I remember witnessing Milo Yiannopolous rise to power, riding the alt-right wave. He was known for being a provocateur and by his own admission a troll. He exemplified the awfulness of the behaviors addressed under the alt-right banner, sexism, racism, homophobia, really anything that you could suffix with -ism or -phobia was part of his repertoire.
Recently, a copy of his book with editor’s notes got leaked and is now being scrutinized by the public. One of my friends provided me with a link and I decided to go over it in detail. It quickly dawned on me that in addition to his previously well-documented bad behavior, Yiannopolous was a terrible writer. As I went over the writing with my friend, it quickly turned into a party game of selecting any given part of the book and reading aloud for humorous effect.
It’s clear that the editor did not enjoy the work he was given, as any random editor’s note plucked out indicates disdain for Yiannopolous’s sloppy methods. The editor often calls out the inadequately expressed opinions and the ego oozing on every page. An entire chapter devoted to trashing “ugly people” was completely deleted by the editor, citing that it damages the rest of the book.
The text in and of itself is laughable as well. Yiannopoulos’s insatiable desire to attack everyone renders his credibility null and void. I’ve personally grown tired of the intellectually lazy and callous approach of equal opportunity offense. I don’t think it’s admirable or somehow more enlightened. Instead, it’s a way of flinging shit at a wall and seeing what sticks. This is why I don’t consider South Park good satire.
Ultimately, Yiannopoulos’s book demonstrates the intellectual failure of the free speech absolutist point of view. Instead of carefully constructing a coherent argument, Yiannopolous dumps whatever he wants onto the page, hoping at least some of it will piss off someone he hates.
But the editor showcases a form of power that Yiannopolous was likely not used to. Here was an editor that wasn’t going to give him a free pass and expected actual rigor from him. This was something he couldn’t deliver on, obviously. While getting your work edited ruthlessly is part of the writing process, one can’t help but feel that the editor was particularly flustered.
At the end of it all, one can’t help but feel like Yiannopolous has nothing interesting to say. Clearly the editor felt the same.