Last month, Milo Yiannopolous issued a lengthy apology after he resigned from Breitbart, lost his book deal with Simon and Schuster, and was disinvited from the list of keynote speakers at the Conservative Political Action Conference, due to comments that seemed to be accepting of pedophilia in the gay community. He was also the subject of controversy after riots in Berkeley, California, which erupted in response to him merely speaking there on cultural misappropriation. To put it mildly, he took it from both sides.
But while he has repeatedly faced physical threats and retaliation by triggered and intolerant liberals on campuses throughout the country by expressing Republican ideas on our behalf, it was our own party’s unexpectedly harsh reaction to his comments that bothered me the most.
We’re used to Antifa’s skinny-jean weirdos in ISIS-looking outfits and hipster glasses showing up and vandalizing the property surrounding any speech or form of expression that disagrees with their worldviews. As America’s opinion totalitarians on gender, race, sexuality and transgender beliefs, they resemble a metrosexual version of ISIS. Both groups immediately resort to violence, censorship, and personal attacks when they hear anything that might even potentially disagree with their odd worldviews, yet quickly retreat when faced with strong security measures (if they exist, which is an open question in San Jose and Berkeley). Then the rioters call us fascists while the media cheers them on and decries limits on the rioters’ “free speech.” It’s a routine now. They don’t listen to reason, yet they’re the reason we need security and metal barriers just to hold a speech or discussion. That’s just reality, but it’s Milo’s reality on a regular basis.
But what happened to Milo on the other side was somehow even worse. I am a Christian, yet somehow resisted the allure of the gay lifestyle, spray tans, and blonde-tipped highlights in my hair just enough to still find Milo hilarious and informative. Most younger Republicans like me want an inclusive party that is united behind core principles and accepting of reasonable people from various backgrounds, focusing more on what unites us than what divides us. While we’re focused on important things to Trump like job creation and fair trade deals, the transgendered bathroom bills suddenly take on less importance.
While I hope and believe that God’s plan is what’s best for us, and try with difficulty and temptation to do things His way, I have very little faith in anyone who preaches and brags about their spiritual purity as a political position. There are far too many examples of hypocrites in our past, such as our convicted pedophile and former Republican Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, the type of “moral majority” type whose hypocrisy has been used repeatedly to undermine our larger agenda. Even though our party has enough of its own scandals, our own “conservative” wing still acts like the Pharisees at election time, as if though they think a talk show host can credibly declare that God anointed a particular candidate. If that’s not un-Christian, the Bible is pretty clear that loud expressions of piety do NOT impress Him very much:The Milos of this world are threats to the more traditionally conservative wing of the party because they bypass that area of the power base completely, which too often uses sleazy-TV-preacher-style Christianity as the main justification for reelection. Like the “immoral” Trump being portrayed as spiritually inferior by modern-day Pharisee-types Mitt Romney and Evan McMullin, both of whom appear to have no problem with the horrific Hillary Clinton, there is little doubt that these guys would love to see Milo disappear from the scene altogether.
Milo’s comments, while unsettling when taken out of context, were not as bad as they seemed in the larger interview. He agreed that the “age of consent” for sex is basically correct from a legal standpoint; however, he made some otherwise off-color jokes about learning how to give blowjobs when molested by a priest, as well as how the gay community is more accepting of older-younger relationships between men and boys, joking again about this phenomenon. Gay culture has often been described as “youth obsessed,” which is yet another reason to think he was joking rather than advocating.
Pedophilia isn’t funny. It’s abhorrent. It’s a practice that is being aggressively targeted and weeded out of our society with more and more acceptance of children reporting incidents, long sentences for offenders, and even lifetime post-prison mental hospitalization commitments for people who are still deemed a risk for reoffending. Further, there are few things that are worse than being labeled a “sex offender” or “sexual predator” for life, which is what happens upon conviction for these types of crimes.
Regardless of our collective opposition to pedophilia, Milo was treated unfairly for many reasons. First among them was that he was joking around at the time in his typically outrageous manner (like when he says feminism is worse than cancer), not seriously endorsing the practice. That excuses things somewhat because there is no evidence he ever actually did anything he joked about, other than actually be a victim of molestation by adults himself, with one of his victimizers being a Catholic priest. If the Christian conservative should show anyone compassion, it should be one whose relationship to God Himself was so distorted in such an ugly way.
But even more importantly, victims of childhood sexual abuse cope in different and unique ways, including rage, anger, drug addiction, loss of educational progress or sometimes even seeking out inappropriately-aged sexual partners (inappropriately older/younger) later in life. On the spectrum of societal harm resulting from these reactions to trauma, joking about it is about the lowest of them all. Milo is outrageous and makes off-color jokes all of the time, but the abuse component of his life–which he described as “gallows humor”–makes it clear that these particular jokes are just as much a coping mechanism as anything else.
As far as the Christian conservative view on the subject, the competitive part of which I suspect was a partial reason behind canceling Milo’s appearance at CPAC, it’s irritating to think that we’re still so unforgiving and condemning as a party. When the jokes are “gallows humor,” borne from sexual abuse, we should instead demand that the context be considered and be quick to forgive after an apology.
We also need to stop being deathly afraid of the mainstream media, which has called the criminal act of pedophilia a “disorder.” The idea that one of our biggest new Republican stars was yanked off the stage because he said an outrageous joke to cope with a terrible memory is disgusting, but even more so considering the tag-teaming that went on between Romney-type Republicans and the mainstream media that caused that result.
If this election taught us nothing else, it’s that freer speech, more joking, and more outrageousness are the way to connect with people. Even though pedophilia is wrong and certainly not a good choice of subject for jokes (unless you’re George Takei), Milo had a good background excuse for what he said.
He apologized. Forgive, forget, and let it go.