I Invited Milo Yiannopoulos to Dinner
If you aren’t living under a rock, you’ve probably heard of Milo Yiannopoulos. Milo has made a successful career out of being shockingly offensive. He has been a bitingly sarcastic voice for people who aren’t democrats but also aren’t uptight, ultra-conservatives (cause believe me! They ain’t watching his videos!) This week, Milo is under fire for making some very crude and offensive comments about pedophilia. He has resigned from his position as an editor at Breitbart because of the outcry against his comments.
Like all of Milo’s videos, I would never have watched this one if people hadn’t been so offended by it, but it was all over my FB page about how offended I should be...so I watched it and I was offended, but not like you think…
As Milo talked in the interview and in his subsequent press conference, I somehow didn’t listen to him like he was a celebrity but like he was a young man sitting at my dinner table. You may not have caught it, but Milo said that among his peers, this type of joking was common. So, Yes. His story deeply offended me. Not because he was joking or seemed flippant but because it was too familiar…
I heard my first story of sexual abuse when I was 16. In all my immaturity at the time, I helped my friend keep her story secret. I didn’t know how to help her, but I certainly knew that if people found out her story, they would shun her. And I unknowingly contributed to her feeling shame for being a victim.
In college, I’m not sure why, but lots of girls freely shared their stories of abuse with me. I had a friend that was so overwhelmed with the sexual abuse from her past that she was using any drug offered to her and doing sexual things that this small-town girl didn’t even know existed.
I was overwhelmed and I wanted to retreat from their world. I wanted to live in a world where everyone was nice and loving couples held hands and waited for life long commitments to have blissful sex with just each other.
I found my retreat and surrounded myself with Christian friends who seemed slightly edgy and weren’t easily offended. After all, I didn’t want to totally deny the things I’d seen. I couldn’t deny all the things I knew. I needed to ease my conscience. I wanted to talk about them and pray for the people caught up in that world, but I just couldn’t cope with all of their issues.
I can still see the face of one of my friends that I walked away from because I couldn’t deal with all of her problems. I had been coached by Christian friends that I needed to stay away from this girl because of all the “sin” that she was caught up in. I avoided her. But one day when I saw her, she looked at me with a deep hurt that still haunts me. I was supposed to know Jesus. He never made victims feel shame but I did. I was embarrassed by her struggle so I pushed her away. She hadn’t culturally learned to be properly ashamed of her story.
Thankfully, through experiencing religious rejection of my own, I broke free from the fear and legalism that held me back and I learned to embrace people’s problems because I know that God can handle them all!
Which brings me back to the things Milo said. Through the years, I have had countless people share stories of sexual abuse with me. When I worked with at-risk youth, one of the things that I got used to was their calloused joking about abuse that happened to them. I sat with one group of kids when they shared horror stories about how their dads beat them. Each story was applauded and laughed at.
These youth frequently made jokes about sex and abuse. They all laughed. At first, I didn’t understand why. Their stories made me literally want to vomit. I’m still in tears as I think about the things I’ve heard. But for them it was therapeutic and sadly, it created a common bond among them because they had all experienced something.
As a Christian, in my safe bubble, their stories are offensive. I am shocked that they freely talk about things that make me blush just to think about. They were so young. They weren’t even supposed to know those terms!
My safe bubble is an illusion. It’s an illusion maintained only by refusing to see the truth of what the world around me is really like. If you need to hear a statistic, self-reporting from interviews with adults suggests that 20% of females and 5-10% of males are sexually abused in our country.1 Or consider the outcry against the Catholic church when the Boston Globe revealed how many priests were molesting kids around the world. Don’t remember the collective cultural outcry? Me neither! Neither do the victims. Child molestation is a horrible disgusting thing that we don’t like to think about. But our not thinking about it has let it flourish in our society.
Let’s collectively be offended by that. Let’s quit letting our children grow up in a world where a girl gets assaulted in middle school and her offender is out of jail before she is out of counseling!3 Let’s be offended that we have let child molesters prey on our children so much that they have grown up to seek solace from each other by joking about things that we can’t even admit happen. Let’s be offended that sex trafficking is a thriving business in our country.
Let’s be more than offended. Let’s do more than rant. Let’s determine to make the world better for this generation.
And about Milo. Yes. What he said was offensive and hurtful. He needed to apologize. He should know better.
What should we do about his offensive comments?
If you are a follower of Jesus, then open your eyes to the world you live in and the mess we’ve created by staying in our safe little bubbles. Quit focusing on winning the cultural war by simply impacting the music industry, politics and throwing some movies out there. Get out in your communities and get involved in real people’s lives and messes. Don’t run from victims because their reality makes you uncomfortable. Determine to make a difference.
And as for me, I invited Milo to come have dinner with my family4…
3I’ve personally worked with several girls who were molested and lived in fear because their abuser was out of prison. When you get those notices in the mail about the sex offenders living in your neighborhood, remember that their victims are still dealing with the trauma they caused.
4(It was a lame email that he will never see. But I’d actually love to know his real story and the guy behind all of the biting sarcasm. Plus, our family delights in being snarky so I think we’d get along spendidly.)