On the Matter of Empathy For Horrible People

Yesterday I was having a conversation with a friend regarding the implosion of Milo Yiannopoulos, the remarkable two-day period in which the public bigot and Breitbart editor lost a high-profile speaking engagement, a lucrative book contract, and a job, because one of his positions (regarding sexual contact between adults and young teens) finally crossed a line for the horrible clutch of bigots who were keeping him around as their One Gay Friend. The implosion was inevitable — the horrible bigots never really liked him, they just found him useful, and suddenly he wasn’t useful anymore — and moreover the implosion was karmically appropriate, because Yiannopoulos is a terrible person who became famous for being terrible to others. The dude earned it, and in a very real way it’s delightful to see the comeuppance.

While my friend agreed with me that the comeuppance was indeed delicious, he also asked me, essentially: But do you feel even in the tiniest bit sorry for Yiannopoulos? Do you have empathy for him?

And the answer is: Well, sure. In my opinion Yiannopoulos is clearly emotionally damaged in all sorts of ways and for all sorts of reasons, and it’s exhibited itself in a particularly itchy combination of personal self-loathing and a desperate need to feel special, and to have attention. He discovered that playing to a crowd of horrible bigots gave him attention, made him feel special and made him either hate himself less, or at least allowed him to ignore how much he hated himself, so he went with that as long as he could.

And things appeared to be going his way! Trump won, which gave him a more legitimate platform because the horrible bigots he played to were elevated and wanted him to speak at their gathering; he nabbed himself a pretty good book deal with a major publisher; and he got to go on national TV and had hit it off well with the host, even if the other guests told him to go fuck off, which of course played to his strengths as a media personality. It was all coming together!

Then, in roughly 36 hours, all of it was taken away. Not to mention his reputation and standing among much of the crowd that had previously stood behind him. And to top it all off, he lost his professional income. It was all in public, and it happened quick, and in humiliating fashion.

So here’s the thing: A damaged soul who thought he had found acceptance, reaching for the goals that he probably thought would finally satisfy him, only to have them (from his point of view) cruelly taken away, all at once, in public?

Again: Sure. I have some empathy there. That all sucks.


(And you knew there was a “but” coming)

Yiannopoulos’ damage explains but does not excuse his actions. Lots of people are damaged by life, one way or another. Lots of people crave acceptance and desire fame. Lots of people try to heal themselves through the attention of others. But Yiannopoulos decided to deal with all of that by spouting racist and sexist and transphobic hatred, by lying about his targets and by pointing his passel of online, bigoted followers at people in order to harass and threaten them, and then by laughing at and dismissing as unimportant other people’s pain and fear, pain and fear that he caused. It’s what he became famous for. It was all a lark to him, or so he’d have you believe. Saying so gave him attention and admiration, and if that attention and admiration was from hateful bigots, eh, that’d work for him. Until it didn’t.

I can feel empathy for a damaged human being, and understand why he does what he does. I get Yiannopoulos. He’s not exactly a puzzle. But my (or anyone’s) empathy and understanding for him has to be weighed against the damage he’s done to others and his reasons for doing so. And the fact is, the damage he’s caused others is immense, and the reasons he’s done so are self-serving, vain and ultimately wholly insufficient to excuse or mitigate his actions. Empathy and understanding are important, indeed I think critical, when considering the people who have chosen to oppose you. It reminds you they are merely human, and not actually monsters. But they are part, not the whole, of one’s consideration of such people; nor does empathy automatically convert to sympathy. Personally, considered as a whole and including his actions, I don’t judge Yiannopoulos deserving of much sympathy. He’s earned this moment of his, and in point of fact, he’s earned much worse than this. But this will do for a start.

And here’s another fact, which is that Yiannopoulos isn’t special. There are a lot of damaged people out there on the racist, sexist, bigoted side of things, who have been fucked up by the world in one way or another and who have decided the best way to dig themselves out of that hole is to try to take it out on other people. These are the very people fringe radical and reactionary organizations and would-be leaders seek out; they’re susceptible because they’re damaged and crave acceptance and attention. To get personal here, I look at the bigots who have decided to make me their special enemy and it’s not hard to understand why they do what they do, nor to feel empathy for what they have to be going through in their brain. But again, that’s weighed against the damage they do to others and try to do to me, and I proceed accordingly.

(Also, a supplementary thought I have, which is that that Yiannopoulos is well into his 30s. He’s not a child or a young man of whom it could be said that he did not know better. Yiannopoulos may be damaged in various ways, but it doesn’t appear that he is not in control of his actions, or doesn’t have enough presence of mind to understand right or wrong, even if he apparently doesn’t care about such things. Yiannopoulos understands what he’s doing and why. He owns his choices and actions, and he owns the results of those choices and actions, even when they result, as they did this week, in his downfall.)

So: Empathy and understanding for Yiannopoulos? Sure. Maybe even the smallest soupçon of pity. I think the ability to feel these things for him allows me to say, in full consideration, that he deserves his fall this week from the grace of the horrible and bigoted. And to continue in that vein, I wish for him the empathy and understanding to realize just how well he’s earned this moment, and to realize how much work he’ll have to undertake to atone for the damage he’s done to others. I don’t expect he’ll actually arrive at that empathy and understanding, mind you. I don’t think he wants that. I wish it for him nonetheless.

111 Comments on “On the Matter of Empathy For Horrible People”

  1. Too many people confuse “explanations” and “excuses.” Something that is a perfectly good explanation for a thing in no wise must therefore automatically be a good excuse for the thing.

  2. @nananoyz: Likewise. I hope the rest of his life is full of humiliation and pain; if I believed in hell, I’d be certain he was going there, and glad of that.

  3. Honestly, the only way I feel sorry for the guy is all the time and energy wasted trying to be in the spotlight for as long as he has, the way he has. He reminds me of That Jock in High School (you know the one) whose claim to fame is pantsing the nerds in gym class. Eventually he graduates, and Real Life sets in. And all he has to show for it is knowing how to be the center of attention, and little else.
    Granted, in truth I don’t really feel much of anything for him at all other than exhausting annoyance. I don’t wish him ill will, though. I just hope that he gets his crap together eventually and becomes a normal functioning person.

  4. Well said. My second thought, on reading about what happened, was “that’s got to really suck”. Especially because I suspect a certain lack of impulse control, which, combined with a recent huge payday, makes me think some financial difficulties beyond the obvious might be in play.

    Actually, I have to admit that was my third thought. My second one was just noting that even though Russian authoritarianism is apparently conservative these days, we still need another few Trumpsworths[1] of tribal integration before they also adopt NAMBLA.

    I do hope he takes an opportunity to reflect on the “politics of personal destruction” or whatever you want to call it. I don’t expect him to, but, well, a knife in the back from your own cohort sometimes can help people over that bump.

    [1] That’s a real measurement. Look it up.

  5. I don’t know what makes you think “it’s all been taken away from him” or that he’s “done.”

    Doesn’t anyone remember Ann Coulter? He’s mimicking her act note-for-note, and it’s working just as well as it did for her. Next up, I suppose he’ll publish his book and sell millions of copies (half to people who think he’s a “speak truth to the liberal power” hero, and half to people who think he’s a monster and want to tear his words apart one at a time).

    Then there will be a website, a YouTube channel, “controversial” guest appearances on television (the more controversial, the better – because he’s basically famous for being controversial).

    All he wants is to be in the news and to develop his brand, so he can occasionally cash in for a big pay day (just like Ann Coulter). For what it’s worth, my opinion on how to counteract his misguided messages is to drain them of their power by ignoring them. Trust me, the one thing he fears most is apathy….

