Can you believe Milo Yiannopoulos -- a man infamous for relentlessly attacking women, people of color, immigrants, and probably also the garbage truck when it passes too close to his fence -- turned out to be an advocate for child predation?
What, you can believe it?!
And it's not because of his sexuality, or his politics, or even the fact that he's clearly cosplaying Kefka from Final Fantasy VI ...
... but because he made his fame by ruthlessly attacking the "weak." And if somebody attacks those weaker than them -- it doesn't matter who the "weak" are, what side the attacker is on, or what talking points they're hitting -- they're not going to stop at any moral line. If they show no empathy for those whom they deem "the enemy," I can guarantee you that they'll show no empathy for friends, either.
In this case, it was Milo -- an ultimately trivial, self-professed troll. But the "who" doesn't matter. Maybe next time it's Limbaugh, or Bannon, or that other weirdo who was also caught on tape advocating for sexual assault: the president of the United States.
Trump: "I just start kissing them. It's like a magnet. Just kiss. I don't even wait. And when you're a star, they let you do it. You can do anything."
Billy Bush: "Whatever you want."
Trump: "Grab 'em by the pussy. You can do anything."
Of course "grab 'em by the pussy" was the quote that took off from that exchange. It's an absurd thing to say. That's not even how sex works, man. Are you saying you just wander in, hook a few fingers in the ol' cooch, and then ... what? Swing them around? Make their heads flap about like a Muppet?
Tom Pennington/Getty Images
But we let Pussy Wranglin' overshadow one part we really should have paid closer attention to. Trump's thesis statement. His warning of things to come. It was so nice, he said it twice:
"When you're a star... you can do anything. You can do anything."
If you didn't listen to the audio, Trump didn't accompany that last bit with a motivational fist-pump. It wasn't preceded by "believe in yourself," nor followed by a sparkly star and a rainbow. That was a psychopathic declaration of power. He was literally saying "they can't stop me."
And he was right. Remember the -- hey, familiar territory here -- child rape case brought against Trump?
Sure, sure, it was dropped. Never proven. Probably a lie. Just a blemish on an otherwise-spotless record. Oh, but then there were the girls in his teen pageant (it's almost like there's a pattern!) who said he intentionally walked in on them changing. Again with the child predation. And again, it didn't stick. Why, some of the girls said they didn't see this behavior at all, so maybe the ones who did were making it up, because it's not like he confessed to-
"I'll tell you the funniest thing is that I'll go backstage before a show and everyone's getting dressed, no men are anywhere, and I'm allowed to go in, because I'm the owner of the pageant and therefore I'm inspecting it. '... Is everyone OK?' You know, they're standing there with no clothes. 'Is everybody OK?' And you see these incredible-looking women, and so I sort of get away with things like that."
He's talking about one of his adult pageants in that case, but it's the same behavior, and there's that language again:
"I'm allowed to go in."
"I get away with things like that."
And one of the most worrying turns of phrase ...
"The funniest thing ..."
This isn't moral hypocrisy for Trump. It's not some sinful, dirty urge that he's giving in to, even as he knows it's wrong. That would almost be a relatable human struggle. This is funny to him -- he thinks it's hilarious that he can do all of these things, that he can steamroll over "lesser" people. And remember, we're not even talking about enemies here, just bystanders. People near him who had something he wanted.
I'm not harping on Trump because I hate his politics, or even his stupid face -- it's because he and Milo are highly publicized examples of society mistaking psychosis for toughness. A mistake we make all the time: We idolize the "tough guy" on our side because he ruthlessly goes after our enemies, then act shocked when he's just as ruthless with us. "I love how this guy goes after anybody in his way and takes no prisoners! Oh no! Now he's after me ... AND HE DOESN'T TAKE PRISONERS!"
We think that grizzled, sex-stubbled Jack Bauer -- a man who doesn't play by the rules -- is what we need to keep us safe, but the real Jack Bauer doesn't shut off when he gets home. He brings that same sadism to everything. Cut him off in traffic, and he whips out Waterboarding: The Home Version!
Human empathy is an all-or-nothing deal. And that's why all of history is just one big bloody Mad Lib. Somebody takes power with the promise of showing no mercy to _____, and once _____ has been dealt with, something else just takes its place. The French? Get 'em! Gone? Cool, but now it's the Germans. Oh, we dealt with those bastards? Well, now it's whoever's next in line for the throne. Then the critics. The protesters. Whoever disagrees with the administration's plan to use unclaimed tax refund money to teach wild bears to say "mama" like those dogs on the internet. It's only in fiction that Aragorn wipes every orc off the face of the planet, then comes home and rules as a just and kind king during peacetime.
Ruthlessness is never a virtue. It's never something to worship. It's something to fear, even if -- especially if -- it's on your side. Because the ruthless don't actually have a side. They're only ever out for themselves. Sure, their goals may temporarily align with yours, and it feels great to hear the lamentation of your enemy's women, but the second you don't lock inexorably together like one of those bastard 1x2 Lego plates, you're next on the list.
For more, check out How Actual Nazis Are Influencing Trump (More Than He Knows) and The Problem With Calling Donald Trump A Nazi.
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