An ACLU lawyer has spoken out against the organization’s defense of former Breitbart editor and author Milo Yiannopoulos.
The liberal advocacy group filed a First Amendment lawsuit against the Washington Metro Area Transit Authority (WMATA) this week on behalf of Yiannopoulos after it banned ads for his book, titled Dangerous.
WMATA reserves the right to prohibit advertisements for multiple reasons, including those “intended to influence members of the public regarding an issue on which there are varying opinions,” ads that “support or oppose an industry position or industry goal without any direct commercial benefit to the advertiser” and ads “intended to influence public policy.”
But the ACLU has now accused transit authorities of trying to “sanitize its advertising spaces from messages that might give offense,” according to the Washington Examiner.
“The First Amendment protects the speech of everyone from discriminatory government censorship, whether you agree with the message or not,” the rights organization said.
“The ACLU could not more strongly disagree with the values that Milo Yiannopoulos espouses, but we can’t allow the government to pick and choose which viewpoints are acceptable,” senior staff attorney Lee Rowland added.
But his colleague Chase Strangio, who previously represented WikiLeaks source Chelsea Manning, said that while “the ACLU has a long history of representing despicable people in the service of protecting valuable First Amendment principles,” he disagreed with the decision to support Yiannopoulos.
“Milo preys on the deep-seated hatred for Black people, other people of color, trans people, immigrants, Muslim people and women that is sadly a central tenet of our social fabric and political system. He is vile. And I am sorry for any platform and validation that he receives,” Strangio added.
“I don’t believe in protecting principle for the sake of principle in all cases,” he said.
Yiannopoulos has become known for courting controversy. He was banned from Twitter last year, and his book deal with Simon & Schuster was torpedoed after the openly-gay conservative came under heavy fire for comments he made on pedophilia, where he appeared to downplay the seriousness of it.
He opted to self-publish last month.
- Report from the Washington Examiner
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