The Public Hating

by Grania Spingies

If there was one person in the world who felt genuine gratitude at Milo Yiannopoulos’s swan dive from grace this week, it was Pewdiepie. He must have wanted to send him a fruit basket, for within the space of a single day, Swedish Youtube megastar Felix Kjellberg was no longer Public Enemy Number One.

Last week, first the Wall Street Journaland then every online paper, blog and social media feed—decried YouTube star Pewdiepie as a white nationalist, anti-Semite and Nazi fancier. Disney severed their contract with him and Twitter was packed with delighted Millennials quivering in joy at his imminent downfall. Of course, Pewdiepie is not even remotely a white nationalist or a Nazi. He’s an outlier on the Youtube scene: a ordinary person who managed to create a channel that attracted millions of subscribers that has turned him into a multimillionaire. His content is gaming, presented in a surreal and comedic way. Like all comedy, your mileage may vary. The humor is somewhat like the 1990’s MTV show Beavis and Butt-Head – often crude, seemingly pointless and utterly irreverent. I cannot imagine what Disney thought they would get out of partnering up with him on YouTube. Actually, I can: money. His crime was the insertion of tasteless, poorly thought-out jokes into his own videos.

That Disney might choose to sever a contract with a personality completely at odds with their syrupy, child-friendly wares is not the issue. Nor is it remarkable that people might find his content to be tasteless and incomprehensible and unwatchable. What is noteworthy is how many people became psychic overnight and declared him a Nazi, a hate-monger and then rejoiced in what they evidently hoped would be his imminent financial destruction—all without actually ever having viewed any of his content.

Trigger warning: lame jokes, gratuitous cartoon violence, mockery of newspapers, crude language, Nokia ring tones

The implosion of Milo Yiannopoulos’s career this week has spawned similar reactions and results: the loss of a book deal with Simon & Schuster and public pillorying in every venue imaginable. The venom this time around is not surprising. Milo could scarcely expect any compassion when he had never shown any himself.

His comments on what may or may not be excusing pedophilia, ephebophilia or relationships between men of different ages caused concern and revulsion, depending on what one believes he was advocating or discussing. It isn’t surprising that people are troubled by his words and repelled and unsure of their possible meaning. What is surprising is the fresh outbreak of psychic ability on social media in which people claim to know exactly what he meant, i.e., advocating for the harm and exploitation of children rather than perhaps displaying the behavior of a gay man known for trying to maximise sensationalism and outrage, carelessly discussing the complex and complicated experiences that many gay men have had in their lives:

Those who have had the good fortune of never experiencing anything other than clear consensual adult sexual encounters might remember that their life experiences are not shared by all. George Takei, Stephen Fry and James Rhodes (relevant interviews in the links) are all men who have recounted being raped or abused while they were minors. All three of them talk about it in very different ways. For Takei, it is remembered as a positive experience. Takei was a relatively mature teenager at the time. For James Rhodes, groomed and repeatedly raped as as small child, the psychological damage will last a lifetime. None of this informs us of what exactly Yiannopoulos intended his audience to understand by his comments on the podcast in question, but it should at least produce some sort of context to weigh against his Facebook clarifications and apologies.

Whenever someone becomes the Monster of the Week in the media, I always recall the short dystopian sci-fi story by Steve Allen “The Public Hating“, in which right-minded citizens could publicly execute criminals by the sheer force of hatred.

public-hating

There’s something profoundly ugly and primitive about the public assassination of a person’s character. It is magnitudes uglier when it’s done without a trial—in fact, when no crime has actually been committed at all.

71 Comments

  1. Eric Grobler
    Posted February 24, 2017 at 11:11 am | Permalink

    Perhaps Meryl Streep will be next for her adoration of convicted child rapist Polanski!
    But I somehow doubt that will happen.

    This is just a remark about tribal politics – I am not suggesting that Streep deserve’s such an attack or Milo remarks was not worthy of condemnation.

  2. Cindy
    Posted February 24, 2017 at 11:13 am | Permalink

    Excellent post Grania!

  3. Ken Kukec
    Posted February 24, 2017 at 11:17 am | Permalink

    Nice writing, Grania!

    (Speaking of Beavis & Butt-Head: “Heh, heh … you said ‘Milo’ and ‘fruit basket.'”)

  4. DrBrydon
    Posted February 24, 2017 at 11:23 am | Permalink

    I have never paid much attention to Yiannopoulos. I had my fill of Enragés some time ago, and sample them sparingly now. I do feel sorry for him, though. Clearly, there were plenty on the left just waiting for any slip in order to slap down a gay man who was publicly so willing to reject the liberal stereotype of progressive homosexuality. Likewise, I am sure there were many on the right who enjoyed the way he twisted liberal tails, but were still uncomfortable at having him as a bedfellow, and will be happy if this is the end of him.

