Simon & Schuster US has cancelled its planned publication of Dangerous by controversial far-right commentator Milo Yiannopoulos.
In a brief statement, the publisher said the decision to cancel the book had been made by S&S and its Threshold Editions imprint "after careful consideration". The move follows recent outrage over a leaked video which apparently shows the controversial Breitbart editor endorsing sex between “younger boys” and older men. In the clip, Yiannopoulos said the age of consent was “not this black and white thing” and that relationships “between younger boys and older men … can be hugely positive experiences”.
Yiannopoulos confirmed the cancellation of his book on Facebook. He said: “They canceled my book.” He later added: “I've gone through worse. This will not defeat me.”
S&S UK had never planned to publish the book and told The Bookseller it had no further comment to make about its cancellation by S&S US.
Last week Yiannopoulos said he had pushed back publication of the book, initially scheduled for mid-March, by three months to enable him to discuss "the insanity of the last few weeks" in the text alluding to various protests at American college campuses during his tour. The book was also given a new June publication date on the S&S US website. Now has come confirmation that Dangerous has been cancelled.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, which broke news of the acquisition in December, Yiannopoulos got a $250,000 deal for the title. But its acquisition caused furore among S&S authors over the last two months, with feminist author Roxane Gay pulling a title from the publisher's schedule in protest. The controversy intensified over the last few weeks with various protests and some violence at US colleges during his tour and then an internet livestream appeared to show Yiannopoulos endorsing sex between “younger boys” and older men. The remarks were made during an internet livestream and circulated in an edited video on Twitter. In the edited video shared on Twitter, Yiannopoulos is heard discussing how the age of consent was “not this black and white thing” and that relationships “between younger boys and older men … can be hugely positive experiences”. The American Conservative Union withdrew its offer to Yiannopoulos on to speak at its annual conference over the video as reported by the Guardian.
S&S US chief executive Carolyn Reidy wrote to authors in January saying that the publisher would not “support, condone” or publish “hate speech”, saying the book was intended to be “a substantive examination of the issues of political correctness and free speech”, issues that she said are “already much-discussed and argued and fought over in both mainstream and alternative media and on campuses and in schools across the country”.
After the statement was released by S&S, Gay shared a statement with Buzzfeed which continued to condemn the publisher. The author said: "In cancelling Milo’s book contract, Simon & Schuster made a business decision in 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 realised 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.”
Jo Glanville, director of English Pen, said the book's cancellation raised a "broader question" for publishers around freedom of expression. She told The Bookseller: "Milo’s notoriety rests on the extreme offensiveness of his views. He’s made a career out of it. And this is the latest in a long line of comments that have caused outrage. He has claimed that his comments have been edited to distort their meaning, which is impossible to verify. However there’s a broader question here for publishers and for anyone who wants to keep the space open for freedom of expression. At what point does a writer’s views become so unacceptable that they cannot be published? It’s important not only to be able to challenge extreme or offensive views, but to keep the space open to explore ideas, both creatively and intellectually. The worry always is that if you say one person’s speech is off limits, when it hasn’t actually broken any law, then ultimately it can affect everyone’s speech."