“I am a gay man, and a child abuse victim.”
This is how Milo Yiannopolous began his defense for remarks that apparently condoned child sexual abuse. He went on to say that his own experiences with abuse “led [him] to believe I could say anything I wanted to on this subject,” and that “when [he] mentioned the number 13, [he] was talking about the age [he] lost [his] own virginity.”
Let me get this straight. The same guy who famously said that, as a Breitbart editor, he wanted to “offend every reader,” the same guy who once told a woman, “Fuck your feelings!” when she asked him whether his views invalidated the opinions of minorities, the same guy who said “fat acceptance” is “the most alarming and irresponsible idea to come out of leftist victimhood and grievance politics,” THAT GUY now wants our sensitivity?
This is classic Milo. It also happens to be classic identity politics.
To be clear, I feel terrible that Milo was a victim of abuse when he was a child. And he’s absolutely right that he has the right to deal with that the way he wants to, so most compassionate people can probably excuse his in-poor-taste jokes about “Father Michael.” His mistake was, obviously, to extrapolate that to others’ experiences and generalize that sexual relationships between adults and 13-year-olds can be “positive,” and should be freed from the “oppression” of the ideas behind the age of consent.
In other words, he fucked up. Just as conservatives didn’t blink an eye at Trump calling Mexicans “rapists” or calling for a ban of all Muslims, but were horrified when he trivialized the death of a Purple Heart soldier, now conservatives are drawing a somewhat arbitrary line at Milo condoning pedophilia. When Milo said hateful things about women, Jews, and transgender people, when he directed targeted racial harassment at an innocent actress, he was hailed as a “warrior of free speech.” Anyone who wanted Simon and Schuster to cancel his book deal was authoritarian, anyone who protested his appearances was murdering free speech (forget about the fact that “freedom of speech” only applies to censorship from the government). But now, in the wake of this bipartisan controversy, many Republicans successfully called for his appearance at a conservative convention to be cancelled.
So, I guess conservatives only care about the “freedom” to spew hate speech when it’s about groups they hate as well. Good to know.
But oddly enough, that’s not the most hypocritical thing to happen today. That prize belongs to Milo himself, who became famous by opposing political correctness and identity politics, but now tries to wrap himself in all of the protections afforded oppressed groups. He can’t possibly be transphobic, he’s gay! He can’t possibly be anti-Semitic, he’s a Jew! He can’t possibly be racist, he loves to have sex with black men! (Don’t even get me started on that one.)
The idea that Milo can say anything he wants about homosexuality and child abuse because he’s a gay abuse victim doesn’t come from conservatives, it comes from liberals. It’s a warped version of the most extreme ideals of identity politics, and in spite of being a professional conservative troll, he’s trying to appropriate them for himself. He’s basically saying, “I can’t possibly be wrong in anything I say about this victimized group, because I’m a part of it!”
But, but… I thought liberals are all “oversensitive snowflakes” and identity politics is a “cult of victimhood”? I thought identity politics was a load of horseshit that shuts down rational debate and prevents poor, beleaguered straight white men from saying anything about anything?
The lesson to take from this is not just that Milo doesn’t believe in anything other than his own advancement, although that’s almost certainly true. The right using liberal language and ideals for the causes that they like is par for the course now. It’s why the same party that pooh-poohs the notion of a “rape culture” on a daily basis used it to justify the bathroom ban. It’s why Fox News hilariously whined about Obama “appropriating Southern culture.” And it’s why the same party that says poor people of color should “pull themselves up by their bootstraps” thinks it’s appropriate for white men to blame the government for losing their coal mining jobs, when they refuse to take so-called “pink-collar jobs.”
The lesson here is that when conservatives decry liberals restricting free speech, they’re really decrying liberals for opposing speech that they somewhat agree with. And when they hate on liberals for giving “special privileges” to certain oppressed groups, they’re really just whining that we’re taking those “special privileges” away from straight white men.
UPDATE: Oh, snap, Milo has just resigned from Breitbart News. When you’re too much of a troll even for Breitbart, you know you’re fucking done.
See you never, asshole.