  6. I never thought of empathy vs sympathy in the way you are using it. I always thought of empathy as a higher function of sympathy and not something separate from it. Thanks for something to think on.

  7. I’ve read plenty of stories of former skinheads, televangelist scammers, crackheads, fag-bashers, and greedheads who have come to their senses later in life. I’m not prepared to say that I’d never feel empathy for Milo; but it’s gonna take a lot of redeeming on his part first.

  8. always remember, his backers were fine with his racist and sexist and transphobic hatred. It wasn’t until he crossed that one line that he became a liability and was dropped like a hot potato.

    No it wasn’t the pedophilia per se, it was the loss of profit and threat to revenue!

  9. Thank You
    In the end, I have only so much empathy, so much sympathy.
    That well is not infinite, but it does refill.

    Not going to waste any on this bigot, when there are so many deserving people who really need our empathy. Time to get out the check book again.

  10. I, too, feel empathy. Self-loathing made him what he was. Even if he doesn’t think he’s a victim of molestation, that’s what he was. But it doesn’t make him any less culpable for the evil that he’s done.

  11. Now I’m curious to know what your original piece looked like (the one you tweeted about scrapping).
    This take was very thought-provoking; I don’t usually spend enough time thinking about the motivations of horrible people to dredge up any sympathy for them, but I can’t say I disagree with your take.

  12. “There are a lot of damaged people out there on the racist, sexist, bigoted side of things, who have been fucked up by the world in one way or another and who have decided the best way to dig themselves out of that hole is to try to take it out on other people.”

    My daughter asked me a few years back why there are bullies in the world. I’ll admit to being proud of my answer:

    Bullies feel stronger when they push others down. We feel stronger when we lift others up.

  13. I have always had a problem differentiating empathy and sympathy. The way I try to see it is:

    – Empathy: “I understand your pain.”
    – Sympathy: “I feel your pain.”

    I can understand Yiannopoulos’ pain, but I don’t really feel it because I can’t imagine myself doing all those nasty things and having my world collapse as a result.

    Final thought: “Sympathy for the Devil” is a much better title than “Empathy for the Devil.”

  14. My empathy for people who have done me wrong (or, more likely, I have imagined that they have done me wrong) is in the form of hoping that whatever is hurting them can be resolved. I don’t want Milo or anyone to suffer because, in my experience, people who are hurting tend to hurt other people. They’re like living, breathing broken glass, cutting anyone they come into contact with.

  15. Do I feel bad for the dog who has rabies? Yes.
    Do I let them anywhere near a warm blooded creature until somehow they are cured? No.

  16. Losing voluntary contracts for being an a-hole is one thing – if you’re team captain of your bowling team and everyone thinks you’re a dick and declines to re-elect you captain, then its hard to feel empathy for you because you’re no longer captain.

    Losing your job, when you’re good at it, is another thing entirely. But he wasn’t even good at his job: His staff and coworkers at Breitbart hated him. (And how socially dysfunctional do you have to be, to be hated at Breitbart?) So no, no empathy here.

  17. At some point, we get to choose. Do I continue to be a miserable, hateful mess of a person (or, in my case, a miserable, needy, grasping mess of a person) or do I grow up and take responsibility for my life. Because I believe we can choose to change.

    Okay, I have to admit I don’t really know if I would have grown up to be who I am regardless. Maybe all I really needed was time, and the who I am now was hard wired in. I was a very late bloomer. And I’m still a very flawed human. But I did choose to strive toward happiness. To accepting myself and others – So I’m standing by my first statement. We can choose. Milo could choose to change the way he looks at the world. He could decide to stop being a huge ass.

    Maybe his fall from grace will begin that change. Maybe he’s a really late bloomer and it will take longer. Maybe he’ll go to his grave as miserable as he is now. I only hope the people he spews at have others around them to help mitigate the harm in the meanwhile.

    I do have a certain amount of empathy, but that begins to run out when a human like Milo gets to the point where they are mature enough to realize there is a choice, and the road they are taking is harmful to others.

  18. I guess it makes you a better human than me, that you can feel empathy for the downfall of a guy who speaks in favour of “sexual contact between adults and young teens” (nice polite wording there), me I will have to settle for feeling glee.

  19. As already noted, he was taking Anne Coulter’s playbook page by page. At first I was dismayed when Bill Maher had him on; but Bill has had his own share of haters. But I think that early exposure led Milo to being unraveling.
    I can have empathy for damaged people, being one myself. In fact, I’d be hard pressed not to find someone who isn’t damaged to some degree. It’s what they do with their awareness of their damage that is key. Milo was using his to make money, regardless of who it hurt. Perhaps he can learn from this. Perhaps he’ll regroup and try another tactic to achieve selfish goals.

  20. He who sows the wind will reap the whirlwind, Karma is a bitch and so on. The guy directed doxing and hate campaigns from his minions and profited from suffering of other people. Sure, there could be a lot of reasons in his past for he beign a troubled man.
    But a lot of people with similar problems seek professional help or at least refrain from willingly and actively destroying the life of innocent people. I’m with Craig: whatever his past, he’s culpable of all the pain he caused.
    So fuck him.
    Best he can do is go seek help and live every day of his live trying to repair all the damage he’s done. But I bet there’s a 99 % of probability of that not happening.

  21. @Michael A Frasca I struggle differentiating empathy and sympathy as well. Someone told me empathy is when you can understand, sympathy is when you can relate, i.e. have essentially done or potentially could do the same thing.

    Note this doesn’t contradict your definitions, perhaps it augments them?

  22. Michael A Frasca said:
    FEBRUARY 22, 2017 AT 12:15 PM

    “I have always had a problem differentiating empathy and sympathy. The way I try to see it is:

    – Empathy: “I understand your pain.”
    – Sympathy: “I feel your pain.””

    Empathy is the ability to model other people’s mental states. An ability that is very useful for social animals. It does not necessarily entail or lead to sympathy. Sympathy is a feeling, as in feeling sorry for someone else. Sympathy does require the ability to empathize.

  23. I’ve seen a lot of “but Milo apologized” on the twittersphere, which yeah, ok. But apologies (even sincere ones ) aren’t currency you can trade in for forgiveness. It’s a concept with which I admittedly have a hard time. You’re sorry, you feel really bad so shouldn’t that be good enough for everything to go back to the way it was before. Unfortunately, no

  24. I’ve always had a poor relationship with my mother. She was emotionally abused by my grandmother, so she emotionally abused me. When I try to explain my family dynamics to others, the standard response is, “Oh, you must hate your mother.” No, I don’t “hate” her. I don’t *love* her, but I don’t hate her either. It’s not her fault my grandmother’s an evil witch who enjoys putting my mother down in order to build herself up. It *is* my mother’s fault that she chose to visit that on me. My mother had the choice to be the bigger person and not treat her own children that way. She didn’t. I can *understand* why she didn’t, but I doubt I’ll ever *forgive* her.

  25. I do feel some pity for him, although I fear he is not going to go away, and will somehow find a way to thrive and continue on the same path. This stuff plays well with his supporters, and there are plenty of them still cheering him on.

    I also have a suspicion that the loss of the book deal might be because the book itself doesn’t exist. It had already been delayed – justification for an extra chapter.

