Book publishing giant Simon & Schuster has begun to draw criticism for giving Milo Yiannopoulos, noted (and banned) Twitter troll and basically alt-right spokesman, a book deal. There are calls for a boycott, but I don’t agree with that.
Do not misunderstand me: I vehemently disagree with everything this man stands for. He makes me ill. And yes, the United States of America has freedom of speech, but all that means is that the government can’t arrest you for speaking against it. You have every right, as an American, to say whatever you want, and I have every right, as an American, to tell you to shut up. This man is more than just someone with views that oppose mine, however. He is actively dangerous; after all, he was banned from Twitter because he instigated the racist attacks against Leslie Jones, who had the audacity to be a black woman in a movie. Simon & Schuster definitely should not be giving this man an even bigger platform to spew his vile filth.
Let it be known that Threshold, the imprint that gave this man his $250,000 deal, is a conservative imprint. They have already published books by Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and *shudder* our President-Elect Donald Trump (or, rather, his ghost writer). So they’re no stranger to controversy.
The problem with a total boycott of Simon & Schuster, as some people are calling for, is that there are a lot of imprints, not just the one publishing this man’s book. Many of their imprints are progressive, and the company itself has a strong reputation for supporting books with LGBT+ themes. S&S is a major publishing house, and a lot of authors write for them. Some of these authors are struggling – i.e. don’t make enough off of their books to live and depend on the additional income they generate. Some of them are from marginalized communities who don’t get enough notice in the first place. Most of them have spent years on their craft, trying to get published. These authors do not deserve to lose money because their publisher makes bad decisions.
The boycott shouldn’t come from the readers; it should come from the content creators – those who have the clout to make a difference.
Not to mention, sometimes boycotts just don’t work. Sometimes they even backfire. I’m sure many of us remember the failure of the Chick-Fil-A boycott, after it was revealed that company president Dan Cathy strongly opposed gay marriage. There were lines around the block at some Chick-Fil-As in rural areas, as people responded to the backlash with appreciation. The people who will buy Milo’s book don’t care that someone out there doesn’t want to buy it. In fact, learning that liberals want to boycott it will probably prompt some people to buy it out of spite. The press given to a boycott will make more people aware that a book exists in the first place, when it might have gone unnoticed by some.
Plus, if you read Milo’s comments on the matter, you can tell that he is actively courting the controversy. He wants people to be outraged, because it is going to sell more of his book.
So, what should we do? I refer you to this Tumblr post, anonymously written by someone in publishing:
Basically, write to Simon & Schuster and let your feelings be known, pray that the deal falls through, and make it a point to buy the books S&S puts out by LGBT+ authors and authors of color. That is how you speak with your wallet.
Author: Jamie Sugah
Jamie has a BA in English with a focus in creative writing from The Ohio State University. She self-published her first novel, The Perils of Long Hair on a Windy Day, which is available through Amazon. She is currently an archivist and lives in New York City with her demon ninja vampire cat. She covers television, books, movies, anime, and conventions in the NYC area.
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