Is Cancelling Milo’s Book a Violation of Free Speech?
You know the way publishers get hundreds – possibly thousands – of manuscripts submit to them each year? And so after careful consideration, they publish the best of the bunch (read: what’ll turn the highest profit) and the rest are sent those all-too-familiar “soz you suck!” emails.
There may be a bundle of issues within the publishing industry, but it’s a pretty fair model in theory. Their company, their products. If you’re a bad investment, they don’t have to publish you. It’s like Dragon’s Den for books. Simple as.
So let’s be honest, Milo was always going to be a bit of a dodgy sell to start with. He’s openly racist. He’s transphobic. He’s all of the things you don’t want someone who’s in any way associated with your company to be.
But then he made a couple of comments along the lines of “Sometimes I find fifteen year old girls attractive,” and “Boys being with older men is a-okay in my book,” and now we are here.
His book deal has finally been pulled.
Huzzah? Boo? Huh? Choose whatever reaction you feel appropriate, but to answer our initial question — is this a violation of free speech?
Simon & Schuster can publish whatever they like. No law is in place to force the act of publishing Milo’s views just because they exist.
A violation would be Milo starting his own publishing company and the government stepping in, saying “Hold up! We don’t like your book so you can’t publish it.” That would be censorship.
Now for the real question – Simon & Schuster, why was this where your line lies? I understand the awfully disturbing nature of the remarks on pedophilia made by Yiannopoulos, but why was this what you deemed too much?
Did Milo’s past comments not leave you ashamed to be in any way affiliated with the man? I cannot imagine how a decent company could allow his branding to have ties with them in any way.
And yet, you did.
(Some may call this business move ‘risqué.’ The clever would just call it stupid.)
Was it that you imagined a large amount of the public would disregard his hate-filled remarks and give in to the controversiality of the book? If so, then either there is a moral issue with us as a society or an issue with how you view our morals.
Honestly, I’m not sure which it is.
Hate sells. We’ve seen it before. Exhibit A: Katie Hopkins. So perhaps Simon & Schuster had good reason to believe that the negativity attached with Milo was worth the monetary profit.
You’re probably sick to death of his name, but look at Trump’s victory and you’ve a perfect case study. Perhaps Trump has yet to cross the line,* and will be disowned by the American public if he too talks about liking fifteen year old girls. Maybe this is how Simon & Schuster judged Milo and have only now concluded that he is unpublishable.
Either way, this is not what was Milo going too far. The line should have been drawn miles back, further than he can even see from where he stands.
So, I suggest a vote. All in favour of sending Milo Yiannopoulos to a tiny, deserted island for an eternal time out, say aye!
*To me, if he has not already crossed the line with you, you’re likely a highly-privileged and/or misinformed white person.