The organizers of the Conservative Political Action Conference bowed to intense pressure on Monday and rescinded their invitation to Milo Yiannopoulos, the provocateur and Breitbart News editor, after the publication of a video in which he condones sexual relations with boys as young as 13 and laughs off the seriousness of pedophilia by Roman Catholic priests.
The episode, which unraveled quickly online over the weekend, put many conservatives in a deeply uncomfortable position. They have long defended Mr. Yiannopoulos’s attention-seeking stunts and racially charged antics on the grounds that the left had tried to hypocritically censor his right to free speech.
But endorsing pedophilia, it seemed, was more than they could tolerate. The board of the American Conservative Union, which includes veterans of the conservative movement like Grover Norquist and Morton Blackwell, made the decision to revoke Mr. Yiannopoulos’s speaking slot and condemn his comments on Monday.
“We initially extended the invitation knowing that the free speech issue on college campuses is a battlefield where we need brave, conservative standard-bearers,” Matt Schlapp, the chairman of the American Conservative Union, said in a written statement.
Regarding Mr. Yiannopoulos’ comments, Mr. Schlapp called them “disturbing” and said his explanation of them was insufficient.
fter the video leaked on Twitter from a conservative group called the Reagan Battalion, Mr. Yiannopoulos denied that he had ever condoned child sexual abuse, noting that he was a victim himself as he blamed his “British sarcasm” and “deceptive editing” for leading to a misunderstanding.
But in the tape, the fast-talking polemicist is clear that he has no problem with older men abusing children as young as 13, which he then conflates with relationships between older and younger gay men who are of consenting age.
“No no no. You’re misunderstanding what pedophilia means,” Mr. Yiannopoulos says on the tape, in which he is talking to radio hosts in a video chat. “Pedophilia is not a sexual attraction to somebody 13 years old who is sexually mature. Pedophilia is attraction to children who have not reached puberty,” he adds, dismissing the fact that 13 year olds are children.
The notion of consent, he says, is “arbitrary and oppressive.” [...]