    At best, he might have lost his increasing mainstream audience, which would be the calculation behind the commercial decision to drop him…

  26. I don’t feel bad for him. everything he did to cause his current predicament is entirely preventable and self-inflicted. This is not a person who has a situation forced on them unfairly. \He chose the dark and twisted path and continued down it even when presented with ample options to turn around.

    He is not only a horrible person as you describe, but he continually uses people for his own gain. He will likely do so again. He takes people’s money, time and effort and gives very little in return. He supposedly has a army of unpaid interns who do a lot of his writing. He apparently is getting in trouble over a “scholarship” he crowdfunded and has yet to fulfill.

    I expect him to revert to the same tactics with his book and wherever he goes next. I bet he turns to crowdfunding to publish his book and either just runs away with the money or produces something that is the equivalent of a small pamphlet and about as informative. I also would not be surprised if he turns to patreon so he can get a steady sum of money from his egg/troll followers.

  27. What got me was that this is what took him down. It wasn’t even that he was having relationships with young men, it was the position that it was ok. I find this, among many other positions of his to be abhorrent, but again why this one more so?

    I think of David Bowie, Roman Polanski, Thomas Jefferson (yeah Sally Hemmings was fourteen when their “relationship” started, let alone he owned her…) I think of Donald Trump and his love of walking in on Teen Beauty contestants in their dressing room. So what is the difference? What makes Milo different?

    From what I can see. It is that he advocated relationships with teenage boys, by a grown man. Yep, All ok unless you’re gay.

    I hate Milo.I hate his position on this. I hate just about everything he stands for. I even want to be happy over his comeuppance. But it should’ve been earlier, and for this I would like to see Men who prey on young women to get ostracized like him.

  28. I would like to build a society that meets the basic human needs of everyone, including bigoted assholes. Basic human needs include such things as education, food, housing, medical care (including mental-health care for those who need it). I hope that Milo Yiannopoulos continues to have access to those things.

    However, speaking platforms at universities around the country and six-figure book deals are not basic human needs.

  29. For me empathy is passive: “I recognize your pain;” sympathy, active: ” I share your pain.”

    I had been only vaguely aware of the individual in question indirectly, and the Maher appearance was my introduction, the reaction being, “is that all there is?” Maybe other people also found him boring rather than provocative. Boring is not a good cash cow.

  30. My empathy for the man comes from this: can you imagine how awful it must be to BE Milo Yiannopolous? (Or, say, Donald Trump?) Who is he when he is alone in the dark? The horror.

  31. yeah, i have thoughts on milo. it’s comforting to read this and the comments of other readers and realize my tiny pricks of pity weren’t as monstrous as they felt. or, rather, if they were, i wasn’t the only squishy-interiored monster around. milo is not that complex. he’s broken, sure, and crying for help in a lot of terrible ways. watching him on “real time” made me distinctly uncomfortable, beyond the asinine things he was saying. he’s so clearly an unhappy person whose response to unhappiness is to spread it around. a reasonably sound person is revolted by him. a person who is as broken as he is, maybe they are charmed by him. he has, like… alternative charisma.

  32. And shortly he will have a revelation in which he realizes all the errors of his ways and becomes a raving liberal. He will go on the talk circuit to describe all the horrors of the alt-right and what he “suffered” and the liberal media will eat it up. He will get an even better book deal and become a pundit critiquing right wing politics with his “insider” perspective. See if this doesn’t happen….

  33. The areas of my life that have little overt connection with speculative fiction reading and writing are deeply connected with the world of recovery from chronic brain disorders. Which include addiction, which includes alcoholism.

    With the advent of the disease model concept of alcoholism (and addiction), there was a lot of controversy about whether comparing this disease to, for example, asthma or hypertension or diabetes (also chronic diseases) was a way of ‘letting people off the hook’ for the terrible things they do while actively drinking/using.

    Disease model proponents led with their chins on this, to a certain extent, by using arguments like “well, we don’t blame or stigmatize people who have asthma or diabetes, we treat problems like hypertension and IBS medically, not in the criminal justice system,” etc. On the other hand, a diabetic who doesn’t manage their blood sugar well, goes into a severe hypoglycemic episode while driving, plows into a storefront and kills two people DOES make it to the criminal justice system. And suffers the consequences of not responsibly managing their disease, as do (and SHOULD) people who commit crimes because they are not responsibly managing their chronic diseases.

    What those of us who work with addiction as well as a good many other chronic brain disorders know is that experiencing painful consequences can sometimes be the only catalyst that leads someone to examine their disorder, own it, and take responsibility for managing it. Which in the case of chronic brain disorders almost always means changing *everything*: attitudes, behavior patterns, lifestyle choices, social networks, spiritual awareness/practices, and more.

    We can understand and empathize with the pain they’re experiencing from those consequences, at the same time we applaud the fact that they are experiencing them. Because for many of us, nothing else is powerful enough to get us to change, grow up, take responsibility for ourselves and understand the value (to ourselves) of being of service to others who suffer.

    One problem people who suffer from chronic brain disorders that don’t include addiction frequently have, is an astoundingly high pain tolerance. In fact, the pain itself becomes a source of reassurance and validation for them. If your formative experiences included profound damage, pain is normalized. It’s what/who you are. Not-pain can be disturbing, even disorienting. Not-pain is almost dysphoric, annihilating a personal identity centered in pain.

    The level of consequences someone with that problem must experience, in order to decide “this is too painful, I gotta change” is almost unimaginable, and in some cases, lethal.

    I’d like to think that the pain Milo’s experienced is in that category and maybe, just maybe, it will be a straw added to the camel’s burden of his damaged, dysfunctional life. Maybe even “the” straw that will make him decide to take the scary step of dropping that burden and remaking himself without it.

    But frankly, I doubt it. In the cultural era of a hypernetworked media, all the tools are at hand for taking this pain and these consequences and building a whole new iteration of “ME, the outsider! ME, the REBEL! ME, the avatar of a cult of misfits who KNOW BETTER!”

    And I suspect that’s what he’ll do.

    But just perhaps with a little less capacity and range for the damage he can inflict on others, so it’s still a win.

  34. Excellent writing here, John. I also can’t help but marvel at how well this perspective works in trying to understand a lot of people I know who also support the Trump administration, the alt-right, and their ideas. I can see how they might feel unaccepted or hurt, and how these platforms are their way of “striking back.” And, like you said, it’s easy for me to lose empathy when I see the damage their support does to other people’s lives.

  35. Overall, I agree with you, John. However, I’m not so sure that he’s self-loathing. I haven’t seen any evidence of that. Not to say I couldn’t be convinced otherwise.

  36. Milo Yiannopoulos? It’s merely the end of Act II.

    And in other news: Today, the price of popcorn . . .

  37. I can’t empathize with Yiannopoulos, because I cannot imagine ever making the choices he has or being in that situation. Empathy is “been there, done that”. I can empathize with people who find themselves (either temporarily or permanently) on crutches or in a wheelchair. I can sympathize with almost anyone, in that I can find myself hoping that their life turns around and they get to a better place eventually. But that sympathy is tempered when you got where you are by being a bully and jerk.

  38. Feel out of sync here for viewing sympathy and empathy differently. Sympathy is general feelings for another’s situation; empathy is participating in that person’s situation, emotionally and mentally. Best definition I’ve ever heard for empathy is “your pain in my heart.”

    Can I feel empathy for this person? Nope. I have no clue what his pain is like, and frankly don’t want to. Something damaged him a long time ago, and I don’t want to feel anything about him due to his choice of coping. Because he chooses to react by hurting others. Not even sympathy there.

