The past few days have been anything but pleasant for Milo Yiannopoulos.
During his press conference Tuesday, the right-wing provocateur announced his resignation from Breitbart News where he served as a senior tech editor for the website. This followed on the heels of him being disinvited by sponsors of the Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) where he was scheduled to be a featured speaker this weekend. Shortly after, publishing house Simon and Schuster’s conservative imprint Threshold Editions canceled the June publication of his book, Dangerous.
For those of you who are unaware of who Milo Yiannopoulos is or what he said, let me break it down for you. It was recently discovered that, in an interview last year, he concluded that sexual relationships between adult men and teenage boys could be “beneficial.” He did not stop there. He said that, in some cases, such sexual relations are often “hugely positive.” He was not done yet. He opined that in many cases these older men often help younger boys “discover who they are.”
Understandably, condemnation from across the political spectrum was swift. In fact, many of his fellow employees at Breitbart threatened to resign if Yiannopoulos was not terminated for his remarks. During his press conference, the alt-right flamethrower offered a quasi-apology and awkward defense of some of his commentary, blaming his current predicament for “deceptive editing” in addition to his tendency to use “imprecise language.” He went on to say that he absolutely does not support pedophilia and that he had been the victim of sexual abuse as a young child.
Well, thank goodness he believes that pedophilia is criminal and is unacceptable. Secondly, if he was, in fact, the victim of sexual abuse at the hands of perverted and unscrupulous men, this was terrible and he deserves our sympathy. That being said, then it is inconceivable to me that Yiannopoulos could harbor even the most remote belief that sexual relationships between adults and children are healthy. They are not, period!
Yiannopoulos is not the only guilty person in this sordid saga. It was widely known that he had a history of making outlandish, abrasive and offensive comments about marginalized groups of people. Yiannopoulos, a Greek-born, British-raised, half-Jewish, gay man, had no problem denouncing, denigrating and disrespecting others. In fact, he seemed to take perverse and sadistic delight in doing so.
He was all too eager to engage in the dirty work for many people on the conservative/political right as he hurled vicious and salacious attacks on immigrants, Muslims, certain Blacks (in particular Black Lives Matters), gays and lesbians (despite being openly gay himself), transgendered people, Hispanics, feminists, women in general, people with disabilities, and all those whom many on the political right and far right in particular harbor intense disdain for, view with a politically and socially jaundiced eye, and see as “the other.”
What would normally be seen as Yiannopoulos’ own disqualifications for acceptance among many people in this group was overlooked and he was given a pass. These are the people for whom racism, misogyny, homophobia, xenophobia are very acceptable. In fact, such vices are often par for the course.
The “inclusion” afforded to Yiannopoulos was only temporary and came with strings attached. The provisions being that he genuflect to his alt-right audience and financial benefactors. That he never speak ill of true, genuine racists, anti-Semites, homophones, xenophobes, and others who revel in intolerance and that he stick it to the left by increasingly ramping up the acerbic, acid-tongue rhetoric. By pleasing his masters, he would be well compensated from right-of-center business groups to college conservative student groups to conservative political organizations. Such psychological adoration came to an abrupt halt upon the recent disturbing and sordid revelations.
Supporting Yiannopoulos was never about free speech. The organizers who pulled his invitation to speak at the Conservative Political Action Committee and the publishers who canceled his lucrative book deal at Threshold Books did so because they found his outlandish comments about children abhorrent and indefensible, and rightly so. However, as long as he skewered other marginalized groups, his rhetoric was tolerable. The level of hypocrisy is foul. All parties — Yiannopoulos, CPAC and Threshold Books — have egg on their faces and blood on their hands.
No one should feel too sorry for Milo Yiannopoulos. Despite whatever temporary setbacks he may face, he is very likely to rebound and land on his feet, whether as a reconstructed public figure or as a well-paid, behind-the-scenes propagandist. In our current, divisive political climate, mischief and opportunism, in particular, political mischief and opportunism often produces ample financial dividends for those who brazenly and shamelessly are willing to sell themselves to the highest bidder. If his past behavior is any indication, Milo Yiannopoulos is well suited for such a role.