    These sorts of public excoriations are always painful to watch. Seeing people work themselves up into paroxysms of hate reminds me how thin the veneer of comity can be. It is unfortunate that the media seem so willing to join in. We, and Yiannopoulos, are lucky that our institutions have evolved to eliminate mob justice. In the past he could easily have found himself banished, drinking hemlock, burned, or led to the guillotine. Clearly, there are many these days (and probably always have been) that would be just as happy to re-empower the mob. Those people never understand what a fickle thing the mob is, though.

    I am going to read that story, Grania.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted February 24, 2017 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

      Live by épater la bourgeoisie, die by épater la bourgeoisie, I always say.

  5. Aelfric
    Posted February 24, 2017 at 11:26 am | Permalink

    I agree, insofar as we are a tribal and primitive species in many ways. I would never condone violence or any sort of harm towards these two, or any other “Monster of the Week.” That being said, certainly, some level of peaceable opprobrium must be appropriate? And both of these, to my mind at least, are somewhat special cases, as both were expressly utilizing outrage to their own ends. Pewdiepie in one specific instance and Milo as a career. When you intend to outrage and simply find you’ve done too good a job, it’s hard for me to feel bad. I would certainly defend their rights to express themselves, and would harshly condemn any threats of harm, but from what I’ve seen of the reactions here (which is not all that much), my basic take is “meh.” I can’t feel all that bad for either.

  6. Posted February 24, 2017 at 11:29 am | Permalink

    Paul Bloom’s recent article describes how empathy has a dark side in that it taxes our ability to think. He suggests understanding is a much better social glue.
    http://www.vox.com/the-big-idea/2017/2/23/14702772/empathy-trump-voters-understanding-economic-anxiety-racism

    Empathy for raped children caused detractors of Milo Y. to throw understanding out the window, driving them to demonize him without any evidence. Their reaction is ugly in itself. However, Y. has already lined up another job enabling him to remain in the States. He may not be demonic, but he is an opportunist and most likely recoup. Not like others who are destroyed by the ’empaths’.

    • Cindy
      Posted February 24, 2017 at 11:44 am | Permalink

      Also, before the study was done, Buffone and Poulin gave all of their subjects a test that scans for specific genes that make people more sensitive to vasopressin and oxytocin, hormones that are implicated in compassion, helping, and empathy. As predicted, there was a greater connection between empathy and aggression in those subjects that had those genes—that is, more empathic people were more aggressive when exposed to the suffering of strangers.

      https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2015/09/the-violence-of-empathy/407155/

      I had a conversation with a young father a few months ago regarding whether or not the USA should invade Syria and turn it into another failed state a la Iraq and Libya. He was in favour of spending trillions of dollars to basically re-do Iraq and to see many more hundreds of thousands? Millions? die all because he saw this photo:

      It reminded him of his son and his empathy kicked into overdrive. A man who had opposed the Iraq war was all for repeating it, because he empathized with this young boy.

      • Posted February 24, 2017 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

        I agree with this father, both because of empathy and because of self-interest, as a European reluctant to deal with millions of refugees. Do you really think that Syria needs US invasion to be turned into a failed state? It is the definition of a failed state. I think that, compared to it, Iraq is a land of opportunities and Libya is a paradise.

        • Cindy
          Posted February 24, 2017 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

          Syria is not a failed state in the sense that Iraq and Libya are, no. Saddam Hussein and Gaddafi were terrible people, but Iraq and Libya are worse off now than they were prior to their overthrow.

          Basically, the balkanization of Syria would be a very bad idea, as would trillions more dollars spent embroiled in decades of more war.

          • Posted February 24, 2017 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

            Cindy, the cost of the Iraq war was $815 billion up to 2013 according to the Congressional Research Service. So, the commonly-cited trillions of dollars point is untrue.

            Peak year spending was 2008 with $138 billion, attributable to the ISI insurgency, I imagine. That represents 1% of US GDP. The Afghan war and the Gulf War 1 are the only 2 cheaper US wars by peak year spending. Naturally, one could use other comparisons but this does give you some idea of the relative cost of the Iraq War (i.e. Operation Iraqi Freedom).

            The death tolls in Iraq at least up to the recent offensive against ISIS-held Mosul are by orders of magnitude much smaller than in Saddam’s time (by at least a factor of 10 and probably 100). In 2004, according to the World Bank, Iraq’s GDP was $36 billion: in 2013 it was $235 billion, dropping to $180 billion in 2015 due to the success of ISIS.

            Assad has already balkanized Syria. It’s split into areas controlled by himself (and Russia and Iran), ISIS, the Kurds and the rebels (riven among themselves since AQ tried to rebrand as nationalists).

            • Cindy
              Posted February 24, 2017 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

              So…the Iraq war…

              Was a good idea?

              Is funding Al Qaeda in Syria also a good idea?

