Well-known book publishing company Simon & Schuster made headlines a couple weeks ago and not for a good reason. Threshold Editions, a division of Simon & Schuster, offered racist Twitter troll Milo Yiannopoulos a $250,000 book deal.
Twitter users trended hashtags shaming Simon & Schuster for supporting a person that is synonymous with hate and controversy. The neo-Nazi does not even have a Twitter account, after being removed for harassing comedian Leslie Jones with racist tweets. Still, the company is standing behind its decision. Simon & Schuster released a statement that said, “We have always published books by a wide range of authors with greatly varying, and frequently controversial opinions.”
Well, feminist author Roxane Gay decided she no longer wanted to be associated with a company that would defend Yiannopoulos. When reports about the deal became public, Gay pulled her upcoming book from Simon & Schuster. In an interview with Buzzfeed, the Bad Feminist author explains her actions. “I was supposed to turn the book in this month and I kept thinking about how egregious it is to give someone like Milo a platform for his blunt, inelegant hate and provocation…I just couldn’t bring myself to turn the book in.”
Gay stressed that she does recognize freedom of speech, but that does not mean the publishing company has to give an offensive person a large platform to voice his ignorant messages.
“And to be clear, this isn’t about censorship. Milo has every right to say what he wants to say, however distasteful I and many others find it to be,” she says. “He doesn’t have a right to have a book published by a major publisher but he has, in some bizarre twist of fate, been afforded that privilege. So be it. I’m not interested in doing business with a publisher willing to grant him that privilege. I am also fortunate enough to be in a position to make this decision.”
Roxane Gay’s actions are honorable and justified. Hopefully Simon & Schuster will eventually acknowledge its error in judgment.