No fewer than 62 Phoenix venues have turned down the opportunity to host Milo Yiannopolous, the Internet provocateur known for his cozy ties to white nationalists, for a “Free Speech Arizona” event, the Phoenix New Times reported Thursday. His visit to the southwestern city has been canceled as a result.
A spokesperson for the United Liberty Coalition, a far-right group that purports to “defend our Constitutionally protected liberty” and had invited Yiannopolous to speak, told the New Times that venues were scared off by security risks or simply disagreed with his views.
“We know that at least 20 of them pulled out or denied use because of fear of retaliation and violence,” United Liberty Coalition’s Shelby Busch wrote in an email to the publication. “A few of them denied us because they researched Milo and decided they did not want to be involved because of what they have seen on the news.”
The group subsequently issued a statement on its Facebook page lamenting that they had had to ask Yiannopolous to drop out because they were unable to guarantee the safety of someone of his “stature.” A quote from Yiannopolous included in the statement decries the ability of “left-wing bullies” to shut down conservative speakers and asks the U.S. government to uphold their duty to “defend free speech.”
Despite his protestations, the private venues that denied Yiannopolous a stage were simply exercising their right not to host him.
The Phoenix event’s cancellation is another entry in a parade of bad news for the self-described “most fabulous supervillain on the internet.” He blamed university censorship for the collapse of a September “Free Speech Week” he had planned to host on the University of California at Berkeley’s campus, but it turned out that his student organizers failed to file necessary paperwork and that Yiannopolous himself neglected to even extend invitations to some of the individuals he’d scheduled as speakers.
Then came a blockbuster Buzzfeed report detailing his extensive efforts to covertly insert white nationalist ideas into Breitbart’s stories and the mainstream discourse by proxy.
Yiannopolous is still in the middle of his “Troll Academy” tour, and his schedule claims he will soon travel to Australia for a string of events held at “secret” locations.
Those who already bought tickets to the Phoenix stop, spending either $27.95 for a discounted pass or up to $125 for a VIP pass that included an autographed copy of Yiannopolous’ book “Dangerous,” will receive refunds, according to a statement on his personal Facebook page.