An openly homosexual writer and speaker who had been invited to appear at the popular Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) has now been dropped from the lineup after video surfaced of the conservative celebrity seemingly speaking in favor of pedophilia—an accusation that he denies.
Milo Yiannopoulos, an editor at the publication Breitbart, had been announced by the American Conservative Union (ACU) to be a keynote speaker at CPAC, which runs Wednesday through Saturday and features dozens of well-known conservative figures, including Sen. Ted Cruz, Gov. Scott Walker, Carly Fiorina, Michael Reagan, Sheriff David Clarke, Judge Jeanine Pirro, Sean Hannity, and many others.
President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence are scheduled to make appearances as well.
“We think free speech includes hearing Milo’s important perspective,” Tweeted ACU Chairman Matt Schlapp on Saturday.
Yiannopoulos had made headlines earlier this month after officials at the University of California at Berkeley canceled a speaking engagement featuring the British-born alt-right figure when students protested his appearance—a demonstration that turned violent and destructive. He was removed from campus “amid the violence and destruction of property and out of concern for public safety,” a statement said.
Students objected to Yiannopoulos over accusations that he “advocates white supremacy, transphobia and misogyny,” and that he had engaged in “incitement, harassment and defamation” against those he “targets.”
But others across the country who viewed the Berkeley riots said that the shutout was a violation of Yiannopoulos’ free speech, which they said should have been allowed, no matter how offensive.
“An epidemic of speech suppression has taken over college campuses,” ACU’s Schlapp told Hollywood Reporter. “Milo has exposed their liberal thuggery and we think free speech includes hearing Milo’s important perspective.”
However, within 48 hours, Schlapp quickly changed his mind after video surfaced on Sunday of Yiannopolous seemingly speaking in favor of sexual relationships between men and boys.
“We get hung up on this sort of child abuse stuff, to the point where we are heavily policing consensual adults,” he states in the footage.
“In the homosexual world, particularly, some of those relationships between younger boys and older men—the sort of ‘coming of age’ relationship—those relationships in which those older men help those young boys discover who they are and give them security and safety and provide them with love and a reliable, sort of rock, where they can’t speak to their parents,” Yiannopoulos, an open homosexual, outlines.
“It sounds like molestation to me,” a man who is believed to be the interviewer replies. “It sounds like Catholic priest molestation to me.”
“But you know what? I’m grateful for Father Michael. I wouldn’t give nearly such [explicit sexual term] if it wasn’t for him,” Yiannopoulos quips, referring to the priest who molested him as a youth.
On Monday, Schlapp announced that Yiannopoulos had been disinvited from CPAC.
“Due to the revelation of an offensive video in the past 24 hours condoning pedophilia, the American Conservative Union has decided to rescind the invitation of Milo Yiannopoulos to speak,” he wrote.
“We give great thought to who is invited to speak, but the CPAC platform is not an endorsement of everything a speaker says or does,” Schlapp said. “We continue to believe that CPAC is a constructive forum for controversies and disagreements among conservatives, however there is no disagreement among our attendees on the evils of sexual abuse of children.”
Yiannopoulos responded to the controversy on Monday on social media–in two separate statements—contending that some of the videos were “edited deceptively,” and asserting that he does not condone pedophilia as he was abused himself as a child. However, he said that he is “partly to blame” for “sloppy phrasing” during the interviews.
“My own experiences as a victim led me to believe I could say anything I wanted to on this subject, no matter how outrageous. 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 deeply regret that,” Yiannopoulos wrote.
“As to some of the specific claims being made, sometimes things tumble out of your mouth on these long, late-night live-streams, when everyone is spit-balling, that are incompletely expressed or not what you intended,” he added.
Yiannopoulos acknowledged the statements, but said that they were taken wrongly.
“I *did* joke about giving [explicit sexual term] as a result of clerical sexual abuse committed against me when I was a teen. If I choose to deal in an edgy way on an internet livestream with a crime I was the victim of that’s my prerogative,” Yiannopoulos said. “It’s no different to gallows humor from AIDS sufferers.”
“I did say that there are relationships between younger men and older men that can help a young gay man escape from a lack of support or understanding at home. That’s perfectly true and every gay man knows it. But I was not talking about anything illegal and I was not referring to pre-pubescent boys,” he added.
Yiannopoulos said he could have worded things differently, but held to his belief that some of his statements were taken out of context.
“I shouldn’t have used the word ‘boy’—which gay men often do to describe young men of consenting age—instead of ‘young man.’ That was an error,” he stated. “I am certainly guilty of imprecise language, which I regret.”
“I do not advocate for illegal behavior. I explicitly say on the tapes that I think the current age of consent is ‘about right,’ Yiannopoulos outlined.
He pointed to other footage in the video in which he stated, “I think the law is probably about right. It’s probably roughly the right age. I think it’s probably about okay. But there are certainly people who are capable of giving consent at a younger age. I certainly consider myself to be one of them, people who were sexually active younger. I think it particularly happens in the gay world, by the way.”
“Anyone who suggests I turn a blind eye to illegal activity or to the abuse of minors is unequivocally wrong,” Yiannopoulos contended. “I am implacably opposed to the normalization of pedophilia and I will continue to report and speak accordingly.”
Simon & Schuster has also now canceled the publication of Yiannopoulos upcoming autobiography “Dangerous.”