As the feud between white nationalist Milo Yiannopoulos and his former book publisher heats up, documents pertaining to Yiannopoulos' lawsuit against Simon & Schuster have brought the internet to its knees with laughter. Yiannopoulos' book, Dangerous, was originally scheduled to be released by Simon & Schuster imprint Threshold Editions in June 2017, but the publisher canceled the book in February 2017 in the wake Yiannopoulos' controversial comments about inappropriate relationships between grown men and children. In July, Yiannopoulos filed a $10 million lawsuit against Simon & Schuster alleging a breach of contract.
Now, documents from the lawsuit have surfaced, and among those papers is a full-length copy of Milo Yiannopoulos' manuscript with notes from his editor, Threshold Editorial Director Mitchell Ivers. While Ivers' comments on the former Breitbart News editor's canceled book, Dangerous, will definitely provide plenty of laughs for those who revel in the schadenfreude of Yiannopoulos' situation, the court documents also reveal that Ivers is not just another person exasperated with his brand of thinking. Ivers' comments were designed to make Dangerous into the best, most convincing book it could be for the sake of the white-nationalist movement. Yes, this is part of Ivers job as an editor, but it's still a little frightening.
If you have no idea who Milo Yiannopoulos even is, here's a little backstory. Yiannopoulos made a name for himself in the so-called alt-right movement with his transphobic, ableist, anti-Semitic, sexist, Islamophobic, racist, and often homophobic rhetoric, and has drawn additional ire for comments made about inappropriate "relationships" between grown men and boys. He regularly attempts to deflect these criticisms by saying that he can't possibly be anti-Semitic, racist, or homophobic, because he was raised Jewish and has a black husband.
Over the years, Yiannopoulos has been involved in a number of high-profile internet attacks on women. He was a leading figure in the Gamergate movement, and later instigated the misogynoir dogpile on Ghostbusters actress Leslie Jones.
So, when Yiannopoulos sold Dangerous to Threshold Editions for $250,000, people were justifiably outraged. The Simon & Schuster imprint is well known for publishing "an arsenal of conservative pundits," as Bustle writer Maddy Foley put it, including figures like Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Donald Trump, Dick Cheney, and Bobby Jindal, but the fact that Yiannopoulos landed his six-figure deal just after Twitter permabanned him for harassing Leslie Jones made the Dangerous acquirement feel a whole lot like a pat on the back.
As you might expect, Simon & Schuster's decision to publish Yiannopoulos' book prompted a swift response from the literary community. Roxane Gay pulled her forthcoming book, How to Be Heard, from Simon & Schuster imprint TED Books, and 160 children's book authors and illustrators signed an open letter condemning the publisher for giving Yiannopoulos' hate speech an outlet. In response to the backlash, Simon & Schuster rescinded its $250,000 advance and canceled Dangerous, which brings us to where we are today, with Yiannopoulos in the process of suing his former publisher after self-publishing his book.
Because Yiannopoulos' Dangerous manuscript is part of his case against Simon & Schuster, comments from his editor at Threshold are freely available online. Ivers appears to grow more frustrated with Yiannopoulos' antics as the manuscript wears on, as you can see from Sarah Mei's Twitter thread below.
As both Mei and Flavia Dzodan point out, however, Ivers does not appear so much interested in making Dangerous a less incendiary book, as in giving it a more mainstream appeal.
So, yes, laugh because Yiannopoulos' book manuscript was so bad that even his editor turned on the Caps Lock. But don't think that this book didn't have its supporters.