A six-minute video of Milo Yiannopoulos, a political commentator, talking about pedophilia and his opinions regarding consent has compromised his career. Yiannopoulos has typically turned heads with his comments, but the intense backlash from this recent video has cost him his position at Breitbart News.
Yiannopoulos is a 33-year-old gay British commentator, tech-editor and now former editor for the right-wing website Breitbart News. Yiannopoulos had originally garnered attention and fame through the immense “troll war” known as GamerGate. According to the Washington Post, this event evolved into an “online culture war,” which was a competition between traditionalists and those fighting for greater inclusion within the gaming industry.
Self-described as the “most fabulous super villain on the internet,” Yiannopoulos has been a bullhorn for the “alt-right” and a defender of “Trump-led conservatism,” according to Bloomberg. Hailed and decried by some as conservatism’s poster boy, Yiannopoulos has also been touted as a champion of free speech. However, Yiannopoulos’ polemic presence has not avoided controversy. In July 2016, Yiannopoulos was permanently barred from Twitter due to his participation in the online campaign that targeted "Ghostbusters" star Leslie Jones, according to the New York Times. Regarded by many as a provocateur, Yiannopoulos has employed a “double down, don’t back down” strategy, which he describes as "if someone calls you an anti-Semite, you go to their page and put up swastikas,” according to Bloomberg. Yiannopoulos clarified this tactic as a “prank” or “trolling” those offended.
Yiannopoulos’s remarks have been perceived by many as inflammatory or divisive and have driven opponents in the United States to protest his appearances. Recently, Yiannopoulos had been scheduled to speak at UC Berkley, wrote the New York Times, but the University canceled his appearance after protests turned violent.
Currently, the provocative speaker is facing backlash after an old interview resurfaced in which Yiannopoulos made remarks about “pedophilia by Roman Catholic priests and his endorsement of sexual relations with boys as young as 13,” according to the New York Times.
On Sunday, the conservative blog, Reagan Battalion, posted a link on Twitter to a 2015 video that shows Yiannopoulos appearing in an interview with Joe Rogan University. During the video, Yiannopoulos remarked, “I do not believe any change in the legal age of consent is justifiable or desirable” according to NPR.
Yiannopoulos had also stated, “Some of those relationships between younger boys and older men, the sort of coming-of-age relationships, the relationships in which those older men help those young boys to discover who they are, and give them security and safety and provide them with love and a reliable and sort of a rock where they can’t speak to their parents” according to NPR. Additionally, Yiannopoulos said, “we get hung up on this kind of child abuse stuff,” and regarded consent as “arbitrary and oppressive” according to NPR.
According to the Reagan Battalion’s video, Yiannopoulos had described his sexual relationship with a Catholic priest as “consensual,” which Yiannopoulos was unwilling to name. In describing the engagement, Yiannopoulos had justified his sexual relations by stating that he had been the “predator” at age 14 according to Reagan Battalion.
Subsequent to the release of the interview, Yiannopoulos took to Twitter to defend his remarks and ward off criticism. Yiannopoulos regards his statements as a joke and wrote, “if I choose to deal in an edgy way on an internet livestream with a crime I was the victim of, that’s my prerogative. It’s no different to gallows humor from AIDS sufferers,” according to the Washington Post.
Moments after, the resurfacing of the interview caused many to distance themselves from Yiannopoulos and has triggered a cavalcade of online backlash. On Monday, Yiannopoulos was dropped from the Conservative Action Conference’s program according to the New York Times. Subsequently, Simon & Schuster had canceled the publication of Yiannopoulos’ memoir entitled “Dangerous,” which had been previously postponed by Yiannopoulos in order for the events in UC Berkley to be included according to the Guardian.
Most recently, Yiannopoulos appeared before a news conference and resigned from Breitbart News in response to the titanic backlash. In attempts to amend his 2015 statements, Yiannopoulos had presented his relationship with a Catholic priest as sexual abuse, according to NPR. At the denouement of the conference Yiannopoulos had offered thanks to those at Breitbart News for amplifying his “conservative and libertarian ideas,” according to the Washington Post.