Yesterday, a video surfaced in which Milo Yiannopoulos, the famed right-wing provocateur, justifies sexual relationships between 13-year-old boys and older men. He was subsequently disinvited from speaking at CPAC, his publisher dropped his upcoming book, and there is even talk about Breitbart booting him.
He later retracted his statement, saying, “I do not believe sex with 13-year-olds is okay. When I mentioned the number 13, I was talking about the age I lost my own virginity.” He also said that the age 18 is “probably right.” He said he was simply saying that some boys are capable of giving consent, as he was.
The age of consent, Yiannopoulos says in the video, is an arbitrary term. At first, thinking about my 5’2” 15-year-old brother who still acts like he’s five, I was horrified. Plus, I’m already not a huge Milo fan.
It’s pedophilia, I thought. It was what all the headlines said. And my brother! My adorable, annoying, little brother who is two years older than the age Yiannopoulos is talking about.
But then a friend of mine challenged me. I always like a challenge and welcome the idea of being wrong, especially when I actually am. I love to find the truth. I like intellectual honesty, and I try to be consistent.
I recognized that, no, a sexual relationship between two people who are both physically mature is not pedophilia. It has nothing to do with whether or not the younger person is under the legal age of consent; pedophilia is the sexual attraction to someone who has not undergone puberty.
When you combine that reality with the conservative/libertarian belief in individual liberty, where does that leave you when it comes to consent?
In the words of John Lennon…sitting in your Nowhere Land.
This is a terrifying and open-ended notion. It raises questions like, is a mature 13-year-old capable of giving consent? What about a physically mature nine-year-old? Most importantly, why even is the legal age 18? On what logic is that based?
We accept it. We accept that it’s wrong to marry at age 13. But the question that tugs at us is why?
I can give you the Why Answer to almost any other philosophical or political belief I hold. I can tell you why I believe in freedom. I can tell you why rights are God-given and not man-made. I can tell you why capitalism is humane. I can tell you why freedom is moral.
Why, then, does this one bother me? Why can’t I answer it?
Say you were to ask me, “If we had true capitalism, then wouldn’t we have child labor?” I would answer you, no. You could ask me why, and I would say, because children are not capable of giving consent.
However, say you were to take it one step further and ask me, “Well, what constitutes childhood?” I could easily answer you with the legal definition. But why? Why does the age 18 suddenly constitute adulthood? Because it’s the law?
Seriously. I want to find the answer. I believe Milo (in the video) is wrong. I believe this viewpoint is morally corrupt. I don’t believe a 13-year-old can consent, let alone a 13-year-old boy to an older man.
But I can’t tell you why.
I don’t believe contradictions exist. I believe in absolute truths. I believe in right and wrong. I know there is a correct answer here, but I have no idea what it is.
Does it have to do with emotional maturity? But who, then, defines emotional maturity? Surely, there are some 18-year-olds who are not emotionally mature. There are probably some 25-year-olds who are not emotionally mature. I know plenty. Some people never grow up!
What about full physical growth? But then again, some boys aren’t done growing until age 25. Maybe for legal purposes, we should just use the average age of full growth? But when’s that?
Or maybe Yiannopoulos is right and consent goes along with sexual maturity? But then that also requires rewriting the definition of legal adulthood and would mean that a parent would have no legal authority over a “child” once he or she reached puberty.
We might not agree with what Milo has to say. We might find it disgusting and wrong. Heck, maybe you think he’s right. All I ask is that you be consistent. Ask yourself these important questions and get to the root of what you believe and why you believe it.
With every philosophical problem or issue of the law that we face, this is absolutely essential. The Why Question is one that has plagued humans since the time of Socrates. The one thing that we do know after centuries of reason and debate is that asking this most fundamental of questions is the only way we will ever get closer to the truth.
Watch the leaked video here: https://twitter.com/reaganbattalion/status/833405993006616576
Read Milo’s retract statement: https://www.facebook.com/myiannopoulos/?hc_ref=PAGES_TIMELINE&fref=nf