Milo Yiannapoulos Shouldn’t Have Had a Book Deal in the First Place

Two months ago, Care2 launched a popular petition calling on publishing company Simon & Schuster to drop its book deal with loud-and-proud white nationalist Milo Yiannopoulos.

Though I’m pleased to announce that Simon & Schuster finally did sever its ties with Yiannopoulos, I’m not sure how willing I am to celebrate the news. After all, despite all of the offensive things Yiannopoulos has said, the company only changed its mind over comments made by Yiannopoulos saying positive things about pedophilia.

This weekend, an old video showing Yiannopoulos talking about the benefits of allowing kids as young 13 to have sexual contact with older men resurfaced on the internet.

While Simon & Schuster did not balk at publishing the words of an anti-feminist, anti-trans, anti-Muslim, gay man who incidentally opposes gay rights, it did draw the line at child molestation advocate. It should have drawn the line a lot sooner.

The publishing company wasn’t the only entity to quickly disassociate itself from the controversial figure. The Conservative Political Action Committee canceled a scheduled speaking engagement with Yiannopoulos. Even the editor-in-chief of Breitbart News, which regularly publishes Yiannopoulos’s hate-filled articles, called his pedophilia comments “indefensible” and “appalling.” Subsequently, Yiannapoulos resigned from the website.

A second Care2 petition, which also attracted over 20,000 signatures, asked big-name authors who write under the Simon & Schuster umbrella to take a public stand against the publishing company for awarding a six-figure deal to a bigot.

One author who heeded that call is Roxane Gay, one of the U.S.’s most foremost black, queer and feminist authors. Gay decided to end her own relationship with Simon & Schuster over the company’s deal with Yiannopoulos. She will not be renegotiating her book contract with the publisher now that they’ve booted Yiannopoulos, either, because she saw this decision as tactical rather than moral.

“When [Yiannopoulos’s] comments about pedophilia/pederasty came to light, Simon & Schuster realized it would cost them more money to do business with Milo than he could earn for them,” Gay said.

It’s hard to argue with that point. Simon & Schuster was already dealing with the blowback for hiring Yiannopoulos, and they made a financial decision to cut their losses when Yiannopoulos’s reputation took an even bigger hit. There’s no reason the company shouldn’t have been sufficiently offended by his previous actions.

Still, it’s remarkable to see even far right conservatives turn their backs on Yiannopoulos, when they’ve previously defended his antics as protecting “free speech.” As it turns out, though, there are things that they don’t think are appropriate to say – they just didn’t happen to consider racism, Islamophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, etc. to meet that criteria.

The First Amendment is a fundamental right, and everyone should have the ability to express his or her views, no matter how ignorant. At the same time, that does not mean that other people need to “respect” intolerant opinions – and it certainly doesn’t mean that publishing companies are obligated to pay someone $250,000 to reprint them.

Though it’s hard to imagine that a chronic attention-seeker like Yiannopoulos will quietly fade into the background after this incident, it’s reassuring to see that he’s finally losing a good chunk of his mainstream platform. Society has no responsibility to amplify a voice like his.

Photo credit: Thinkstock

65 comments

Marie W
Marie W4 months ago

Thanks for sharing

SEND
Michelle Spradley
Michelle Spradley7 months ago

After learning he's a pedophile I can understand the level of dislike for him that recently exploded at Berkeley.

SEND
Julie D
Julie D7 months ago

Yes he has freedom of speech. That doesn't mean anyone will like it, nor does it mean that free speech should be published and rewarded.

SEND
John B
John B7 months ago

Thanks Keven.

SEND
chris b
chris B7 months ago

Freedom of Speech. That's why we live here. That's why EVERYONE wants to live here. We may not like it, but . . .

SEND
Quanta Kiran
Quanta Kiran7 months ago

noted

SEND
Paul Carter
Paul Carter7 months ago

I dislike all forms of censorship except in the form of age appropriate warnings. I dislike any form of restriction on the right to free speech. I believe that people should not be restricted from expressing their beliefs, no matter how weird. However, this right does not give freedom to encourage illegal acts, to encourage hatred, or to encourage violence. Every publisher has the right to publish (or refuse to publish) any book it believes the public wishes to buy. If we really don't like a book, we should just not buy it, borrow it, or discuss it.

SEND
Margie F
Margie F7 months ago

Shocking.

SEND
Ron B
Ron B7 months ago

Some people who are crying out for attention, even if it's negative attention, just don't know when to stop.

SEND
william Miller
william Miller7 months ago

thanks

SEND