This is not the way Milo Yiannopoulos should have gone down

Milo Yiannopoulos on “Real Time with Bill Maher”

I doubt very much that a gay man in pearls and lipstick was unanimously seen as an ideal CPAC speaker, yet they were going to allow it. The only redeeming thing about the alt-right’s collection of white supremacists, anti-Semites, and misogynists, is that they hadn’t turned on homosexuals yet.

Looks like that’s likely come to an end.

After some tasteless and hurtful remarks that Milo Yiannopoulos made about child sexual abuse that he was himself a victim of came to light, he has become a pariah on the right.

Now? Not when he went after Leslie Jones or Anita Sarkeesian? Not when he helped amplify fascism, slandered immigrants, suggested that education was entirely wasted on women, or any of the other appalling things he’s said and done? This? Come on.

I read Yiannopoulos’ initial explanation about his comments, and his clarification, as well. I think anyone who feels they should have an opinion on this should also read them in their entirety, and further consider Dan Savage’s amended take on them.

What bothers me about this situation so much is that Yiannopoulos was obviously groomed by a trusted authority figure — a priest to whom he had surely poured out his child’s soul, no less. Grooming young people and children to win them over before abusing them is astonishingly effective. No bruises, no kidnapping, no obvious coercion, and for years afterward, the person they grow into ends up repeating things their abuser taught them to believe.

It takes so long, and is so much work to get these people’s words out of your mouth, to get their lies out of your head. The mental violation of being told that you were being loved when you were being tortured — being compelled to believe this to save your dignity — is extreme. And then when you’re working it out, out loud, you’re more likely to get targeted for harassment for saying something wrong than your abuser is, though he is the one who hurt you in the first place.

So Milo makes a bad joke about a terrible crime committed against him, and instead of having a teachable moment about the effects of abuse on victims, this is what costs him everything he’s worked for. Having been publicly vulnerable about his own victimization, having a hard time responding as he ought when a stranger is pressing him about an extremely private and inexcusable betrayal of trust, does in his career.

It seems that when you’re an abuse victim who’s spoken out, but you have too many enemies, that will be the thing that does you in.

Meanwhile, the left overlooks Janet Mock’s description of commercial sexual exploitation as a child as being an “underground railroad” that paved a “pathway to… survival and liberation.” (Mock was even a featured speaker at the Washington, DC, Women’s March in January.) The left overlooks Sarah Nyberg, who Yiannopoulos outed for running a bulletin board service about child sex abuse (even Nyberg admitted this was true). The left has overlooked Salon’s pro-pedophilia articles, which Yiannopoulos complained about, but that remained up until this week.

Indeed, the left has long overlooked Melissa Gira Grant and the Third Wave Fund, who stated confidently in 2010, in apparent contradiction to federal trafficking laws that define all trafficked minors as victims of exploitation, “that not all young people who do sex work and who are impacted by the sex trade are victims.” Curiously, that statement came out about a month after Craigslist founder, Craig Newmark, a Third Wave funder, was questioned over his company’s refusal to remove ads for child sex trafficking that brought in millions of dollars in revenue. Funny how that doesn’t come up when Newmark is trying to make a comeback as a philanthropist, via a fawning Nieman Lab interview where he is asked without apparent irony, “Seven years ago — is that when you started both your attention to more actively supporting the free press?”

In recent years, Yiannopoulos has put tremendous effort into pushing back against child sex abuse apologism in the press. I have to wonder, where has everyone else been?

I don’t like Yiannopoulos, or agree with him politically. He did and said hateful things to and about women and just about every marginalized group imaginable. But winning at any cost, costs.

While liberals may be celebrating his downfall, despite the fact they may believe it is too late, ultimately I don’t think pressing the buttons of those conservatives who probably already think that most gay men are pedophiles, to get them to treat a gay man who was a child sexual abuse victim as if he were a predator, himself, will be a win. I think a lot of his fans are likely to come to see him as a martyr to a very selective prosecution; and a fan base such as he has isn’t going to go away overnight. I think this will make victims of child sex abuse more fearful to speak out, seek help, and have the kinds of conversations they need to in order to make sense of what happened to them, lest they say the wrong thing.

If Yiannopoulos quietly goes away and stops spreading hate across the internet with his troll army, that’d be fine with me. Though things rarely turn out as I would like them, and I suspect that his supporters won’t forget how this went down.

Natasha Chart
Natasha Chart

Natasha Chart is an online organizer and feminist living in the United States. She does not recant her heresy.

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