Over the past year, alt-right author, speaker, provocateur, and self-described "virtuous troll" Milo Yiannopoulos has made quite a few headlines. He has been widely protested, criticized, and was permanently banned from Twitter for harassment. Most recently, Simon & Schuster cancelled Yiannopoulos' book deal, and he subsequently resigned from his post as editor at Breitbart News — all in the aftermath of released recordings in which Yiannopoulos seemed to condone pedophilia, saying that "relationships between younger boys and older men...have helped those young boys," and that "pedophilia is not a sexual attraction to somebody 13 years old who is sexually mature."
So who is this guy and how did we even get here? Here are the main Yiannopoulos controversies you should know about.
He was banned from Twitter in 2016 after his abuse of actress Leslie Jones.
Yiannopoulos led a group of racist Twitter users in horrifying attacks on Jones that led to his (permanent) ban from the platform. The incident also inspired Twitter to update its anti-harassment policies.
"People should be able to express diverse opinions and beliefs on Twitter. But no one deserves to be subjected to targeted abuse online," Twitter said in a statement after banning Yiannopoulos. "We know many people believe we have not done enough to curb this type of behavior on Twitter. We agree. We are continuing to invest heavily in improving our tools and enforcement systems to better allow us to identify and take faster action on abuse as it’s happening and prevent repeat offenders."
Nevertheless, he landed a book deal with Simon & Schuster.
Many, including Jones herself, spoke out against the publisher's decision to work with Yiannopoulos. Jones argued that giving a publishing platform to the alt-right is essentially helping them "spread their hate to even more people."
He's been removed from university campuses more than once amid protests.
Yiannopoulous' scheduled appearances at both UC Davis and UC Berkeley were canceled last-minute amid protests from students and faculty alike. Although Berkeley administration rightfully condemned the violence that took place during some of the protest activity, the university admitted that "Yiannopoulos’ views, tactics and rhetoric are profoundly contrary to our own."
His appearance on Real Time With Bill Maher caused one guest to cancel — and another to clap back.
Journalist Jeremy Scahill was scheduled to make a return appearance on Maher's show but canceled when Maher also booked Yiannopoulos. Scahill said Milo was likely planning to use HBO to “legitimize his hateful agenda.”
When Yiannopoulos did appear on Real Time, he and Maher seemed to get along fine. But Yiannopoulous clashed with Maher's panelists — most notably with comedian Larry Wilmore.
“I just think it’s sad," Wilmore said on the show. "Because the same arguments that were used against gay people — treating them like aliens who just wanted to fuck anything that moved and that’s why we should avoid them at all costs — [are] being used [against trans people].”
When Yiannopoulos (who is gay) continued to make unfounded, transphobic remarks, Wilmore had had enough. He told Yiannopoulos, "you can go fuck yourself."
He quit Breitbart in hopes of preserving its right-wing reporting.
"It would be wrong to allow my poor choice of words to detract from my colleagues' important reporting, so today I am resigning from Breitbart, effectively immediately. This decision is mine alone," Yiannopoulos said Tuesday in a statement. Although even his Breitbart boss, editor-in-chief Alex Marlow, called Yiannopoulos' comments on sex with children "appalling" and "absolutely indefensible."
Yiannopoulos has since called pedophilia a "vile and disgusting crime" and told CNN he was "guilty of imprecise language" in his initial statements on the matter.