After audio emerged of conservative troll Milo Yiannopoulos advocating for pedophilia, Simon & Schuster canceled their book deal with the right-wing “provocateur.” One could argue that the publisher should never have gotten into bed with Yiannopoulos — his columns for Breitbart include “Here’s Why the Progressive Left Keeps Sticking Up for Pedophiles” and “No, JC Penney, Fat People Should Absolutely Hate Themselves” — and that’s an argument Roxane Gay is willing to make. Earlier this year, the Bad Feminist author told BuzzFeed News, “I can’t in good conscience let them publish it while they also publish Milo. So I told my agent over the weekend to pull the project.”
On Monday, Gay shared her thoughts on Simon & Schuster finally backing away from Yiannopoulos. “In canceling Milo’s book contract,” she wrote, “Simon & Schuster made a business decision the same way they made a business decision when they decided to publish that man in the first place.”
When his 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. They did not finally “do the right thing” and now we know where their threshold, pun intended, lies. They were fine with his racist and xenophobic and sexist ideologies. They were fine with his transphobia, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. They were fine with how he encourages his followers to harass women and people of color and transgender people online. Let me assure you, as someone who endured a bit of that harassment, it is breathtaking in its scope, intensity, and cruelty but hey, we must protect the freedom of speech. Certainly, Simon & Schuster was not alone in what they were willing to tolerate. A great many people were perfectly comfortable with the targets of Milo’s hateful attention until that attention hit too close to home. (Via)
After pointing out that Simon & Schuster re-scheduled Yiannopoulos’ book for the same day hers was supposed to come out, Gay clarified, “I will not be publishing my book with Simon & Schuster now that they have dropped Milo… My protest stands. Simon & Schuster should have never enabled Milo in the first place. I see what they are willing to tolerate and I stand against all of it. Also, I’ve received far better offers for How to Be Heard from other publishers.” She added, “There are some who will spin the cancellation of this book contract as a failure of the freedom of speech but such is not the case. This is yet another example of how we are afforded the freedom of speech but there is no freedom from the consequences of what we say.”
Simon & Schuster has yet to respond to Gay’s comments.