I'VE OFTEN THOUGHT that some of the most vocal critics of child abuse really didn't care as much as they pretended to care about abused and neglected children. Their focus was elsewhere, far above the downy heads of little boys who'd been raped or molested by the men and women who were supposed to cherish them. It was set squarely upon the Catholic Church and its old-fashioned, seemingly archaic views about morality. Digging up decades-old scandals was an effective way of sticking it to the institution that opposed abortion and homosexual sex. Two birds with one rock of Peter, so to speak.
I got that same feeling when I heard about the tawdry tale of Milo Yiannopoulos, whose name I couldn't even pronounce until a day or so ago. Milo didn't fly across my radar screen because I wasn't a big fan of the agitprop antics of pseudo-intellectuals who, were he still alive, would have made William F. Buckley flair his nostrils in repulsion. Milo, Ann Coulter, some of the folks at Townhall.com and the other flavor-of-the-month "conservative" pundits didn't engage my attention, much less engender a sense of admiration.
But when the prospect of Milo coming to speak at Berkeley triggered an animalistic reaction on campus, including fires, vandalism and nuclear meltdowns in the "safe space," I took a closer look and realized he did serve a purpose. It was an ability to show in the most obvious way that liberals are a thin-skinned, nervous group of ninnies who think the First Amendment is the Worst Amendment when it comes to conservatives.
So the fact that Milo got liberals all hot under the collar made me smile, even though what he said was gross, low-brow, sensationalistic and bereft of any real analysis or thoughtfulness. His job was to provoke, not enlighten. He did it well, judging by the number of Trump supporters who looked upon him as a prophet, a spokesman, a warrior on the first line of the culture wars.
He is none of those things, just a photogenic, young man with a well-developed ego, a love of the incendiary bon mot and a fearless bit of chutzpah that turned him into a media star.
Until the supernova exploded and the people who hated him all along found a way to use his own words against him. As we now know, tapes made months ago were strategically released this past week and show that, at some level, Yiannopoulos has a very unorthodox view of human sexuality. He was overheard to dismiss the severity of pederasty, which is different from pedophilia only in degree and not nature. Pedophilia is the sexual abuse of children. Pederasty is defined as "a sexual relationship . . . between older and younger males." For most of us, this is a tomato, to-MAH-to thing. Old men pining after young men is fairly disgusting to those of us who immediately think NAMBLA. But there is a legal difference, particularly if those "young men" being desired are over the age of consent.
Nonetheless, Milo made it seem as if these types of relationships were lovely, the kind that will soon have their own line of Hallmark cards and a National "Date Your Paperboy" Day. It was scary, and it was wrong, and it was infinitely sad.
Why was it sad? Because the person making those claims had been abused as a young boy. Milo said he was grateful to the Catholic priest who molested him because, to paraphrase him, it made him a better lover. He flippantly said: "We get hung up on this child abuse stuff . . . This is one of the reasons why I hate the left, the one-size-fits-all policing of culture, this arbitrary and oppressive idea of consent."
And that's where you know this was not someone playing around for laughs or fame. That's where you realized this was a person who actually was damaged by the sexually abusive acts of an older man, a priest.
Two shocking things happened after this was revealed. The first was that some conservatives continued to rally around the pundit, because, after all, he hated liberals. It's that "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" syndrome, which is very dangerous, and which led to the election of Donald Trump as president. No self-respecting conservative makes excuses for a man who condones, even with humor, man-boy love (which is always man-boy rape.) That shocking thing got a lot of attention from smarmy progressives who were just so happy to see the wheels come off the conservative train.
But the other shocking thing didn't get any attention, even though it was more serious than the hypocrisy of the right. It was that all of a sudden, the people who were so concerned about abused kids, who were so thrilled when the movie Spotlight got an Oscar, who screamed for the abolition of statutes of limitation, who wanted Joe Paterno burned in effigy, who demanded reparations from the church for the generations of broken children, who demanded that Monsignor William Lynn remain in jail even though he never touched a child - all of these saviors of the battered - took pleasure in attacking a victim.
Because make no mistake, Milo Yiannopoulos is a victim of the acts of Father Michael and of his own sad views about what is abuse, and what is evil and what kills the spirit of a child. Milo quite possibly uses this strange humor to deal with the abuse he suffered, but liberals don't give a damn about that. If he were a progressive darling, if he didn't say things they find hateful, and if he despised the Catholic Church (which he does not), Milo would be held close to the breast of each empathetic liberal who ever called for Paterno's vilification.
But he's a foul-mouthed conservative, so he doesn't get the benefit of the doubt.
So, to every liberal who is engaging in schadenfreude over the delicious downfall of Milo Yiannopoulous and his friends on the right, I'd say: "Look in the mirror, hypocrite."
Christine Flowers is a lawyer