Milo Yiannopoulos Regrets: When a Provocateur Turns to Damage Control

From the Facebook page of professional provocateur and controversalist Milo Yiannopoulos:

I am a gay man, and a child abuse victim.

…I am horrified by pedophilia and I have devoted large portions of my career as a journalist to exposing child abusers. I’ve outed three of them, in fact — three more than most of my critics. And I’ve repeatedly expressed disgust at pedophilia in my feature and opinion writing…

But I do understand that these videos, even though some of them are edited deceptively, paint a different picture.

I’m partly to blame. My own experiences as a victim led me to believe I could say anything I wanted to on this subject, no matter how outrageous.

…I do not believe sex with 13-year-olds is okay. When I mentioned the number 13, I was talking about the age I lost my own virginity.

I shouldn’t have used the word “boy” — which gay men often do to describe young men of consenting age — instead of “young man.” That was an error.

I am certainly guilty of imprecise language, which I regret.

The above statement was posted in response to sudden media interest in an interview he gave to a radio show called Drunken Peasants a year ago (and available online since then). The interview came under critical scrutiny from a British blogger and comic book author named  Doris V. Sutherland in January, in a post that includes some relevant transcriptions; however, the controversy only became critical yesterday, when a clip of the show was publicised by unnamed US conservatives (“the Reagan Battalion”) who were opposed to CPAC inviting Yiannopoulos to speak (but apparently not, contrary to some reports, to be the keynote speaker).

The upshot is that Yiannopoulos (whom I previously wrote about here) has now been disinvited from CPAC, and Simon & Schuster has used the opportunity to dump its controversial book deal with him, which it had previously defended on free speech grounds. He has also been repudiated at a personal level by Louise Mensch, and there are also claims of discontent among his colleagues at Breitbart. The above is his second statement on the subject – the first was headed “A note for idiots”, as if he were about to explain the self-evident. The opening insult is absent in the second statement, thus conceding that he needs to win back an audience.

This comes after several months during which  Yiannopoulos has been celebrated by many conservatives as a hero who has exposed liberals’ supposed preference for shutting down debate rather than arguing; when the University of California at Berkeley recently cancelled a speech he was due to give because of safety concerns, the matter caught the personal attention of Donald Trump, who issued a Tweet threatening the withdrawal of federal funds. However, it should be noted that some conservatives always found his antics obnoxious, as noted here by the National Review.

Doubtless, this is a story that will run and run, but here are a few notes of my own:

1. The whole point of the Yiannopoulos “Milo” brand is that he says outrageous things and doesn’t care if his listeners are offended or upset. He is particularly scathing of those who would ask for special consideration because they describe themselves as having been victimised by some past unhappy experience. Yet here he is now offering a sort-of apology for going too far, and foregrounding his own experience as a victim. In other words, by attempting damage limitation he’s undercut the whole basis for his pose; the spell is broken even if he successfully disassociates from his previous comments.

2. He now self-identifies as a “child abuse victim”, and this is appropriate given that (assuming he is being truthful) he had sex with adult men while he was underage. But during his January 2016 interview he specifically stated that “I wasn’t abused as a child, or anything like that”, and he mocked as a “witch hunt” his interviewer’s disgust at sexual encounters he claims to have had with a priest at the age of 14. If he now accepts that this shouldn’t have happened, is he going to make a statement to Kent Police in the UK about the priest and about a teacher he says he also had sex with? If not, why not? It wasn’t all that long along ago, and in the case of the unnamed teacher, this is likely to be someone who is still active in the profession. (1)

3. There is also criticism that Yiannopoulos claims to have seen the sexual abuse of underage boys at parties in Hollywood, yet did not report the matter to police. He could be pressed further on this point – although there’s a possibility that he simply made it up to show off his supposed insider knowledge of what goes on behind the closed doors of the powerful.

4. He has not “devoted” parts of his career to “exposing child abusers”. In one case, he revealed the proclivities of someone on the opposing side in the “Gamergate” controversy, and in the other two examples his reporting was motivated by revenge against individuals with whom he formerly had professional dealings in the UK. He has also used the “Pizzagate” conspiracy theory to promote himself (see update 2 at my post here), purporting to have privileged access to inside information that will supposedly be revealed in due course.

5. His claim about videos being “edited deceptively” is somewhat hard to take given that just a few months ago he fabricated Tweet screenshots in the name of the actress Leslie Jones in order to falsely portray her as an anti-Semite. That in itself ought to have been enough reason for Breitbart to get rid of him.

Meanwhile, Iain Martin has an interesting account of Yiannopoulos’s earlier rise to social media fame in the UK via the now-defunct Telegraph Blogs here.

Footnote

1. The age of consent for male homosexual activity in the UK was 21 until 1994, and then 18 until 2001, when it was reduced to 16 in line with heterosexual and female homosexual sex – and a new change in the law just a few weeks ago makes it clear that this lower age of consent now applies retroactively. However, in 2001 it also became a sexual offence for teachers to have affairs with pupils at their school, even when a pupil is over 16. Yiannopoulos would have attended secondary school between 1997 and 2004, including Sixth Form.

One Response

  1. Typically a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

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