Yesterday, the Ghostbusters 2-esque river of slime that flows out of ironic Trump Nazi Milo Yiannopoulos’ mouth finally became cause for concern for publisher Simon & Schuster, who decided to call in a plumber and flush Yiannopoulos’ book Dangerous from its publishing schedule. Which is cool and all, but Bad Feminist author Roxane Gay—who pulled her new book How To Be Heard from the company to protest its support of Yiannopoulos last month—was, to say the least, not impressed with the timing of Simon & Schuster’s decision. After all, she warned them about the toxic sludge flowing through their company sewer months ago.
In a message posted yesterday on her Tumblr page, Gay called bullshit on Simon & Schuster, noting that, while the company was unable to support an author who advocates—sorry, “makes edgy jokes about”—adult men having sex with teenage boys, they were perfectly fine with supporting an author who spewed hateful anti-Semitic, Islamophobic, and transphobic rhetoric, as long as it would would make them money.
She adds that she will not be returning to Simon & Schuster now that Yiannopoulos is out, pointedly noting that the company changed the release date of Dangerous to the same date as that of her memoir Hunger after she pulled How To Be Heard. Clearly, she says, this is just business, and she’ll be taking her business elsewhere. Here’s the full text of Gay’s statement:
In canceling Milo’s book contract, 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.
Because I’ve been asked, I will not be publishing my book with Simon & Schuster now that they have dropped Milo. After I pulled my book, they changed the release date of Dangerous from March to June 13, the day my next book, Hunger, comes out. I said nothing because I was neither threatened nor concerned but it did reinforce for me that this was not a company I wanted to do business with. 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.
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.
Meanwhile, Saturday Night Live’s Leslie Jones, who was the high-profile target of a targeted Twitter abuse campaign of which Yiannopoulos was a ringleader, is similarly not impressed with the sudden surge of interest in this hateful asshole. Here’s what she had to say on Twitter, the platform she helped get him kicked off of last summer: