This is an unpleasant subject, and I will understand if many of my usual readers do not want to read about it (I don’t particularly relish writing about it), but as both an editor and contributor to Forbidden Thoughts it would be remiss of me to remain silent on the current situation with Milo Yiannopoulos.
Just under a week ago, on a reddit message board someone announced that they had heard via a private mailing list that a major smear campaign was about to be launched on Milo, to destroy him with the label of pedophilia. On schedule, the next day a series of articles on major news websites announced that Milo appeared to defend pedophilia, with video evidence. (Immediately before doing so, some of those sites deleted some of their earlier articles that explicitly defended pedophilia, demonstrating that for them, the issue isn’t the issue). The video itself was deceptively edited, cutting out an explanatory segment (in which Milo expressly condemns pedophilia) and so splicing a question onto an answer to a different question so as to sound as evil as possible.
Imagine thousands of your conversations have been recorded and someone hostile to you can search through all of those recordings and clip together any question asked in your presence to any answer you gave to something completely different, or flippant remark you made in a different context. What are the chances any of us would come out of such a process without having “said” something inexcusably vile? Unless we never open our mouths, basically zero. That is the point of such a smear campaign – to silence its target.
Given the vast number of formal and informal conversations that a journalist with a grudge could choose an offensive comment from, Milo’s penchant for intentionally provocative taboo-breaking, sarcasm and gallows humour, the fact that the ones responsible for releasing this video felt the need to distort Milo’s words in this way to make their accusations speaks volumes.
Do I mean to say that what Milo said in the unedited video is fine? No, Milo himself admitted that in his recent press conference. He is not a promoter of pedophilia, he is a victim of it. He has frequently not just spoken out against pedophilia, but exposed three different pedophiles.
Critics who claim he should have named the names of those who he witnessed at a party with ‘very young boys’ fail to acknowledge the unfortunate legal reality. Simply naming names will lead to a defamation lawsuit from those he singles out and, especially if they happen to be powerful and well-connected individuals, to him being destroyed financially, as has happened in a number of past cases. It is a no-win scenario – to be destroyed for speaking up or condemned for not. He would need strong evidence to support such accusations, which he managed to acquire in the above three cases.
Combined with this is the shame that comes from admitting to being violated in this way and how a young boy can deal with it in the long term. Moira Greyland Peat, a victim of similar abuse by her predatory parents, provides some insight into the poor choice of words that Milo used as well as the counter-intuitive and distorted attitude towards his own abuse that he exhibited in the unedited interview.
Sargon of Akkad provides a helpful summary of the wider context of these events
Milo’s very public explanation and apology for the things he said that were wrong can be found here.
In summary, then:
Do I agree with everything Milo said? No.
Would I have said the sorts of things Milo said? No.
Do I approve of Milo’s lifestyle choices? No.
I don’t need to, that’s what freedom and free speech means. Milo is a damaged and far from perfect man, and so am I, just in different ways. I don’t know how I would have coped with what he went through, and considering how fragile I turned out to be when the crunch came in my life, I cannot look down on him. What I can do and encourage other to do, is to pray for him to find true healing and the right path forwards. If he was guilty of a heinous crime, I would condemn him for it, but still pray for him and encourage others to join me in doing so.
In an earlier post, I said that I don’t do guilt by association. In my recent video, I promised to not abandon my allies, and Milo is an ally in the cause of free speech. As the title says above, I’ll add to that I don’t do witch-hunts, especially not ones based on vicious lies.