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Why I would not have interviewed Milo

Three reasons why I object to Patrick Coffin’s recent two-hour interview with Milo Yiannopoulos.

Patrick Coffin interviews Milo Yiannopoulos. (Image: Screenshot of www.patrickcoffin.media)

I have three reasons why Milo Yiannopoulos is so toxic that no one—and certainly no Catholic—ought to have given him a platform to promote his ideas free of any but the most gentle and sparse correction. None of these reasons has to do with Milo’s defense of Trump, or his criticism of the pope, or even the fact that he’s “married” to another man.

Everyone agrees that there are some ideas so far outside the bounds of acceptable opinion that you should only bring them into public discussion for the purpose of exposing them for what they are: evil.

Even Patrick Coffin, who invited Milo on his radio show and wrote a defense of that decision here at Catholic World Report, accepts that premise; he said he would not share his mic with someone who defended pedophilia.

My three reasons for objecting to Coffin’s two-hour interview with Yiannopoulos are:

  1. Milo’s use of offensive slurs;
  2. his defense of long-discredited historical evils like colonialism;
  3. his defense of pederasty.

I find Coffin’s defense of his interview unconvincing, in part because of his frequent use of euphemisms to describe Milo’s toxicity. Milo, he said in his introduction on the radio show, is a “sage.” He came a little closer to the truth in his CWR article, where he described his guest as a “provocateur.”

Another example is Coffin’s description of Milo’s speech as “vulgar,” as though he’s just in habit of dropping f-bombs.

No, it’s more precise than “vulgar,” and here’s an example of what I mean. In the interview, the topic of a female priesthood came up. Milo is against a female priesthood (as am I), but his explanation of why he is against it should utterly discredit him. If you have female priests, he said, then the Catholic Church will become like the Methodist church—“a church for women and homos,” in Milo’s words.

Coffin thinks that Milo is very well-read and well-spoken. He praises his use of words like “otiose”; he cites the many authors Milo weaves together in order to make a point. The two of them discuss Brideshead Revisited. And yet the above is a very puerile (and offensive) apologetic for an all-male priesthood. Someone who is well-read and well-spoken might have mentioned St. John Paul II’s discussion of the question in Ordinatio Sacerdotalis. John Paul II does not mention the Church becoming overrun with women and “homos.” There are sound reasons for the male priesthood which are not at all connected to paranoia and misogyny, as Milo’s is.

In other words, Milo abandons the intellectual pretense when an opportunity arises to express his fears and his hatreds.

This is not a sage, but a toxic person. Even Coffin himself, when the topic of Islam came up in the interview, engaged in obnoxious mockery of Arabic; at one point, he said he didn’t have enough phlegm to pronounce it correctly (this would also make Aramaic and Hebrew fit objects for Coffin’s mockery).

Take Milo’s defense of colonialism, on the grounds that it brought Western culture and affluence to a bunch of backwaters. “The Christians were the good guys,” Milo says. We spread “wealth, prosperousness, art, Shakespeare” to native populations, he argues.

That India supposedly has wealth and prosperity today is not a valid defense of the colonialism of the past. What made colonialism evil was what made slavery evil: the brutal subjugation of other peoples. Colonialism didn’t exist because Western nations charitably wanted to spread wealth and art and religion to poor heathens. It existed because they wanted to increase their own wealth by stripping other places of their resources.

When you say that colonialism was good because it brought people wealth and William Shakespeare, you are making an ends-justifies-the-means argument. John Paul II condemns consequentialism as a heresy in Veritatis Splendor. I find it more than a little troubling that Coffin either did not notice this, or chose not to mention it.

Coffin insists that Milo does not, as some claim, defend pedophilia. In fact, Milo defends pederasty, and Coffin reads the very quotations on the air in which Milo suggests that the age of consent is arbitrary, and that a fourteen- or fifteen- or sixteen-year-old boy might very well be able to consent to a homosexual relationship with a thirty-year-old man. This is “very common” in the homosexual subculture, Milo says. He also says he was drunk when he made the statements in question.

Very common it might be, but I am not convinced by Milo’s dismissal of what he said about consent on the grounds that he was drunk and would never say it that way again. When you’re drunk, and before an audience you’re comfortable with, you might just speak more honestly, your internal censor being asleep. It’s too easy, too convenient an explanation. At the very least, this defense ought to be interrogated at more length and with more skepticism.

Now, Coffin is right when he says one need not agree with everything a guest believes. But that does not excuse giving no challenge to—and occasionally agreeing with—toxic and discredited ideas and speech.

