The Milo Yiannopoulos reign of terror has officially ended, or at least the left’s battle against him has.
The British conservative and provocateur lost a $250,00 book deal, a coveted CPAC slot and his day job at Breitbart all in one weekend after video surfaced of him describing the complex nature of some same-sex relations and their relation to LGBT oppression on a podcast.
Insert straight panic about all gays being child molesters, along a slew of articles either misconstruing or re-interpreting Yiannopolous’s words altogether, and you have yourself the immediate demise of one of the few prominent gay voices on the right.
This is no prideful feat. But the witch hunt against Yiannopoulos is exactly what many on the left are patting themselves on the back for.
Let’s start off from some common ground: Yiannopoulos’ comments were insensitive and not at all in line with the thinking of this writer.
According to the DSM-V, he is correct in saying that “pedophilia is attraction to children who have not reached puberty.” The diagnostic manual defines “pedophilic disorder” as intense and recurring sexual urges towards, and fantasies about, prepubescent children, thought by most professionals to be kids 13 or younger. However, he reaches shaky territory (as he is prone to doing) when he offers a personal anecdote alongside the claim that “there are certainly people who are capable of giving consent at a younger age.”
This kind of blurring of the lines of consent excuses child abusers at face value.
Molesters are known to groom their younger victims with psychological schemes. This manipulation builds a false sense of autonomy and consent that has a lasting impact. It can impair a child’s emotional growth for years. Such a thing should never be excused.
Still, Yiannopoulos touched upon a nuanced conversation about the history of LGBT oppression.
Gay kids are widely marginalized and judged. It is not hard to see why they would have a sexual awakening that differs vastly from that of their straight counterparts, who are freer to engage with their love interests without fears of ostracization.
In January 2015, The Advocate reported on the prevalence of online comments such as “pedophile,” “dirty old man” and “pervert,” after English actor Stephen Fry, then 57, confirmed his plans to marry stand-up comic Elliot Spencer, then 27, via Twitter.
There are many reasons for the so-called “gay age gap” in relationships. Some are economical, as some younger gay men seek stability and safety in older men due to institutional failures in protections against homophobia and discrimination. Many justifications are personal, such as young men who see no other outlet for their emotional frustrations in the face of an unsupportive family.
It’s likely that Yiannopoulos was not referring to relationships between 13-year-olds and 50-year-olds, though it seems that is what many heard.
“The whole consent thing for me,” Yiannopoulos said in the podcast about cross-generational relationships, “It’s not this black and white thing that people try to paint it.”
“You know, people are messy and complex. In the homosexual world particularly,” Yiannopoulos added.
Yiannopoulos denounced his “sloppy phrasing” in a Facebook post on February 19, calling pedophilia “vile and disgusting.”
That quick backpedaling was uncharacteristic of Yiannopoulos, who is often compared to polemic Ann Coulter for rarely apologizing and often offending.
Writing for The Atlantic, Olga Khazan posited that the media firestorm against Yiannopoulos’ comments were “exploiting a myth that religious conservatives invented decades ago.”
Khazan cited overwhelming proof of how the gay-people-are-child-molesters fairytale has hindered the LGBT rights movement since before the 1970s. She recalled Anita Bryant, the anti-gay zealot who claimed that equal rights would allow gays to “molest children in schools.”
According to research from the University of California, Davis, a 1970 national survey revealed that 70% of respondents agreed “homosexuals try to play sexually with children if they cannot get an adult partner.”
Cut to almost 40 years later, LGBT activists are still pushing back against that harmful stereotype under an administration that just rolled back protections for transgender students in schools.
House Bill 2, the controversial North Carolina law establishing that transgender people have no right to use public restrooms corresponding to their gender, is even officially called the Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act, a name that effectively blacklists LGBT people in that state.
This past week, we even saw the left salivating at the chance to rip Yiannopoulos apart based on a similar homophobic fear.
Hatred for him has been boiling up among liberals for a while, and this seemed like a perfect way to capitalize on a universally despised crime in order to further a political agenda.
Yiannopoulos’ apologies were not enough to lower the pitchforks from both sides of the political spectrum.
In its Tuesday evening briefing, The New York Times sensationally reported that Yiannopoulos had incited controversy for “condoning sex with boys.” Uproxx’s headline on Sunday claimed that Yiannopoulos had somehow endorsed pedophilia.
The right, his usual defenders, saw an opportunity to rehash their foul folklore and chimed in.
The conservative blog RedState published an article under the headline “Milo On The Joys of Young Boys Having Sexual Relations With Older Men (UNEDITED VIDEO)” early Monday morning. The Blaze, home of Tomi Lahren, published another one with the headline “Video surfaces of Milo Yiannopolous defending pedophilia, ACU board reportedly not consulted on CPAC invite.”
We know what motivates the right, but what exactly is the left’s agenda?
After an embarrassing defeat that left liberals slack-jawed at the idea that conservatives vote and exist, one might think they are interested in encouraging a healthier back-and-forth with the rest of America.
At the very least, maybe they are interested in defending freedom of speech, especially when the person employing it is part of a key leftist constituency.
Turns out that liberals are great with fact manipulation too, especially if you disagree with them.
Nothing has been made of the fact that liberal Bill Maher called Yiannopoulos a “fag” while interviewing him on his HBO show, where Yiannopoulos astutely pointed out (in between a number of questionable comments) that “when someone is perceived to have conservative politics, there are different rules.”
Having the audacity to be a minority and a conservative is unforgivable to the increasingly intolerant left. Not only is such a person fair game in critiques of betrayal and ignorance, but they make themselves open to the same sort of misinformation-based attacks the left constantly accuses the right of. Just Google the words “Condoleezza Rice” or “Colin Powell” and “uncle Tom” for proof.
In the end, this is not about one single person or their gauche comments. It’s about the founding principle outlined in our First Amendment, and the concerning idea that the group claiming to fight for “minority rights” will search for any crack in a person’s humanity to throw them to the wolves.