              Rep. Tulsi Gabbard said, “Under U.S. law it is illegal for any American to provide money or assistance to al-Qaeda, ISIS or other terrorist groups. If you or I gave money, weapons or support to al-Qaeda or ISIS, we would be thrown in jail. Yet the U.S. government has been violating this law for years, quietly supporting allies and partners of al-Qaeda, ISIL, Jabhat Fateh al Sham and other terrorist groups with money, weapons, and intelligence support, in their fight to overthrow the Syrian government.[i]

              “The CIA has also been funneling weapons and money through Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar and others who provide direct and indirect support to groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda. This support has allowed al-Qaeda and their fellow terrorist organizations to establish strongholds throughout Syria, including in Aleppo.

              “A recent New York Times article confirmed that ‘rebel groups’ supported by the U.S. ‘have entered into battlefield alliances with the affiliate of al-Qaeda in Syria, formerly known as al Nusra.’ This alliance has rendered the phrase ‘moderate rebels’ meaningless. Reports confirm that ‘every armed anti-Assad organization unit in those provinces [of Idlib and Aleppo] is engaged in a military structure controlled by [al-Qaeda’s] Nusra militants.’

              https://gabbard.house.gov/news/press-releases/video-rep-tulsi-gabbard-introduces-legislation-stop-arming-terrorists

              And I suppose that taking out Gaddafi was also a great idea…after all he was holding back the waves of migrants from North Africa who are now entering Europe in great numbers…

              And women in Libya now have fewer rights than they did when Gaddafi was in power…

              Perhaps if the USA stopped funding terrorists in support of proxy wars throughout the Middle East there would not be so much instability.

              • Posted February 24, 2017 at 7:40 pm | Permalink

                I hesitate to hijack Grania’s post on this, Cindy, yet I’ll reply to a couple of points.

                I’d be extremely wary about supporting Rep. Gabbard. Her trip to see Assad (illegal, although the law is never used) was funded by the Arab American Community Center for Economic and Social Services. She was accompanied by two US-based top men from Assad’s party, Elie and Bassam Khawam. They are officials in the anti-Semitic and Syrian-lebensraum Syrian Socialist National Party, fighters in the civil war on Assad’s side.

                They are the group who in 2009 tried to assault and kidnap Christopher Hitchens in Beirut.

                This is who you are quoting, a woman who repeats the Assad line for international consumption. The SSNP put the boot into the anti-régime protesters in 2011. They are the people who guided Gabbard to see what she saw in Syria.

                Secondly, yes, some US matériel got through to AQ and Islamist elements. Purposely? No. Obama’s war policy in Syria has always been half-hearted, partly, to be generous, because of the shifting alliances among the rebels. It is plain untrue to allege that the Syrian rebels are all Islamists. Every day I see on my timeline reports by Syrian Tunisian-type democrats. Gabbard follows the Fisk narrative of impugning Islamism to all anti-Assadists. Notably in the story that Aleppo was dominated by AQ when at no time did they make up more than 11% of the rebels in that city.

                No, ISIS is not funded by the US and never has been. It is almost completely self-funding as a strategic principle in order to remain ideologically independent. It gets and has got its money from oil, taxes, ‘charity’, gas, trade with Assad and Turkish smugglers, banking embezzlement and extortion. A tiny percentage of its revenue has come from individual or outside donors.

                I’ll leave it at that. As I say,…Grania…

            • jeffery
              Posted February 25, 2017 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

              Dermot:
              (1) 2013 was FOUR years ago.
              (2) I’m wondering if the money spent on ongoing medical care and rehabilitation of the many wounded (and many, many more are wounded than killed), for some, lasting the rest of their lives, are included in this figure- I doubt it.
              (3) to try to “separate” the Iraqi campaign from the war in Syria, Afghanistan, Yemen, and whatever other “covert” operations we’ve got going on over there, just so the cost seem “acceptable”, is absurd: it’s a REGIONAL conflict, completely interconnected, with “fighters” routinely flowing from one arbitrarily-delineated “country” to another- the cost of any drone strikes in Pakistan should be included, as well.
              (4) Although I personally despise the butcher Assad, to say that he’s “Balkanized” his OWN country is as ludicrous as saying that the Poles “started” WWII by resisting the German invasion- it’s a simple matter of survival for him, his regime, and the Alawite sect that, in a manner similar to the “Baathists” of Iraq, he’s put into a position of favor and privilege in the country.

              • jeffery
                Posted February 25, 2017 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

                One more thing: we hopefully have learned, in the past 14 years, what happens when we try to help pull a “regime-change” on a “strongman-leader” in that part of the world. Despite the money spent, and the lives lost, the results have almost always been not to our liking. What business have we in Syria, to begin with? As a friend of mine put it, “Yemen? WTF are we doing in YEMEN?” I believe that part of the motivation behind our meddling in the Middle East is the continued playing of the current version of the old “Great Game”- the struggle with Russia for dominance. Our military doesn’t want them to have that Naval base in Syria, as per our “encirclement” strategy, and they’re not about to give it up.

