Publisher Drops Yiannopoulous Book Over Underage Sex Remarks

Inviting someone who’s famous for saying offensive things to write a book is always going to be a bit of a gamble. Now it appears that Simon & Schuster is cutting its losses by canceling the book contract it signed just a few weeks ago with rightwing firebrand and provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos, who first won notoriety as the technology editor for Breitbart News.

The publisher cited comments made by Yiannopoulous last year, which some interpreted as condoning sex between adults and underage individuals, as the reason for the contract termination. Yiannopoulous has denied this accusation and argues that the statements were taken out of context.

In a radio interview aired in January 2016, Yiannopoulous suggested that teenagers under the age of consent might be able to have relationships with adults, as long as the teens were sexually mature. However he now insists that he was referring primarily to his own personal history —which along with sarcasm and poor word choice created the mistaken impression that he approved of pedophilia. He wrote on Facebook: “I do not believe sex with 13-year-olds is okay. When I mentioned the number 13, I was talking about the age I lost my own virginity.”

Yiannopoulous also wrote: “I do not advocate for illegal behavior. I explicitly say on the tapes that I think the current age of consent is ‘about right.’”

Nonetheless the remarks, and the resulting social media furor, appeared to be the last straw for Simon & Schuster, which pulled the plug on the planned book, titled “Dangerous,” and its $250,000 contract with Yiannopoulous on Monday. The book was to have addressed the role of the “alt-right” — including Yiannopoulous’ rabble-rousing “Dangerous Faggot” tour — in Donald Trump’s upset win of the presidency.

Yiannopoulous has often been accused of hate speech, but portrays himself as a defender of free speech in the face of stifling political correctness, and frequently appears to revel in his critics’ condemnation. He seemed unfazed by the loss of the book contract, stating: “The people whose views, concerns and fears I am articulating do not sip white wine and munch canapés in gilded salons. And they will not be defeated by the cocktail set running New York publishing. Nor will I.”

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