Should gays defend Milo? No.
Michael Bouldin on Milo: "... sexist, transphobic, racist, pick what you wish from the long catalogue of human cruelties, he will likely embrace it this very instant, already has, or will at some future time of greater convenience."
The question arises – I suppose – whether Milo should be able to rely on the good offices of Gay, Inc℠ or of the broader velvet mafia in media and culture. We do tend to defend our own, even if only for the reason that they are indeed our own. Do we, more specifically gay white men, do so for conservatives as reliably as for liberals?
I propose that this is the wrong question to ask.
My guess would be that Milo won’t be afforded the warm embrace of Ellen or Anderson Cooper, let alone of the Advocate or what other voices of note remain in our assimilated world.
This however not owing to his politics, assuming arguendo he has politics rather than mere omnidirectional bile, but rather because he is by all accounts a dreadful person; sexist, transphobic, racist, pick what you wish from the long catalogue of human cruelties, he will likely embrace it this very instant, already has, or will at some future time of greater convenience.
Milo’s friends on the right are presented with quite the messy little pickle.
Overlooked not by him, of course, brave truth-teller that he is, merely by the slow, weak and failing status quo, a miasma of the obviously tiresome that creates trivialities like the age of consent. Or, I don’t know, statutory rape. The minimum lines of ethics for those, children, who don’t know where these lines are drawn, that being our job as adults, parents, and caregivers.
This raises two related concerns: one, his validation of the queer parallel to the Jewish blood libel – “they’re coming for your kids, either to molest them (the homo thing) or bake them into matzos (the Jewish thing)” – which is, to be clear, both something we collectively have cause to view with deep apprehension and to which the vast majority of us queers react viscerally with the shock, horror, and revulsion that the rest of society equally applies to rape of the innocent.
"There is an imbalance integral to this dynamic, one not merely of power but one of meaning; what Milo and his troll squads take away is of little account to them but everything to those it is taken from."
Which is what sex between adults and minors is by definition: statutory rape. Sex requires consent, which minors are emotionally and legally unable to give.
The other concern is this: his reprehensible statements are of a piece with others he has made against Black and other women, transfolk, Latinos, immigrants, Muslims and so on; by and large anyone he and his audience hold in contempt.
In short, our allies in struggle, our families, neighbors, coworkers, and friends.
That may not have been his intention, it is however the outcome. When cruelty becomes as casual as it is for him, something vital is lost, the sense of where and when to stop, which lines one might well cross with ease but in a decent society has ample cause not to. Even for the small goal of self-preservation, say.
Who is Milo?
I’ve watched him now several times, at some length and with admitted interest – iconoclasts are rare as it is, too rare I’d argue, most certainly in these times – and can say only this: Milo is a beautiful man. In some ways, he reminds me of myself at his age. You’ll remark that there’s no value judgment here, not yet. He’s just as shallow as I was, as obsessed with his glittering outward shell, certainly as sexual, but far more cynical and cruel than I ever was, could be or would frankly want to be. I do not take pleasure in the suffering of others I may never even meet; he does.
Iconoclasm, however, requires at its core empathy, the inverse of cruelty. Sacred cows are butchered not to sate bloodlust, but because there is a different, maybe even a better world in wait, one they by their inviolability obscure.
That’s meaningful iconoclasm, change – perhaps or by design imperfectly expressed – but inherently aiming for the better.
Milo peddles small sacrileges a Caligula would consider trivial even as Milo’s victims find they drain them of and deny them dignity, autonomy, and self-worth. That’s not iconoclasm, it’s vandalism of the body politic.
There is an imbalance integral to this dynamic, one not merely of power but one of meaning; what Milo and his troll squads take away is of little account to them but everything to those it is taken from. Rome was looted in its Fall, small coin set against the carnage but also an objective beyond merely putting cities and nations to the torch for little more than the pleasure of seeing them burn.
Milo’s is an iconoclasm of diminishment. It is one of despoliation, of cynicism and cruelty, of abject neglect for anything other than the glittering surface and the sharp word cunningly crafted to maximum effect. In this regard, he is of the gay male world, of the one I inhabit at least, where surface is everything and the greatest prize is precisely that sharp word.
Or so they say, the reality is somewhat different, tempered as it is by the larger reality that even gay white men, such as yours truly, are not yet free of the shackles America in her infinite wisdom has seen fit to burden us with. They may weigh less heavily than those enchaining too many others, but they are not absent weight. Many of us are quite privileged, sure. We are not lobotomized.
So the vast majority of us know where lines are drawn not out of spite but to protect the weak, the helpless, those without a voice.
Milo does not. Let him pay the price.
This article by Michael Bouldin previously appeared at Daily KOS, here.