Who’s Trolling Who?

The Internet – or the portions of it that I frequent – has lately become somewhat exercised (and among my friends rather entertained) by the news that Simon and Schuster has a quarter-million book deal with one Milo Yiannopoulos, leading to much frothing at the mouth in certain circles, as noted at the Passive Voice

Of course, Passive Guy kindly links to the original Guardian article which – surprise! – wasn’t written by our favorite village person of alternative intellect or whatever the current approved terminology is. No, the Grauniad’s latest effort is by a gentleman who is apparently in charge of the Chicago Review of Books, and who wishes it known to all and sundry (can you say virtue signaling? I knew you could) that his eminent publication will not be reviewing any S&S books.

So, let’s take a look at what passes for Mr Adam Morgan’s erudition, shall we?

My commentary is in plain text (mostly). The original article is in italics. If you want to follow any of the original links, go check the link above, because I’m not trying to take those through the combination of WordPress and my word processor.

Last week, the literary world gasped when one of the largest publishers in the United States, Simon & Schuster, rewarded America’s most infamous internet troll, Milo Yiannopoulos, with a $250,000 book deal.

Presumably all the Grauniad’s readers know who constitutes “the literary world” – namely their august selves. There are some nonconformist souls who happen to think that the definition is a bit broader and includes all authors, all publishers, and even (GASP!) readers. Leaving this question of terminology aside, take note of the description of Mr Yiannopoulous as “America’s most infamous internet troll”. Five words. Damn near as many lies. He’s British, he’s not a troll, internet or otherwise, he’s not infamous despite having a certain amount of notoriety, and he’s certainly not the most infamous anything I can think of right now.

Nice job, Mr Morgan, delegitimizing and othering a gay person of non-WASP extraction – one might almost think you were a disgusting homophobic racist, if you didn’t have such impeccable reprogressive credentials.

But we probably should have seen it coming. After all, 2016 taught us that ridiculing women, people of colour, Muslims and members of the LGBTQ community can make someone immensely popular.

It did? Apparently Mr Morgan was taking lessons from the KKK (who, incidentally, are on his side, but that’s a minor issue) because for the rest of us the lessons of 2016 were that women, people of color (I resent my color being delegitimized, thank you. I did not ask to be born with barely a hint of pink to offset the glaring white), Muslims (who the last time I looked Mr Morgan’s people are carefully tiptoeing around lest they offend the barbarian who’ll cut off his head if he steps wrong where some of us are of the opinion that any humans can learn to accept views not their own), and members of the LGBTQWTFBBQ community included about the same number of sensible adults with the ability to make up their own damn minds as any other random or non-random group of people on the planet.

Of course, I’m not Marxist-in-all-but-nameahem progressive so I apparently don’t have the ability to make up my mind and need the likes of Mr Morgan to make it for me.

Damn. I’m not even onto the second paragraph. Speaking of which…

For Simon & Schuster, it can also be immensely profitable. During Yiannopoulos’s tenure at Breitbart – where he’s told gay people to “get back in the closet” and women to “log off” the internet – he has amassed more than 1 million followers on Facebook.

Subtext: profit bad. Shitstirring bad unless done for The Cause. Lots of Facebook followers bad – how dare this uber-flamboyant gay man get off the plantation we progressives made for him!

Threshold Editions, the Simon & Schuster imprint dedicated to “innovative ideas of contemporary conservatism”, has a hit on its hands.

Oooh, scare quotes. Way to imply that the publisher has no right to even consider having a conservative ideas imprint. Never mind that anything other than Mr Morgan’s beloved perspectives is everywhere else and damn near impossible to escape unless you go indie. I may have a fit of the vapors! Where are my pearls! I must clutch my pearls!

But Yiannapoulos is not a conservative intellectual leader with a political agenda. He’s a clickbait grifter who has made a name for himself spewing hate speech.