    Most I can feel is some pity and vague nausea. I echo the sentiments of many of you, hoping he gets help.

    First, he has to acknowledge the real problem, and I don’t see evidence of that yet.

    I guess the best I can do is hope he goes away for awhile, recognizes he’s jacked up, gets help, and if he returns, he becomes a stalwart defender of those he offended previously.

    Just go away for now.

  39. 1. A person who titles his explanatory apology “A Note For Idiots” hasn’t really got the art of empathy down.

    2. Have we ever seen Ann Coulter and Milo in the same place at the same time?

    3. Mary said: February 22, 2017 at 12:25 pm

    “Do I feel bad for the dog who has rabies? Yes.”

    You just had to bring Rabid Puppies into this.

  40. I think empathy means that you feel what the other person is feeling, that your mirror neurons have fired and you are experiencing what the other person is experiencing.

    Pity doesnt require you feel what the other person feels. When Mr T pitied the fool, he didnt feel a fool. Nor did he care about the fool. Likewise, sympathy doesnt require you feel the other person’s feelings either, but it does mean you care that the other person is feeling the way they are.

    On the flip side, compassion means you feel what the other person feels AND you want to improve their situation.


    The problem, of course, with all these definitions is they are entirely dependent on purely subjective experiences, which means people intermingle terms and blur meanings, and there is no way to say they are right or wrong.

    From a purely objective measure, if you arent doing anything to help someone, then you pity them. If you attempt to console them, you sympathize with them. If you try to improve their overall lot in life, then you have compassion for them.

    But in the end, it doesnt matter how I FEEL about Milo, because thats going to be an entirely solipsistic term. How I feel doesnt matter to anyone but me. What matters is what I would be willing to do to help Milo and his situation. And the simple answer to that is “not a goddamn thing”.

    If someone asked if I felt sorry for Milo, I would ask if they were planning on taking any real action to help Milo, and if not, then what does it really matter if we have different FEELINGS if our actions are identical. If neither of us will lift a finger to help Milo, are you using your internal yardstick that is your subjective feelings to measure what I report as my subjective internal feelings and find my feelings inadequate and your feelings superior? What does that give you other than an undeserved feeling of superiority?

    I can *understand* that Milo may have been a victim of molestation and that may have messed him up and he may have come up with horrible coping mechanisms to deal with it that requires he harm other people. But that doesnt mean I have to feel what he feels, because what he feels in part is that he is justified in his actions. And his actions are not justified. Plenty of people suffer abuse far worse than he did and those people are decent human beings who dont make it their lifes mission to fuck over other people. Some folks seem to lose the forest for the trees and think their feelings are more important than their actions. Unless someone plans on actually helping Milo, the most they can say is that they *pity* Milo.

    Personally, I pity that fool, and hope this means the last we see of him.

  41. Pedro:

    “Milo Yiannopoulos? It’s merely the end of Act II.”

    With reference to this and Brian Greenberg upthread, I should note that I strongly suspect Mr. Yiannopoulos will not merely slink away into oblivion; he will fight oblivion every inch of the way. Inasmuch as his moral system appears best described as “opportunistic,” I’m sure he will attempt a repackaging sooner than later.

  42. You know, Milo (he prefers MILO, by the way) didn’t take a leaf out of Coulter’s book – she’s much more savvy than he is. Or if he tried to do it, he didn’t understand what she does or how she works.

    Coulter writes books and many of the speeches she gives are part of her book tour to drum up attention and send supporters to the bookstore or Amazon to buy her latest output. She’s got a very good business/marketing model she’s following, she’s actually producing a product regularly and she’s got a lot more self-discipline. She insults people, true, but she doesn’t make her personal life the subject of her speeches or her books. If she announced that she’d had three abortions or took cocaine every day, then she’d be more like Milo. Excuse me: MILO.

    The one time she ever got close to being knocked off balance was last fall when Trump semi-flipped on immigration the same week her book was due out and she was plenty steamed. First time she ever got mad at a right-winger was because her book sales were threatened. She’s a money-making machine which Milo couldn’t emulate in his wildest dreams.

  43. I’m a therapist (the physical variety rather than the thinky sort) and I find sympathy and empathy entirely dissimilar to one another.

    Mostly because it was explained to me as such whilst still at uni-
    the definition of sympathy involves pity and empathy involves understanding.
    Would you rather a therapist (either kind) that feels sorry for you or just feels for and relates to you?

    Sympathy resides just a few doors down from apathy in my mind. Because if I pity someone, I don’t think much of them in the first place.

  44. Free speech at its best builds bridges of understanding between people, can serve to entertain us, to fight injustice. But as with any tool, when you wield it the right–or wrong–way it can cause great damage.

    To me, the only difference between what Milo and his ilk do and a murderer, is that the murderer can only kill you once. They can dress it however they want but the end result is the same, the willful destruction of lives. I find it just that the same poisonous tongue he has used to hurt others turned on him. Whether he is a damaged individual or not, he is not entitled to undermine anyone else.

  45. I’m actually surprised that advocating for pedophilia was too much for a Nazi propaganda mill, but hey, whatever it takes to make this bigoted shithead go away so I don’t have to hear his moronic spew anymore. Even by the standards of the Nazis–I mean, alt-right–and Donald Trump, Yiannopoulos is a cowardly, self-righteous, hypocritical, whiny, craven, lying asshole with thinner skin than the Orange Leader, and it’s incredibly satisfying for him to lose so much so quickly. I hope that he spends the rest of his life flipping burgers at McDonalds.

  46. A certain vanity publishing house unfortunately known to these parts is trying to publish Milo’s book – we’ll see if Milo accepts that offer, I don’t think he’s dumb/desperate enough to stoop that low.

    Don’t know much about milo except that he was a cut-rate outrage machine. I doubt he believed the hate he was spewing, it was a money earner for him, but that doesn’t excuse the very real damage that he did.

  47. For me, empathy is an automated response. Someone hits their thumb with a hammer and I say “ouch”. Its that whatever I am witnessing hurts the person experiencing it and I *feel* that knowledge.

    Sympathy, though, is *liking* a person. Which means being convinced by them, at least in part, ready to defend them. Sympathy for the Devil, as has been said, a man of wealth and taste. And, nope. No way. Even in the unlikely case that Karma pays him back thrice.

  48. bskinn “Too many people confuse ‘explanations’ and ‘excuses’ Something that is a perfectly good explanation for a thing in no wise must therefore automatically be a good excuse for the thing.” We’re sometimes less considerate with people close to us so now and then I find myself starting a new paragraph with “That in no way, shape, or form excuses . . . ”

    Meanwhile empathy/sympathy. Empathy is being able to see, even feel, from the other person’s perspective. Sympathy is simpler, understanding and caring about things that happened to someone or is happening, for ex someone dealing with aging parents.

    I empathize with Milo Yiannopoulos, who desperately needs attention and to feel important. I get it, and things in his past that might have caused that. I may even feel sorry that they happened.

    Do I care about the results? About the situation he’s gotten himself into? Nope.

  49. Pedro, Takei is saying what happened to him and what he was thinking as a 13 year old boy. He doesnt advocate that it be something every child go through. Milo was.

    But of course right wing ideology is based on false equivalences.

  50. Not the Reddit Chris S:

    Yiannopoulos publishing with Castalia House would simultaneously make him the most successful author it’s ever published, and illustrate precisely just how far and how quickly his star has fallen. I do doubt Yiannopoulos would get $250k from them, however (nor should he, as it seems unlikely his sales will now reach what they would have before the unpleasantness of the last few days).

