharmaceutical company he once led, is out on $5 million bail and has been granted permission by a judge to leave the state of New York for this engagement and others.
Breitbart, where Yiannopoulos is an editor, describes Shkreli as "Twitter's latest political victim," writing that "Both he and [Yiannopoulos] were banned on grounds of 'harassment,' a term that continues to be diluted by progressive activists." Shkreli was banned for sustained, stalkery harassment of a female journalist, and Yiannopoulos was banned last summer for inciting sexist and racist attacks on a female comedian and actress.
In the silver lining department, Yiannopoulos' planned speaking engagement at UC Berkeley on February 1 could well be cancelled. Jose Diaz, president of the Berkeley College Republicans, says that its "definitely probable,” the event will be canceled, the Chronicle reports, as his club is unable to pay standard security fees for the event at a 500-seat auditorium where the talk is already sold out. The security fee was previously estimated at nearly $10,000 but has been lowered to $6,372, which the Republicans claim they should not have to pay. But, according to Cal spokesperson Dan Mogulof, “If it were Bernie Sanders and it was happening in the same place at the same time, the cost would be exactly the same for the host organization.”
While many are likely to protest the Davis talk today and have petitioned against it in past weeks, school administrators have framed the talk around free speech, which plays into the narratives of the speakers. "Like most places of higher learning and teaching, UC Davis is a community for all ideas,” Davis student newspaper the California Aggie quotes Interim Chancellor Ralph J. Hexter in a statement announcing the event would proceed. “As a public university, we remain true to our obligation to uphold everyone’s First Amendment freedoms. This commitment includes fostering an environment that avoids censorship and allows space for differing points of view. Therefore, we will not ask the Davis College Republicans to cancel their event.”
So, the show will go on, and this Scylla and Charybdis duo of internet monsters will keep doing their terrible best to make liberals and reasonable people lose their cool. It's a tricky situation: Cancel their events, and so-called conservatives will cry that they've been censored, or silenced, which they and their supports will claim lends legitimacy to their arguments that they're the unfortunate victims of "PC," anti-free speech liberals. Let them speak, and they're legitimized as people who get to speak at prestigious universities. Scylla and Charybdis indeed.