The Success of Milo Yiannopoulus’ New Book Is a Big Win for Free Speech Advocates
Though it has only been a couple of months since I first gave an update about Milo Yiannopoulos, the release of his first book Dangerous has garnered so much attention, controversy and intrigue that today it and its author, have my full, undivided attention.
There are two major components to this legendary story that beg to be celebrated: the gutsy $10 million lawsuit Yiannopolous filed against Simon & Schuster for dropping his book deal, and the fantastic success his book has nonetheless enjoyed in sales and public reception.
The recent interview he did with NPR is also relevant today. The left-leaning radio station declined to broadcast it even after Yiannopoulos expressed his views reasonably and convincingly. No doubt the non-profit news organization expected him to be as bigoted and ill-informed as his detractors pretend to believe.
S&S dropped Yiannopolous’ book, claiming that his imagine had been tarnished and he would never again return to relevance, meaning anything he said in his book would fall on deaf ears. While it’s unsurprising he’s been found guilt of expressing some unacceptable opinions and is almost universally hated by the mainstream media, the court of public opinion seems to have made a different ruling. Yiannopolous’s star is shining higher and brighter than ever. The book sold over 100,000 copies, including pre-orders, on the first day of sales, and continues to sell — peaking as Amazon’s #1 best seller.
When the deal with the intended original publisher fell through, Milo opted to invest, in his own words, “three million dollars setting up a publishing imprint, so that I can not only release my own books, but books from other people too.”
He’s very adamant about the distinction between being an imprint and being a self-publisher, though mainstream media sources have repeatedly misreported the issue anyway. Milo is as articulate and concise on this matter as he is on everything else.
At a recent book release event, Milo also took advantage of the coverage to roughly lay out his case regarding the unfair cancelation of his book. He claimed to possess emails, some as recently as 24 hours prior, in which publishers were still expressing excitement and praise for it. The logic behind this argument is that they could not possible claim to consider anything in the manuscript to be in fact “unfit for publication,” because after having read and become familiar with it, they continued to be enthusiastic. The dates of those emails match up well with the fallout of his “smoking gun” — the interview on the Drunken Peasants podcast.
Though the confusion about the imprint vs. self-publishing issue that I mentioned before may seem inconsequential at first glance, it exemplifies the reason so many people are misinformed about him: They believe the media lies about him, and do not pay attention to what he himself says.
- Read More: The Return of the Queen: Why Milo is Still Relevant to American Politics
- Read More: Why the Fighting at Berkely Needs to Stop
A criticism that I hear pretty much instantly when I bring up Milo in conversation — which is often, as you might imagine — is that it’s difficult to pin down what he really thinks and what he really means. This perception baffles me. If you want to know what he thinks, listen to what he says. For example, he has nothing at all to do with the so-called Alt-Right. As a matter of fact, they hate him, as any racist would when talking about a Jewish person in a mixed-race relationship. Yet the left-leaning media has managed to associate his name with that movement. This is unacceptable.
I understand why a publisher might not want to sign onto his book. I understand that the executives at NPR disagree with his views. I understand that lots of other people disagree with him too, and that they don’t want to associate with his opinions. But that’s not what this is about. This is about the fact that Simon & Schuster lied about their reasons for canceling the deal they made with Milo, and the contract that each party signed. This is about the fact that NPR doesn’t care about giving their listeners any accurate or thought-provoking information unless it’s targeted at their political enemies.
If it can happen to him, as big and as wealthy and popular as he is, then it can happen to any of us, which means that conservative and liberal journalists alike, as well as writers and activists, should be alarmed by these events.
I for one am not going to stand by and say nothing. The truth matters, and freedom of speech matters.