    The two of them certainly deserve each other, is my thought.

  51. Yes, I agree – our local troll needs the more famous troll much more than the more famous troll needs the local troll. Milo would be insane to ever consider it.

  52. Greg said, “Pedro, Takei is saying what happened to him and what he was thinking as a 13 year old boy. He doesnt advocate that it be something every child go through. Milo was.”

    Glad you got that sorted out. I mean, someone had to. Right?

  53. I’ll reserve my sympathy for people like Leslie Jones, the target of a vicious online harassment and doxxing campaign courtesy of Milo and his minions for the apparent double sin of being a woman and being black. Milo’s self-serving and so-called apology never addressed the senseless cruelty and incomprehensible nastiness of his actions.

    And can we spare a moment to address Milo’s enablers? Not just the Bannons and CPACs of the world (I expect no more from them), but mainstream publishers like Simon & Schuster (what the hell were they thinking?) and Bill Maher. Apparently, they were down with the racism, anti-semitism, misogyny, transphobia, and vile trolling, but advocating pedophilia was going too far? I got news for ya, pal–in a decent world, it would ALL have been going too far!

    /Dismounting soapbox now.

  54. Dave wrote: “And how socially dysfunctional do you have to be, to be hated at Breitbart?”

    Ehn. All things considered, people at Breitbart being hated by other people at Breitbart is probably a pretty common thing. It’s probably at least as dysfunctional a workplace as … well, as the West Wing currently is.

  55. John, I appreciate the quality and thoughtfulness of your comments, as always. It is unusual for someone to actually try to empathise with people of differing viewpoints. Empathize is the important word here. I notice how many people are using sympathize instead, which is a different thing entirely, though I would expect a writer of your skill to make that kind of distinction, which the general public might miss.

  56. I would like to note that Milo’s claims about his allegedly British sense of humour are tosh. Milo failed in Britain for many reasons, but one of them is that he isn’t funny. For example, we don’t, on the whole, think that adults using the themes of playground humour are funny. Milo doesn’t seem to manage anything beyond playground humour.

    It’s also much more difficult to persuade people you are being edgy when you diss Christianity here; ‘The Life of Brian’ disposed of that one. Those whom Monty Python have brought together expect a very high bar, and Milo’s attempts with the slippery pole never got off the ground here.

    My sympathies lie with the people he has harassed…

  57. To start with, I do not like Milo Yiannapoulos one little bit. I’d be ashamed to be part of the same lgbt circles that he runs in, and I *know* people who say things just as reprehensible in my own lgbt community. That said…

    I’m seeing another level in the dragging he’s getting for failing to play the lovable queer role to cis-het expectations. Because as god-awful as he is/was, it was an act.

    And if we’re going to drag white dudes for reprehensible remarks/acts for television, why aren’t we going after Bill Maher?

    He’s said awful stuff about women and continues to have a platform to do it on. And he’s nominally liberal.

    What about Bill O’Reilly if this is a conservative vs liberal issue? He’s said horrible things about Muslims and immigrants on his show. [And if you get him off his show he’s much more reasonable–and what do ya know–acting on his show.]

    What about Stephen Colbert’s iteration as conservative pundit? But we understood that was all an act and he got promoted.

    I’m not excusing Milo’s actions. Yet to play the naive “I thought he was serious” when the expectation for queer men in this country is to play-act someone overly dramatic and stupid etc is incredibly infuriating. I think Milo needs serious help/therapy to overcome his internalized homophobia and deal with surviving trauma.

    I think withdrawing his major platforms to self-harm is a good first step, but it’s also worth thinking about supporting charities that help survivors of abuse–because this is a perfect reminder that abuse can be anyone’s backstory, and a driving force for a lot of negative, self-harming, and community harming behaviors.

  58. This was a good dissection of Milo’s recent problems. I really don’t think he’s going anywhere, though. He’s developed a large enough following that someone will publish his book. He’ll still book appearances at whichever venues will still host him. Guys like this tend to have a peculiar penchant for survival, even when it’s ugly and not glamorous.

  59. It’s my understanding that MY is a British citizen without a green card. His visa expires when he loses his job, unless he gets another one quickly. Can’t have these immigrants go on the public trough.

  60. Milo doesn’t have anything like a British sense of humor. What he manages is a certain amount of giggling sadism, which, alas, is a thoroughly generic feature of the nastier bits of humanity.

    One thing I’d like to add to the whole discussion of right wing “masculinity” is the point that talk of alpha males is nonsense and has been known to be nonsense ever since the scientist who popularized the theory when discussing wolves( in captivity, alas!) recanted and said that it amounted to a major misreading of how wolf groups in the wild actually work. It is, if you like, the trickle-down economics of social dynamics. When you hear someone talking about “alpha males”, you should know immediately that they are entirely ignorant of their subject matter. Anyone who thinks they are an alpha male is just a bully who learned a new phrase and decided that it made his behavior sound much more justifiable.

  61. @Dani: If you don’t think that Bill Maher got dragged for agreeing with Milo…or for that matter for generally being a reprehensible misogynist/Islamophobe/transphobe who’s generally more of a douchbaggy libertarian than a liberal…you may not have been paying attention to a lot of the discourse about Maher. He’s not well-liked in liberal circles, and his core audience is the same kind of people who thought Gary Johnson was too moderate.

    Likewise, I don’t think you’ll find many people who can’t stand Milo but love Bill O’Reilly.

    And come on, Colbert? Seriously? Colbert was a “conservative pundit” like the Swedish Chef was a cooking instructor. He made it very clear that the target of his jokes was people who actually took the positions he was pretending to take, and he used his comedy to highlight the absurdities of the Right. Equating him and Milo is actually kind of insulting both to Colbert and to anyone who’s ever heard the two of them speak.

  62. Milo isn’t simply a controversy act. Milo has tried to have people killed, purely for brand building reasons. He has relentlessly hounded people with harassment. He has encouraged people to commit suicide. He has openly declared his intent to put Twitter out of business by spamming it and driving away its buyers. His college tours involved picking out student targets and doxxing them on stage in hopes that they’d get beaten up or raped. Milo has advocated for rape. He distributed nude photos of his targets, real or faked, on Twitter and other places to encourage harassment. He researched his targets’ families and doxxed them as well. He committed crimes.

    And when he “crossed” the supposed line, he did so a year ago, on a major streaming radio show, and some of the media covered his pederasty-loving remarks back then. No one in the conservative field had a problem with it. (Nor do they have a problem with pederasty — the denizens of CPAC and Quiverfull sell off their teenage daughters into marriage and still embrace the Duggars and their pedophile pastor.)

    But what some factions at CPAC did have a problem with is that the alt-right has been sucking up a bigger share of the power pie, and they didn’t like that MY was going to be a keynote speaker representing that. So they went and found the old clip and pretended to be suddenly outraged about it so it would be an excuse. And seeing that MY’s wider conservative audience was suddenly deserting backing his “free speech,” S&S decided to eat whatever part of the advance they’d paid him and cancel the book. Which may have simply also been an excuse to get rid of it as MY hasn’t delivered the actual book that was supposed to come out soon. This wasn’t a big dirty secret that got revealed, a recording made in a trailer uncovered or a secret recording at a banquet for money people like Romney — it was an open radio interview.

    So as always, it’s all set dressing and theater. What was more surprising is MY getting ousted from Breibart. That signals interesting things going on there. But Bannon will still be backing MY, he has a new media venture in the works, etc. — his branding as controversy magnet whose humor is always misunderstood by tiresome liberals will continue to work off this setback.

