Metro has removed an undisclosed number of billboard-size ads for a new book written by gay alt-right firebrand and writer Milo Yiannopoulos that began to appear last week in subway stations throughout the Metro system.
“The ad violates Metro’s advertising guidelines,” Metro spokesperson Richard Jordan told the Washington Blade in a brief statement. “We have removed the ads.”
Jordan referred to a policy adopted by Metro in 2015 that calls for prohibiting advertisements “intended to influence members of the public regarding an issue on which there are varying opinions” as well as ads that “are intended to influence public policy.”
The Yiannopoulos ads included a large photo of Yiannopoulos and the name of his book, “Dangerous,” along with the words, “The Most Hated Man On The Internet.”
Jordan didn’t provide a specific explanation of how Yiannopoulos or his book violates the Metro ad policy, but a number of Metro riders reportedly complained to Metro that Yiannopoulos’ controversial views, which are elaborated in his book, were offensive to them.
Yiannopoulos’s self-described politically incorrect views on race relations, feminism, immigration, Islam, and transgender rights, among other things, have enraged many political activists.
In February, the alt-right publication Breitbart dismissed him from his role as an editor after a video surfaced in which he appeared to be condoning sex between adults and minors. His remarks on the widely circulated video also prompted Simon & Schuster publishing house to rescind his book contract for “Dangerous.” Yiannopoulos has since self-published the book through Amazon.
He issued an apology over his remarks in the video on sex with minors, saying he used a poor choice of words and never intended to imply he favors repealing age of consent laws banning sex between adults and minors.
In an email to Washingtonian magazine, Yiannopoulos denounced Metro’s decision to pull his book ads, saying the ads did not discuss anything overtly political.
“We didn’t have anything to say about issues or policy, unless you consider my face to be a political statement,” he wrote. “So I have a simple question for D.C. Metro. Which advertisements do not break those policies? Is my face a hate crime?”
He added, “We believe that the removal of our billboards constitutes unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination by a government regulator in violation of the First Amendment and are preparing our response now.”
In the late 1970s, the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance sued Metro after its proposed message ad for Metro buses, which included the words “Someone in your life is gay,” was rejected. Metro reversed its decision and allowed the ads to be placed on buses after losing an initial round in court on grounds that it had accepted other “message” ads and could not selectively allow some while not allowing others.
Former GLAA President Craig Howell, who was active in GLAA at the time the bus ads were released, said such ads might legally be rejected by Metro now under its 2015 policy of not allowing any ads promoting a message “on which there are varying opinions.”