At some point we are going to have to address two horrifying subtexts from two recent public pseudo-scandals: one, is there a child sex problem in the gay male community? Two, is our society essentially tolerant of it? That seems to be the nauseatingly reasonable conclusion one could reach after the events of the past week involving provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos and actor-activist George Takei.I don't disagree with Payne's choice of questions, but I think they need to be cast more broadly. Is our society moving toward a tacit acceptance of adult/child sex not just among gays but among straight men as well? Here's part of what provoked Payne to raise the issue:
In a clip of a livestream webcast that resurfaced last week, Milo, the [self-described] “dangerous faggot” and campus agitator of (former) Breitbart infamy, spoke approvingly of sexual relationships between older men and 13-year-old boys. “In the homosexual world particularly,” he claimed, “some of those relationships between younger boys and older men” give the young boys “security and safety” and “provide them with love and…a sort of rock for when they can’t talk to their parents.”It may be that gay pedophiles are more open about their proclivities than are men who are attracted to young girls, but surely the problem is as bad or worse among the latter group.
“In the gay world,” Milo said later, “some of the most important, enriching and incredibly, you know, life-affirming, important, shaping relationships very often between younger boys and older men, they can be hugely positive experiences for those young boys.” “Provided they’re consensual,” he added, “provided they’re consensual.”
During a different interview, with Joe Rogan, Milo talked approvingly of an alleged sexual encounter he had with a priest when Milo was around 14 years old. Milo also described attending Hollywood “boat parties” and “house parties,” where he saw things that “beggar belief.” As Milo put it: “some of the boys at [these parties] were very young. Very young.” Later, he reiterated for the third time: “There were some very young boys around at that time.” In spite of Rogan’s prompting, Milo refused to name anyone at these parties.
The creeping revulsion you’re feeling is perfectly natural: it’s what any healthy person feels when an adult speaks glowingly about sexual encounters between grown men and children (and refuses to name the perverted criminals who have sex with “very young boys”).
I was listening to a radio talk show in the car yesterday and the host was talking about his recent trip to Thailand undertaken to learn first-hand what child sex slavery looks like in the country perhaps most notorious for the enthrallment of young girls by sex traffickers. One thing he said he learned is that many of the men engaged in exploiting and abusing these girls are from North America and Europe. Surely, the host said, these men don't give up their cruel perversions just because they return home.
A lot of people were shocked the other day when Chris Cuomo, CNN personality and son of former New York governor Mario Cuomo, tweeted that if a twelve year old girl doesn't want to see a naked man in a restroom she's the one with the problem.
It used to be that a man who exposed himself to young girls was arrested for indecent exposure. Now people like Cuomo are telling those girls that if they don't want to see a man's genitals they're the ones with the problem. It used to be that priests who abused young boys elicited outrage. Now Yiannopoulis is publicly promoting it.
I know I keep coming back to this, but it bears frequent repeating: A secular society simply has no place to stand in judging anything to be morally wrong. When modern or postmodern man tries to decide whether something is right or wrong he's like an astronaut floating in space trying to decide which way is up. Our intuitions tell us that it's profoundly wrong to sexually exploit children, but when we try to think of a reason why it's wrong, we have to admit that our only reason is that we personally find it very distasteful. When we ask what it even means to say that exploiting children is wrong all we can say is that it means we wish people wouldn't do it.
If there's no objective moral law and no accountability beyond the grave then there simply can be nothing that's really wrong. As Dostoyevsky put it, "If God is dead, then everything is permitted." Or, in the words of biologist Richard Dawkins, "The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind pitiless indifference." (emphasis mine) Modern man has declared God dead and now our sons and daughters are prey for sexual deviants who follow the secular assumption of God's irrelevance to its moral conclusion. There is no evil and no good, just acts of which we approve and others we deem "inappropriate."
Alexander Pope wrote the following lines in his Essay on Man some three hundred years ago, but they capture perfectly our modern/postmodern moral paralysis, even when confronted with something as horrible as the sexual abuse of children. Pope wrote:
Evil is a monster of such frightful mien, that to be hated needs but to be seen, but seen too oft, familiar with her face, first we endure, then pity, then embrace.