    So do I care if a vicious, violent, greedy, criminal person has less cultural influence, at least temporarily? No. He should be in jail. Nobody with the power to do so cared enough about MY’s victims to stop him, which is exactly how kids get harmed in the first place. Nobody cared about MY’s teenage victims either and I’ll include many of the deluded guys who did his harassment bidding in that group. He himself does not meet my empathy criteria.

  63. “Yiannopoulos publishing with Castalia House would simultaneously make him the most successful author it’s ever published, and illustrate precisely just how far and how quickly his star has fallen.”

    As left-handed whipsongs go, it’s right up there with the one it reminds me of: an observation made on Tumblr by Phil Sandifer, noted Blakean magus and founder of the Ithaca Psychogeographic Liberation Front:

    “The key thing to understand about Milo Yiannopoulos is that he has a deep and absolute need to be smarter than his audience, and steadily chased downwards to find an audience appropriate for that before finally discovering Gamergate.”


    (At one point, this was even incorporated into Milo’s RationalWiki writeup. If I had to guess why it was removed, I’d say it was because somebody considered it ableist.)

  64. …before I continue: the preview button is your friend, Loomis. If I’d seen that the Tumblr post was going to get pastede in yay, I wouldn’t have redundantly quoted it.

    New business: “Nor do they have a problem with pederasty — the denizens of CPAC and Quiverfull sell off their teenage daughters into marriage and still embrace the Duggars and their pedophile pastor.”

    That’s not pederasty; that’s heterosexual pedophilia, which such respected conservative anti-lectuals* as Duck Commander and the Nuge have gone on record as considering to be Gawd-ordained.

    (* There needs to be a better word for anti-intellectuals who try to sound like intellectuals; now there is one. One can hardly call them “thought leaders”; they’re more like irritable-mental-gesture leaders or prejudice-rearrangement leaders.)

  65. Dani: “why aren’t we going after Bill Maher?”

    I started watching Maher after he came out against the Iraq war in 2003 when most of the country was cheerleading us into oblivion. But it turns out even a broken clock is right once in a while.

    People really need to stop talking about Maher like he’s a lefty or progressive. The whole point of being a progressive is that you care about other people. Maher doesn’t give a damn about anyone but himself, his marijuana, and his hatred of all religions. He’s an islamophobe and pro death penalty. But he likes to smoke pot, so he cant be a conservative. So, he’s a libertarian crank. And the main reason he gets confused with being progressive is because he spoke out against the Iraq war that one time.

    I despise Maher.

    “What about Stephen Colbert’s iteration as conservative pundit?”

    What about him? Funniest show ever. Miss it. Closest replacement is “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver”. Good stuff. The world needs more of it.

  66. I respect Bill Maher, but I rolled my eyes hard when he compared Milo to Christopher Hitchens. Hitchens was a provocateur. Yiannopoulos is just a troll. Granted, he’s a very skilled troll, but that’s about the closest thing to a compliment that I can pay him.

    I doubt we’ve seen the last of him. I keep waiting for Ann Coulter to drop off the face of the Earth, but she keeps hanging on, somehow. Milo Yiannopoulos is a sad, pathetic, hateful little creature, yet he is smart enough that he will likely continue to find avenues in which he can operate. The rest of us should ignore him when we can and, when that becomes impossible, follow the example set by Maher’s panel and tell him to go fuck himself. Sometimes that really is the only apt response.

  67. Yiannopoulos appears to be racist, misogynist, anti-semitic, a gay homophobe, transphobe and all sorts of other things I find contemptible. The thing that gets me is that CPAC is fine with all that. They couldn’t wait to have him headline. It took a whiff of pedophilia to get them to back away. In my mind that makes them 5% less vile than Milo. Gosh, gee that’s a pretty a hard moral stand you took there CPAC.

  68. I have no sympathy whatsoever for Milo. I have no pity for him, though I have a great deal of pity for his victims. Empathy is a tricky word. I take your use of it to mean that you can understand, at least to some extent, how he became the human being he is today. And to a degree I can understand it also. Just to pick a couple of things from my childhood, my earliest memory is getting thrown across the kitchen into the refrigerator and having my left femur snap followed by memories in the hospital having it set and then spending a long time in traction afterward. I was three. As a young teen, I was also groomed and used for sex by an adult woman. It took me decades to even call it what it was to myself. Why do things like that twist and damage some people so they act out while others among us learn from them and work to live a better life instead? I honestly don’t know. I’m not some icon of virtue. Mostly I survived and never lost the desire to be a decent human being. There’s no rulebook for life and no going back to a previously saved position in the game.

    With that said, it’s not Milo’s support for pedophilia that went too far. It was specifically male-male pedophilia that was too much for those who likely barely tolerated his identity as a gay man in the first place. After all, Miss Teen USA contestants have said Trump barged in on them naked in exactly the same way he bragged about doing at adult contests. That’s certainly a form of pedophilia. And Trump is at least linked to one alleged case of “underage sex” (which is the euphemism for child rape that’s often employed). Conservatives weren’t bothered at all by that history and, as far as I can tell, still aren’t to this day.

  69. My empathy extends to thinking (or assuming) how embaressing this must be for him; how much he must feel like his life is no longer in his control.
    That doesn’t preclude me and my friends from cackling that karma is a bitch.
    One of my favorite memories is of some friends and i watching him on TV and someone quoting from “The Boys in The Band”.
    Who is she?
    Who was she?
    Who does she hope to be?

  70. Fine post, John. As you say, many people pretend to be someone else as a method of healing (often called “actors”), but they use this to turn their pain into entertainment and sometimes great art, rather than to inflict pain on others. Any empathy I have for MY is swamped in my empathy for those he has gleefully harmed for personal gain.

    @ uleaguehub
    While I wish you every success in combating addiction, I think you are mischaracterizing the disease approach. It doesn’t let alcoholics off the hook for the damage they do; all it does is not blame them for their addiction. Both AA and Al-Anon clearly say that alcoholics will never change until they hit bottom, and the best thing that family and friends can do is detach with love, rather than enable the disease by shielding alcoholics from the consequences of their actions (e.g. Drunk driving). Somebody once said that the disease approach didn’t need to be true, because it is so useful in enabling one to deal with an alcoholic without harm to either party.

  71. Quote: “The key thing to understand about Milo Yiannopoulos is that he has a deep and absolute need to be smarter than his audience, and steadily chased downwards to find an audience appropriate for that before finally discovering Gamergate.”

    That is one of the best, most insightful, and hilarious things I have ever read about milo. Well said.

    The thing about milo (*) is his ego is fragile – he has to be on top. The obvious thing to do when (not if) he resurfaces in public is to mock him by just pointing and laughing as hard as you can. This will start the crowd laughing – we are built that way.

    milo made his bed. Now he can sleep (wallow) in it. No sympathy, no empathy, unless there is fundamental change, which is unlikely. He gets ego boo from his act.

    One easy topic: he is a gay Jew who tried to cozy up to neo-Nazis. When they learned he was *two* things they despised, they threw him out. (Yes, I know the real Nazis tolerated selected gays and Jews, but they were few and far between. One of the first order of business after Kristallnacht was to kill the gay Nazi groups. Nor is milo in the same league as the few they let live.)

    I used to like Bill Mahar, but he is now full of himself. Sad.

