The backlash against Milo Yiannopoulos’s comments about relationships between boys and men made in a podcast in January is now threatening his employment as senior editor at Breitbart.
Another senior editor told Washingtonian (anonymously) that at least a half a dozen employees at the website were ready to quit if Yiannopoulos isn’t fired.
“The fact of the matter is that there’s been so many things that have been objectionable about Milo over the last couple of years, quite frankly. This is something far more sinister,” the senior editor says. “If the company isn’t willing to act, there are at least half a dozen people who are willing to walk out over it.”
“Talking abut young boys and somehow seeking to ameliorate concerns over young boys’ relationships with older men…I’m pretty sure everyone in the company would vomit upon hearing these words,” the source continues. “What right-thinking person doesn’t feel sick to their stomach when hearing something like that?”
The American Conservative Union, which hosts CPAC, ignited a firestorm on Saturday over its decision to host Yiannopoulos, an “alt-right” provocateur who as recently as Friday, appearing on Real Time, said he didn’t know if he was conservative.
The backlash across conservative circles escalated on Sunday evening, when the Reagan Battalion, a conservative blog, tweeted a link to a podcast in which Yiannopoulos questioned age-of-consent laws and suggested that minors as young as 13 were “sexually mature” enough for relations with adults. In it, Yiannopoulos said:
Pedophilia is not a sexual attraction to somebody 13 years old, who is sexually mature. Pedophilia is attraction to children who have not reached puberty. Pedophilia is attraction to people who don’t have functioning sex organs yet who have not gone through puberty.
Yiannopoulos swiftly issued a response to the backlash on his Facebook page. “I do not support pedophilia. Period. It is a vile and disgusting crime, perhaps the very worst,” he writes. He went on to denounce the videos as “selectively edited,” “part of a coordinated effort” among “establishment Republicans” to “discredit” him.
“There are rules, there is ideology, and there is philosophy in conservatism,” the senior editor says. “If nothing comes of this, we’ve broken all of them.”
The problem with Milo’s “explanation” is that no one cares what his true feelings are about pedophilia—not his enemies, not his friends. What he actually said and meant is beside the point. His words will be seen through different prisms by both friend and foe and two entirely different interpretations will exist simultaneously.
Yiannopoulos is a shameless self-promoter who has finally discovered you can only go “over the top” so many times before you hit a ceiling. Being deliberately provocative—especially when you exceed the bounds of common decency and civilized discourse—inevitably leads to a fall. His comments on the podcast that led to all this trouble were thrown out thoughtlessly and said to elicit outrage and even titillate his fans. That’s a huge blunder.
Milo won’t go away. He’s too big a draw and will continue to make headlines. But some of his edginess will be seen in a different light, perhaps tempering the adulation of his fans.