Talk about starting 2017 off right. On Monday, Ghostbusters star and SNL cast member Leslie Jones called out Milo Yiannopoulos' publisher on Twitter, reminding Threshold Books and Simon & Schuster that giving the infamous Breitbart editor $250,000 for his book — which will be published and profited from — is a way of "spread[ing his] hate to even more people."
Yiannopoulos was permanently banned from Twitter in 2016, after he encouraged his followers to dogpile on Leslie Jones in the days following the Ghostbusters release. He and his followers maintain that Twitter's actions constitute both a violation of his free speech and censorship of "conservative values," but any marginalized person on the Internet knows that Twitter users spent years being targeted by Yiannopoulos and his followers.
Permabanning Yiannopoulos from Twitter didn't erase his documented history of unapologetically abusive behavior, but his victims, along with decent human beings everywhere, hoped the measure would put a dent in his popularity. However, Yiannopoulos has managed to secure plenty of speaking engagements at public universities since the events of last summer, prompting necessary outcry from people who don't want their tax dollars going to a person who actively campaigns against others' humanity.
And so, as you can imagine, Threshold Books and Simon & Schuster have received a lot of backlash for signing Yiannopoulos to a book deal, let alone a six-figure one. The publishers released an official statement, which read:
We do not and never have condoned discrimination or hate speech in any form. At Simon & Schuster we have always published books by a wide range of authors with greatly varying, and frequently controversial opinions, and appealing to many different audiences of readers. While we are cognizant that many may disagree vehemently with the books we publish we note that the opinions expressed therein belong to our authors, and do not reflect either a corporate viewpoint or the views of our employees.
To which Jones replied:
Here's the thing: Yiannopoulos, Steve Bannon, Donald Trump, Threshold Books, Simon & Schuster, and Breitbart all have the right to write, say, and publish whatever they want, without fear of government retribution. However, that freedom does not protect them from criticism, boycott, and other forms of public backlash, just like it didn't protect Yiannopoulos from a publicly traded company's banhammer.
To pretend that Yiannopoulos' racism and xenophobia are merely "controversial opinions" is another step toward the normalization of white nationalism. There are a lot of controversial things in this world, like Gwyneth Paltrow's Goop or whatever the appropriate response to the Kardashians is, but, more than 70 years ago, we collectively decided that supporting Nazis and Nazi rhetoric wasn't cool. There's nothing less controversial than Nazism, because we've established that it is, to put it mildly, a Very Bad Thing.
Simon & Schuster can say that it doesn't believe in hate speech, but that doesn't change the fact that it paid a reported quarter-million dollars to a person who has built his career on spreading hate around like a social disease. Leslie Jones is right on the money with her succinct response to the publisher's attempt to wash their hands of Yiannopoulos' hatred.