At a New York City pub on Sunday, a conservative agitator faced the music for what many opponents consider to be his relentlessly incendiary rhetoric. Perhaps best known as a former editor at Breitbart News, Milo Yiannopoulos was shouted out of an NYC bar in Manhattan, reportedly by a gathering of Democratic Socialists of America.
According to accounts of the story shared on social media, Yiannopoulos stepped into a bar full of the group's members on Sunday, and when other patrons realized who he was, chanting ensued. Video of the incident shows a group of people facing the commentator, chanting, "Nazi scum, get out." Yiannopoulos appears to pause for a moment, looking at his phone, until he ultimately turns around and exits the establishment.
Yiannopoulos, who often fashions himself as a free speech crusader, took to Facebook to tell his side of the story. (He couldn't use Twitter because he's permanently banned from the website.) In a post, which featured a photo of himself wearing large, dark sunglasses, Yiannopoulos said that he was "shoved and screamed at" in a New York bar until he was "forced out of the place." He was going to stay at the bar, he claims, but he became concerned that the spectacle would "escalate into something ugly."
In his post, Yiannopoulos said that he had to leave because he did not have any other protection:
It rattled me a little bit (just slightly!), perhaps because I have something to lose in life now. My first thought was John and not getting myself hurt or killed. I don’t know how I’d explain to my black husband that I got hurt for being a “white supremacist”. I didn’t have security with me so I had to just get out of there.
He wrapped up his post lamenting that his controversial opinions make others hostile to him. "It’s now impossible for me to safely go out for lunch in most major cities in America because I supported Trump at the last election and don’t like feminism," he said.
Gizmodo Media reporter Brendan O’Connor wrote on Twitter that he was at the bar when Yiannopoulos showed up. The establishment, he said, was full of Democratic Socialists of America members. According to O'Connor, Yiannopoulos was ultimately "heckled for five minutes" before leaving.
Annie Shields, an editor at The Nation and a co-chair of the Bronx Democratic Socialists of America, said that the group paid for Yiannopoulos' beers so that he could leave as soon as possible. Then, she said, they "dumped them out, bought extra rounds, tipped the bartenders," before proceeding to sing "Solidarity Forever," as the "whole bar" joined in. (The song is a union anthem, sung to the tune of "Battle Hymn of the Republic.")
Over the course of the last year, Yiannopoulos has largely disappeared from the spotlight. In large part, this was due to video footage of comments he made which suggest that he condoned pedophilia and statutory rape.
"No, no, no. You’re misunderstanding what pedophilia means," Yiannopoulos says on the tape, according to The New York Times. "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."
He also reportedly described consent as "arbitrary and oppressive," and suggested that relationships between older men and younger boys could be good things. He said, "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."
Yiannopoulos responded to the video clips, decrying them as largely a mischaracterization, which he blamed on his own imprecise language. "I’ve repeatedly expressed disgust at pedophilia in my feature and opinion writing," he said in a statement. "My professional record is very clear. But I do understand that these videos, even though some of them are edited deceptively, paint a different picture." In the aftermath, he lost a lucrative book deal and resigned from his post at Breitbart.
In any event, Yiannopoulos' return to the public eye was anything but positive for him. It did, however, gain some laughs from his opponents.