Published: 00:01, 15 November 2016 |
Updated: 12:34, 16 November 2016
A row has erupted after 'alt right' blogger Milo Yiannopoulos, known for his extreme views, has been invited to speak at the Kent school he was expelled from.
The blogger, who writes for the right-wing website Breitbart, has been asked back to Simon Langton Boys Grammar School in Canterbury where he studied more than 15 years ago.
Yiannopoulos was recently banned from Twitter permanently following comments against Ghostbusters actress Leslie Jones.
He also sells a range of hoodies from his website emblazoned with the slogan 'feminism is cancer'.
Earlier today he posted on his Facebook page: "I've been invited back to speak at my old high school, Simon Langton Grammar School for Boys, which once upon a time expelled me for absolutely outrageous behavior.
"The moral of the story is: success trumps everything!"
Former Simon Langton pupils remember Yiannopoulos, who changed his name from Milo Hanrahan, as a talented pianist who used to play in school assemblies.
Some parents and pupils are less than happy with the choice of speaker, and have taken to Facebook to question the school's decision.
Kat Peddie wrote on Facebook: "I think one thing the rise of Farage and Trump really shows is no-platforming of this kind of **** is probably a better idea than we thought.
"I think just being clear about what is unacceptable and that there are consequences to hate speech is far more effective tool... than encouraging it to be spoken so that we can listen carefully to it."
Peter Walters, who says he is a teacher at the school, posted: "I believe I know our senior students quite well.
"They are, on the whole, an intelligent, articulate and well-informed group of young people.
"I have no doubt that they will listen to what he has to say, take the opportunity to quiz him on his beliefs and ideals, then make up their own minds.
"He will not radicalize them, his visit will not lower our expectations of behavior within the school environment.
"It may, however, lead to informed debate on differing political ideals which in the current climate is, in my view more important than ever."
However, others reject the idea of 'no-platforming' the controversial speaker, arguing pupils can make up their own minds.
Nicky Louette posted: "As the mother of two sons and a daughter who have all been Langton sixth formers, I would have had no problem with this.
"I'm no lover of this sort of bilge but I loathe the idea that only the 'right' sort of ideology should be heard.
"Drag it out into the light to be discussed and debated. There are many things in life that are unpleasant and shocking; pretending they don't exist doesn't solve anything."
Milo said ahead of the debate: "We've come a long way since being gay was scandalous and legally dangerous.
"But apparently it's still news when a gay man has sound conservative opinions as well as perfect hair. How tiresome!
Dr Matthew Baxter, the school's headteacher said: "There has been considerable attention to the upcoming visit of Milo Yiannopoulos to the Langton.
"This is a low key event, part of a regular programme of discussions on social, economic, cultural and political issues which we organise for our sixth form students and is only open to The Langton Community.
"He was invited by the Langton Liberal Arts Society to give a talk on politics, the alt-right and the recent US election.
"Although a few people could be dismayed by our giving a platform to a journalist who has some ultra-right views, I would remind students, parents, colleagues and the greater community that the Langton is fully committed to free speech and open debate and that this week we have Dr Stella Bolaki speaking on feminism, civil rights and LGBT issues; in previous weeks/months we have attracted speakers from a very wide spectrum: Natalie Bennett, Douglas Carswell (UKIP), etc.
"The Langton has always encouraged free speech and open debate.
"The Langton does not practise censorship, especially before an event or a speaker has even had a chance to present his or her views.
"We trust that our students will be able to use their reason to assail bad arguments and applaud sound ones."
The talk - which is only open to sixth form students - will take place at 4pm on November 22.
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