The chairman of the American Conservative Union, the group that hosts the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), said that journalist and provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos had been disinvited from this year’s conference after resurfaced video of him speaking approvingly of pedophilia “broke through some very important boundaries.”
Matt Schlapp told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Tuesday that while he had invited Yiannopoulos to address CPAC because he was “a big voice in our movement,” the recently resurfaced video had proven a controversy too far.
“We are OK with having controversy on the stage at CPAC. We don’t endorse everything every speaker says at CPAC. As a matter of fact, since I’ve been chairman, we’ve tried to take the controversies, especially those amongst conservatives, and put them on our stage,” he said. “But there are boundaries. And over the weekend I was made aware of these comments and it just broke through very important boundaries, and we felt like the CPAC stage was not an appropriate place for this any longer.”
In video resurfaced over the weekend by a Twitter account called @ReaganBattalion, Milo is seen referencing the “arbitrary and oppressive idea of consent” and suggesting that relationships between 13-year-olds and adults could occur “perfectly consensually.”
“Morning Joe” panelist Rick Tyler asked Schlapp about Yiannopoulos’ conservative credentials. “He seems like an opportunist,” he said. “So how did he get invited in the first place?”
Schlapp responded by referencing the press Yiannopoulos had received after a large protest against him at the University of California at Berkeley.
“I made the decision,” Schlapp said. “He came to see me. He wanted to give some remarks about his experience on campus, where he is often shut down. There was so much press around his attempt to speak at Berkeley. We think what happens with these speech codes and chilling of free speech on campus is un-American. It’s wrong. And he’s brave to stand up in those situations.”
Host Joe Scarborough brought up accusations that Yiannopoulos had made anti-Semitic statements in the past. He asked if there wasn’t someone else to make the case against “PC” campus speech codes.
Again, Schlapp referenced Yiannopoulos’ large following.
“Joe, it’s a fair point. But the other point is that, whether we like it or not, he is a big voice in this movement,” Schlapp said. “And we believe that our attendees can handle it and make their own judgments on whether or not they think a speaker is saying what is accurate or being inaccurate or being hateful. I don’t want to shield that kind of conversation from our attendees. As a matter of fact, a lot of attendees want to have these controversies before them and make their own choices.”
He added later: “The fact is he’s got a voice that a lot of young people listen to. I would rather have our attendees hear it and make their own judgments than me censor them.”