Former Breitbart editor and far-right provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos. | Drew Angerer/Getty

Now he’s using his past trauma to hurt others, too.

Milo Yiannopoulos has a specific niche within the alt-right horrorscape. As a queer person, he uses the LGBT umbrella to attack LGBT people. Combined with his racism and misogyny towards women of color, he’s created a terrifyingly specific brand of alt-right pundit.

Yiannopoulos is a troll who likes to say and do horrible things to get attention. Unfortunately, his brand of trolling is exactly what makes money and gets you famous in the current media climate.

Sure, he gets attention and a career made out of basically nothing, but why does he need this attention? What does he get from being the most hated man on the internet? What’s the point? Why spew hatred just for attention, but then go out of your way to harass a trans student?

If he’s just in it for attention, why does he always go the extra step?

The answer is simple?—?he’s weaponizing his own self-hate.

He’s gay and is a victim of pedophilia. He talks about these things all the time, too, like he’s so past it that he can now reflect on it with a cynical, discriminating eye.

This brings up a long-debated point in social justice circles. If someone is a victim of abuse, does that make abusing others ok?


In the wise words of Jake Peralta from “Brooklyn Nine Nine”: “Cool motive, still murder.” Every villain has a sob story, but that doesn’t make their actions okay. Anakin Skywalker grew up in slavery, but that doesn’t make murdering children okay. Donald Trump might have a personality disorder, but that doesn’t excuse what he does because of it.

Yiannopoulos may be lashing out publicly as a response to his internalized victim-blaming.

Old videos recently surfaced of Yiannopoulos seemingly defending pedophilia. For some reason, this was the straw that broke the camel’s back for many conservatives. They could excuse hate speech and harassment?—?but gay pedophilia crossed their dubious line.

As the debate over these new revelations heated up, Yiannopoulos claimed that “My experiences as a victim led me to believe I could say almost anything on the subject, no matter how outrageous.”

Once again, his issues with his own identity created a spectacle in the media. He’s not a victim telling his story?—?he’s a member of the media sharing his opinions, who happens to be a victim.

The key difference between Milo Yiannopoulos and other bigots is his place in the media.

When you write, publish, record or broadcast, you automatically have a responsibility beyond your personal opinions. You put an idea out there, and some misinformed person will probably believe it?—?and may even act on it. Fake news sites, cable news shows, talking heads and our president have all taken advantage of this “just-say-shit-until-someone-believes-it’s-true” strategy at one time or another.

So when Yiannopoulos uses the media as a launchpad to attack minorities, it doesn’t matter that he’s a minority?—?it’s still dangerous. He’s not a troubled man lashing out at his peers. He’s an adult who can’t tell the difference being edgy and adult discourse. By giving voice on national television or college campuses to seemingly every hateful thought that enters his subconscious, he sends a clear message: If I can get paid to say and do horrible things, it’s okay for me to have hateful opinions.

No one should feel bad for Yiannopoulos, but we need to understand where his hate comes from in order to fight it.

We’re often tempted to ignore trolls. “Don’t give them any air and they’ll suffocate,” the thinking goes. But I don’t think that works anymore. The trolls don’t go away, they just find their own dark corner full of like-minded trolls who they can stir up into something even more dangerous.

The bleak reality is that we may never stop people like Yiannopoulos from getting a large platform. But by examining the root of his vitriol, we can find ways to prevent it from becoming mainstream.