To the shock of no one, the surprising darling of the alt-right Milo Yiannopoulos is making headlines again. To the shock of some, it’s for defending pedophiliac relationships.
For anyone who doesn’t know, Milo is a fabulously gay and disturbingly conservative, alt-right “journalist” at Breitbart and social media talking head. I first heard of him when Twitter banned his account after a tirade of personal, racist attacks against Leslie Jones. Since then, he has appeared in the news depressingly often for his scandalous and appalling viewpoints on feminism, Black Lives Matter, Muslims, lesbians – and pretty much anything else.
But this time, we have a leaked clip from a radio show where he says the indefensible:
“[13 years old] is probably roughly the right age [for consent laws]. This arbitrary and oppressive idea of consent which totally destroys the understanding that many of us have… Some of those relationships between younger boys and older men, the sort of coming of age relationships… help those young boys to discover who they are.”
When another guest mentions pedophilia, Milo is quick to say “pedophilia is not a sexual attraction to somebody 13 years old or older” and explains that he is not advocating pedophilia but “cross-generational relationships”, because “relationships between young boys and older men can be very positive experiences”.
So apparently, 13-year-olds are fair game for sexual relationships – even when pursued by adult men. And legal consent, which typically requires an individual to be 16 to 18 years old is “oppressive”. Oppressive to who? Sexual predators who seek out children?!
(Thankfully, in the wake of these comments, CPAC has revoked their invitation of a speaking role at their conference, Simon & Schuster has pulled his book deal and he has been forced to resign from Breitbart.)
Although this is arguably the worst assertion made by Milo, it is hardly alone. Here is just a sample of the appalling, ridiculous crap he claims:
- “America has a Muslim problem… The terror attack on Saturday [in Orlando] is an expression of mainstream Muslim values.”
- Birth control makes women “fat”; it “makes your voice unsexy” and “makes you jiggle wrong”; and it makes you “a slut” with “cottage cheese thighs”. Birth control has also “destroyed the institution of marriage”.
- “If white privilege is a thing, why are people working so hard to be black? All of the award shows and cultural events favor black culture.”
- “Women don’t work as hard [as men].”
- “Muslims are allowed to get away with almost anything.”
I could write an entire blog post on each quote, but I think their collective outrageousness and blatant dishonesty speak for themselves.
Now supporters of Milo – and amazingly, he still has some left – are quick to defend him with freedom of speech arguments. These arguments are wielded against the left often and viciously, claiming liberals only “approve of” speech that is in favor of their own views.
As ridiculous as this is, I have heard it too many times not to address it, so here it is: freedom of speech does not protect you from a response. Yes, you are allowed to say whatever you want. Milo is free to proclaim whatever asshole statements he chooses. But we are free to respond. That is what conservatives are missing – the entire purpose of free speech is to facilitate conversation.
If Milo wants to openly support pedophilia, the CPAC is free to rescind his invitation to speak. His publisher is free to pull his book deal. If Milo is invited to speak at Berkeley, students who oppose his hateful and disgusting views are free to protest.
But apparently, conservatives are looking for the right to speak freely without response, without criticism, and without the need to defend their stance.
So before the right starts yelling about freedom of speech, they should remember that a response to alt-right comments is also free speech. The First Amendment does not mean you can be racist, sexist, hateful and no one will call you out on it. The First Amendment only means it is not against the law to be racist, sexist and hateful. It also means I am free to and will 100% accuse you of being racist, sexist, and hateful when appropriate – as in Milo’s case, it definitely is.
I am not naive enough to think Milo will fade into obscurity, but hopefully we will stop giving this overblown shock jock a platform for his delusions.
P.S. Freedom of speech also does not equal the right to a platform… Heard this a lot after his speech at Berkeley was canceled. No one has the “right” to speak at a public university (or has the “right” to have a book published). Okay, I’m really done now.