Raging narcissist and professional irritant Milo Yiannopoulos appeared on Real Time with Bill Maher last week and was repeatedly told to go fuck himself (a request that I suspect Milo has earnestly attempted to overcome the logistics of, from time to time.) This overtly hostile reaction from both Maher and his other guests naturally resulted in catchy headlines such as; Milo Yiannopoulos found a bromance with Bill Maher, and Dean Obeidallah’s roll-off-the-tongue effort; Bill Maher’s shameful mainstreaming of Yiannopoulos’ hate.
After a fairly amicable (yet mildly mocking) one-on-one interview in which they discussed their differences and areas of agreement, things got a tad more confrontational in the Overtime section of the show. Reading from a cue card, Maher asked: “Why did you single out a transgender student for ridicule during a recent speech you made on her campus?”
Yiannopoulos replied: “I think that women and girls should be protected from having men who are confused about their sexual identities in their bathrooms.”
“That’s not unreasonable” responded Maher.
However, when Yiannopoulos began insulting the intelligence of other guests and made a number of other derogatory remarks the panel decided that he was being unreasonable and verbally abused him until he essentially shut up and looked a bit embarrassed by it all.
I know virtually nothing about transgender issues. I don’t know whether Milo’s statement about protecting girls was indeed reasonable. My initial reaction is to doubt it, but I’m happy to be educated either way. I don’t know whether transgenderism is a psychiatric disorder, as Milo claims – again I’m happy to be educated either way. I’m completely ignorant about the psychology of the condition, and I don’t even know whether describing it as a “condition” is likely to result in a mob of outraged knuckles being eagerly dusted – I’m not overly enthusiastic to be educated on this point thanks.
The extent of my virtually non-existent experience with this topic consists of nothing more than discovering at a family funeral last year that I’m related to erstwhile boxing promoter Frank/Kellie Maloney. It does however appear that Milo is talking complete and utter nonsense in asserting that transgender people are disproportionately involved in sexual assaults – unless of course he’s talking about them being victims rather than perpetrators – which he’s not.
A rather sordid postscript to this appearance is currently causing more Milo flavoured outrage due to some clips of a podcast appearance being circulated which show him making some pretty unsavoury and flippant remarks about sex with children. Yep, that’ll tend to do it.
During a livestream with the Drunken Peasants, Milo claimed that whilst he agreed with the age of consent, he believed that some 13 year olds are capable of consenting to sexual relations with adults, and referred to himself as evidence incarnate. He then made some confusing and suspiciously ambiguous noises about the “arbitrary and oppressive idea of consent” and insisted that the term “paedophilia” does not apply to “sexually mature” 13 year olds. This was all topped off with a joke about his superhuman sexual prowess being due to his abuse at the hands of a Catholic priest.
He issued a lengthy clarification and a “taken out of context” defense via his Facebook page but the damage was already done. His book deal with Simon & Schuster has gone tits up, his invitation to speak at the annual conference of the American Conservative Union has been retracted, and staff at Breitbart News threatened to walk out unless he was given the elbow from his position as senior editor. He subsequently resigned.
One would think that there’s enough material in this whole affair to get stuck in to discussing, criticising and expressing contempt about, so I’m left wondering why people have felt compelled to invent things to climb onto their soapboxes over.
For example, journalist and habitual liar Dan Arel has decided to use this incident to reaffirm his commitment to dishonesty and to illustrate how glaringly wrong he is on the topic of free speech.
He claims that in Bill Maher conceding that the protection of women and girls is “not unreasonable”, he was in fact supporting the doxing (broadcasting private and personal information) of transgendered students.
He treated attempted corrections to his false allegation as a cultish knee-jerk defence of a borderline deity and seemed genuinely perplexed that publicly lying about a celebrity to a potential audience of millions could attract attention.
He then retweeted the perpetually confused rapper Talib Kweli who described Milo as a “paedophile”, despite none of his comments being indicative of a personal sexual attraction to children.
He followed all of this up by retweeting a sarcastic comment describing Yiannopoulos as a Nazi.
This becomes even more significant when you consider the treatment Arel suggests for “Nazis”. Here’s a compilation of his greatest hits gathered from his woefully confused appearance on The Lalo Dagach Podcast. Bear in mind whilst reading this, that he considers these to be ethical positions:
- He advocates punching Nazis, both men and women.
