The British Government has shut down a speech by Milo Yiannopoulos after putting pressure on the school hosting it to call it off.
Anti-Extremism officials leaned on faculty at the school in Kent, England, where Yiannopoulos was due to speak, resulting in the event being scrapped.
Speaking to Heat Street about the cancellation, Yiannopoulos said: “Who knew that the government has a counter-extremism unit that would harass gays?
“They’ve bullied and humiliated this poor school into cancelling. Maybe if I called my talk ‘Muslims are Awesome!’ they wouldn’t.”
He had been due to address sixth-form students at the Simon Langton grammar school in Canterbury, where he used to be a student – until he was expelled.
The event had attracted national attention and, in turn, a stark warning from the anti-extremism unit at the UK Government’s Department for Education.
Government officials insist to Heat Street that they did not directly instruct the school to cancel the event.
But their call, when they raised “potential issues” with the talk, led directly to the cancellation. The department would not say what the issues were.
In a statement to the Kent Messenger newspaper, Simon Langton headmaster Matthew Baxter said he had been contacted by state officials.
Baxter, who wanted the speech to go ahead, said: “This decision was taken following contact from the Department For Education’s counter extremism unit, the threat of demonstrations at the school by organised groups and members of the public and our overall concerns for the security of the school site and the safety of our community.
“We note that within 24 hours of advertising the event, more than 220 Langton sixth formers had, with parental consent, signed up for the event and that objection to our hosting Mr Yiannopoulus came almost entirely from people with no direct connection to the Langton.
“The staff and students of the school were overwhelmingly in favour.
“While disappointed that both the pastoral care and intellectual preparation we offer to our students has been called into question, we at the Langton remain committed to the principle of free speech and open debate and will resist, where possible, all forms of censorship.”
The cancellation echoes the controversy surrounding Yiannopoulos’s tour of US campuses, which have resulted in heated protests, resignations and tearful counselling sessions for those upset by his presence.
In a statement to Heat Street, a Department for Education spokesman said: “When concerns are raised by members of the public following media coverage in advance of an event, the department would contact the school as a matter of routine to check they had considered any potential issues.
“The decision to cancel the event was a matter for the school.”
Simon Langton school has been contacted for comment.