In a delightful bit of well-deserved comeuppance, the Internet troll and all-around asshole Milo Yiannopoulos had a very bad week. Simon & Schuster cancelled his $250,000 book contract; he was summarily disinvited from giving a keynote address at CPAC (the Congress of People Absent a Conscience); he resigned in shame from his position as tech editor at Brietbart.com; and he was generally subjected to the kind of treatment usually associated with sewage — an appropriate response.
And from what source did all these consequences flow?
A 16-year-old Canadian girl unearthed a podcast of the flamboyantly gay Milo signaling approval of the appeal an underage boy might find in sex with a man over the age of consent. The ensuing stampede away from Yiannopoulos couldn’t have happened to a more deserving jerk.
Yiannopoulos, of course, was the subject of a fawning profile in Out Magazine last year. Out apparently didn’t have a problem with Milo’s orchestrated assault on the actress and comedienne Leslie Jones, who received such vile treatment from Milo and his jackbooted followers that — well, let’s let a conservative writer, Reason.com’s Shikha Dalmia, describe the incident: “Yiannopoulos was later banned from Twitter over his attacks last summer on Leslie Jones, a black woman starring in the new ‘Ghostbusters.’ Yiannopoulos instigated and mobilized his massive alt-right Twitter brigade — already worked up about the movie’s all-female cast — against Jones. They called her an ‘ape’ and other terrible things. Then they created a fake Twitter account in her name and sent a series of tweets with anti-Semitic, homophobic slurs. When a distraught and bewildered Jones protested, Yiannopoulos simply berated her for playing the victim.”
Despite his repellent history, Simon & Schuster was all too happy to bring him onboard to the tune of a $250,000 advance and the opportunity to bring his Homo the Clown message of bejeweled hate to people who, unlike Milo’s army of trolls, can actually read more than 140 characters at a time. But there are things one just doesn’t say in public, chief among them that in certain circumstances underage boys can actually derive love and affection from guys who are over the legal limit.
It’s a position with which I happen to agree, though that doesn’t mean I’m not overjoyed by Milo’s fall from both grace and loss of a lucrative book contract. Although Yiannopoulos has walked back his original comments on the podcast, in which he stated that a hypothetical 13-year-old boy might get something positive from the love of an equally hypothetical older guy, that was precisely what he said. In Milo’s defense, is it really unthinkable to imagine a 20-year-old providing a 13-year-old with more affection than the boy’s hostile parents, and that such affection might be beneficial even if it was sexual in nature? That was the scenario Yiannopoulos was setting out in the podcast (and doing so in the context of discussing his own purported experiences at that age), and it doesn’t seem all that outrageous to me.
Where Yiannopoulos went wrong was to refer to such a relationship as pedophilia, a word that conjures up dark images of old stubbly men in filthy raincoats hanging around elementary school bus stops snatching pre-sexual boys and raping them in dank basements.
The gay rights movement used to be about sexual liberation, but nowadays hardly anyone — in the LGBTQ community or among any other adults — is willing to acknowledge that many 13-year-old boys are sexually active, if only with themselves; that it is at least theoretically possible for such an adolescent to crave affection from an older — if still young — guy; and to act on it to the satisfaction of both.
In the early 1980s, when I was 24 or 25, I went one evening to the St. Marks Baths, where I met a good-looking guy with exceptionally hairy legs with whom I quickly got it on. Afterward, during the conversation portion of the encounter, he told me that he was 17 years old. “Gee,” I thought to myself, “I’ve just committed statutory rape.” (I was wrong — he was, in fact, legal at 17, though wouldn’t have been at 16 — but my confusion at the time only underscores the arbitrary nature of all of this.) We then began to discuss his college applications and his interest in going to the school from which I had recently graduated. I spent the rest of my time with him giving him a rah-rah college admissions pitch for Haverford.
I fail to see what’s wrong with a relationship of this sort, except of course for the dorky way it ended.
Simon & Schuster, CPAC, and Breitbart disagreed. For Milo, a man each of these organizations promoted for exactly this kind of outrageous statement on every subject but sex, it must have been quite a shock to have the whole thing blow up in his face.
Dalmia continues: “That it took these pedophilia comments for conservatives to finally turn on Yiannopoulos speaks volumes about how low their movement has fallen. Yiannopoulos was a hate-peddling provocateur long before this. By inviting him to speak at universities around the country, many college Republicans apparently thought they were taking a brave stance against the forces of political correctness, and scoring one for free speech. In fact, they were discrediting their own movement by allying themselves with a vicious troll — demonstrating that they hate their enemies more than they love their alleged principles… For starters, he writes — or wrote — for Breitbart, a go-to site for the alt-right movement, a loose conglomeration of long-standing nativist outfits such as VDare and FAIR (Federation for American Immigration Reform), and white supremacists. [Note: VDare is named for Virginia Dare, the first white baby born to equally white settlers in the New World — the Jamestown Colony, specifically.] They all hate the left’s political correctness and multiculturalism not because it offends America’s commitment to individual rights and universalistic notions of justice, but because it comes in the way of their ethno-nationalistic project — which the site aids by peddling a constant stream of the vilest xenophobia (as I wrote here)… Milo Yiannopoulos is like the Joker in ‘Batman.’ He has turned chaos and nihilism into a business model for notoriety and wealth. Conservatives won’t defeat their liberal enemies by making a deal with this devil. Rather, they will validate the liberal critique of the right as a front for bigotry and prejudice, discrediting everything they claim to defend and declaring their own moral bankruptcy.”
Bear in mind that Dalmia is a card-carrying conservative. She may be the only semi-sane one left on the planet.
This is not the world where I imagined I’d be living in my dotage, folks. Calling Leslie Jones an ape is perfectly acceptable; talking about sex between a teenager and a young adult is not. It must have blown Milo’s, um, mind to learn the hard way that there are still very strict limits to what one may utter in public. It’s certainly blown mine to realize that his point about sex between various stages of youth is one with which I agree.