Dear conservatives, we need to defend principles, not personalities

Dear conservatives, we need to defend principles, not personalities
ORLANDO, FL - JUNE 15: Milo Yiannopoulos, a conservative columnist and internet personality, looks at his tablet device during a press conference down the street from the Pulse Nightclub, June 15, 2016 in Orlando, Florida. Yiannopoulos was briefly banned from Twitter on Wednesday. The shooting at Pulse Nightclub, which killed 49 people and injured 53, is the worst mass-shooting event in American history. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

I’m not looking to jump on the dog pile, but an important lesson must be learned here. Milo Yiannopolous has been uninvited from CPAC and rightfully condemned for his comments promoting the sexual abuse of children. His fans will hail him as a martyr for free speech because of this, but if he’s a martyr for anything, it’s degeneracy and pederasty. He had the right to say what he said, but he was wrong for saying it and wrong for believing it — extremely, catastrophically wrong — and decent people have the right and the duty to make that clear.

As for what he said, it bears repeating because it underscores the larger point that I feel must be made. Here are his own words, in reference to “sexually mature” kids as young as 13, transcribed verbatim:

“This arbitrary and oppressive idea of consent, which totally destroys the understanding that many of us have of the complexities and subtleties and complicated nature of many relationships. People are messy and complex, and in the homosexual world particularly some of those relationships between younger boys and older men, the sort of coming of age relationships, the relationships in which those older men help those young boys discover who they are, and give them security and safety and provide them with love and, sort of, a rock.”

He elaborates later:

“In the gay world, some of the most important, enriching, and incredibly life affirming, shaping relationships between younger boys and older men, they can be hugely positive experiences for those young boys.” 

What you see above is not a joke, neither is it him simply discussing his own experiences, nor is it some strange attempt at satire, but a statement of principle. He believes, in principle, that “older men” can “enrich” and “affirm” some “young boys” by having sex with them. That’s the argument he plainly made. You can believe your eyes, ears, and brain on this matter, or you can lie. Those are your only two choices.

And therein lies the problem. Predictably, shamefully, a number of “conservatives” — including a portion of my own readership — have chosen the latter. After I spoke out against Milo’s promotion of child sex abuse last night, the emails and comments came flooding in from people who believe that criticizing Milo, for literally any reason, is a treasonable offense. I have actually lost readers — conservative readers, supposedly — because I don’t think it’s OK to describe sex with a child as “a hugely positive experience for those young boys.”

These people, the apologists, fall mainly into two different camps:  Either they have decided that any accusation against their favorite Alt-Right media personality must be false, even if there is video evidence proving otherwise, or they have decided that, hey, maybe it isn’t so bad for adult men to molest young boys after all.

I want to focus on that second group, because I have encountered several of them over the last few hours, and I find them particularly nauseating. These people never had this revelation when Lena Dunham wrote about fondling her sister or when any other leftist advocated for or participated in similar forms of deviancy. They’ve lived their whole lives feeling quite certain that man-child sexual relationships are abhorrent and sick, until their favorite blogger informed them otherwise. They were willing to abandon or at least re-calibrate, at the drop of a hat, the most self-evident of all moral principles for the sake of defending some guy on the internet.

This is not surprising. We know that a certain sort of person is almost always willing to put personality over principle. They latch onto a person — media member, politician, celebrity, etc. — and, having determined that this individual is a paragon of truth and virtue, they outsource all of their discernment, thinking, and moral contemplation to him. It takes too much energy for them to ponder the questions of life themselves so they put their minds and their consciences on the shelf and strap on a sandwich board sign that reads, “Whatever that guy says.”

Of course, this is a dangerous game, unless the person they’ve selected as their surrogate-thinker is, say, Jesus Christ. But if it’s someone like Milo — or, really, anyone — they have just chained themselves to an intellectual bandwagon that may travel to some dark and hideous places. When that occurs, as it has with Milo, these people can either un-tether themselves, reclaim their dignity and their individuality, or, fearing the amount of mental and moral exertion that may require, they can stay on board. This is the course of action, or rather inaction, that many choose. “Welp, I guess I’m OK with child molestation now,” they mumble, shrugging.

Such people, it should be stipulated, are not conservative. They’re not anything. They don’t believe in anything. Believing in things is precisely what they’re trying to avoid doing. They fell into something called “conservatism” because their surrogate-thinker took them there. Before it was Milo, maybe it was Sean Hannity or whoever. The point is, they never cared about the ideas, they cared about some of the people who harbor and promote those ideas. And some of them have become so dependent on the thinking of others, their brains having atrophied to such an extent, that now they are unable or unwilling to formulate their own ideas on any subject whatsoever, even if the subject is child molestation.

We should note that this is precisely the mentality cult leaders exploit. It just so happens that our modern cult leaders aren’t building communes in Guyana, rather they’re building political campaigns or “personal brands.” Their poisoned Kool-Aid is of an intellectual and spiritual variety, although I’m sure they could whip up a batch in a more literal sense and their fans would partake just as eagerly.

As far as Milo is concerned, he’s obviously a disturbed person with a troubled past. Part of his child abuse advocacy stems from him attempting to rationalize his own abuse. I pray he gets the help he needs. But in the meantime, he is not equipped nor qualified to be a spokesman for the conservative cause. He never was. He was always a spokesman for his own cause, his own cult, and even before his foray into pederasty-promoting, his cult never had very much to do with anything resembling conservatism. Sure, he believes in free speech, I guess, but that’s the easy part. The more crucial point is what we do with that speech. As conservatives, our goal is to use our free speech to promote the cause of truth — especially moral truth. Milo was never an effective advocate in that regard, and never really tried to be.

I hope this whole thing will serve as a lesson for the sorts of “conservatives” who easily fall into cults of personalities. Conservatism is a set of principles, not a stable of personalities. Or, at least, it used to be.

To see more from Matt Walsh, visit his channel on TheBlaze.

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