|Posted on January 23, 2017 at 10:20 PM|
By Dennis Stone
As I discussed in a recent piece LGBTQ Nation earlier this month named controversial Breitbart tech editor Milo Yiannopoulos it's 2016 "Man Of the Year." The "honor" resulted from a vote of readers that was obviously hijacked by social media campaigns promoted by Milo himself, along with Breitbart and others. The announcement was made on January 5, and included the promise of an in-depth interview with Milo to appear the following week. However, the interview has not appeared, and I have seen no mention of it or of the award since the original announcement.
As I expected, the site was roundly and angrily criticized for allowing someone like Milo to win such an award on a left-oriented gay advocacy site. Negative stories appeared on The Advocate site, among others. The editors of LGBTQ Nation had chosen the ten finalists, and so opened themselves up to the result they received. They either knew or should have known that Milo supporters would flood the site, and I speculated in my piece that they may have been cynically courting page views.
I'm wondering now if they regret the decision to allow Milo a chance to win. Many angry readers declared themselves done with the site, and stated on Twitter and elsewhere that they had unfollowed or blocked it. I'm therefore suspecting they may have decided to forego the interview, not mention it again, and hope the whole thing just quietly fades away. Certainly an in-depth interview, in which Milo would have said some provocative things, including some tailored specifically to offend LGBTQ Nation's readers, would have rubbed salt in the wound, and would have engendered another round of criticism and backlash.
As usual in situations like this I find myself lamenting the excessive reactions so many people on our side seem to have, in an almost Pavlovian way. For my part, I'm amused at the irony of such a pro-gay, relentlessly liberal site being, in effect, "taken" by an enemy. I can be amused because there was no actual harm done. I'm less amused by what the general reaction says about people on my side of the ideological divide. One of Milo's bedrock positions is that we are so uptight, so lacking in humor, so predictably and easily outraged, that we can't be taken seriously. And we keep trying to prove him right. People always say "don't feed the troll," but we keep piling up mounds of delectable sustenance for this particular troll.
In my mind the joke is on Milo, though, to some degree. Beneath all the bombast and trolling are some potentially provocative ideas that could generate a serious and interesting debate. That debate will not happen, though, because Milo has reduced himself to a prankish little boy who can't be taken seriously. Though we on the left keep doing our damnedest to give him more significance than he deserves. Our reactions have to a large degree made him what he is on the right, and have given him what power he has. Imagine if we all chuckled in amusement, as I do, and basically ignored him. He'd be an odd curiosity, a celebrity in his own far right circles, but a harmless troll in the wider world.