Milo and the Sacred Band
As anyone who pays attention to the Social Media parts of the Intertubes is aware, Milo Yiannopoulos is in hot water for allegedly being in favor of Man Boy luurve. This is almost certainly a deliberate hit since the video that has caused the controversy has been out in public for a year or so now without anyone getting worked up about it. Milo has a couple of FB posts up that provide, IMHO, a pretty good defense.
I’m not going to defend him further. He’s a grown up and has a bigger pulpit than I do so that would be silly. However the whole affair has led me to ponder some issues that merit further discussion. These are
- the decline in reading/listening comprehension
- the value of a professional troll
- the relationship of pedophilia to (male) homosexuality
- the age of consent, maturity and the law
To start with the first
The Decline in Comprehension
Over the last four years it seems people have developed their intolerance muscles to such an extent that they can convict someone of badthink based on a phrase – even in some cases before the person actually opens their mouth. People of my general acquaintance that I thought were moderately intelligent and well educated seem to fall for this as much as anyone else so this isn’t a problem with SJWs or Fundamentalist Christians or Environmentalists or some other group of strangers (though these groups do also do this).
Sometimes there is a faint excuse that the party being criticized uses words that mean something different in his or her milieu compared to the world at large. In fact Milo may in this instance be a victim of precisely that because my understanding is that in some gay circles a “boy” is just short hand for the younger man who is the lover of an older one. However in just about all these cases, and in numerous others such as the way the media seems to report President Trump, paying attention to the surrounding paragraphs makes it clear that the victim is not implying what the perpetually outraged complain is being said.
This is a problem because there are a lot of subjects that need considerably more than a soundbite to get across. Take global warming as an example.
My view, which seems to be fairly common amongst STEM sorts who have actually done some reading, is that the planet is warming, some of this is is due to the increase in CO2 and hence is caused by mankind but the precise proportion of that, and indeed whether the warming is likely to be a concern, is currently extremely unclear. Hence most of the loudly trumpeted fixes for it, such as solar panels and carbon cap and trade schemes, are likely to make no difference at all except make humankind poorer overall. I could go on considerably further but by simply saying that I don’t know whether the warming is a problem and that solar panels and cap and trade are pointless would be enough for a certain subset of the population to label me as a “DENIER” akin, in their eyes, to Hitler.
Topics to do with human sexuality and reproduction are extremely complex ones where there are all sorts of potential spectra of actions, behaviors or beliefs so it’s very important to listen to the whole thing and not pick out individual words or phrases unless you like the idea of a choice of 100% agreement or OUTRAGE
The Value of a Professional Troll
I’ve described Milo in various places as a professional troll. I don’t mean this as an insult, it’s just a description: Milo has managed to get people to pay him to say things that others find outrageous.
There are good reasons to want such people around as long as they can make a plausible case for whatever position they are taking. The best reason is that they make attentive listeners actually consider their own positions and come up with counters to the trolling position. They help challenge the conventional wisdom and thus can help show when such wisdom is no longer valid. This is why people who are mentally and intellectually secure relish the challenge of a debate where their opinions and beliefs can be tested.
The other thing they do is identify the people and positions that are intellectually weak. Those are the ones that argue from authority and then when that doesn’t work scream insults like “Fascist”. This describes most of the “progressive” left these days but it also, as Milo has just demonstrated, may apply to some more “conservative” sections of the spectrum too.
It is interesting that I find, for example, conservative positions on abortion and birth control to be extremely robust and that “pro-life” advocates to be both highly persuasive but also welcoming of a debate. This is, IMHO, a sign that their position is close to right.
On the other hand parts of the religious right get all tied up with sex and tends to react with inflexible NOs to anything other than post-marital heterosexual relationships. This is embarrassing because the bible and standard church teachings should allow for more flexibility and thus this lot sound like bansturbatory hypocrites of precisely the sort that Jesus complained about numerous times.
Pedophiles and Homosexuals
This leads us nicely into the relationship between kiddiefiddlers and fudgepackers. There’s a problem here for the latter, in that despite many eloquent denials there remains a strong perception that the two are related. There are good reasons for the perception. To the ancient Greeks and Persians, as well as various modern cultures in the Middle East the idea that a man would have a young male lover was/is completely normal. There are examples everywhere; from Alexander the Great and the Theban Sacred Band* down to Pushtuun elders in Afghanistan. Moreover there is considerable evidence that some pedophiles have done their best to deliberately conflate the two in order to gain a defense for their abominable actions from the larger gay community.
There is in fact a big problem in the gray area of teen sex. Very few (if any) conventionally homosexual men in the first world would agree with sex with actual children – that is anyone who is below the age of puberty. In fact Milo himself has outed a couple of those scum.