Look mama, more delegitimization. So the man knows how to market himself. Big whoop. I’ve seen worse clickbait in the hallowed virtual halls of the Grauniad than I’ve seen from Mr Yiannopoulos. Speaking of which, at least spell the man’s name right. Of course he’s only a gay man who doesn’t know enough to hold the correct views, so he clearly doesn’t matter that much (yes, that is sarcasm. If you hadn’t noticed this post is dripping with it, I recommend a couple of painkillers, some smelling salts, some pearls to clutch, and a really good lie-down).

As the editor-in-chief of a small literary review, I wanted Simon & Schuster to know that broadcasting his rhetoric would have real-world consequences.

Oh the courage! The risks Mr Morgan is taking! Why, someone in S&S might even notice!

So I made a decision that has nothing to do with political ideology and everything to do with human rights and decency: the Chicago Review of Books will not cover a single Simon & Schuster book in 2017.

Oh, bullshit. It has everything to do with ideology, or Mr Morgan wouldn’t be making his ever so brave statement condemning S&S for not just permitting wrongthink but publishing it.

According to thousands of Twitter and Facebook users, our stance is equivalent to censorship, fascism and book-burning. By choosing not to review Simon & Schuster books for a year, they claim we’re contradicting both the first amendment and our own mission to cover “diverse voices”.

My god. Be still my beating heart. I may actually agree with Mr Morgan about something. Attempting to punish S&S for publishing a diverse voice he dislikes certainly does contradict his publication’s stated mission; but it does not contradict the First Amendment (which, incidentally, damn well should be capitalized). It’s a disgusting stance, choosing to punish unrelated and wholly innocent parties for the words of another, but it’s absolutely allowed.

In response, they’ve photoshopped my head onto a Nazi soldier, posted my photo with the caption “WARNING! This man was just accused of molesting young children!” and expressed their hope that the next wave of Chicago shootings might “take out” some of our editors.

Now that is disgusting. It’s the kind of thing Mr Morgan’s allies regularly do to those who disagree with them however mildly, but it’s still disgusting – only they usually follow up with a demand that their target prove they aren’t whatever. It’s not pleasant to have your weapons turned on you, is it sir?

But we aren’t infringing upon Yiannopoulos’s or Simon & Schuster’s free speech. Yiannopoulos has the constitutional right to say whatever he wants. He can call Leslie Jones a “black dude” who is “barely literate”. He can call Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig and Kate McKinnon “fat” and “ugly”. He can call transgender people “mentally ill” and “retarded,” and mock a transgender student during a speech at her own school.

Just as Mr Morgan has the right to lie by carefully omitting context as he’s done here. Of course, he’s done this in the UK, for a British publication, and he’s lying about a British man, which means he’s just made himself a prime target for some British-style libel lawfare – except that Mr Yiannopoulos is probably having way too much fun taking the piss to bother.

And of course, Simon & Schuster has every right to increase Yiannopoulos’s platform by publishing his book. However, free speech doesn’t protect anyone from repercussions in a free market. The literary community – and society at large – has the freedom to respond in kind. That’s why the UK division of Simon & Schuster has decided not to publish Yiannopoulos’s book. It’s why some professionals, such as author Danielle Henderson and audiobook producer Emmett Plant, are reconsidering their relationships with the publisher.

I’m sure it has nothing to do with the way the screaming mimis try to enforce guilt by association the way Mr Morgan is doing right now, either. Of course not. It would be silly to suggest any such thing. Why, it might even be (HORRORS!) true….

Some writers, editors and publicists have pointed out that our decision isn’t fair to hundreds of other Simon & Schuster authors who had nothing to do with the publisher’s decision to sign Yiannopoulos. I agree. It’s unfair. Simon & Schuster will publish some wonderful books in 2017 through imprints I admire, such as 37 Ink, Salaam Reads and Touchstone. But I strongly believe the literary community must hold the publisher accountable.

The publisher is accountable for exactly one thing. Its profits, allowing it to keep publishing. A million Facebook followers stands a chance of translating to rather a lot of sales, particularly with the likes of Mr Morgan promoting dick moves like this. Oh, wait. My apologies. I should not have assumed that someone with the name Adam Morgan actually has a dick to make a move with.

