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Est. April 5, 2002
February 23, 2017 - Issue 687

Milo Yiannopoulos’s
Trash Talking Tanks

"I believe free speech not only has its limits,
but that it also has a level of responsibility
to promote civil discourse for the welfare of
others, and reject hate speech which
is a precursor to violence."

Milo Yiannopoulos, vulgarian, alt-right’s telegenic token gay and Breitbart’s polemical senior editor, last appearance on a national stage may have finally come. And, the bridge too far for even his audience wasn’t Yiannopoulos’s misogyny, xenophobia, racism, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia or homophobia, to name a few, but rather his flippant and snarky remarks condoning if not giving a sly and coquettish nod to pedophilia and pederasty in a January 2016 clip of his interview on “Drunken Peasants.”

I’m grateful for Father Michael,” Yiannopoulos told his audience defending his molestation. “I wouldn’t give nearly such good [oral sex] if it wasn’t for him.”

In advocating relationships with older men as beneficial for young gays especially without family support and denouncing the “arbitrary and oppressive idea of consent” Yiannopoulos further expounded his point of view in the January 2016 interview.

We get hung up on this sort of child abuse stuff to the point where we are heavily policing consensual adults.”

In a moment of contrition or perhaps a last-ditch effort to salvage his job, after a tsunami of criticism from even his co-workers at Brietbart, Yiannopoulos went on Facebook and uncharacteristically took responsibility for his faux pas.

I'm partly to blame. My own experiences as a victim led me to believe I could say anything I wanted to on this subject, no matter how outrageous,” Yiannopoulos wrote.

"But I understand that my usual blend of British sarcasm, provocation and gallows humor might have come across as flippancy, a lack of care for other victims or, worse, ‘advocacy.’ …I am certainly guilty of imprecise language, which I regret.

For too long Yiannopoulos felt he was unstoppable when it came to his unfettered free speech as an exercise of his First Amendment right. And why should Yiannopoulos not with a $250,000 book advance for his memoir “Dangerous,” an exploration of the issues of “political correctness" and free speech with Threshold Editions, an imprint of Simon & Schuster as the grand prize for trash talking.

"I met with top execs at Simon & Schuster earlier in the year and spent half an hour trying to shock them with lewd jokes and outrageous opinions. I thought they were going to have me escorted from the building — but instead they offered me a wheelbarrow full of money, Yiannopoulos boasted to The Hollywood Reporter.

Simon & Schuster has now canceled Yiannopoulos’s “Dangerous.” It comes, however, not after several of its top authors voiced their protestation or pulled their books, like feminist author Roxane Gay, but rather because Yiannopoulos’s huge platform Threshold Editions was going after vanished with his exposed 2016 barbs about pedophilia.

Before Yiannopoulos became alt-right’s perfect poster-boy- gay and Jewish- who denounces identity politics and “political correctness” a backlash from the Tea Party movement had been afoot for over a decade. But Tea Party and now alt-right folks are not alone expressing how “political correctness” infringes on their life, like the war on Christmas. The controversy first shows its face every early December with the inanity over the new design of Starbucks holiday cups that don’t have a Christmas theme or the greeting “Merry Christmas.” According to last year’s Public Policy Polling(PPP), if you say, “Merry Christmas” you insult a liberal and if you say, “Happy Holidays” you vex a conservative. PPP revealed that 57 percent of Republicans believe there’s an ongoing war on Christmas. The ongoing feuding back and forth revealed that a July 2016 Pew Research Poll revealed that 59 percent of American’s agree that “too many people are easily offended these days over the language that others use.”

Liberal colleges and universities have been in the bull’s- eye of this ongoing debate with conservatives now emboldened with Trump’s presidency to challenge aggressively the politics of “political correctness.” Yiannopoulos’s cancelled visit to Berkeley due to student protests were spun by conservatives as antithetical to free speech and viewed by liberals as hate speech.

Before Yiannopoulos was recently disinvited to attend the upcoming Conservative Political Action Conference CPAC) due to his recent remarks Matt Schlapp, chairman of the group which sponsors CPAC, was Yiannopoulos’s loudest and fierce advocate.