              • Posted February 26, 2017 at 7:10 am | Permalink

                @jeffery
                Posted February 25, 2017 at 6:17 pm

                First of all, apologies for the delayed reply, Jeffery: I’ve just finished an overnight shift. In answer to your points.
                1. Indeed, 2013 was 4 years ago. If you have updates on the figures they would be useful.
                2. Yes, the medical care is included in the figures I gave. I cannot tell from the Congressional Research Service document I cited whether they are for the rest of the veterans’ lives.
                3. I responded to Cindy as she appeared to be criticizing the cost of the Iraq war. As I said, it is a common point she made, and usually in the context of Iraq. So, I responded to that. The total spend for the 13 years of war up to Financial Year 2014 was $1.6 trillion. This was for “military operations, base support, weapons maintenance, training of Afghan and Iraq security forces, reconstruction, foreign aid, embassy costs, and veterans’ health care for the war operations initiated since the 9/11 attacks.”
                $686 billion (43%) went to Afghanistan and other counterterror operations. $815 billion (51%) went to Iraq. $27 billion went to provide enhanced security at military bases. $81 billion went to war-designated funding “not considered directly related to the Afghanistan or Iraq wars”.

                So, no we have not had “trillions of dollars” spent on US wars since 9/11. But $1.6 trillion is a hell of a lot money, anyway. Notice that reconstruction is included in war costs.

                4. Yes, Assad has balkanized and terrorized his own country. His strategy is to use Russian and Iranian military power to back up his own extraordinarily weak governance. Without them he would probably not govern anywhere. His is the force primarily responsible for the overwhelming numbers of deaths in Syria since 2011. Here are the figures according to Syrian Network for Human Rights (who count conservatively).

                Civilians killed since March 2011 by:

                Government forces: 188,729 (93%)
                Armed opposition forces: 3,668 (2%)
                Russian forces: 3,558 (2%)
                ISIS: 2,998 (1%)
                Unidentified groups: 2,591 (1%)
                International Coalition forces: 669 (0.3%)
                Kurdish self-management forces: 512 (0.1%)
                Fateh al-Sham Front: 372 (0.2%)
                (Percentages rounded up or down unless below 1%).

                Assad’s forces account for 99.22% of Syrians who have died under torture, 88.27% of women deaths, 85.78% of child deaths and 87.02% of detainees.

                I disagree with your analogy of Assad being like the Poles who resisted Germany in WWII. The Arab Spring was a revolution in Syria led by Tunisian-type democrats. Assad’s response to it was send in the goons of SSNP to crack a few heads as well as to release his Islamists from his jails in order to unleash them on the democrats. A lot of those Islamists ended up in ISIS, who at their high point were selling 40% of their oil to Assad. As you can see from the figures Assad’s main war is with the Syrian people, not with Islamist ex-vigilantes who he thought he could control.

          • somer
            Posted February 24, 2017 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

            Its worse than Iraq and Libya were/are. The issue for me is its so divided now, likely only make it worse and also you would be starting war with Russia which is Not a good idea. Assad is more or less in control of the Western border with the cities and access to Lebanon now – which is what matters to him.

            Obama probably should have done a no fly zone before Russia got involved (he says he was afraid syria would unleash chemical weapons on big scale if he did so and they were in the process of getting most of them out). Maybe should do no fly zone but even that could escalate with russia

          • Posted February 25, 2017 at 9:26 am | Permalink

            We do not know how Iraq and Libya would look without the intervention. Libyans I know claim to better off now.
            We know how Syria is, without an intervention. Much like Bosnia and Kosovo were before the intervention. War, genocide, oppression, and an endless stream of refugees. I have no hope about the future. The USA has abdicated as a superpower, and Europe is useless.

    • Posted February 24, 2017 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

      I think further than that, Pedophilia is the biggest of all possible taboos. All rational discussion about everything shuts down as soon as someone is even suspected of being a pedophile.

      But, yes, I’ve read that article before and I agree that empathy in an age of information over-saturation might be harmful to a lot of causes. Bloom’s book is on my short list of things to read.

      • Posted February 24, 2017 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

        It’s not just pedophilia, but anything and everything related to the combination of sexuality and children.

        Imagine trying to get a grant approval to study the understanding and fantasies and desires of ten-year-olds. Simply proposing it would be career suicide and likely brand you as a child predator who then gets death threats forever. And even if the review board was sympathetic in principle, how would you design a protocol that would satisfy the taboos?

        Now, compare with literally any other facet of life that is restricted (or even prohibited!) to adults. If you wanted to know what children thought of war, of driving, of illicit drugs, of politics, of crime, of home ownership — even of marriage and divorce, a competent professional would have no trouble performing a similar investigation.

        But even merely hinting about looking into what children think about sex?

        There’s something more going on, something that doesn’t make sense. I suspect at least some of it is of the “methinks the lady doth protest too much” variety. Maybe Ted Haggard isn’t merely completely heterosexual, but also only has thoughts for those whose age is ±10% of his?