Coffin is right when he says Catholics should try to bring the lost sheep back home. But that does not mean that every lost sheep should be allowed to express odious views with very little challenge.

Sometimes grace requires correction. Milo says early in the program that the experience of falling in love with a man helped to teach him about God’s love. Coffin replied that God commands gay people to love each other. All this is true, but it requires clarity: the love God commands in this case is agape, not eros. Coffin did not make that distinction.

If Coffin felt that Milo’s ideas were worth the public knowing more about, due to his prominence, then he might have done a show with another guest discussing the pros and cons of things Milo has said, or he could have brought on a second guest to debate Milo.

Having Milo on the program, for two hours, expressing his views with almost no correction at all, helps give them credence. It moves them into the range of acceptable opinions, where they should by no means be.

(Editor’s note: The opinions expressed here are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of CWR or Ignatius Press.)


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About Scott Eric Alt 1 Article
Scott Eric Alt has an M.A. in English from Southern Illinois University. He has been blogging and writing about Catholic issues since 2013. You can find his blog "To Give a Defense" at Patheos Catholic. His other writing has appeared at Catholic Stand, Epic Pew, Aleteia, and The National Catholic Register.

29 Comments

  1. “The age of consent” is indeed quite arbitrary, unfortunately.

    Think about this scenario. Jack and Jill are twins, fifteen years of age. Jill finds herself pregnant and wants to dispose of the “fetus”. According to the law, she is a woman who not only does not need her parents’ consent; she need not even inform them. She is fully empowered to kill the child of her womb.

    On the other hand, Jack — her twin brother — gets sexually involved with an adult male or female. Although he has freely engaged in such sexual acts, he is deemed a child incapable of giving consent and his “partner” is a child molester.

    According to the law of non-contradiction, we are indeed face-to-face with an arbitrary situation.

    • Milo wrote in his book: “Kill women, make them suffer.” He stated many times (not only once) that pederasty was a good thing for a gay boys. Milo is not a Catholic, he simply wants media attention because he was deplatformed from main stream media. As a proud and raging sodomite he refused to denounce his sin and repent.

      • Where did he write “Kill women, make them suffer.”?
        You wrote that in quotes so surely it’s an exact quote, right? Can you give the page in his book where he wrote that? If he really did, then what was the context? It’s pretty easy to misrepresent anyone by picking 5 words out of a book. People successfully do the same thing with the Bible, for your information.
        So please cite a source.

    • You are conflating two different issues.

      The man who impregnated “Jill” would be guilty of statutory rape. Exactly the same as the adult in a relationship with “Jack”. It has been determined by law that both Jack and Jill are children and neither are free to give consent to sexual acts.

      Abortion is a completely different issue.

      Jill, depending on the state she lives in, may in fact need parental consent to obtain an abortion. 13 states do not require any form of parental consent. That’s leaves 37 states that do. Not ideal, but also not the scenario you paint.

  2. You lost sleep over Coffin’s interview of Milo? What would you say if you were to later discover that as a result of this interview Milo had a conversion of heart? Read the Gospel of the Woman at the Well.

    • 1. No, I listened to the show and wrote the article in the morning and afternoon.

      2. That would be a great joy. That God can bring good out of evil does not make evil itself good, or justify doing evil that good may result. (The interview itself was somewhat less than evil, but I state it this way to make the point. That God can bring good out of mistakes does not justify the mistakes.)

      3. I find it funny when people instruct me to read what I’ve already read many times, as though I must not be aware. I wrote an article on the woman at the well, which features prominently in Chapter 8 of Amoris Laetitia

  3. Milo did the public a service with his “drunk remark” on the hunt of “gay” fourteen year-olds for thirty year-old men (not, by the way, necessarily gay). Milo let the flea bitten cat out if the gay bag. Regardless of carefully crafted PR from that “community”, the gay cohort in our society truly, honestly (near to a doctrinal decree) does not accept the notion of statutory age-of-consent laws. If the “gay community” settles on any definition of initiation into sex (that is, a proper time to engage)it is appearance of secondary sex characteristics in the individual. Such signals the opening in which the person (the kid) can be approached, mentored – in short, groomed. Anything less is a thwrarting of the kid’s “right to choose”.

    Now, what will be the average age of that?

    Deny they will, ferociously, but such is the ethos of the homosexual “community”. Homosexuality requires the infusion of youthfulness; the evangelization of the young keeps the wolves of age – of moral and physical infertility – at bay.

    Milo did us a favor. And he knows it – don’t you, Milo? You untied the knot on that bagged cat – willingly.

