Gay conservative provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos won an early round in his lawsuit against Simon & Schuster today, with a New York judge turning down the publisher's motion to dismiss the suit.
Yiannopoulous sued Simon & Schuster for breach of contract after the company canceled plans to publish his book Dangerous. The cancellation came in February, after a video surfaced in which Yiannopoulos defended sexual relationships between teens and adults, although the author contended in his suit that the company didn't want to publish the book because of "pressure from authors, bookselling accounts, business and special interest groups, celebrities, and various other self-appointed censors" who objected to Yiannopoulos's right-wing views.
But he didn't file the lawsuit until July, and the publisher argued that waiting so long -- and accepting an $80,000 advance the company said he could keep -- meant he was satisfied with the outcome and that Simon & Schuster had met all its obligations, The Hollywood Reporter notes.
New York Supreme Court judge Barry Ostrager, however, ruled that Yiannopoulos's initial silence on the matter didn't negate his right to sue. Also, Ostrager found that the author's decision to self-publish the book, three days before he filed suit, didn't indicate that he had accepted the terms of the contract termination either, according to the Reporter. (The New York Supreme Court, despite its name, is not the state's highest court.)
So the lawsuit will now proceed. "I'm happy that the court recognized my case deserves to be heard," Yiannopoulos said in a statement posted on Instagram and quoted by USA Today. "As we expose Simon & Schuster's despicable and cowardly decisions to the world, it will be a lesson to all publishers that you can't breach contracts with conservatives just because Leftists get angry and send you mean emails, and because liberal bloggers are disappointed in you."
Simon & Schuster released a statement as well, saying, "Today's ruling was purely in connection with a preliminary procedural motion, and was not an adjudication on the merits of Yiannopoulos' claims. As we proceed to discovery, we remain confident that we will ultimately prevail in this matter."
Yiannopoulos, who left his job as Breitbart technology editor and lost a speaking slot at a major conservative conference after the video came to light, is known for offensive comments about transgender people, women, and people of color. "In the book, he hashes old feuds (with the likes of Leslie Jones), criticizes 'ugly' women and 'fat' people, and extolls President Trump and his policies," USA Today reports. He was banned from Twitter for inciting a campaign against Jones, an actress known for Saturday Night Live and Ghostbusters, that saw many of his followers send racist tweets.