Daily Caller Seeks Milo Yiannopoulos’s Catholic Priest

From the Daily Caller:

Where Is The Priest Who Sexually Abused Milo Yiannopoulos?

Lost in the crushing sound of Milo Yiannopoulos’ fall has been the revelation that he was sexually abused by a priest named “Fr. Michael.”

…Milo was raised Catholic and is open about his love for the Catholic Church. In Kent, England where Milo grew up, a Catholic priest named Monsignor Michael Smith was arrested in 2010 after sexual abuse allegations were made against him by victim who called Smith a “devious predator.” According to KentLive, a publication in Kent, the victim received compensation from the Catholic Church in a civil suit in 2016.

Kent Live is the web version of the Kent and Sussex Courier, and it’s something of a novelty to see a big-time conservative US website delve into the world of British regional newspapers.

Perhaps we should be grateful that the Daily Caller author has settled on a priest who is deceased and who was already under a cloud of suspicion for a similar crime when he died in 2011. But the deduction remains highly speculative, and it tends towards encouraging reckless identifications of individuals as having committed crimes.

There are probably many “Fr Michaels” who were based in the Catholic Diocese of Southwark (a more useful geographical unit here than “Kent”) in the late 1990s to early 2000s, and all of them (whether alive or dead) are now at risk of being pursued by paedo-hunters thanks to Yiannopoulos’s semi-disclosure about alleged incidents that he has not apparently ever reported to the police. Fr Michael Smith was based in Tonbridge from the early 1990s until his death – this location is more than 20 miles from Chatham, where Yiannopoulos grew up, and nearly 45 miles from Canterbury, where he went to school. There are also other large towns in the vicinity, in particular Ashford and Maidstone.

There should also be some caution about taking Yiannopoulos’s story at face value. Focus on his provocateur antics has overshadowed the fact that he has a dubious relationship with the truth, and it does seem remarkable that someone who enjoys causing outrage just happens to have a stock of outrageous anecdotes from his youth – one of which is a stereotypical story about priestly abuse.

In fact, it’s not clear to what extent Yiannopoulos can truly lay claim to a Catholic upbringing, although it was a useful identity for his first journalism job, which was at the Catholic Herald. Yiannopoulos was raised by a part-Greek father, and Greek Roman Catholics are a tiny minority; and he went to Simon Langton school in Canterbury rather than a Roman Catholic school. Perhaps the chance of a place at a grammar school won out over a Catholic comprehensive (1), but it does lead one to wonder how it was exactly that he came to form an association with a Catholic priest. But in the current climate, perhaps it’s better not to encourage further speculation.

Footnote
1. Note for non-Brits: grammar schools are state schools that select pupils by ability following an entrance exam, while comprehensives accept any pupil within a particular geographical area. Most grammar schools became comprehensives in the 1960s and 1970s, but the older system remains partially in place in some parts of the country.

Bill Maher Under Fire Over Long-Known Views on Female Teachers and Statutory Rape

A headline from the Boston Globe:

Bill Maher, who aided Yiannopoulos’ fall, also defended sex with children

While from USA Today:

Like Milo Y, Bill Maher once defended sex between adults and minors

And so on.

Allegedly “soft” views on the subject of underage sex, in some instances dredged up from some time ago, are now regularly weaponized in public controversies; a few weeks ago Piers Morgan opportunistically denounced the actor Ewan McGregor as “paedophile-loving” for having expressed sympathy when Roman Polanski was arrested in 2009, but the trend has become turbo-charged this week with the fall of Milo Yiannopoulos.

Yiannopoulos reacted to criticism of his own views as expressed a year ago by referring to old comments by George Takei, and Maher has now come under focus because of Yiannopoulos’s recent appareance on Maher’s show. At the time, Maher lauded  Yiannopoulos as a “young… Christopher Hitchens”, but he has since claimed to have exposed him as an “Ann Coulter wannabe”.

The lurid headlines give the impression that Maher was formerly some sort of NAMBLA advocate or an American Tom O’Carroll. In fact, he had made comments on his Politically Incorrect talk-show in 1998 defending Mary Kay Letourneau, a teacher who had been convicted of having had sex with a 12-year-old pupil in the state of Washington. Maher, to studio laughter, said that she was in prison simply for having fallen in love and not conforming. This wasn’t just a case of being provocative to make the show lively: Maher made similar comments at later dates, and also lewdly lamented that Debra Lafave, a glamorous teacher convicted in Florida after sex with a 14-year-old student in 2005, had not been videoed in the act.

Maher’s attitude is commonplace, and the Daily Show dug up comparable material about Donald Trump in September. Such views reflect the sexist idea that a boy engaging in sex with a woman has achieved a precocious maturity of which he can be proud, while a girl in a similar situation with a man has been taken advantage of and seduced. Age may have something to with it: although we now take it for granted that age of consent laws should be gender neutral, even in the 1980s California law excluded the possibility of a female perpetrator of statutory rape. This was confirmed as constitutional by the Supreme Court in 1981 (the case of Michael M.), on the grounds that such laws were designed to protect girls from unwanted pregnancy.

However, Maher’s 1998 comments were challenged at the time by Celeste Greig (a California Republican who later came to grief due to a comment of her own about rape), and it doesn’t take much reflection to understand why Maher’s dismissive attitude is wrong. Of course a boy in such a situation cannot give informed consent; such experiences may be emotionally damaging and adversely affect psycho-sexual development; and in the Letourneau case, the boy became a child-father.

When Yiannopoulos was poised to address CPAC, his conservative enemies were able to present his January 2016 comments as a pernicious threat to the general consensus on consent – but using old quotes to whip up a never-ending stream of outrage about alleged “pro-paedophile” views once expressed by this or that public figure is tabloid politics and does not seem to me to be a sensible way forward for public discourse.

Incidentally, incidents of female teachers having sex with male students is an odd obsession of the conservative news website WND.