Depending on how closely you follow the news, the name "Milo Yiannopoulos" may stir something in you. The ultra-conservative writer has been the source of countless controversies in recent months and his name is (unfortunately) back in the news today. But why? Let's backtrack for those lucky enough to know nothing or very little about him – who exactly is this man and why's he causing such a stir? Milo, who? Milo Yiannopoulos, 32, is a far-right British writer, self-proclaimed troll and peddler of hate speech. He has become a prominent figure among the American alt-right, a disparate group associated with right-wing ideologies, which opposes so-called political correctness and feminism. Several neo-Nazis, white supremacists and anti-Semites identify themselves as members.
Yiannopoulos is an avid supporter of President Trump (whom he calls “Daddy”) and is currently an editor at Breitbart News, a right-wing US website with close ties to the Trump administration that's well-known for promoting racism and misogyny.
Yiannopoulos’ oeuvre consists predominantly of highly contentious statements and antagonistic clickbait columns, with headlines such as "Birth Control Makes Women Unattractive and Crazy" and "Would You Rather Your Child Had Feminism or Cancer?"
Twitter banned Yiannopoulos for life in July 2016 for what they referred to as "inciting or engaging in the targeted abuse or harassment of others". Specifically, he was accused of inciting abuse against actor Leslie Jones over her role in the latest Ghostbusters film. He called it "a movie to help lonely middle-aged women feel better about being left on the shelf". Jones then faced a torrent of racist abuse, about which she rightly complained. Yiannopoulos then accused her of playing the "victim", said her reply to him was "barely literate" and called her a "black dude".
Earlier this month, violent student protests erupted at the University of Berkeley in California over a planned talk by Yiannopoulos. The talk was subsequently cancelled and the demonstrations caused $100,000 of damage to the campus, reported CNN. Yiannopoulos' public-speaking engagements often lead to similar protests at universities.
So, what's the latest?
Yiannopoulos' most recent controversy relates to the book deal he was awarded by publisher Simon & Schuster in December 2016. The announcement incited impassioned complaints from critics, who claimed the company were promoting and funding Yiannopoulos' brand of hate speech.
Roxane Gay pulled her own book from the publisher in protest and the Chicago Review of Books said it wouldn’t review any Simon & Schuster books in 2017. But as of now, Yiannopoulos’ book deal has been cancelled and his autobiography, Dangerous, which was due for release next month, won’t be seeing the light of day.
Why? Well, an old podcast clip of Yiannopoulos has emerged in which he appears to condone paedophilia. In the clip, he seems to suggest there is little wrong with sexual relationships between 13-year-olds and adults. He said these relationships could be a "coming-of-age relationship … in which those older men help those younger boys discover who they are". In response to the allegations, Yiannopoulos took to Facebook to reiterate the fact that he is gay before claiming he is “a child abuse victim” himself and denying that he is pro-paedophilia.
“I would like to restate my utter disgust at adults who sexually abuse minors.” But this latest controversy has proven to be the final straw for some of his biggest supporters. Simon & Schuster made its announcement on Monday, after more than 100 of its other authors voiced their concerns, the BBC reported. Yiannopoulos already received a reported $250,000 (£200,000) advance for the book.
Prior to the clip resurfacing, Yiannopoulos had also been due to speak at the influential Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Maryland, which will also host President Trump, but he has since been uninvited. Matt Schlapp, chairman of the American Conservative Union (ACU), which organises the event, said: "We urge [Yiannopoulos] to immediately further address these disturbing comments," the BBC reported.
Some of Yiannopoulos' fellow Breitbart employees have even reportedly threatened to leave the company if he's not fired, according to The Guardian. Watch this space.