  4. I thought this interview was a perfect example of “accompaniment” and “gradualism” in the best sense of these two words Pope Francis has highlighted in his pontificate. It is clear Milo is on a journey and many areas of his life and his thinking are still messy, but that he is gradually coming into a fullness of truth. I found it most interesting that he said his relationship with his partner helped him to understand better the love of God—because it helped him move from the kind of self-absorption that had characterized his younger years. This is exactly what some of the proponents of Amoris Laetitia have been saying about how positive elements can be found in some relationships that are illicit by Catholic moral teaching. This is of course delicate, because we do not want the gradual way in which sinners come to a full understanding of the truth confused with gradualism of the law.
    Here was Patrick Coffin accompanying Milo on this journey, acknowledging what seem to be positive steps, and yet sharing quite explicitly the Church’s teaching on sodomy. Oh, this interview was also an example of “going to the peripheries” because who has been more marginalized in the mainstream than Milo? He is, after all, a victim of sexual abuse by a priest.

  5. So, I’m an Arab. We ourselves joke about the phlegm pronunciations of Arabic. NO ONE but a politically correct “progressive” social justice warrior (which Alt is) would take offense on behalf of my people. It’s phony virtue signaling.

    I am a fan of CWR, but need truth in advertising: Alt is a supporter and promoter of Fr. James Martin and all manner of “progressive” politics and politicians. Readers deserve to know.

  6. I’m surprised CWR is now hosting a “seamless garment” SJW writer. Without giving traffic to the site in question, anyone who finds anything here a bit hunky should consider doing a Google search for the titles of the author’s regular column on the non-bio-listed Patheos.

    That said, he’s probably right about Milo, IMO. Even a lefty gets one “right” occasionally (pun intended). Happy post-dinner Thanksgiving web surfing to all.

  7. If Scott Eric Alt wants to object to the use of offensive slurs, perhaps he ought to clean up his own act first. Alt and other Patheos Catholic writers of his ilk *regularly* mock other faithful Catholics with truly offensive labels and ridicule. He is content to have vulgarity spread across his social-media platforms and permits a great deal of verbal abuse of others on his social-media pages. Yes, including the “F-bomb”etc.

    Alt’s commentary drips with hypocrisy.

    Alt writes “in other words, Milo abandons the intellectual pretense when an opportunity arises to express his fears and his hatreds.”

    Alt might as well have been talking about himself and several of his fellow Patheos Catholic writers. As I’ve heard from these writers themselves, “accusation is a form of confession.” That’s certainly true in this instance.

    • Milo is a credible defender of free speech and the tyranny of political correctness. Alt pretty much is an apologist for the forces of political correctness. I certainly would & do tolerate fellow orthodox Catholics whose political views are to the left of my own(Fr. Greotchel of happy memory comes to mind. He was born a Democrat and became a Catholic 20 days later.). But Alt doesn’t extend that curtesy to Catholics to the right of him. He his part of that fanatical Trump hating Shea circle.

  8. Wow–this article is a true train-wreck. Sorry, CWR.

    Alt exhibits *exactly* the mindset that cannot seem to hold together in even some tension the true “Catholic both/and” regarding people and events.

    Coffin did NOT affirm any of Milo’s truly wrong attitudes or beliefs. And Alt’s objections are just spurious.

    Alt writes of “offensive slurs” yet ONLY mentions one–“homos”. Utterly disingenuous. Does Alt *also* object African-Americans who use the “N-word” regularly and deliberately? Does Alt forget Milo is “gay”?

    Alt objects to Milo’s assessment of colonialism–which apparently *must* be viewed ONLY as a bad thing, despite Milo being *correct* about some of the good things that were woven into it. Colonialism isn’t “pure” enough for Alt. Nor is Milo, ironically, given the frequency with which Alt delivers mockery of fellow Catholic who are seeking to purify the Church of many evils, efforts that Alt regularly derides.

    Milo is not “pure” enough for Alt because of his *politics*–which Alt despises and which run counter to his own–nothing more, nothing less.

    This article is an exercise in which the issue is not the issue.

    As to pederasty, words can’t describe how deeply hypocritical is Alt’s objection to Milo’s attitudes, while Alt *himself* passionately insists that there is NO connection whatever between clergy homosexual abuse and the homosexual condition itself. Alt embraces orientation ideology and cannot abide ANY connection with “being” homosexual and *abusing* homo-sexually.

    Alt writes “Coffin reads the very quotations on the air in which Milo suggests that the age of consent is arbitrary, and that a fourteen- or fifteen- or sixteen-year-old boy might very well be able to consent to a homosexual relationship with a thirty-year-old man.”

