We should all be asking why it took this long for Milo Yiannopoulos’ publishers to drop him

Public figures slammed the $250,000 book deal and The Chicago Review of Books declared they would not cover any Simon & Schuster books in 2017. Why, we all asked ourselves at the time, is a person who has turned peddling hate into a day job being paid so bloody well for it?

Brian O'Flynn
Tuesday 21 February 2017 18:02 GMT
Milo went too far even for the far-right this time
Milo went too far even for the far-right this time (HBO/AP)

It would seem that the day of reckoning has finally come for Milo Yiannopoulos as he has been dropped both from his book publishing deal and a public appearance at a conservative conference.

In his illustrious career, Yiannopoulos has claimed that gay people should “get back in the closet” despite identifying as a gay man himself, described Islam as “hilarious” and Islamic immigration as “suicide”, embraced Trump as his “Daddy” and endorsed the neo-fascist alt-right.

This isn’t an opportunity to start celebrating the morality of Simon & Schuster, the publishing house who signed the original $250,000 advance deal with Yiannopoulos. Controversy follows him round like a bad smell. In 2016, outrage spread when the deal was initially struck. Public figures slammed the deal, including Ghostbusters star Leslie Jones, who was driven from Twitter after being subjected to a sustained campaign of racist abuse orchestrated by Yiannopoulous. The Chicago Review of Books took a stand and declared they would not cover any Simon & Schuster books in 2017. Why we all asked ourselves, is a person who has turned peddling hate into a day job being paid so bloody well for it?

Milo Yiannopoulous defends relationships between younger boys and older men on radio show

Again and again, the answer was spat back from Milo’s far-right defenders: “He’s protecting free speech!” Yiannopoulos, we were repeatedly told, was some sort of noble warrior whose brazen mockery of identity politics and minority groups inexplicably amounts to democratic heroism.

But this time he went too far even for the far-right. After an old podcast was unearthed this week in which Milo appears to endorse paedophilic relationships, his castle crumbled around him. As well as the withdrawal of their book deal, the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) withdrew his speaking invitation. “We initially extended the invitation knowing that the free speech issue on college campuses is a battlefield where we need brave, conservative standard-bearers”, said the CPAC statement.

The anti-PC brigade have always defended hate speech on the basis that freedom of speech must be absolute, and can never be curtailed in any way, on pain of the complete collapse of liberty and democracy. They routinely claim they do not see how such speech can have a harmful effect on others.

This week, that has been proven unequivocally to be a lie – conservatives are perfectly happy to curtail freedom of speech and they are perfectly capable of seeing the connection between words and actions. The problem is not that they don’t see the connection, merely that they refuse to acknowledge it when the victims are people they don’t care about –the LGBT community, people of colour and women.

I commend anyone defending the safety of children, but it is sad that it had to reach this point for the far-right to say enough is enough when it comes to their defence of free speech. When the crime is against children, they suddenly see the virtues of protectionism and they take precisely the actions we have implored them to take from the very beginning to protect others from harm. As Milo himself said, these are the “same tactics as social justice warriors”.

We should rejoice that another fascist demagogue has fallen foul of his own rhetoric, but we should also be angry that it took this long.

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