Following news that Breitbart staffer and noted alt-right troll Milo Yiannopoulos received a book deal for a reported $250,000, Simon & Schuster faced criticism for its decision to publish his forthcoming book, Dangerous. Both authors and artists came forward with concerns, including actress Leslie Jones, who was the target of extensive online abuse that was initially incited by Yiannopoulos.
At the time, Simon & Schuster released a short statement asking readers to “withhold judgment until they have had a chance to read the actual contents of the book.” And on Monday, the company’s president and CEO, Carolyn Reidy, sent a letter to concerned authors that has since been obtained and published by BuzzFeed.
In it, she writes that other imprints did not know that Threshold Editions — the company’s traditionally conservative imprint — was working on Yiannopoulos’s book. She added that the publishing company won’t be publishing anything that will “incite hatred, discrimination or bullying” and that Threshold envisions Dangerous as “an incisive commentary on today’s social discourse.”
Read the full letter, below:
I’m writing to you regarding the controversy surrounding the book Dangerous by Milo Yiannopoulos. Since Threshold Editions announced their plans to publish, we have received many comments from you and many of our authors and readers expressing concern and displeasure. I want you to know that we take all of this feedback seriously and appreciate that so many people, especially our authors, have taken the time to communicate with us.
First and foremost, I want to make clear that we do not support or condone, nor will we publish, hate speech. Not from our authors. Not in our books. Not at our imprints. Not from our employees and not in our workplace.
When Threshold Editions met with Mr. Yiannopoulos, he said that he was interested in writing a book that would be a substantive examination of the issues of political correctness and free speech, issues that are already much-discussed and argued and fought over in both mainstream and alternative media and on campuses and in schools across the country. Threshold Editions, like all our imprints, is editorially independent. Its acquisitions are made without the involvement or knowledge of our other publishers. In considering this project, the imprint believed that an articulate discussion of these issues, coming from an unconventional source like Mr. Yiannopoulos, could become an incisive commentary on today’s social discourse that would sit well within its scope and mission, which is to publish works for a conservative audience.
Once Threshold made an offer to Mr. Yiannopoulos, our responsibility as a publisher is to work with him to produce the book he and our staff envisioned, and one that adheres to the standards that I have articulated. We promise to do just that.
There is no question that we are living in a time when many are feeling uncertainty and fear. It is a moment when political passions are running hotter and stronger than at any time in recent history, and cultural divides across the country seem to be getting wider. And so I can appreciate the strong opinions and feelings this has stirred in you and others. I also recognize that there may be a genuine debate to be had about who should be awarded a book contract. For us, in the end, it ultimately comes down to the text that is written. And here I must reiterate that neither Threshold Editions nor any other of our imprints will publish books that we think will incite hatred, discrimination or bullying.
Thank you for taking the time to read this.