Why? Because rhetoric like his – which targets racial, religious and cultural minorities – invites discrimination. It arguably encourages people such as Omar Mateen and Dylann Roof to think of entire groups of people as less than human. And in his 2012 book The Harm in Hate Speech, legal philosopher Jeremy Waldron writes that hate speech sends a clear message to its victims: “Don’t be fooled into thinking you are welcome here.”

And rhetoric like Morgan’s which treats anyone who even dares to associate with someone who disagrees with him as less than human and worthy of what he openly states is unfair treatment does not invite discrimination? I’m sure Mr Morgan would have us believe it does not because it’s done for a “noble purpose”, but guess what? The dudes who saw your head off for looking at them funny also believe they’re acting for a noble purpose. Quite a few of the freaking Nazis believed they were acting for a noble purpose. So did the Communists who helped Stalin engineer and enforce mass starvation, and many others who have committed atrocities through the years.

A noble purpose does not and never will justify an appalling action – and actions, sir, will always speak much louder than words. Yours, Mr Morgan, speak to your desire to silence any speech you disagree with.

In a statement, Simon & Schuster assured readers they “do not and never have condoned discrimination or hate speech in any form”. But how is handing a purveyor of hate speech a $250,000 megaphone not condoning his rhetoric? And as an editor and book critic, how is giving Simon & Schuster free publicity not condoning their decision?

How does he know it’s hate speech? It must be like pornographic literature (yes, that was actually used in a court case to attempt to ban a book for being porn – I may have the exact quote wrong, but it was along the lines of “It’s hard to define but I know it when I see it”). And he is clearly so far above us mere mortals that we need to trust his judgment.

Excuse me. I think the EPA wants to chat with me. Something about unhealthy levels of sarcasm causing a meltdown somewhere.

After the Chicago Review of Books attracted so much attention for our stance, and writers more talented than me asked us to reconsider, I lost sleep. But on Saturday, when the biographer of a lesbian artist criticised Simon & Schuster, Yiannopoulos responded: “There is only one place for lesbians: porn.”

Apparently the concept of returning mockery with mockery is alien to Mr Morgan. Poor sheltered dear. Sarcasm is one of Mr Yiannopoulos’ tools of the trade, and he is a master of the art. I merely aspire to approach his greatness.

I remain convinced that to protect the victims of discrimination from its traumatic and sometimes deadly consequences, the literary community must stand against anyone – author or publisher – who peddles hate speech for profit.

Oh, sweet lord. Apparently it’s perfectly all right if you don’t make a profit from it. Discrimination is a good thing. It’s what allows readers to distinguish between something they might enjoy and something that will lecture at them, call them deplorable, and fail to even reach the level of tedious pap.

I venture to suggest that poor Mr Morgan has been on the wrong end of that kind of discrimination, and instead of working to improve his skills has chosen to claim it’s all because he’s a Victim.

There. I waded through that tripe so you didn’t have to. Now my eyes are bleeding, I’ve got the FDA claiming that my sarcasm levels are lethal weapons and should be registered in case they accidentally set off a meltdown, and I still haven’t put any wordage towards the fiction for the day.

Appreciate the sacrifices I make for you damn it.

88 Comments

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88 responses to “Who’s Trolling Who?

  1. TRX

    “It’s not ‘hate speech’ when *we* do it!”

  2. *grin* I wonder if that writer will have fainting spells finding out that Milo, (that fabulous fag!) was asked to do the forward to a sci-fi and fantasy anthology.

    http://www.ljagilamplighter.com/2017/01/04/forbidden-thoughts-do-not-dare-read-this-book/

    I heard that The Grauniad’s Village Idiot ‘tragically’ lost his job at that ‘vaunted’ newsrag.

  3. More reactions to Milo can be found at Publishing Perspectives. They try to be a bit more even-handed, but still use some whoppers (maybe they can’t be bothered to fact-check?).