        There’s no serious disagreement that alcohol and tobacco should be kept away from minors, and that adults who supply minors with alcohol and tobacco are derelict.

        But there’s also some sense of proportionality involved there that’s completely missing from sex.

        Most everybody is at least tolerant of parents giving children a sip of wine as part of a religious ceremony, and not many think all that much of places like France where children commonly drink watered-down wine with meals. Somebody who held a kegger with unlimited vodka shots for a ten-year-old’s birthday party would be reviled and in serious trouble.

        But a father in a rush, for example, who jumped into the shower as his teenaged daughter was leaving it and both momentarily saw each other naked…he could well have his life ruined simply for either of them merely speaking of it — and her life ruined at the same time as acceptable collateral damage. Yet that same father letting the same daughter sniff (but not taste) his glass of whiskey as he smoked a cigar wouldn’t even raise an eyebrow.

        I hope it’s obvious that I’m not condoning sexual exploitation of minors, but rather condemning the hyperactive over-the-top overreaction that instantly unthinkingly results. There’s a balance here that’s completely missing, and to the detriment of all.

        Children should be protected, yes. But, all too often, we’re grabbing napalm flamethrowers in a panic to “do something” about the cockroach under the bed. Even when the situation really is serious, as it too often may well be…well, how often are napalm flamethrowers really the right tool for a rattlesnake in the baby’s crib?

        Mightn’t there be a more rational, more effective solution? Just maybe, possibly perhaps?

        Cheers,

        b&

        • Posted February 24, 2017 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

          Well, said Ben. Yeah there’s some seriously strange double-standards going on involving adults and children, sexuality, and being honest about what people actually THINK or what is actually happening.

          I think the problem is exaggerated in America – Puritan throwback perhaps?

          And it’s especially bad for men – I remember one of my female friends in college telling me she thought that she found one of young male leads (Benny) in the Sandlot “hot” – and I remember thinking how I could never, ever say something similar about him even if I wanted to. This is not to condone sexual exploitation of minors, just an observation.

          And I think the fact that both you and at some point in our comments felt compelled to say, explicitly, that we don’t condone crimes against children is pretty indicative of the massive taboo around this subject.

          Interesting observations.

          • jeffery
            Posted February 25, 2017 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

            I think that there is a tangled web of many cultural “factors” that play a part in our attitudes and “standards” concerning when it’s acceptable for a person to get involved in sexual activity. We live in a society where many people feel that the sight of a woman breast-feeding is “disgusting”, yet we are bombarded with images of barely-covered breasts every day, to sell products. It is not commonly “acceptable” for a father and daughter to be naked together, in the U.S. (unless you’re members of a nudist colony) yet in Scandinavian countries and Japan (which is, I feel “bat-shit crazy” in other ways concerning sex- “tentacle porn”) there is a much more relaxed attitude about intersex nudity under casual circumstances.
            I feel that part of it goes way back, to when women were considered “property”: child marriage is still widely accepted in many places in the world- to take the sexual favors of a young girl, however, WITHOUT the proper permission being received; WITHOUT the proper dowry paid and the “proper” rituals performed, is perceived as a “theft of property and services” and is seen as an insult to the honor of the family. In Afghanistan, there is an entire “class” of young boys who are trained to dress, sing, and dance like women to entertain older men- many are further “groomed” as sexual partners. This is, however, “accepted” as a long-standing tradition, while it may be a subject not for open discussion.
            I suppose my point is that we are at a stage in history were we’re just beginning to look at our societies and just beginning to try to figure out what is the “right” way to live; a way that lines up best with our genetic instincts and heritage. Hopefully more answers will be found with the result being a world in which people can enjoy their lives with the least amount of emotional damage.

  7. Posted February 24, 2017 at 11:31 am | Permalink

    I’m cool with Milo losing his echo chamber.

    His publisher showed the right way to do it: simple, short, unemotional; the business relationship is over and each will go their own ways.

    Hatred, even of Nazis and Hitler, though understandable, is not merely unproductive but counterproductive. Not that one should love thine enemies, of course; but embracing hatred simply turns you into that which you hate. In his quest to rid the world of the hated imaginary monster of Judaism, Hitler became a monster worse than even he imagined Judaism to be.

    Cheers,

    b&

    • Posted February 24, 2017 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

      He didn’t lose it at all IMO – he’s now a martyr. He’ll self-publish, found his own media company, etc

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted February 24, 2017 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

      +1.

  8. Somite
    Posted February 24, 2017 at 11:32 am | Permalink

    Not sorry one bit.

    He disparaged:

    1. disabled people
    2. fat people
    3. atheists
    4. liberals
    5. etc

    He made his bed and now has to lie on it.

    • mikeyc
      Posted February 24, 2017 at 11:52 am | Permalink

      And whom do you disparage, Somite?

      • Somite
        Posted February 24, 2017 at 11:54 am | Permalink

        No one on purpose.

        • mikeyc
          Posted February 24, 2017 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

          I do not believe you.

