Where Milo’s Repugnant Ideas are Still Welcome

February 21, 2017
Milo Yiannopoulos has worn out his welcome. An old videotape just surfaced in which Mr. Yiannopoulos, as the NYT put it, “condones sexual relations with boys as young as 13 and laughs off the seriousness of pedophilia by Roman Catholic priests.” That was enough to lose Milo a book contract and an invitation to speak at CPAC. And it is encouraging that many people agree that such remarks are inappropriate, to say the least. But the fact remains that Milo Yiannopoulos’s repugnant views still find a warm welcome in America. And it comes from an organization with a perfect name for the age of Trump: the “National Center for Reason and Justice.”

The NCRJ “sponsors” cases in which they claim that criminal convictions for child molestation are somehow unjust. Here is an example of their “reason” at work: the NCRJ sponsors the case of Paul Shanley, defrocked priest and convicted pedophile, covered in the award-winning film, Spotlight.

What is their reason? They cite writers like JoAnn Wypijewski, whose article in Counterpunch, “The Passion of Paul Shanley,” actually allows that Paul Shanley presents “an alarming picture of a priest obsessed with sex, one who exploited school settings or counseling sessions to make conquests.” But Wypijewski’s response to 19 affidavits attesting to sexual abuse heartens the NCRJ:

Yet repeatedly in the affidavits, the teenager faces a choice: to go away for the weekend with the priest after being propositioned, to climb into his bed naked, to travel alone to another state to visit him, or stay with him another night, or return for counseling, all after allegedly being molested or raped. Repeatedly, the teenager chooses the priest. In one affidavit, a 14-year-old comes to Shanley to talk about his worries; there is a full-body massage and a sleepover. He returns another time and there is a candlelight bath, Gregorian chants on the stereo, and the priest performs oral sex. 

She, the NCRJ, and Milo Yiannopoulos, all see choices to be protected rather than behavior to be condemned, even with children as young as 14, and possibly younger.

Judith Levine, one of six members of the NCRJ board of directors, once argued that football players in Sayreville, New Jersey should avoid prosecution entirely because the specter of being on a sex offender registry, even without prison time, is far worse than “having a finger inched up your anus.” Levine also presented the case a 23-year-old man manipulating a 13-year-old girl as “young love.” Another member of the board of directors, Debbie Nathan, once gave an award to Lawrence Stanley, a known child pornographer.

Lacking reason or justice, the NCRJ stands as one of the only places in America where the unapologetic embrace of child sexual abuse is still considered fashionable. The NCRJ might disagree with Milo Yiannopoulos on many things, but they have a lot in common when it comes to the remarks that got him banned elsewhere in the world.

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