I’ve seen a lot of articles posted lately about how Simon & Schuster needs to back down and immediately cease their publication of Yiannopoulos’s upcoming book, Dangerous. That, my friends, is censorship, no matter how angrily Leslie Jones and a wide variety of celebrities or liberals sugarcoat it. Yes, it’s true that Yiannopoulos is provocative, and liable to rile up the easily impressionable people from the right wing, whether you call them Neo-Nazis or the alt right. But if S&S doesn’t publish the book, someone else surely will, and while they might not have the outreach of S&S, the publicity they’ll get from a banned book will surely propel that book into the homes of every “deplorable” that you’re misguidedly trying to protect. All the profits from sales of that book will go directly back into the sort of right-wing enterprises that you’d like to be protected from. Here are some better options.
- S&S publishes the book. They use some of their profits to fund books that offer counterpoints or which enhance the conversation. Make sure you buy those books, because in the end, S&S is going to publish whatever makes it the most money, and if you don’t buy books, you can’t really criticize them for catering to those who do.
- A few brave readers from the left read through Yiannopoulos’s treatise, word for word, and pick it apart. I’m not talking about minor grammatical critiques, mind you. I’m talking about taking the scope of his argument and dissecting it, pointing out the major factual errors and leaps of logic. You don’t defeat something by ignoring it; you shine light on it.
- Nobody talks shit about Yiannopoulos’s work unless they’ve read it. This is one of the biggest issues. It’s very easy to call out Ann Coulter or Bill O’Reilly or any number of other right-wing talking heads whom you hate from their appearances on shows that you do watch. But if you don’t actually know the work in question, don’t try to argue how bad it is. Don’t express shock and horror that someone is actually reading it, unless you know firsthand how bad it is. (And even then, since you’ve presumably read it, don’t make an attack on the reader’s character. Try to engage in a discussion of ideas. That’s the point of literature.)
Everything else that I’ve heard people suggesting is just outright bullying. It’s motivated from a place of fear and good intentions, sure, but it still comes down to suppressing the fundamental right of someone to express their opinion and someone else to agree with it. Besides, wouldn’t you want to know what your right wing rivals are thinking and talking about? Wouldn’t that make it easier to work against their agenda?