    To call this a defense of “pederasty” is absurd. Again–distinctions matter. Milo is asserting an opinion about capacity to consent to certain acts at a young age. If capable of consent, Milo’s argument would be that no real victimization is involved.

    In one very *Catholic* sense, his point regarding age of consent is at least in line with the Catholic Church’s *own* canonical claim that girls of 14 and boys of 16 are indeed at least potentially *capable* of consenting even to *matrimony.*

    Saying so doesn’t make the Church “guilty” of “defending child sex abuse” because of its views on age of consent to marry, does it? Similarly, Alt’s attack on Milo regarding him defending “pederasty” is obtuse and worthless.

    Please, CWR, think twice before ever again giving Alt a platform here. Your readers do deserve better than this. His bullying and mockery of other Catholics, and his politically saturated rhetoric is already available for any who want to encounter it on social media.

    • Well said Jim Russell! Alt is politically and Militantly opposed to Donald Trump and he confuses his political preferences for Catholic moral dogma. Milo is a militant Trump supporter. One need only do the math.

  9. Man has a natural right to colonize. Read Pius XII’s Exsul Familia Nazarethana. People use it to push for open borders all the time but strangely never mention the right to colonize. Weird how that happens.

  10. Uncharacteristically, CWR is majoring in the minors with Mr. Alt’s article. The Lord seems to be sending us, once again, a complicated, imperfect, rowdy group of truthful witnesses as a remedy to the dulcet tones of the superficially orthodox. Mr. Alt seems to be mourning the loss of a code of conduct which protects the wolves Fr being discovered beneath their sheeps’-wool. This article is pure pearl-clutching Pharisaism. You can do better, CWR.

  11. Milo is a vulgar punk with some notoriety who also happens to appreciate the fact there is truth in Christianity. A bit like Stephen Colbert. Just like its mainstream inspiration, Catholic media now is mostly infotainment, and mostly infatuated with notoriety.

  12. A little extreme to paint Milo as a “consequentialist” heretic in a simplistic critique of his seemingly thumbnail defense of colonialism: Given that JPII’s critique of autonomous morality theories, as he put it, “teleologism,” didn’t seem intended to apply to revisionist history assessments of what was good or bad after the fact, (armchair historicism), but to real time rationalizations which try to justify objectively evil acts or skirting of the law, like that of Catholics who think of homosexuality as good and acceptable, or who think it acceptable to admit divorced Catholics living in adultery to communion because of the “good” that can come out of those acts. I don’t think Milo is exactly out there violently subjugating heathens to proselytize his brand of Catholicism on them.

  13. It is a puzzler why Catholic World Report would give space to a half-wit scribbler from Patheos. His piece comports with the usual lack of quality and insight from the Patheosi. BTW. Colonialism was good. It did bring civilization to a savage land. My ancestors were colonialists.

    Regarding Milo, as i wrote in my Crisis column about him; he has spoken out against contraception and abortion more frequently and with more vehemence than nearly all Catholic bishops in the United States. Milo is on a journey. Shouldn’t we, I dunno, accompany him, or something?

  14. Very narrow-minded article. I’m glad Patrick brought Milo on his show. It seems to me that Scott Alt had his mind made up before even listening to the interview. Milo obviously didn’t defend pederasty. I’m glad people like Patrick listen to Milo instead of immediately offering “correction”. As if correcting people will help them to be open to God…

  15. Milo did not defend pedophilia. He talked honestly about how he was a victim of it. It is sad to see people blame victims like this. Milo should be applauded for having the courage to talk about what happened to him. Milo should also be applauded for having the courage to be honest. He doens’t lie. That makes him more open to attacks.

  16. Two favorite moments in the relishing interview between a devout Catholic who isn’t straying from truth and a man I know very little about:
    1. When Milo said free speech is not a virtue, that people don’t know what to do with their free speech once they have it. I think that is a profound and critical thought.
    2. When Patrick encouraged a full reconciliation to Jesus. How beautiful – brought me to tears.
    I find it important to listen to those who know how to truly deliver Christ’s love because I fall short there. I am not sure you, Alt, caught this spewing from Coffin as the Holy Spirit beckoned Milo to return to the fold of his heavenly Father’s arms. That is true apologetics, something we can truly take note.

  17. Ah yes good old Scott. The man who claims he is not a leftist but supports everything left of center. He is also the number one fan and number one defender of Mark Shea. He has also proclaimed himself an apologist for the Catholic faith and Karl Keating has said he is no such thing. What am I getting at here? Scott Eric Alt is far more impressed with himself than anyone else is.

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