Is Milo Yiannopoulos, former Breitbart editor, provocative right wing commentator and flamboyant anti-liberal activist, coming to Cal State Bakersfield?
Nobody who knows is saying.
But rampant speculation — and a two-word post from Yiannopoulos’ official Facebook account — have fanned the rumor into a heated debate.
The facts are these:
A placeholder event with a “controversial guest speaker” is scheduled for Oct. 25 from 5 to 11 p.m. at CSUB’s Icardo Center on the university’s digital calendar system.
The special event is open to the public, including Bakersfield residents, and will “touch on controversial political topics.”
The CSUB College Republicans group is listed as the organization hosting the event
Michael Lukens, director of public affairs and communications at CSUB, isn’t talking about who the speaker could be because there isn’t a deal — yet — to bring anyone to the university that day.
“For now it’s just a proposal. There’s no contract,” he said.
The calendar system post is just a routine way to hold a spot in CSUB’s busy schedule as the event details are worked out.
“That was done on our event system to schedule the time, date and location in case it works out,” Lukens said. “That doesn’t mean it’s an official event.”
But social media has exploded with commentary about the event, naming Yiannopoulos as the guest speaker.
And the self-styled provocateur himself has chimed in.
Jim Scully, lecturer in the Music and Theatre Department at CSUB, posted on Facebook Friday that Yiannopoulos was coming.
“Rumors that Milo Yiannopoulos will be speaking at CSUB next month...ugh,” Scully wrote. “Update: confirmed — by potential speaker, not confirmed by campus.”
The post triggered a flurry of comments, debates and outrage.
And it even got a couple words from Yiannopoulos’ Facebook account.
“Can’t wait!” read the post, which was followed by a smiling emoji wearing an angel’s halo.
Leaders of the CSUB College Republicans' “onsite event contact” Jake Thomasy and group chair Spencer Cordova did not return messages from The Californian seeking comment Monday afternoon.
A crowd of 1,000 people is expected, according to the CSUB calendar listing.
If the special guest is truly Yiannopoulos, that estimate might be just a tiny bit low.
Yiannopoulos’ support for President Donald Trump, controversial comments about his gay sexuality, abrasive and confrontational speaking style, Twitter ban and association with the alt-right movement have made him a target for progressive ire.
He’s become a darling of conservatives for many of the same reasons.
In February he was scheduled to speak at the University of California, Berkeley before, according to reports from the San Francisco Chronicle, masked anarchists emerged from a generally peaceful crowd and began throwing fireworks and bricks at police.
It’s uncertain what Yiannopoulos’ reception in Kern County will be.
Bakersfield is not Berkeley.
But the possible visit by the polarizing figure has triggered responses ranging from petty name calling to heated intellectual debate on social media.
And that could pose a challenge to CSUB if it approves the visit.
“There will be no food or drink served,” the university scheduling system writes, “and there will be ample security as a precautionary measure to ensure campus and student safety.”