An epidemic of speech suppression has taken over college campuses,” Matt Schlapp told the Hollywood Reporter of Yiannopoulos’ scheduled appearance at Berkeley after it was cancelled. “Milo has exposed their liberal thuggery and we think free speech includes hearing Milo’s important perspective.”

Yiannopoulos has been uniquely positioned in transforming his public vitriol and provocation as the symbolic voice and victim of the not “politically correct” oppressed. He has deliberately exploited the tensions between the two camps, employing his brand of hate speech, to stretch the perimeters of how far he can go protected not only under the First Amendment, but also with his audience.

As an infamous internet troll, for example, Twitter suspended Yiannopoulos account only after an onslaught of targeted racist and sexist diatribes hurled at Saturday Night Live comedian Leslie Jones was derided by an explosion of celebs coming to Jones’s defense.

I believe free speech not only has its limits, but that it also has a level of responsibility to promote civil discourse for the welfare of others, and reject hate speech which is a precursor to violence. While we know, we cannot scream “fire’ in a crowded cinema, because of the potential harm it could create it is equally inappropriate to hurl epithets and threats which Yiannopoulos did unapologetically. And he engages in hate speech aimed at historically disenfranchised groups and individuals with the sole purpose of enflame divisions not only on college campuses but also across the country.

When hate speech becomes an accepted norm we have a problem.

Hate speech is not a passive form of public speech. And one of the signs of an intolerant society is its hate speech, whether used jokingly or intentionally, aimed at specific groups of people.

Also, when this form of verbal abuse becomes part and parcel of the everyday parlance and exchange between people, we have created a society characterized by its zero-tolerance of inclusion and diversity, and where name-calling becomes an accepted norm.

Language is a representation of culture, and it perpetuates ideas and assumptions about race, gender, religion, and sexual orientation that we consciously, and unconsciously, articulate in our everyday conversations about ourselves and the rest of the world, and consequently transmit generationally.

The liberation of a people is also rooted in the liberation of abusive language in the form of hate hurled at them. Using epithets, especially jokingly, does not eradicate its historical baggage, and its existing social relations among us.

Instead, using them dislodges these epithets from their historical context and makes us insensitive and arrogant to the historical injustices done to specific group of Americans.

They allow all Americans to become numb to the use and abuse of the power of hate speech because of the currency these epithets still have.

And lastly, hate speech thwarts the daily struggle in which many us engage in trying to ameliorate human relations - something Yiannopoulos was antithetical to. Editorial Board member and Columnist, The Reverend Monroe is an ordained minister, motivational speaker and she speaks for a sector of society that is frequently invisible. Rev. Monroe does a weekly Monday segment, “All Revved Up!” on WGBH (89.7 FM), on Boston Public Radio and a weekly Friday segment “The Take” on New England Channel NEWS (NECN). She’s a Huffington Post blogger and a syndicated religion columnist. Her columns appear in cities across the country and in the U.K, and Canada. Also she writes a  column in the Boston home LGBTQ newspaper Baywindows and Cambridge Chronicle. A native of Brooklyn, NY, Rev. Monroe graduated from Wellesley College and Union Theological Seminary at Columbia University, and served as a pastor at an African-American church in New Jersey before coming to Harvard Divinity School to do her doctorate. She has received the Harvard University Certificate of Distinction in Teaching several times while being the head teaching fellow of the Rev. Peter Gomes, the Pusey Minister in the Memorial Church at Harvard who is the author of the best seller, THE GOOD BOOK. She appears in the film For the Bible Tells Me So and was profiled in the Gay Pride episode of In the Life, an Emmy-nominated segment. Monroe’s  coming out story is  profiled in “CRISIS: 40 Stories Revealing the Personal, Social, and Religious Pain and Trauma of Growing up Gay in America" and in "Youth in Crisis." In 1997 Boston Magazine cited her as one of Boston's 50 Most Intriguing Women, and was profiled twice in the Boston Globe, In the Living Arts and The Spiritual Life sections for her LGBT activism. Her papers are at the Schlesinger Library at Radcliffe College's research library on the history of women in America. Her website is  Contact the Rev. Monroe and BC. 




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Executive Editor:
David A. Love, JD
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