The right-wing troll has lost his book deal and his job after being accused of making pro-paedophilia comments – but is this really the last we’ll see of him?
Professional alt-right controversialist Milo Yiannopoulos has had a pretty interesting week. After an internet livestream came to light in which he made comments which seemed to support sex between “younger boys” and older men, he was subsequently dropped from a prestigious speaking event, lost his book deal, and decided to resign from his role as senior editor of Breitbart news.
For many of us who have been following Milo’s career path, sadly it’s clear that we are not witnessing his descent into the dusty coal pit where he belongs. This man, who I’m assured can be a very charming presence (and certainly appeared so the one time I met him), has too many friends in high places to really find himself in dire straits because of this week’s events. His former boss at Breitbart, Steve Bannon, is currently President Donald Trump’s chief of staff.
As proved by the likes of Katie Hopkins, Piers Morgan and Camilla Long – who’s been called out this week on her lazy, arguably racist critique of Moonlight and Hidden Figures – there’s always been a market for media egotists with nasty opinions, especially if they are middle class and well spoken. Their idiocy is given legitimacy because of page views and column inches. And us, as readers, catch the bait time and time again – whether to feel brave enough to agree with them, or to condemn them.
“I don’t think this will do any harm to my profile. I have an opportunity now after what has happened to reach a larger audience” – Milo Yiannapoulos
Milo however, has always seemed to want to take everything one step further than his peers. This is probably why he’s wound up in America; he’s out to supersize his personality in a country which loves to take things to their extreme. He was no-platformed during 2015 at Manchester University in the north of England, but he managed to start a riot at the University of California, Berkeley, where masked anti-Milo protesters lit fires last month.
There are two things that are particularly interesting about how this has played out, things which, in the future, I hope could lead to the collapse of his steady, effusive persona. Firstly, the way in which Milo responded to the claims of paedophilia-apologeticness. “I’m a gay man and a child abuse victim,” he began his press conference.
While the fact that Milo had a sexual relationship with a priest when he was 13 is terrible, for someone who is so keen to reject the principles of “identity politics”, it’s telling how he jumps to use his own labels of suffering when the time calls for it. Using Milo’s own arguments, the fact that he is gay and a child abuse victim, should play no role in any of his statements, as it “drives people apart”.
But Milo has been treading the line of hypocrisy for a long time. Although he claims to wish he was straight, he uses his carefully cultivated queer aesthetic as a method of stealth from which to fire out missiles of hatred. His supporters rally around claims that he is a racist (he has a habit of subjecting ethnic minorities to particularly vicious online abuse and “doxxing”) by claiming that he “loves sucking black dick”. He’s homosexual but doesn’t believe in gay marriage and has played into dangerous stereotypes of the LGBT community being sexual deviants, and he comes from an immigrant, Anglo-Grecian family, but likes to spread, vicious, xenophobic lies about other immigrants.
Milo’s statements probably didn’t make much odds to his long-time followers – over the years he has revelled in saying outrageous statements with an especial focus on the fact that he apparently only has sex with black men, which, he’s said, puts him in the “ultimate conservative sin bin” – but for the prude Republicans in America who put so much emphasis on innocence and virginity, this statement on paedophilia, from a gay man to boot, was ultimately a step too far. Even Milo himself, as he pointed out in his initial non-apology on Facebook, has “outed” three paedophiles during his time as a journalist; he knows the currency their condemnation holds within the circles he frequents.
Black feminist writer Roxane Gay, who cancelled her upcoming book deal with Simon & Schuster after she was made aware that their conservative imprint, Threshold, was publishing Milo, has said that she believes that the publisher “made a business decision the same way they made a business decision when they decided to publish that man in the first place… They did not finally ‘do the right thing’ and now we know where their threshold, pun intended, lies.”
The idea of Milo costing prominent conservatives more than he’s able to give them is a fair point; they are all in love with the free market. It’s likely there are some on the right who do agree with Milo’s statements on pederasty, but are also aware that they’ve crossed that undefinable line surrounding free speech which so many are at loathe to draw – until it comes to the only innocents that they can perceive of, children.
He’s definitely lost some fans, but, as Milo he said himself, “I don’t think this will do any harm to my profile. I have an opportunity now after what has happened to reach a larger audience.” Let’s hope it’s just more bullshit.