    This is a win-win for Milo: lots of free publicity; people falling over themselves to explain why he’s so hateful and should never, never, never have any sort of platform (never), and enough curious newbies will plunk down the $$ to see what all of the fuss is about.

    • slab1

      I was about to say, Milo is crying all the way to the bank.

    • And I was about to say that it is very nice of mr Morgan to do his bit of giving Milo more free publicity. They might still be a few people who’d like to read his book around who haven’t noticed it’s coming out, but this kind of noise will most likely alert them to the fact. 😀

    • Kate Paulk

      Honestly, had it not been for that pile of tripe I fisked, I wouldn’t have thought more than “good for him, I hope it does well for him.” and would have promptly forgotten the whole deal.

      Because someone else – whether I agree with them or not – getting a nice book deal doesn’t mean I can’t write what I like and it doesn’t hurt me. Big effing deal.

      Only babies who can’t stand to see someone else get more than they do get all bent out of shape when they see someone else getting something they don’t “deserve”.

  4. My guess is that all the Chicago Review of Books will accomplish is show how irrelevant it is. How many sales does a review/lack thereof from some publication represent?

    The smart play would have been to publish a scathing review or MIlo’s book, deconstructing all his “hate speech” and maybe to lend publicity to a counterpoint, like, maybe a book by some other media personality titled “Milo Is a Stupid Bigot” or something like that. You know, marketplace of ideas and all that. Instead, they throw a tantrum and give the evil Hatey McHateys an extra-big dose of publicity while looking like a proper pack of idiots. Because mah feelz! Or maybe because they think they will lose in an actual debate of ideas and have to resort to flexing their (rather puny) muscles instead.

    • That, however, might have required reading the booklet which might have resulted in the reviewer being contaminated by Wrongthought, and that could result in a trip to Room 101.

      • Yep. Clearly there are some ideas too dangerous to ever be examined. But it’s okay to read and study the Little Red Book or Das Kapital, regardless of the actual body count associated with those fonts of wisdom.

        • Kate Paulk

          No I am not going to fisk either of those tomes. That would require reading them. Marx puts me to sleep. I don’t need worse.

    • LastRedoubt

      Guess? I’ll make bets…

    • Draven

      I’m hoping that S&S demonstrates to CRB that *their* actions have consequences too, can calls them to inform them they won’t be receiving any advertising dollars in 2017.

  5. Okay, the first thing I need is a pronunciation guide for Yiannopoulos.

    Then I need to go finish reading _Forbidden Thoughts_ in which his introduction is on point, lucid, and very well written. I’m looking forward to _Dangerous_.

    • Kate Paulk

      At a guess (going by the way acquaintances of Greek extraction pronounced their names) something like “yanno-polliss”.

      • In English, approximately: yah-NOP-ull-us. (‘Ull’ as in ‘pull’.) The authentic Greek pronunciation is somewhat different from that, of course.

  6. I’m tempted to get the book just to irk the Proper Sort. I’m not really a Milo fan (his style irks me more than amuses) but the way “right-minded” people are frothing at the mouth and diving for their fainting couches, it might just be worth it.

    • His schtick reminds me of a mirthful Ann Coulter.
      That is not a compliment.

    • I like him in small doses, at least when I he comments about something that has just pissed me off, but probably will not buy the book unless maybe some of you read and recommend it first. Because it’s not a small dose.

      • And what’s that “I” doing there, I didn’t notice pressing it. Well, I do sometimes type using too many fingers (don’t keep the at the moment non-essential fingers far enough from the keyboard).

        • we have noticed your error report and will chastise the monitoring program severely for inadvertently inserting an extraneous character into the key stream being monitored. unfortunately, this is a well-known bug with this monitoring program, however, pay no attention to the monitoring program behind your keyboard, it… what do you mean, he’s reading this? Darn it, don’t you understand what security means? NEVER TELL THE PERSON BEING BUGGED THAT YOU ARE BUGGING THEM!

