It probably isn’t news to any of you that Breitbart writer, Milo Yiannopolous is facing a career crisis over statements he made on two podcasts regarding homosexual relations between teen boys and adult men. The statements themselves, and the reaction to them is worthy of some brief discussion.
I think it goes without saying that Milo’s actual words represent an idea which is clearly at odds with morality at a fundamental level. Several noteworthy defenses have emerged, specifically that these were in-character moments that did represent his private thoughts and that Milo’s comments were a result of his internal struggle to deal with abuse he himself suffered as a teenager.
Enlightenment philosophy would say that extemporaneous, speculative statements shouldn’t be held against someone, especially if they later express that those statements were in error. Generally speaking, people shouldn’t be punished for examining life, searching for answers and being wrong. This becomes a more difficult question when your extemporaneous speech and speculative opinions are the basis for business transactions. CPAC and Simon & Schuster have decided in the wake of the release of these statements to remove him from their speaking schedule and cancel his book deal, respectively.
Beneath the surface issues is the question of how, when and why the video was released. The statements were made several years ago in a publicly available way but became an issue only this weekend. That this story came out on a weekend that began with Milo’s newsworthy appearance on Bill Maher and the announcement he would be speaking at CPAC makes it plain this was held back for to maximize damage to Milo. The simultaneous and unified reaction of Jake Tapper and the legacy conservative media has all the markings of coordination between the media against a common enemy. I’ve written before about Milo and the legacy conservative media.
The left, of course, finds itself buried in its characteristic hypocrisy. People who are lionized by the media like Roman Polanski committed actual abuse. Lena Dunham says she abused her sister when they were both underage. Tony Podesta keeps pedophilia suggestive artwork in his house. All of these are in a different category than Milo’s comments.
Milo finds himself without some would-be defenders over comments he has made recently putting distance between him and those potential defenders in order to achieve more mainstream acceptance. It is entirely understandable that those people which he has specifically rejected do not rush to his defense.
This issue represents a major downturn in Milo’s career. His book will still be published, and still be successful, which could make Castalia House the biggest winner in all of this, but his speaking appearances and ability to court attention through controversy will be severely degraded. I don’t doubt that he will stay relevant regardless of what happens, but he will have to rebuild using a more solid foundation than flamboyance and provocation.