Milo Yiannopoulos, one of the poster boys for the alt-right movement, has been dumped by his publisher and some supporters after his past inflammatory comments about child abuse came to light.
The openly gay British writer, journalist and editor has become an unlikely celebrity in the right wing world thanks to his extreme and hostile views on women, feminism, Muslims, the Black Lives Matter movement and transgender people.
The 33-year-old editor of conservative American website Breitbart News has revelled in the controversy he’s generated and has described himself as the “most fabulous supervillain on the internet”.
Despite a swell of opposition to his hateful opinions, Yiannopoulos has been a sought after public speaker and was set to release his autobiography, titled Dangerous, through publisher Simon & Schuster.
This week, however, many of his supporters have started turning their back on him. That’s thanks to a podcast video in which Yiannopoulos appears to defend sex between men and minors.
In the video, a discussion of his own history of being sexually abused as a child, he says that relationships between 13-year-olds and young adults “do happen, perfectly consensually”. He also argues that these could be a “coming-of-age relationship”.
Yiannopoulos has now claimed that the video was “edited deceptively” and that his comments were misinterpreted and misunderstood.
“I am a gay man, and a child abuse victim,” he wrote on Facebook. “I would like to restate my utter disgust at adults who sexually abuse minors. I am horrified by pedophilia and I have devoted large portions of my career as a journalist to exposing child abusers.”
He only admitted blame for being “guilty of imprecise language” and for “my usual blend of British sarcasm, provocation and gallows humor [that] might have come across as flippancy…”
This attempted justification hasn’t diminished the furore. Simon & Schuster has responded by cancelling the release of his book, for which it had already been furiously criticised for agreeing to publish.
The American Conservative Union has also rescinded an invitation for him to speak at its upcoming Conservative Political Action Conference in Maryland. It said that his explanation was “insufficient”.
There are further reports that some staff at Breitbart have threatened to quit if he is not fired as a senior editor.
Despite being gay himself, Yiannopoulos is opposed to many LGBT rights, including same-sex marriage and families, and has urged gay men to “get back in the closet”. He is also a proud supporter of Donald Trump, whom he calls “Daddy”. In July 2016 he was banned by Twitter for “inciting or engaging in the targeted abuse or harassment of others”.
It’s doubtful that Yiannopoulos’ latest scandal will see him slink off into the shadows. He thrives on social media controversy, publicity and moral outrage. In fact, he has already announced that he’ll be holding a press conference in New York City on Tuesday about the child abuse podcast. It’s unlikely that we’ll see the back of this narcissistic professional hate peddler any time soon.
Update: On Tuesday, Yiannopoulos resigned as an editor at Breitbart as it “would be wrong to allow my poor choice of words to detract from my colleagues’ important reporting…” He, however, reiterated in a statement that he was himself a victim of child abuse and would “not apologise for dealing with my life experiences in the way that I choose to do, which is through humour and provocation”.