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Conservative Group Cancels Speech by Yiannopoulos

  • Associated Press

FILE - People walk on the stage on the final day of the 2016 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbor, Maryland, March 5, 2016.

Right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos has been disinvited to this year's Conservative Political Action Conference after his attempt to clarify past comments on relationships between boys and older men fell flat with organizers. Hours later, his publisher cancelled his book Dangerous, which had been scheduled to come out in June.

The American Conservative Union founded and hosts CPAC, which is being held Wednesday through Saturday outside Washington. In a tweet on Monday, ACU chairman Matt Schlapp said that "due to the revelation of an offensive video in the past 24 hours condoning pedophilia, the American Conservative Union has decided to rescind the invitation of Milo Yiannopoulos to speak."

After the polarizing Breitbart News editor was invited, his invitation sparked a backlash. The conservative Reagan Battalion blog tweeted video clips Sunday in which Yiannopoulos discussed Jews, sexual consent, statutory rape, child abuse and homosexuality.

Later Monday, Simon & Schuster and its Threshold Editions imprint announced that "after careful consideration" they had pulled the book, for which pre-orders placed it high on Amazon.com's best-seller lists. The subject of intense controversy, Dangerous was originally scheduled to come out in March. But Yiannopoulos pushed back the release to June so he could write about the protests during his recent campus tour, including a cancelled appearance at the University of California, Berkeley.

At the time of his publisher's decision Monday, Dangerous ranked No. 83 on Amazon's overall list and No. 1 in the subcategory of "Censorship & Politics."

More than 100 Simon & Schuster authors had objected to his book deal, which was announced last December, and Roxane Gay withdrew a planned book. Some bookstores had said they would not sell it, although the National Coalition Against Censorship and other free speech organizations had defended the publisher. Threshold is a conservative imprint that has published books by President Donald Trump, who has defended Yiannopoulos, and former Vice President Dick Cheney among others.

On Facebook, Yiannopoulos blamed deceptive editing and his own "sloppy phrasing" for any indication he supported pedophilia. The British author said he spoke of his own relationship when he was 17 with a man who was 29. The age of consent in the U.K. is 16.

It's unclear who edited the videos.

"We realize that Mr. Yiannopoulos has responded on Facebook, but it is insufficient," Schlapp said. "We urge him to immediately further address these disturbing comments."

Schlapp said the invitation was initially extended knowing that free speech on college campuses is a "battlefield where we need brave, conservative standard-bearers."

But he added: "There is no disagreement among our attendees on the evils of sexual abuse of children."

Yiannopoulos writes for Breitbart News, considered by many a platform for the so-called alt-right movement, an offshoot of conservatism that mixes racism, white nationalism and populism.

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