          Please delete this message before reading it. Thank you. Your NSA tax dollars at work. A message from Big Brother!

    • You could pick up the “Forbidden Thoughts” anthology that has contributions from some of the usual suspects here (among others), so you can take Milo in a small dose (the foreword) and still stick it in the eye of the “right-minded” people.

  7. adventuresfantastic

    c4c

  8. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

    “Chicago Review of Books”?

    Something else to think “not worth my time to read”. 😉

    • Au contraire, Mr. Howard sir. The Murder City Review has value as a “do not read” list.

      Anything the progressive Mr. Morgan deigns to cover will suck a golf ball through a garden hose, so a quick list of the authors and titles will suffice.

      Perhaps some strong stomached Mad Genius can write a bot to make that list. It would be a shame if a human had to do it. My burning eyes!

    • Having never heard of this publication prior to this very article, I have some doubts as to its relevance.

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

        Apparently, it’s not well known and this “ban” might be an attempt to make themselves more well known.

        Oh, apparently there’s a group called “Chicago Book Review” that’s getting unwanted attention thanks to this idiot.

        “Chicago Book Review” had to post a message distancing themselves for this garbage.

        • Joe in PNG

          Makes sense. If they can get us deplorables to make enough noise and bother, then maybe the kicker types will go and see what all the fuss is about.

  9. Murder City USA has a Review of Books? Who knew?

    I look forward to ignoring it really hard this year, now that I know it exists. Have fun doing your review for free, Mr. Morgan sir. Starbucks probably has an opening for someone of your talents.

  10. Jacobellis v. Ohio, 378 U.S. 184 (1964) , is the source for the ” I know it when I see it ” quote. WB

  11. BobtheRegisterredFool

    Maybe we should boycott Chicago because of Bureau of Land Management agents’ enhanced interrogation of that man.

  12. Anachronda

    It strikes me that, with the use of blue on electoral maps to avoid associating Democrats with the reds, we have a ready-made alternate term for this sort of idiot: Blue Meanies.

    Sadly, the Wikipedia page doesn’t have images.

  13. Of the author of the article Kate refers to in this blog post, I shall say only this: What a maroon!

    On a different topic: Curse you, Kate Paulk – you mentioned HFY in your post last week and I lost days, entire days, to reading engrossing stories where humanity is portrayed in a (mostly) positive light. I don’t know if I shall ever recover. 😛

    • Kate Paulk

      I’ve lost rather a lot of time to HFY myself. On the flip side, I now have over 25k words of Prussian badassery and I’m still writing, so I’m not going to complain about it too much.

  14. Makes me wonder who published Mein Kampf and if there’s a statute of limitations on punishing a publishing company for publishing something you don’t like.

    • BobtheRegisterredFool

      I know someone did a manga adaptation.

    • Several places published it, with the money going to various Jewish charities and historical organizations. it is now available in Germany for the first time since 1945, and apparently initial sales were more than the government wanted (as in, it sold copies. How many is a number I have not yet seen.) Reading that screed is punishment for having wanted to read it, IMHO, German or English.

      • I picked it up from a library once out of curiosity. It was pretty boring, and I couldn’t finish it.

        • Mein Kampf has a pretty good claim to be the worst-written book ever to become famous.

          • Joe in PNG

            The general consensus is that while it clearly laid out exactly what Hitler was planning on doing, nobody could stand to read it far enough to find out.

          • I don’t know. Fifty Shades of Gray exists.

          • TRX

            I made it all the way through the Austro-Hungarian Empire part up to the “They Live” part where he could tell Jews just by looking at them, but lost enthusiasm to grind through the rest.

            What’s even worse is that he (or probably Hess, who wrote the first book) is there’s a *second* volume, imaginatively called “Zweites Buch.” (Second Book) The Wikipedia entry on that one makes it look more like a plan for the foreign policy of the Reich, so it might actually be more readable. Maybe.

          • Feather Blade

            Worse than “The Houseplants of Gor”?