          Hate is easy. It is tolerance which is hard.

          • Ken Kukec
            Posted February 24, 2017 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

            True. But some try; others — like Milo — flaunt their disparagement like a feather boa.

    • Posted February 24, 2017 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

      Yeah but the interesting thing was – why this? Why not the other awful things he’s said?

    • jrhs
      Posted February 24, 2017 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

      I seriously doubt he wants anybody’s pity or sympathy. He wants everyone to buy his book. For all I know, he might be basking in the attentions from both sides.

    • aljones909
      Posted February 24, 2017 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

      There’s an old Bill Maher clip where he talks of a relationship between a 30 year old teacher and a 14 year old pupil?

      On Youtube at watch?v=3yUwYg_Arfc

      Is there some dramatic moral chasm between what Milo said and what Maher said?

  9. Posted February 24, 2017 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    Well said. I think he got what he deserved in many respects, but I was pretty amazed at the outcry this generated vs some of the other things he’s said that are much, much worse.

    • Mark R.
      Posted February 24, 2017 at 11:55 am | Permalink

      Yeah, I found it strange he was going to be the keynote speaker of CPAC after all the vileness he has spewed, but this incident was too outrageous for conservatives. They are an odd tribe.

      • Posted February 24, 2017 at 11:59 am | Permalink

        Old-school conservatives were definitely itching for an excuse to shun him and he finally gave it to them, I guess.

        I think CPAC especially didn’t want Milo there but felt like it was necessary to include someone who had an established connection with a more youthful user base.

        • Somite
          Posted February 24, 2017 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

          With 0 redeeming value either. I don’t get it.

  10. Posted February 24, 2017 at 11:56 am | Permalink

    “There’s something profoundly ugly and primitive about the public assassination of a person’s character.”

    Happens all the time in social media. To almost everyone at some point. He has hardly been “assassinated.” He will do the Republican thing of he reflect, repent and go back to self-promotion.

  11. Posted February 24, 2017 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

    I care about what Milo has done in the past, of course. But in this instance, I care about what he hasn’t done, what he may not have done – and what he is accused of having done or supported.

    Also, we should remember that he has been attacked in a rather dubious way by pre-Trump conservatives as rather low-hanging fruit rather than have his arguments attacked and defeated by liberals.

    I understand those who are quite happy for him to disappear – I don’t think he will, by the way – but feel his silencing in this way is in a sense no different than the alt-left rioting at US universities.

    He will doubtless pick up another book deal, possibly another tour, and Bannon remains firmly in the White House.

    Anvil.

    • Aelfric
      Posted February 24, 2017 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

      This where I feel like I am missing a piece of the argument. What constitutes the “sliencing,” as you use it here?

      • Posted February 24, 2017 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

        Well. insinuating paedophilia, just like insinuating racism, islamophobia, misogyny etc’, tends to have as somewhat a silencing effect as rioters who close down public speaking engagements.

        • Aelfric
          Posted February 24, 2017 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

          I am not sure “insinuating” is quite right here; I think his words did the work on their own. And harsh criticism can certainly silence people, but harsh criticism can also be true and appropriate. That I guess is where I would differ.

          • Craw
            Posted February 25, 2017 at 1:20 am | Permalink

            Nothing he said is even about prepubescent children. So nothing he said can possibly endorse pedophilia.
            And there is a difference between criticism and name calling.

          • Posted February 25, 2017 at 4:47 am | Permalink

            Sorry, for the delay in replying. I was away having a bout of heavy drinking.

            I don’t differ on anything you said there. Where we differ is on what Milo said. You appear to have heard him say something I haven’t heard him say.

            Anvil.

  12. Posted February 24, 2017 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

    One of the most common defenses for Milo supporters is to bring up Lena Dunham. They suggest that Lena, who wrote explicitly of some odd probably sexual contact with her younger sister when they were both younger, was largely praised for her honesty.

    I think they do have a point there. Milo is invariably uncouth but he was being very open about his experiences in the video(s) and was completely skewered for it – unfairly, in my opinion. The condemnation, however, didn’t just come from one side so I think he’s made too many enemies to have a reasonable chance of speaking about his experiences in his usual tone.

    • Aelfric
      Posted February 24, 2017 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

      I don’t think of myself as a defender of Ms. Dunham, but I would note that there is, to me, a wide gap between relating an experience one had as a minor, and on the other hand, advocating for it.

      • josh
        Posted February 24, 2017 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

        I haven’t tried to parse every mumble in the podcast exchange that sparked his downfall, but I was not able to see anywhere that he advocated pedophilia. In fact, he explicitly says that the current age of consent is about right. His only point seems to be that real-world experiences are not one-size-fits-all and he implies that some 13-year-olds have had non-damaging relationships with older men.

        I think one can debate his glib attitude but it’s clear to me that this is just a suitable rope to hang the witch of the week.

