The Tipping Point

Milo Yiannopoulos's fall was abrupt. Is there a tipping point for outrageous behavior?

February 27, 2017

I grew up thinking Joe McCarthy's fall came from one moment during the Army-McCarthy hearings when Joseph Welch interrupted the bombast's hostile interrogation with the famous words "Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?" It wasn't that simple, but it was a televised moment of courage during a time when manufactured fear was fairly ubiquitous and seemed unstoppable.

Milo Yiannopoulos seemed untouchable as he rose to national stardom. Making outrage his brand and brandishing a free-speech get-out-of-jail card, he was storming college campuses and getting ready for his book launch. He could get away with anything - until suddenly he couldn't. Milo had pushed all the buttons, gleefully, manically, but only this one turned out to be a self-destruct button.

I'm sure this isn't simple, either. Milo's career may be fatally damaged, but people suddenly feel free to topple gravestone and call in bomb threats and shoot people for being foreign. But at least one celebrity bigot reached a tipping point. 

Will there be a tipping point for Trump? Will there be a moment when the country says "that's it. You went too far"? Will it be a Constitutional confrontation? A sex scandal? One lie too many?

I don't know what it will take, but I was unusually moved by an advertisement in the Sunday New York Times, when I turned a page and saw this:

New York Times advertisement about truth

Amen to all that.



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