I have to admit that I haven’t given Milo Yiannopoulos much attention until recently. I’ve read about him, but hadn’t read his own words before this week, and I had never watched him speak or seen a video of him. His appearance on Bill Maher was the first time I watched him speak about anything, and it led me down a YouTube rabbit hole that lasted much of the night. I watched video after video of him making liberals look like fools. I watched video after video of him using classic (dirty) debate tactics to deflect, to create and smash straw men, and I watched him purposefully go over the top to get attention.
Yiannopoulos doesn’t bother me. I don’t take him seriously enough to bother me. I think the things he says are disgusting, but I also think that he’s a living cartoon character, and that he can’t possibly believe the blatant lies that form the foundation of many of his public positions on things. I view him like I view Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh and Mike Savage (I think Rush is a bit less purposefully provocative, and he relies more on straw man fallacies than blatant lies, but I still see them all as professional provocateurs), and I feel bad for the people who take him seriously and fall for his act. Much in the way that I feel bad for those who take Rush seriously and use his show to draw conclusions about liberals and government in general. They are there to provoke emotions, and to set aside rationality. They are there to make money, and they make their money by being outrageous. They are not providing a service, and they are not providing solutions to problems.
But let’s think about this: I watched a spokesperson for CPAC talk about why Milo was invited to CPAC in the first place. He said Milo was invited because he was blocked from speaking at Berkeley, and they wanted to hear about that. He was rewarded for being politically incorrect and telling it how it is. The spokesperson said he knew that Milo had written and said things mentioned in a Chicago Tribune article talking about his fall: about feminism making women ugly, that he wishes teenagers would just hurt themselves instead of talking about trans issues online, etc. The CPAC organizers knew about all of this, and invited him anyway.
But once they found out that there was a video of him condoning pedophilia, he crossed the line. I can appreciate that there’s a difference between condoning pedophilia and the other things he’s said in the past, but if CPAC invited him because they believe in his right to free speech, why draw the line at speech about pedophilia? Aren’t they just saying that they agree that it’s OK to block him from speaking, but only when he crosses their line? Do they see that they’ve now created their own “safe space” that they mock when others talk about it.
Who are the snowflakes hiding in their safe spaces now?
For me, I don’t think Milo should have been invited to CPAC in the first place, but if you’re going to invite him because of some principled stance on free speech, then maybe think twice before uninviting him because of something he said. Better yet, maybe think twice before inviting him in the first place, and maybe think twice before being so judgemental about where others draw their line about what speech they will and will not tolerate.
In the end, I think we all should just treat Milo like Larry Wilmore and Malcolm Nance did in Bill Maher’s Overtime (video below). Just tell him to go fuck himself and laugh at him, and feel sorry for people who fall for his crap (and that means liberals who get angry at him too).