In the wake of controversial comments unearthed from a podcast that seemed to defend sexual relationships between young teenagers and adults under certain circumstances, Breitbart editor and gay libertarian firebrand Milo Yiannopoulos was disinvited by CPAC as the keynote speaker at its upcoming event and lost his lucrative book deal from Simon & Schuster.
NBC News reports that Yiannopoulos posted on Facebook a response to the video clips in which he declared that they had “deceptive editing” and were taken out of context. He defended his remarks about his own teenage experience with a priest as “gallows humor” to cope with the “sexual abuse” he suffered, and added that his reference to “younger boys” was a “sloppy choice of words.” In a follow-up statement he wrote,
I am certainly guilty of imprecise language, which I regret. Anyone who suggests I turn a blind eye to illegal activity or to the abuse of minors is unequivocally wrong. I am implacably opposed to the normalization of pedophilia and I will continue to report and speak accordingly.
American Conservative Union President Matt Schlapp, whose group organizes the Conservative Political Action Conference, said in a statement rescinding the CPAC invitation,
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.
Referring to Yiannopoulos’ reputation as a fierce defender of free speech, particularly on college campuses where he was recently met with violence and rioting at UC Berkeley, Schlapp added, “We initially extended the invitation knowing that the free speech issue on college campuses is a battlefield where we need brave, conservative standard-bearers.”
In an email statement, David Horowitz, Freedom Center founder and author of Big Agenda: President Trump’s Plan to Save America, responded by excoriating the decision by CPAC as an “assault on free speech”:
Just when we thought Donald Trump had blown the oppressive leftist party line called Political Correctness sky high, the conservative board of CPAC, which had no qualms about including a Muslim Brotherhood representative as a colleague, has decided to crucify the strongest, most effective advocate for conservative ideas on college campuses. Banning Milo Yiannopoulos from its platforms repeats its ban of the Dutch champion of free speech, Geert Wilders, at a time when he was under indictment for saying un-PC things about Islam, and the ban of myself for decrying the Muslim Brotherhood links of CPAC board members Suhail Khan and Grover Norquist.
The banning of Milo is an assault on free speech that should horrify all conservatives, including the CPAC board.