Free Speech vs The Consequences of What We Say
Over President’s Day weekend, it was revealed that Milo Yiannopoulos, editor of Breitbart News, was invited to give a speech at the 2017 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), the biggest mainstream conservative conference in America. The online site, highly criticised for reporting “alternative facts” is said to be one of President Trump’s main sources of information.
Yiannopoulos, has a reputation as an internet troll. His method is to say something inflammatory to anger a whole lot of people and get widespread media attention. This time, his words are affecting him where it hurts; his wallet.
Conservative website Reagan Battalion released video footage of Yiannopoulos defending the idea of “thirteen year olds,” having sex with “older men,” referencing his own story that he benefited from a priest molesting him when he was a teenager. CPAC’s organizers cancelled their invitation for Yiannopoulos to speak and his Simon & Schuster canceled their book deal with him.
Author Roxane Gay who parted ways with publisher Simon & Schuster, when they signed Yiannopoulos, had a strong opinion on her former publisher.
“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,” she wrote. “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.”
Gay concluded, “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 declined to comment on Gay’s assertions.
Roxane Gay slams Simon & Schuster after publisher drops Milo Yiannopoulos