        • Aelfric
          Posted February 24, 2017 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

          His bit about “I should thank Father Michael” comes pretty close for me. And perhaps “advocate” is too strong a verb; “excuse” might be better. Some people deserve criticism. This whole episode, to me, is free speech doing its thing, so to speak!

          • Posted February 24, 2017 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

            See I read that instead as someone struggling to come to terms with their abuse and making a dark joke about it. I didn’t think he was advocating for that type of behavior at all.

          • Craw
            Posted February 25, 2017 at 1:27 am | Permalink

            You don’t catch the mordant humor? Why did Milo say he perhaps should thank that abusive priest? For teaching him how to give head so well. imagine a critic of George Bush who lost a son in Iraq saying “I suppose I should thank him for getting me a spare room in our house.” Would you think he was advocating more wars?

    • BJ
      Posted February 24, 2017 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

      “probably sexual contact”

      There was nothing “probably” about it. She wrote that she would regularly withhold things she knew her little sister wanted to bribe or force her into making out with her, and that she would lie in bed next to her little sister and masturbate. It really doesn’t get more sexual than that.

      • Posted February 24, 2017 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

        I actually didn’t read the full excerpt – I’ve only heard snippets but never really looked into it.

        If that’s the case then, yes, that’s obviously sexual and more than a little disturbing.

      • Posted February 24, 2017 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

        So I did look up some of those passages. How old was she when she did this and how old was her sister? The article I read isn’t clear.

    • Davide Spinello
      Posted February 24, 2017 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

      By applying to this performance the simple test replace white with black AND/OR straight with homosexual AND/OR men with women, Lena Dunham comes out as a racist AND/OR homophobic AND/OR sexist.

      Instead in the intersectional postmodernist world of SJWlandia she is a champion of feminism, and oh my freaking gosh she is so soo sooo progressive!!!!!111!!!

      • Posted February 24, 2017 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

        I in no way wish to defend Lena Dunham here, I only mentioned her in reference to what I’ve heard as a popular defense of Milo’s remarks.

        I agree there’s a MASSIVE double standard there for sure re: talking openly about “white people.”

        Did you happen to see the new Chrome extension that replaces “white people” with “black people” on websites that publish this kind of thing? Pretty eye opening.

        • Davide Spinello
          Posted February 24, 2017 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

          I haven’t seen the extension, but from your description the developer must be a racist nazi.

  13. Randy schenck
    Posted February 24, 2017 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

    There is almost nothing uglier than the free public. Or nothing easier to manipulate.

  14. Craw
    Posted February 24, 2017 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for this magnificent post.

  15. sensorrhea
    Posted February 24, 2017 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

    “His comments on what may or may not be excusing pedophilia, ephebophilia or relationships between men of different ages caused concern and revulsion, depending on what one believes he was advocating or discussing.”

    If you listen to the various videos of him there is zero doubt. No need for all this “may or may not” and “depending on what one believes” stuff.

  16. wardaword
    Posted February 24, 2017 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

    Conservatives loved him because he pissed off liberals. Well, I don’t think they loved him, or even liked him.

    But they sure loved that he was a homo that really got under liberals’ skin. Same as they love that David Clarke of Milwaukee is a black man who offends liberals.

    But then, he offended conservatives. That is truly unforgivable. That’s why Breitbart, CPAC, and conservative imprint of Simon & Schuster all distanced themselves from him.

    I don’t even know what liberals had to do with conservatives disowning him. They never liked him. It’s conservatives who changed their minds and bailed on him.

    • GBJames
      Posted February 24, 2017 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

      Speaking of Sheriff Clark… Will not somebody take him off our hands? Why can’t we have a decent human as Milwaukee’s sheriff?

      /rant

  17. BJ
    Posted February 24, 2017 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

    I don’t feel particularly bad for Milo, as he was basically hoisted by his own petard. The only reason I don’t like what happened to him is because it once again made explicit the double standards of left-wing media. They cheered on Lena Dunham for writing about bribing her little prepubescent sister into making out with her and masturbating next to her in bed. They cheered on the woman who wrote a passage in the vagina monologues about being a thirteen years old lesbian having sex with a much older adult woman and describing it as nothing but positive, and saying that such experiences can often be positive (basically what Milo said, just in a less outrageous manner and by someone who fits wells into the social justice hierarchy of oppression). But, looking at the Milo incident as a solitary one, I’m not miffed that he was hung by his own shtick. I’m shocked he lasted as long as he did.

    As for Pewdiepie, what the media did to him was and is absolutely disgusting. They knew they had nothing, but removed all context and piled on to get their much-needed outrage from wherever they could. And that’s the real danger.

    • wardaword
      Posted February 24, 2017 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

      The “left-wing” media did nothing to him. All the people that actually did anything to him, like fire him, were conservative: Breitbart, CPAC, a conservative imprint of a major publisher.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted February 24, 2017 at 11:09 pm | Permalink

      Wardaword is right. The “left-wing media” didn’t turn on Milo; he was never theirs to turn on.

      It’s the right wing that’s turned on Milo, and they did it on a dime, since they were never comfortable with his flamboyant gayness in the first place.

      And the situation with Lena Durham isn’t really analogous, now is it? It’s one thing to confess to inappropriate behavior as a youth; it’s another to crack wise about giving head to a priest, while maintaining that pederasty is entirely appropriate.

      • Posted February 25, 2017 at 5:28 am | Permalink

        Yes, the left have nothing to do with this.

        Yes, It’s the right that have turned on Milo.

        We differ slightly on our reading of the rest.

        I’m presuming his cracking wise about giving head to a priest refers to his rape as a youth by a catholic priest. I think he’s quite entitled to crack wise about that.

        Also, I’m somewhat concerned as to how the pitchforks drew paedophilia in the sand until evidence was demanded, then redrew this accusation as pederasty.

        Still, if this was indeed the case, well, I’ve no love for pederasts, or for Milo or his views.

        Thing is, everytime I look at the evidence I see Milo bragging about losing his virginity at an early age and then trying to justify this when confronted with the possibility that the person he lost it to may have been his abuser.

        I’m not too sure he was ‘maintaining that pederasty is entirely appropriate’?

        I joined the UK armed forces when I was sixteen. Apparently, everyone in my unit lost their virginity when they were eight!

        Anvil.

  18. hugh
    Posted February 24, 2017 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    Hi Zoe – you missed quite a thunderstorm last night .. some real ‘bangers’

    Interesting piece to read…

    H

  19. Ken Kukec
    Posted February 24, 2017 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    The establishment right wing, and the religious right, were always uncomfortable with Milo owing to his flaming gay persona. They passed the most extreme anti-gay plank ever in the Republican party platform at last summer’s GOP convention. And CPAC, for its part, forbade the buttoned-down, barely-out-of-the-closet gays of the Log Cabin Republicans from appearing as a sponsor at its conference just two years ago.

    The alt-right kept Milo like an exotic pet — a means of pissing off the left, while inoculating themselves from the usual charges of homophobia. Now that he’s squicked them out with his hebephilia, they’ve abandoned him like so much unclaimed luggage on the airport carousel.

    And Milo has spent his entire public career (such as it is) taunting and provoking the left, so they despise him most of all. Thus, even those who might otherwise take him in on the issue now causing him such grief, like North American Man/Boy Love Association (NAMBLA), will shun him as an orphan.

    Suddenly, Milo finds himself all dressed up — whether in pearls and scarf (as at most of his public appearances) or suit and tie (as at his chastened press conference) — with nowhere to go.

    • Posted February 24, 2017 at 8:26 pm | Permalink

      Haven’t follwed LAMBLA for years. But the fact that *they* are shunning them is nsurprising, as they were known for going much further than anything Milo is reputed to have said.

  20. somer
    Posted February 24, 2017 at 9:47 pm | Permalink

    I don’t know anything about Pewdiepie but I don’t see how whats happened recently to Milo is persecution. His sponsors deciding not to sponsor him is Not comparable to students blocking him with violent protests or disinviting him from events they don’t have to attend.

    Milo made a career that was about being superficially outrageous and significantly about hurting and insulting people. He did well being risky and now the risk bit him.

    We have to have some taboos and I think consent is an important one even if it is sometimes hypocritical regarding, say the gay scene – theres too much real abuse that used to go on completely uncensored. Moreover attitudes to gays are what significally repressed gays for so long – and these have changed.

  21. Posted February 25, 2017 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

    Confirmation Bias works in any direction, including seeing The Left, The Right and The Public behaving in certain ways. How many people have their two minutes of outrage, and then just don’t care? How many trust their media, accept the headlines but just have no time to check whether — and to which degree — the reporting was biased (reporting bias is a twin of confirmation bias). And how many just don’t see themselves defending pedophilia or Nazi jokes, and wish not to die on such hills, and just move on.

    The public is us. I have a negative view of some people I don’t care about, just because they were portrayed negatively in headlines I saw. But since I don’t care, I have no way of knowing whether the reporting was correct. They have millions of fans — they must be doing something right to some people.

    I know from myself that I don’t take my views too seriously, and don’t cling to such impressions, and check should the matter become important somehow. I believe this is generally the case, and almost par of the course of learning more. The pitfalls rather are relying on too few, or one-sided sources, or confirmation bias trap of not trying to falsify one’s notions (googling verifications, rather than falsifications).

    Despite that some media pessimism is warranted, this mostly works on an individual and institutional level. And ironically, enables the next tier of people to feel better about themselves, and have their two minutes of outrage, having seen through the lies and deceptions of the previous instance, “they have Confirmation Bias, but we have not”.

    PewDiePie has his fiftysix million subscribers, who know his content, and the WSJ and other sources have readers who don’t really care enough. They earned the clicks. Some conservatives feel updated about this internet and tubes contraption, and their fears confirmed and everyone else just moves on.


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