Back in December, it was announced that alt-right figurehead and Breitbard editor Milo Yiannopoulos had received a $250,000 book deal with Simon & Schuster for Dangerous. At the time, Yiannoppolous took the time to gloat, telling The Hollywood Reporter:
“They said banning me from Twitter would finish me off. Just as I predicted, the opposite has happened,” Yiannopoulos told THR, confirming the upcoming book without commenting on financial details. “Did it hurt Madonna being banned from MTV in the 1990s? Did all that negative press hurt Donald Trump’s chances of winning the election?”
Since the announcement, there has been a considerable amount of backlash, with the latest coming from within Simon & Schuster’s own ranks. Publisher’s Weekly reports that 160 children’s book authors and illustrators (including Mahatma Gandhi’s grandson, Arun Gandhi) have signed a petition protesting the deal and wrote a letter to S&S CEO and president Carolyn Reidy. In the letter, they write:
“This is not an issue of advocating or suppressing free speech, as Mr. Yiannopoulos has a broad internet broadcasting platform and the support of many extremist organizations and publications,” the letter reads. “His voice is certainly being heard, and it is a voice of hate that stirs its followers to emotional, verbal, and physical violence directed at anyone who disagrees or speaks to the contrary.”
The letter continues, claiming that publishing the book legitimizes a looming threat.
“As Simon & Schuster authors and illustrators who are already published, with books in the release pipeline, with contracts in place, we do not have to quietly accept or assent to this ‘Gleichschaltung,’ this getting in line with fascism and making it mainstream.”
However, this does raise a complex issue regarding freedom of speech: while Yiannopoulos’ views are heinous to many, he does have the right to hold them. Still, that doesn’t mean that Simon & Schuster should be giving him a bigger platform than he already has online. Yiannopoulos has already proven himself to be a figurehead of a dangerous and damaging movement, so perhaps that would have been best kept to the corners of Breitbart. But now that the book is moving forward towards its March 14th release date, the best thing to do is to dismiss it. Yiannopoulos thrives on the controversy, and to silence him or pull the book deal would only give more fodder to those who are looking for a reason to oppress disparate voices. In an ideal scenario, Dangerous comes out and is quickly forgotten.
(Via Publisher’s Weekly)