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The Trolls Have Been Fed

The big publishing news of the week, at least as far as people outside of publishing are concerned, is Simon & Shuster rescinding a book contract for a professional right-wing troll after they found out his proclaimed views on pedophilia we a bit out of the mainstream. He was also disinvited to speak before a conservative political group and “resigned” from Brietbart, whatever that is.

It’s hard to believe that the people who would be thrilled by the book would read much, but one should remember that Hitler and Goebbels were both avid readers.

There had been a lot of controversy over the decision to publish that book. One prominent author pulled her book from the publisher because of it.

Some librarians said some really mean things on social media, which is how protest occurs these days. Or in the parlance of the day, they were “resisting.”

Should librarians buy the book or should they “resist”? Was not buying the book an attempt to stifle his free speech?

But wait, is Simon & Shuster censoring him now? Are they part of the “politically correct” agenda?

Some librarians even seemed to believe that their “resistance” had a hand in the publisher’s decision, although of course that’s nonsense. It was a conservative group that leaked the pro-pedophilia video, not a group of librarians.

And it was a conservative group that disinvited him. And a conservative group that compelled his “resignation.” Professional hatemongering they don’t mind at all, but this was too much.

Just a few weeks ago he was a conservative hero because his speech at Berkeley was cancelled after violent protests, showing just how opposed to free speech those mean old lefties are. Now that conservative snowflakes don’t like free speech either, we’re all doomed.

The protests were understandable, but probably a bad idea. What people don’t seem to understand is that trolls should be ignored, or perhaps laughed at, not violently protested.

The Onion had a great response to the announcement, with “Caleb Biederman, Paperwork Processor” commenting, “It’s best that Simon & Schuster, esteemed publisher of Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and Donald Trump, not risk their reputation.”

It’s a pity that Simon & Shuster didn’t take a more principled stand against him in the first place. There was certainly reason to. I mean, the man was permanently banned from Twitter, and Twitter is mostly bots and monsters.

But hatemongering is “dangerous,” and “danger” sells, and selling is all publishers are interested in apparently.

 

Simon & Shuster pulled the book deal, but they were ridiculous for ever offering it in the first place. As another article notes, his “true nature has been obvious for years. The vanity, the cynicism, the bullying, the financial skulduggery, the hate speech, the harassment – they’re all public knowledge. Even the incriminating podcast interview came out a year ago.” Now they’re feigning shock, which is even more ridiculous.

Instead of “resisting” on social media, librarians and others should have been laughing at Simon & Shuster editors. The people who agreed to the contract clearly aren’t concerned by monumental levels of bigotry, not if bigotry sells. These are clearly not people to engage with or take seriously.

They had already excluded themselves from whatever is left of polite society by supporting a person who deliberately targeted hate towards other human beings merely because of their existence. If you want to profit by hate, then maybe there’s something wrong with you. And maybe we should just ignore you from now on.

Remember, don’t feed the trolls.

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Comments

  1. He is STILL a free speech hero. They horribly misconstrued his words and meaning and I’m very upset with how he’s being treated. Simon and Shuster probably lost more money by canceling this than they would from the ‘boycotts’ against them. I hate how in today’s world, you don’t agree with a side and you get a smear campaign launched against you, twisting your words and making you look like the bad guy you aren’t.

    • Yeah ok says:

      He outed a transgender student in a presentation at her school, showing pictures of her during her transition, making her a laughingstock and a target. That’s harassment, which is not covered by the First Amendment. He’s a garbage person.

    • anonymous coward says:

      Look- I think the guy is a moron and a terrible face for the 1st amendment… what he did IS covered by the first amendment.

  2. Hitler? Goebbels? Non-readers? Let’s throw in some more stereotypes and out of whack analogies. If you cannot make your point without those how well are you writing?

    • Yeah, because as I look at the NYT bes-sellers list, at least two in the Top 10 are by hardcore right-wingers. But I guess right-wingers don’t read, or buy books do they.

  3. I don’t see this as a free speech issue at all. Publishers are a business, not a public service–they don’t publish most of the manuscripts that come to them, for a number of reasons (because they’re badly written, or plagiarized, or boring, etc.), and one would hope they would have some ethical standards, too, with certain lines they wouldn’t cross even for money.The problem with Milo is not what he says. It’s that he delights in being mean and vicious and causing real harm to real people (e.g., harassing–and encouraging the harassment of–transgender, “fat,” and “ugly” people). He does it because it gets him attention. The way to get him (and others) to stop is not to give them attention. That’s why I was so angry that S&S gave him a book contract in the first place. People do what’s rewarded; if you don’t reward them, eventually they will stop.

    • Indeed – no publisher is compelled to publish everything that comes their way. They aren’t required to publish a ‘balanced act’ of books or magazines, either. If they wish to be blatantly conservative, liberal, communist, whathaveyou, that’s up to them.

      If people are upset that S&S changed their mind on a controversial author, perhaps they should publish his work instead!

  4. A clarification.

    If people are upset that S&S changed their mind on a controversial author, perhaps THOSE PEOPLE should publish his work instead!

    • anonymous coward says:

      This is, of course, the right solution. If you want it published, publish it! However, one worries if the dangers of publishing such a thing, under potential threat of violence, would be worth it to a small publisher.

    • Not everyone is a publishing company. And S&S lost a WHOLE lot of money from this and probably will continue to lose. They were going to make millions off his book. I don’t see how they could back out of it businesswise. It’s a stupid political ploy to placate whiny kids, basically.

  5. Back to AL’s fifth paragraph: Suppose the book had been (or eventually is) published. Would your library buy it? Or not? On what basis would the decision be a priori, based on the reputation of the author or of the company he keeps? On the political-ethical symbolism of “feeding [or not feeding] trolls?” On what basis would the decision wait for reviews of the work in reputable sources, or direct examination, reveal about the actual argument and evidence? If the collection policy would put controversial, even “hateful,” positions in scope for your library — as they do in my own academic library — would this book’s alleged pro-pedophilia posture be treated differently from Holocaust revisionism or antebellum primary sources like John C Calhoun’s or George Fitzhugh’s defenses of slavery as a positive good?

    • I think some libraries will carry it. Mine might because we’ve tended to purchase these kind of controversial books, on both sides. I’ve listened to Milo talk about this book and he said that people that love him for his bluntness and brashness were going to be surprised because he was writing a more intellectual book than just name-calling. Now, we won’t actually know this until it’s published and get to read it ourselves. I plan on reading it just to see what all the fuss is about. And admittedly I do enjoy listening to him.

  6. Too bad Meg, they aren’t publishing his scum book. Maybe your library could finance it for him..

    • Why do I sense hostility in your comment? My library is in a small town. I can see the whole thing from the checkout counter. But we do try to have both sides, even the controversial ones. And we’re a fairly conservative town in Texas.

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