(Title refers to a Kipling poem. It has no significance other than me liking the rhythm of it).
So during a video interview, sexist sexbot enthusiast Milo Yiannopoulis said that some 13-year-olds would benefit from sex with older men. And that consent is just a bullshit thing the liberals worry about that ignores how complex human relationships can be (he’s not alone in disliking consent, of course). After that got out, Simon & Schuster canceled his book (which as Roxanne Gay notes is a business decision, not some kind of liberal repression tactic) and the big right-wing CPAC event has uninvited him.
Yiannopoulis’ defense is that he was just being his wacky, irreverent humorous self. Having heard conservatives use “can’t you take a joke?” as a defense for everything (including grabbing a woman’s crotch) I see no reason to assume it was just us being dense. Mr. Y insists he was totally not excusing pedophilia, which he considers an abomination, but he specifically says if a thirteen-year-old is sexually mature, it’s not pedophilia.
I’m inclined to agree with Roy Edroso, Milo Yiannopoulis fell into the category of useful idiot for right-wingers: “he hated things they also hated (liberals, women, the transgendered, et alia); two, he celebrated things they also celebrated, primarily the vicious, spiteful treatment of anyone weaker than themselves; and three, because he was ostentatiously gay — indeed an old-fashioned caricature of homosexuality straight out of the Liberace playbook — and allowed himself to be associated with them, which gave conservatives and libertarians two things they thought would advantage them in the dreary Culture Wars they’re always pursuing: glamour and victim status.” Now that he’s damaged goods, they’re done with him. At least for now. As his misogyny, bullshit and general malevolence didn’t disqualify him from CPAC, who knows if he’s permanently damaged? Even if the mainstream’s done with him, I suspect he’ll land on his feet (as Echidne ruminates).
I don’t think this is a free speech issue. Publishers have the right to pick which books they choose, either those that will make them money or money losers that will add prestige to their brand (much as the movie studios in the 1930s would put out “prestige” pictures that lost money but made them look classier). Yiannopoulis’ fans are completely entitled to protest, but it’s a protest about “our viewpoint got shut out!” not about free speech — they wouldn’t be outraged if Simon & Schuster rejected something by Elizabeth Warren for its politics. Similarly conservatives who were outraged one of the Duck Dynasty guys’ sexist views raised the possibility of cancellation didn’t complain (as far as I know) about a religious group uninviting the same guy because he was hawking Duck Dynasty wine. I’d be PO’d if S&S were refusing to publish something I believed in, but again, the issue wouldn’t be free speech. If there was an organized campaign to shut someone or some view down (and I mean really shut it down, not just criticize), we might be getting into censorship territory … but that’s not the case here (S&S got criticism for publishing Milo but they seem to have been fine until this issue).
It’s even less of a free speech issue in this day and age. Yiannopoulis can self-publish easily enough, and given his fan base he could quite possibly make as much or more. What that doesn’t give him is the status and mainstream of cachet of having a book published by an old-school publisher. He could have gone from a D-list celebrity all the way to an A- celebrity!
Too bad, so sad.
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