However humans, both straight and not, find teenagers attractive. The fact that 15 year old girls are routinely called “jailbait” and that Instapundit reports about one case a week of a female teacher being prosecuted for sex with a schoolboy (and occasionally schoolgirl) are both indicators of this. It’s so universal it is almost certainly genetic and indeed, from an evolutionary point of view, it makes a good deal of sense. It’s a problem for gay men because the fact that, in the past, homosexuality was a crime meant that it had to be hidden, and when one thing has to be hidden and another thing has to be hidden and they are similar they are always going to be blended and I suspect a feeling that “you might as well be hung for a lamb as a sheep” applied in the past when homosexuality was criminalized. Thus the problem that gay culture may be rather more tolerant of underage sex than the culture at large.
Combine that with the standard hypocrisy of the uptight sexual prude bansturbators who can’t admit their own lusts for teenage flesh and so sublimate it into a pogrom that destroys the lives of anyone over the age of 18 who is caught doing anything sexual with someone under that age and the gay community has a problem. They aren’t the only ones: do your own google search for teenagers who get themselves permanently on child sex abuse lists for sexting or getting caught having sex with their significant other who is just on the wrong side of some arbitrary legal age border.
The problem is made worse by a couple of bits of human psychology. The first is that fact that many humans appear to be somewhat malleable in their sexuality so that if they start off with a gay relationship they’ll tend to stay gay or possibly bi and vice versa for straights. This is most certainly not a universal; I know a number of people, both straight and not who say otherwise and I myself was clear I liked girls at the age of about seven, well before puberty and when my only idea of the mechanics of sex was from school textbooks and a pornomag I found in a hedge one day. However it is pretty clear that it does apply to a lot of people. Combine this with the fact that one of the known coping mechanism for abuse is to embrace the abuse so that you convince yourself it is your choice and pleasure to do it (this may have happened to Milo BTW) and that abusers will often “gaslight” their victims to convince them that they wanted it and you have a real mess.
How do we know that the young teen was really gay? was he simply molded gay by being talked into it by an older gay man? (and BTW the same potentially applies to straights here, the difference being that since gays are probably under 10% of the population, the chances are much higher that an older straight will find a partner who would naturally be straight anyway) We’re in icky territory here morally and it gets worse when we bear in mind that children mature at different rates.
The Age of Consent, Maturity and the Law
Currently the law in many places says sex is OK if both parties are at least 16. Typically there are other laws about sex between people younger than 18 and people older. These ages are arbitrary and lead to bad border conditions, as Patrick Crozier points out at Samizdata:
As the law stands if a man has sex with a female of 15 years and 364 days he is a scoundrel who should be imprisoned for a very long time. However, if he has sex with a female of 16 years and 0 days that’s just fine and dandy.
Or to put it another way, in the opinion of the law all women undergo the transition from young, innocent child to responsible, rational adult in a split second at exactly the same age.
That’s absurd; but, for the law, hardly uncommon. Similar rules apply to all sorts of aspects of growing up: when you can drive a car, enter into contracts, vote, marry, drink alcohol, leave school, get a job etc. And in each case the state’s answer is some arbitrary, one-size-fits-all number. And often it is a different number: 17 for driving (I am referring to English law here), 18 for drinking, 16 for sex. That can’t be right.
It is also worth mentioning that the acceptable ages seem to be gradually creeping up. There are lots of places where marriage was legal at 12 or 14. It used to be common for 16 year olds (or younger) to leave school and start work – even join the army/navy and fight. I’m not just talking history – though there are numerous examples from Alexander the Great leading victorious armies at age 16 – it’s only been in the last decade or so that 16 year olds are not allowed to be in combat in the British Army. Likewise once upon a time in the US, the drinking age in many states was 18 but the federal government coerced them all to raise it to 21.
Age 16 is probably about right for the vast majority for most activities, though again the hard border is problematic. Patrick suggests that teenagers be able to declare themselves adult which has a number of advantages, although he points out that there are clearly some disadvantages. In Mackey Chandler’s April books the child has to have sponsors who agree to his or her maturity which might help ameliorate it. However it seems to me that the key thing is to have some sort of flexibility. The law is extremely bad at fuzzy borders (comment above about 15 years and 364 days vs 16y 0d) and that is always going to be a problem. In fact what with the increasing tracking and IDing everywhere it’s becoming an ever greater problem because it becomes next to impossible to have a fresh start when you fall afoul of the law.
It is also worth noting that we seem to be keeping our children more infantile for longer. Some of this is probably good, but it seems to me it’s going too far because they can’t be kept wrapped up for ever. It seems to me that a lot of the problems we see at Universities regarding “safe spaces” not to mention whining about assignments and grades is due to the students never being told they are wrong or failed before. Participation prizes for all leads to fragile adults who can’t cope with adversity and that is a big problem.
*Yes I know there are decent arguments that neither Alexander nor the Theban Sacred Band had anything to do with boys, but common perception says they did.
Milo says he has exciting stuff to announce next week
The Shadow of the Olive Tree