            • Yes. ‘Houseplants of Gor’ is (1) short, (2) funny, (3) not a real book. Mein Kampf is interminable, and Hitler has a tendency to interrupt himself at random intervals to go on five-page rants about how Jews are plague rats who deliberately spread syphilis, and things like that. (You would not believe how obsessed the man was with syphilis.)

    • When I worked at Borders, there was a copy of “The Turner Diaries” that had, as its cover, an explanation of why the publishing company put it out. (Basically, “There are idiots out there who think stuff like this is true, and you have to know it’s out there so you don’t get blindsided.”)

  15. LastRedoubt

    Now that is disgusting. It’s the kind of thing Mr Morgan’s allies regularly do to those who disagree with them however mildly, but it’s still disgusting – only they usually follow up with a demand that their target prove they aren’t whatever. It’s not pleasant to have your weapons turned on you, is it sir?

    Even a few years ago I would have said “keep the high ground, be the ‘better’ person.”

    Now?

    Prisoner’s Dilemma for the win.

    Sure, I’ll treat everyone nice. If they do otherwise, I hit back. If they go low, so do I. Until they stop.

  16. Christopher M. Chupik

    They told me that if Trump were elected president, dissenting gay voices would be silenced, and they were right!

  17. Arwen

    Milo Yiannopoulos makes all the right heads explode.

  18. You know, I don’t think I’ve ever read stuff by the Chicago book review whatzit…

    *goes to look it up*

    Um. I guess I know why; here’s the first thing they’ve got:
    The titular essay of Aaron Gilbreath’s debut collection of nonfiction, Everything We Don’t Know, concerns itself with the Fukushima disaster. Experts argue that no radiation will reach the United States—even as sixty-foot chunks of concrete wash ashore in Oregon. Throughout, Gilbreath weaves facts into his narrative, largely about his dietary habits

    I can get fear mongering based on ignorance that a body is proud of for free, and it’ll probably be more interesting if I can talk to the person rather than be dictated at.

    *scrolls down again to see what catches her eye*
    ‘They Are Trying to Break Your Heart’ Lacks Precision, But So Does War.

    That is a headline.

    Yeah, they’re totally gonna rip S&S apart by not reviewing the latest Steven King or Mary Higgins Clark novel. For a year.

    /eyeroll

  19. My thanks to you, Kate. I try not to click on certain sites (tHe GrauniaD being one) due to complete derp contained therein.

    Milo was supposed to come to Fargo, but ended up having to cancel due to the security fees being too high, etc. with all the NoDAPL protestors promising to protest. I would have dearly loved to see him speak.

  20. If you’re talking about Damien Walter up top, Grauniad sacked him, presumably for unacceptable spelling and grammar.

    • More like, stopped buying his articles. AFAIK, he was never actually on payroll.

      • As someone who occasionally freelances for The Guardian’s music section, I’m sure there’s a story behind why Damien no longer writes for them. Suspect some of the stuff he was saying about Larry Correia and others were potentially libellous, and their legal department decided he wasn’t worth the risk.

  21. Mr. Morgan is unfamiliar with the term #LiberalHypocrisy which is what I usually file tripe of his sort under…

  22. mhjhnsn

    Minor point, but I have lived in Chicago all my life except for college, am what is called “an avid reader,” and I have never heard of this “Chicago Review of Books”. So please don’t think it is in any way a prestige publication, or that this Adam Morgan person is of any consequence outside his own narrow circle.

  23. As a rule, I don’t engage in debate online. It’s too…frustrating, and an immense time suck. However, I did respond on Twitter to the Chicago Review’s intention not to support any of S&S books. It was mostly a thing of impulse. I said it makes no sense what they’re trying to do. Hurting other writers while Milo will still sell a gazillion books. I mean, it’s rather obvious they’ll have zero impact on his sales, or very little.

    I guess nothing beats that elated high that you get when you virtue signal something, irrespective of whether you even have your facts straight. Yep, pun intended (after the fact).