    Colter is smart enough to wait things out. She also knows which Left targets to go after that will cause the Right to start frothing about. She had too much exposure, but that will correct itself as rump starts making mistakes that will give the Left enough ammo to start going after rump. The slobbering Right hordes will not notice they are being screwed until it gets really personal – even then, they will not recognize root cause and Colter will step in to lead them down the merry path.

    Stephen Colbert is a master of satire. His genius is understanding the Right’s flaws and playing them in such a way the Right cannot see he is mocking them.

    (*) I will not give milo the satisfaction of capitalizing him in any manner whatsoever.

  72. Nailed it Mr. Scalzi – thanks for doing a far better job of it than I have managed to as yet as well, because now I can share this post and not torture myself about not having enough time to do even remotely as good a job.

  73. Milo has been one of the Right’s Two (openly) Gay Friends. Peter Thiel is the other.

  74. There’s much discussion on this thread of the difference between empathy and sympathy and the relative value/import of each one. This is, frankly, typical liberal navel-gazing and overthinking (and I say that as a Canadian extreme-left liberal, which puts me off any political scale the USA recognizes). MY is an asshole who exploited the right wing for money, fame and attention. He could do and say whatever he wanted until they turned on him (they always eat their own eventually) and now he’s been cast out of the temple. This has happened before and it will happen again – look up David Frum and David Brooks.

    Like those two, MY is one of the ones who should know better. He’s a member of an oppressed group the right would like to destroy, so he’s been particularly valuable to them as a token. He’s knowingly collaborated with the enemy for personal gain, which automatically makes him ineligible for any sympathy from anyone. Empathy is involuntary, but despite being a uniquely liberal value (republicans barely understand the concept) there’s very little reason to feel empathy for him either: he knew what he was doing and did it anyway. Thus, any discussion of sympathy vs. empathy for this creature is irrelevant – he’s a traitor to his kind and deserves to be shunned, mocked or ignored.

    We’ve seen this happen with others before. David Frum was a Canadian speechwriter who was beloved by the right (he coined the ‘axis of evil’ phrase that Bush bandied about). Despite being raised in Canada and enjoying all the benefits of our healthcare system and more (he was born of privilege – his mother is one of the most well-known and respected TV journalists in our history) he cheerfully whored himself out to the GOP to push their lies. When he made the mistake of disagreeing with his masters he was promptly ousted and has since mostly dropped off the radar. Like all traitors, he burned his bridges and now no one will have him. David Brooks is similar: years spent pushing right-wing lies, ousted when he publicly disagreed and other than some small attention from the left (because he knew all the GOP dirty tricks and was happy to spill) he’s also dropped into obscurity.

    So whither MY? If he’s made enough money like Frum and Brooks he could fade out like them and semi-retire. Alternatively, he could continue to play his role and become one of the flash-in-the-pan right-wing semi-celebrities that make a living bilking the faithful and milking their 10min of fame (see Joe the Plumber, Sarah Palin, that town clerk who refused to sign marriage licenses, etc.). The problem is that he’s not as smart a grifter as Anne Coulter who uses her assholery as a way to sell books and I doubt he’s even half the writer (which says a lot). Besides, Anne’s star has faded considerably and she’s looking a bit desperate these days (when neither Maher nor O’Reilly will have you on their shows you’re just about done). MY hasn’t the impulse control to have saved much and he doesn’t have any appeal on any level (Coulter gets away with a lot because she’s ‘hot’). He’ll either drop down to a gamergate-esque online troll or fade into obscurity. And that’s something we shouldn’t really allow.

    The right doesn’t care about scandals these days, but that doesn’t mean they like being called out on them. MY is yet another thing to hang around the neck of every single conservative who supports Trump. They hate being called racists, but it drives them nuts that they have no answer when confronted with the fact that they willingly support a racist, sexist, anti-Semitic sexual predator. Similarly, now they supported (by extension) a proud pedophile. It’s one thing for someone to moan ‘Trumpz better cuz EMAILZ!’ but when you tell them ‘So I guess you support fucking children too, eh?’ they freak right the fuck out. So keep MY in the spotlight as much as you can and constantly point out that he’s public face of conservatism. Force them to justify it or deny it. He’s their creature and they need to own him.

  75. Milo isnt a troll. He’s worse. Trolls say stuff to get you to overreact, but its purely emotional. Milo actually puts peoples lives in danger.

    What is the term for someone who doxxes people and directs a mob towards a victim, but they are too cowardly to do anything themselves? Cowardly savage?

    The english language seems to have a hole in it.

  76. I do doubt Yiannopoulos would get $250k from them, however (nor should he, as it seems unlikely his sales will now reach what they would have before the unpleasantness of the last few days).

    At the risk of repeating my previous point, I think if he’s smart enough to put his book out quickly (before the controversy machine moves on to another topic), he’ll sell more copies of it because of the recent unpleasantness than he would have otherwise. People love to rubberneck…

  77. @Greg: One proposed term has been ‘stochastic terrorist.’ Which as a term has some issues, but drives several people on the Right into apoplexy because they believe that as soon as the words come out of their mouth they’re not responsible for what those words cause. But it does use the “t-word” and that’s a rather frought term all on its own.

  78. Perhaps a few words from the estimable Laurie Penny’s perceptive piece about Yiannopoulous and his entourage are in order:

    There are many uses for empathy. To point out that the people who join this far-right movement are damaged and hurt is not to minimize the hurt and damage they themselves are doing. On the contrary: the pain is the point. Stripped down to its essentials, the new far right is an ideological vacuum calcified in a carapace of pain. Hurt people hurt people. That’s nothing new. These hurt people are hurting other people deliberately, in order to up-cycle their uncomfortable emotions, reselling the pain they can’t bear to look at as a noble political crusade.

  79. vmink, thanks. Thats a new term for me. The fact that I had to look it up might mean it doesnt have that gut reaction I want when people hear it.

    Lone Wolf Pied Piper?

    Its a lot of words, but its also pretty much exactly on point. Milo is calling out, like the pied piper on his flute, for a lone wolf to do his dirty work for him. Unfortunately, it requires a “shaka when the walls fell” contextual understanding of who the pied piper was. And it isnt as handy or visceral as a single word like “troll” is.

    The english language is disappointing sometimes….

  80. Interesting that you keep saying you have a little ’empathy’ for Milo, as if you can’t quite face the possibility that you lack empathy, even in this situation. You then go on to say that even though you ’empathize’ a little, you feel more for the victims and are aware that all Milo’s pain is his own doing, and well deserved. This is not empathy. Which is okay. It’s all right to withhold empathy. We are taught that we MUST empathize, that empathy is what makes us decent, but that’s not really true. You’re allowed to draw the line. After all, how much do you ’empathize’ with all the people who used to love Milo, and still love Breitbart? You say you understand how a creature like Milo happened, and realize that MIlo’s in pain, but that isn’t really empathizing. You don’t ‘feel’ Milo’s pain, you just know it’s there. And that’s enough. Honor is satisfied if you simply refrain from trampling jubilantly on Milo’s remains singing, “Crush your enemies!”

  81. I don’t feel empathy, sympathy, or pity for MY. I feel a little relief at what I suspect will be a short-lived respite from his vitriolic spew.

    Someone who craves attention as much as he does will continue seeking it, and attracting attention seems to be the one thing he’s good at. So he and his ugly bile won’t be out of the spotlight long–if at all.

    I also don’t think his influence will fade among his fans. One of them was on my Facebook wall only today, blathering about how Mile is so FUNNY, I just don’t get his humor, and his humor is obviously effective because it “triggers” me (uh, no, I just despise him), he is being victimized now, etc., etc.

