Last week, Out magazine released their latest feature story on Milo Yiannopoulos, a member of the ‘alt-right’ and recently banned from Twitter after inciting hate speech in regards to Leslie Jones, Ghostbusters star.
What followed was frankly, a shit-storm.
Members of the LGBT+ media have erupted in disagreement of the publishing of this story, saying that someone (albeit openly gay) who incites such bigotry should not be released with the intention of public circulation.
A collective of them have written and published their position on ThinkProgress, citing it as a “glamorising piece” and that the “profile negligently perpetuates harm against the LGBT [sic] community”.
So here are my thoughts.
Firstly, as an LGBT+ publication, Out should be publishing stories on all kinds of rainbow individuals – the lack of diversity race-wise has already been raised multiple times, so I won’t go into it, but the fact that we even call it ‘rainbow’ indicates that there are more viewpoints than is usually discussed. Sure, Milo is what we represent as the new ‘oppressors’, being a white homosexual cis-male, but he is definitely not the only queer member of the alt-right. Even though the political views may not be agreeable, the duty of the publication is two-fold: one, to share stories readers should know about (as determined by the editor); and two, to make money.
Which brings me to my next point. Detractors of the article have been complaining about this being click-bait and an obvious money-grabbing incident. So what? In a world where everyone is complaining that print is dead, this issue will definitely shift off the news stands. We have to agree that as clickbait goes, this wasn’t that bad – at least it wasn’t ‘you won’t BELIEVE what Celebrity X has done now’.
But that being said, if you are going to run a controversial story, I believe the publication should fully stand behind and support it. It’s not that Out has come and retracted it, but the disclaimer at the beginning having to clarify that the article is not representative of their views reduces the integrity of the article, and almost makes it seem like the author went rogue. Obviously, from the ThinkProgress article, the office was not happy with it – a few staffers have publicly put their name and workplace on the list – but these are just calls an editor-in-chief must make.
As well as this, I’d venture to even say that the article itself pussy-footed a little around Milo. Other articles about him may paint him as a monster (as opposed to the playful clown that Out did), but authors there tried to humanise and explain his behaviour. I guess something may be said that the writer has resigned himself to the fact that Milo’s views are actually that despicable, but there was only really light critique of them. There is reporting the facts, and then there is just dearth of insight.
I’m not saying the article itself was in good taste. But I do support Out’s decision to run it. It’s not even a matter of freedom of speech, or journalistic integrity (though it does play a slight part); it’s a matter of having the conviction to share stories that educate readers, which is what I think the business of publishing should be about.