We Seem Quite Inconsistent On This
By Wil Forbis
March 1st , 2017
Many months ago, slightly before Donald Trump secured the Republican nomination, I became aware of Milo Yiannopoulos. He appeared as an internet provocateur who, despite being gay, supported Trump and mercilessly ridiculed the left and its causes. At the time, I mentioned that he was an impressive public speaker, but I found him hard to take seriously. So much of his shock talk seemed simply designed to offend.
Nonetheless, as the months dragged on, Yiannopoulos's public profile only increased. In February, agitators successfully blocked an appearance by Yiannopoulos at Berkeley and did tens of thousands of dollars of damage in the process. This cemented, in some people's minds, Yiannopoulos's self-touted role as a martyr for free speech. As a result of the attention, Yiannopoulos seemed destined for a big future in the world of political commentary. Later in the same month, Yiannopoulos was welcomed onto Bill Maher's talk show "Real Time" where the host treated his controversial guest rather graciously (much to the chagrin of progressives.)
It turned out, however, that Yiannopoulos was too controversial. After he was invited to speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference a few weeks ago, a video appeared showing Yiannopoulos seeming to endorse sex between 13-year olds and adults. (I say "seeming" because I think his real statements were a bit more complex though I'm still trying to wrap my head around why I think that.) The video put a stop to the Milo train more thoroughly than anything his detractors could have hoped for. He was disinvited from the CPAC event, a book he was about to release was cancelled and the general word on the street is that the dude is over. The uproar shows that while you can say a lot of shocking things in American discourse, doing anything less than condemning sex between children and adults is going too far.
Why is this? Well, we all understand that children (e.g anyone under 18) are in need of protection from both outside forces and their own proclivities. Children simply don't have the mental and emotional tools to be granted the privilege of autonomy. That's the conventional argument and one that I largely sign off on*.
*I do concede that this is a difficult and confusing topic, as this Slate article makes clear.
That said, let me bring up a few observations.
Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page had sex with (and, according to some descriptions, kidnapped) a 14-year old girl.
- David Bowie had sex with at least two underaged girls. (I suspect the real number is more like a thousand.)
- Jerry Lee Lewis married his 13-year old cousin. Presumably he also had sex with her.
- You can dig up similar reports involving Elvis, Bill Wyman of the Rolling Stones, Chuck Berry and others. (Cough, Micheal Jackson, cough.)
And yet they don't seem to have been damned the way Milo has
Now, this is not to say that there's hasn't been any controversy about these events. Modern feminists have been 100% correct to attack the "boys will be boys" defense that liberal institutions like Rolling Stone magazine used to overlook this behavior for years. And you do see articles like this popping up.
However, I doubt Jimmy Page would have any trouble getting a book deal. David Bowie, at the time of his death, was lauded as a musical visionary, not a child molester. All these guys are mostly celebrated by society, not condemned. (Frankly, I concede that knowledge of these incidents hasn't even slightly mitigated my enjoyment of these particular musicians' music. Which is a bit odd as I can't listen to a Foo Fighters song for more than ten seconds before I recall Dave Grohl's AIDS denialism.)
So why do these guys get off (ummm, I mean...) while Milo gets shut down? Doubtless, part of it is simply that Page, Bowie etc. committed their crimes in a different era, an era when people where both more forgiving of such incidents and unlikely to hear about them in the first place. Milo's comments however arose in modern day, a period when someone angrily tweets every time a celebrity picks their nose. (Indeed, my first question upon hearing of the Milo videos was why the footage had taken so long to be discovered.)
It's also true that Milo was very controversial before the video appeared. Even on the right, he was a divisive figure. When the shizzle hit the fan, he had few friends willing to defend him.
We also can't be clueless to the fact that Page, Bowie etc. were having sex with teenage girls, whereas Milo's comments were about adult men having sex with teenage boys. In some peopleís minds (even my own at times) the act of seducing attractive teenage girls is something to be jealous of. Miloís words, however, played right into the stereotype of homosexual men seeking to convert confused youth to the gay "lifestyle."
So what do we do with all this? Do we ignore Miloís sins in the same way we ignored the sins of Page, Bowie and many others? Or do we damn these rock stars for past behavior that we now consider morally repugnant? I donít really know (and, fortunately, itís not my decision to make.) But I think our damnation of Milo would have a lot more teeth if not for the obvious hypocrisy.
What do you think? Leave your comments on the Guestbook!
Wil Forbis is a well known international playboy who lives a fast paced life attending chic parties, performing feats of derring-do and making love to the world's most beautiful women. Together with his partner, Scrotum-Boy, he is making the world safe for democracy. Email - firstname.lastname@example.org
Visit Wil's web log, The Wil Forbis Blog, and receive complete enlightenment.