    I think there are a LOT of people out there just like the malicious fool who was posting on my FB wall. I think Milo still has a huge fan base for his vicious antics and that his 15 minutes are far from over. I sadly suspect he’s not going through a “fall” from popularity, just an unplanned career transition.

  82. I have a slightly different take on what was finally too much for the CPAC machine, which makes them look even worse: it wasn’t recognizing milo’s homosexuality, which has been reasonably obvious; it wasn’t the pedophilia/ephebophilia, which is kind of popular with the most stringent authoritarians; it was that, describing the optimal case, he describes the young boy receiving care and affection from the man. He describes the boy as *needing* care and affection and getting it. And, either because they saw him as needy, or because kindness is unacceptable to them, that was too much.

  83. Laura: “I sadly suspect he’s not going through a “fall” from popularity,”

    Andrew Dice Clay had a fall in the 80’s I think for being so biggotted. I think he is only coming back now because enough people are young enough to not know his old routines.

  84. And i say the reason milo got canned is because a lot of conservatives derive their moral compass from whatever triggers their internal “squick” alarm. Sex is bad except between married people making babies because sex in general sets of the conservative “squick” alarm. Teenage sex is bad, squick, squick, so conservatives oppose abortion as a way of punishing teens for having se,. A gay man saying pedophilia is a good thing? Squick squick squick, and he is out.

  85. [Deleted because we’re not doing the WHAT ABOUT [X] SAYING [Y] ISN’T THAT THE SAME THING thing here. Stay on topic. Billy, if you would like to try again, you may, but remember the topic here is Yiannopoulos, not whatever false equivalence talking point you found on the right-wing side of the Internet — JS]

  86. Ernst Röhm was clearly emotionally damaged in all sorts of ways and for all sorts of reasons, and it exhibited itself in a particularly itchy combination of personal self-loathing and a desperate need to feel special, and to have attention. He discovered that playing to a crowd of horrible bigots gave him attention, made him feel special and made him either hate himself less, or at least allowed him to ignore how much he hated himself, so he went with that as long as he could.

    I hope Milo and Ernst can share pineapples in hell, I feel the same level of sympathy for both.

  87. a couple more nuggets from Laurie Penny’s article linked above:


    “These [the followers and hangers on of Milo] are men, in short, who have founded an entire movement on the basis of refusing to handle their emotions like adults.”

    “The team is mostly composed of young men. Extremely young men. The sort of young men who are very brave behind a computer screen and like to think of themselves as stalwart fighters for the all-American right to say whatever disgusting thing they please, but who are absolutely unequipped to deal with any suggestion of real-world consequences.”

    Its clear Milo’s followers are man-childs who use their straight, white, male easy-life-setting to surf their way through life, indulge in their feelings, and not grow the fuck up.

    And more somberly:

    “If Yiannopoulos is as screwed as he seems, the left has little to celebrate in the manner of the defeat; he has been brought down, after all, by the one weapon we don’t want to give power to. He has been brought down not by reasoned liberal argument, nor by moral victory over his cod theories, nor by anti-fascist agitation. He has been brought down by conservative moral outrage. Specifically, by conservative moral outrage over gay male sexuality. ”

    This wasn’t Milo taken down by Progressive ideas winning out over bigotry. This was homophobic bigotry getting activated by a gay man joking about the advantages of being a pedophelia victim with a priest and recommending it as a normal coming of age lesson. The homophobia squick in conservative brains won out over the islamophobia and racism in conservatives, and they turned on Milo.

  88. @ bensira587
    And here you still are, hours later. Do you really wish to argue that a person can’t moderate discussing in their own “house”?

  89. If I pitied him, it’d be only because I know he’d hate it.

    That guy is a grown up man, and I expect him to take responsibility for his actions. Damaged? Yes, perhaps. I don’t care. No one gets through life unharmed, and no, past bad experiences (not everything bad is automatically a trauma) are no excuse for being an ass.

    He will get my empathy the moment he apologises publicly to all the people he terrorised over the last years AND when he starts to make up for his terror in actual actions and not only in sweet, deceptive, mendacious words.

  90. While I am happy to watch Yiannopolis hurtle groundwards as his wings melt, his pedophilic comments only validate what the hard right believe about gay people, thereby doing even more damage as he falls.

  91. bensira587,

    This is your “argument” in a nutshell: “If the LEFT caused milo to become an outcast for gay pedophile remarks, then (some lefty gay person) should also be outcast for pedophile remarks, or the LEFT are a bunch of hypocrites.”

    There are several problems with that argument. First of all, the LEFT never cared that milo was gay. The left has been protesting, marching, rioting against milo because he makes his living encouraging others to commit violence against the powerless. i.e. milo is a career fascist.

    No, it was your own people who cast milo out. CPAC stands for CONSERVATIVE Political Action Committee. The RIGHT didn’t have a problem with milo being a fascist, that was actually why they hired him in the first place. Because the RIGHT is full of fascist bigots. But bigotry usually includes a homophobia. And milo said stuff that pushed the RIGHT’s homophobe squicky hot button and the RIGHT withdrew in revulsion.

    The LEFT isn’t celebrating the casting out of a gay man. The LEFT is celebrating the casting out of a violent fascist. So, if the LEFT doesn’t also cast out (some lefty gay person) its not hypocricy, its because (some lefty gay person) is not a fascist. Being gay was never a problem for folks on the LEFT. It’s CPAC, conservatives, and people on the RIGHT who are the homophobes.

    You’re blaming teh LEFT for casting out milo for being gay/pedo, but the RIGHT cast out milo for being too gay. The LEFT hated milo for being fascist, and we’re sitting here chuckling as we watch milo, a man who made a living whipping up bigotry and violent fascism, be taken out by the monster he was playing to.

  92. And it’s officially over for Milo: Richard Spencer has cut him loose, saying ““He cannot be defended at this point,” and “I think it’s also clear that his career is over, definitively”. It’s being quoted in a number of places (I saw it on Slate) and apparently there’s a Youtube video as well. When the Nazis are distancing themselves from you, there’s no comeback.

    Five years from now he’ll be dead of a drug overdose. Bank on it.

  93. Reading Laurie Penny’s article, I imagine milo and his hangers ons as a bunch of domesticated puppies who think howling makes them wolves. And then the domestics turn on milo when he jokes about humping them.

    What was that line about doughy white libertarians thinking they would rule in a world of post apocalyptic anarchy, when in reality they would be turned into strips of objectivist jerky by the sociopaths of the world?

    These guys function the way they do because they are so sheltered (pasty white, straight, male, living in their parents basements) from the realities of the violence they preach.

    Their level of naivete at play is mind boggling.

  94. My brain keeps remembering a similar episode with writer Truman Capote – who pushed too far (IIRC?) and all his supporters suddenly had enough. He thought he was accepted, but he wasn’t one of ‘them’ – and they cut him when he got embarrassing. It’s all a bit fuzzy in my mind, but I wouldn’t trust the in-crowd for anything. They are fickle by nature.

  95. Mark Towler:

    David Brooks is similar: years spent pushing right-wing lies, ousted when he publicly disagreed and other than some small attention from the left (because he knew all the GOP dirty tricks and was happy to spill) he’s also dropped into obscurity.

    If only. He’s got himself a nice twice-a-week perch on the New York Times Op-Ed page and a regular gig on NPR, playing the “reasonable conservative”. It won’t make him as rich as Rush Limbaugh, but it’s plenty comfy.

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