Why Milo Yiannopoulos Is So Controversial, Even Before His Most Recent Comments
The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), the annual convention for grassroots conservatives, has revoked Milo Yiannopoulos' invitation to address the conference. Yiannopoulos was set to be a headline speaker at the event, but after video surfaced of him seemingly defending pedophilia by talking about 13-year-old boys having relationships with older men, he was disinvited from the event. Shortly thereafter, his book deal was canceled. Yiannopoulos denies that he supports pedophilia, writing in a Facebook post Sunday that it is "a vile and disgusting crime." In any event, CPAC made the right move here, because as a general rule, it's not prudent to have a person who some see as a pedophilia apologist addressing your political convention. But Yiannopoulos' pedophilia comments are not the only reason he's so controversial; there are many, many, many others.
First, take that Yiannopoulos is chronically disrespectful to the transgender community and explicitly advocates making fun of transgender people. In a 2016 speech at the University of Delaware, he said that transgender individuals "are deeply mentally damaged" and "mentally ill." He compared gender dysphoria to anorexia, said that trans women are "simply gay men dressing up for attention," and told his audience that they should "never feel bad for mocking a transgender person."
In a different speech at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Yiannopoulos identified a trans student who was in the audience, projected her image on screen, misgendered her and accused her of "forc[ing] his way into the women’s locker rooms this year." He later defended his comments, claiming that he was merely "protecting women from men in their locker rooms." In a recent appearance on Real Time with Bill Maher, he alleged that trans individuals are "vastly disproportionately involved in sex crimes," though he presented no evidence to that effect.
Yiannopoulos' expressed views on sexual orientation aren't much better. Although he's openly gay, he's made many disparaging comments about homosexuality. While discussing his own sexual orientation, he's said that "it would be better if I didn't behave like this," and that "if I could choose to be heterosexual, I would." In a now-deleted article that he wrote in 2011, he said that he would probably never be a parent, because homosexuality is an "inappropriate influence" on children.
"Is being homosexual 'wrong'?" he wrote. "Something somewhere inside of me says Yes."
Yiannopoulos has also made loads of problematic comments regarding women and feminism. In response to concerns about online harassment of women, which have been steadily growing over time, he proposed in an article at Breitbart that women stop using the Internet altogether, and "go back to bridge tournaments."
Here's my suggestion to fix the gender wars online: Women should just log off. Given that men built the internet, along with the rest of modern civilisation, I think it’s only fair that they get to keep it. And given what a miserable time women are having on the web, surely they would welcome an abrupt exit. They could go back to bridge tournaments, or wellness workshops, or swapping apple crumble recipes, or whatever it is women do in their spare time.
Elsewhere, Yiannopoulos has called the gender equality movement "absurd," and questioned why women should "be badgered into choosing to work over having babies and being happy." He often says that "feminism is cancer."
The controversies surrounding Yiannopoulos aren't confined to women's and LGBT issues, however. There's also the matter of religion.
Yiannopoulos is religiously Catholic, but he claims that his maternal grandmother was Jewish, which would give him Jewish ancestry. Nevertheless, he's given lip service to popular anti-Semitic tropes, such as the idea that "the Jews run everything," including "the banks" and "the media." In December, he called BuzzFeed reporter Joe Bernstein a "thick-as-pig-shit media Jew."
Along with his comments about Jews, Muslims are a frequent target of Yiannpolous' criticisms. Conservatives often criticize liberals for failing to use the term "radical Islamic terrorism." But in an article written shortly after the Pulse nightclub shooting, Yiannopoulos explained why he rejects that term:
America has a Muslim problem. Notice my wording carefully here. It isn’t a radical Muslim problem. It isn’t an ISIS problem, an Al Qaeda problem, a Taliban problem, or any of the Muslim terror groups that have sprung up in 2016. The terror attack on Saturday is an expression of mainstream Muslim values.
And then there are his views on race. In yet another article at Breitbart, Yiannpolous asserted that white privilege doesn't exist; in the same piece, he claimed that that Black Lives Matter is "dedicated to racial hatred" and is thus "the last socially acceptable hate group in America." He also created a scholarship fund called "Privilege Grants," for which he raised more than $100,000 exclusively for "white men, in support of their post-secondary education."
Lastly, Yiannopoulos is one of the few public figures to be permanently banned from Twitter, with the company explaining that he had engaged in "targeted abuse or harassment of others." This was widely understood to be a reference to tweets he made about Ghostbusters star Leslie Jones, after which Jones received a deluge of online harassment. In response, Yiannopoulos claimed that he "did nothing wrong," and that Twitter had banned him "without evidence of wrongdoing and without explanation."
I could go on.
Although he only rose to prominence recently, Yiannopoulos was a lower-tier media figure for many years. Combing through all of his past statements and tallying all of the offensive things he's said would be a gargantuan task, but also an unnecessary one. Throughout his time in the public eye, he's made it clear what he's about and what he believes. His comments on pedophilia were disgusting, but there weren't the only controversial things he's said — not by a long shot.