- He advocates punching these people in full acceptance of the possibility that either the target or the perpetrator might be killed.
- He claims that he would not have felt pity if Richard Spencer had died as a result of the assault against him.
- He believes that if these people are blinded or killed as a result of the vigilante style attacks he endorses, then it’s a price worth paying.
- He advocates only punching people who look like they won’t have the disposition or ability to defend themselves sufficiently.
- He states that he would murder a plane full of Nazis in a suicide attack given the opportunity.
- He states that he is willing to accept incidents of mistaken identity will arise and this does not alter his position.
I’ve recently written about Mr Arel’s ridiculous position on freedom of speech which is essentially as follows: I may disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death my right to bash you in the fucking skull for saying it. Being that Arel repeatedly condones, and indeed encourages illegal acts of violence against people he describes as Nazis, you would think he would have more of an appreciation of the concept of free speech and would also be a little less inclined to misapply this term.
I have no desire nor inclination to defend the content of either Milo’s speech or his character. I find him regularly irritating and needlessly obnoxious, and I think the subjects he was discussing are such inflammatory, sensitive and complicated topics that they deserve far more decorum and precision than the crass, frivolous and deliberately provocative style that Yiannopoulos frequently employs.
It’s therefore becoming increasingly annoying to have to defend the rights of people I don’t particularly like from people who should be standing up for these rights themselves. It’s also incredibly frustrating to have to repeatedly reiterate the difference between a defence of the concept of speech and a defence of its content.
Dan Arel makes his living in journalism. In other words; his very livelihood depends on his right to express himself, yet this right is one that he is keen to deny to others if he decides – in his self-appointed position as arbitrator – that the speech or the speaker are unworthy of consideration.
He has written a number of horrendously confused articles about this episode now, the latest of which is entitled Milo Yiannopoulos resigns from Breitbart upsetting free speech dogmatists. In it he equates discussions of cross generational relationships and conversations on the age of consent with the rape of children.
He frequently describes those opposed to his censorious, infantile attitude towards free expression as “free speech absolutists, free speech warriors and free speech dogmatists”. This is a deeply suspect tactic and every time I’ve seen it used, it’s by people who claim to support free speech in theory but who swiftly abandon it in practice when they find it too difficult to defend when it matters most. Dan is one of these people. “Free speech absolutist” is a tautology, free speech is either absolute or it’s not free. You either support free speech or you do not. Dan does not.
Unsurprisingly, Arel credits his own tactics of using violence as a censorship tool with Milo’s current misfortune. As usual, he’s wrong. Milo’s humiliation at the hands of Maher and his panel was evidently not due to any violent de-platforming of him. Milo’s book has not been cancelled as a result of Nazis being clobbered in the street or UC Berkeley students launching fireworks and throwing bins through campus windows. His sudden career nosedive is not the result of a suppression of his speech, it is the result of an amplification of it. In exercising his right to speak freely he has inevitably hanged himself with his own rope. I would suggest in his vocal endorsement of violence and his pathological dishonesty, Dan Arel has done the same.
UPDATE 24/02/17: Dan Arel responded to this article by calling me a shitty human being, a coward, a snowflake and an internet troll. He claimed not to have read the article but still described its contents as mindless ramblings and dollar store nonsense. I couldn’t care less about any of this since it only illustrates his unwillingness and/or lack of ability to deal with the actual issues. However, he also claimed publicly that at some point in this article I defended paedophilia. This was not the result of a misunderstanding of my points or a misinterpretation of my words – again he claimed he’d never even read the article – it was a malicious, vindictive and calculated lie. This is the sort of allegation that ruins lives and destroys reputations. Thankfully his accusations were so transparently dishonest that nobody took them seriously. On the contrary, his desperately reprehensible behaviour towards me backfired and he was subjected to a barrage of condemnation by swarms of Twitter users. It was beautiful to watch unfold and I sincerely appreciate the efforts of everyone took this spiteful liar to task.
I was apprehensive about writing this piece, and for good reason. I’ve come to realise in recent years that some people think it is so important that their side wins the debate about certain issues, that they have absolutely no moral compunction about smearing and slandering their opponents with the nastiest, most inflammatory invective imaginable. Not only did Dan Arel prove my concerns to be entirely founded, but he took this unconscionable and grossly irresponsible behaviour to a new level. Utterly shameful.