Alan Weiss’s Monday Morning Memo® – 05/24/2021
Remember Fahrenheit 451, the book and movie about the burning of books (that’s the temperature needed)? Or 1984 or Animal Farm? These were fictional, fantasies, about a Big Brother and speech control and suppression.
Well, the employees of Simon & Schuster signed petitions to stop the publication of a new book by former Vice President Mike Pence. Part of the petition read, “By choosing to publish Mike Pence, Simon & Schuster is generating wealth for a central figure of a presidency that unequivocally advocated for racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, anti-Blackness, xenophobia, misogyny, ableism, islamophobia, antisemitism, and violence….” The CEO, Jonathan Karp said that the book would proceed as planned, to be published in 2023. Good for him.
Of interest: Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York has an approximately $6 million book deal in the midst of allegations of: using state help to write the book, sexual harassment and misconduct, distributing vaccines based on political support, illegally providing his family with benefits, causing avoidable deaths in nursing homes, and providing inside news to his brother Chris Cuomo, a reporter on CNN (who had to apologize for “inappropriate” conversations with his brother). I see no objections to his book in the major media or at the publisher. In fact, he’s still the governor, despite it all.
We’re seeing the same phenomenon on college campuses, where speakers who are not of the predominant ideology are booed off stage or prevented from appearing altogether. The problem—the bias—seems insuperable. We scoffed at the suggestions in Fahrenheit 451 and Animal Farm. But perhaps we’re now in Brave New World. I’ve read all those books, and I never expected to be living them.
“Freedom of speech” is not “freedom of speech for those who agree with me.” It’s simply “freedom of speech.” Otherwise, we’ll all be in Lord of the Flies.
You can’t have a university without having free speech, even though at times it makes us terribly uncomfortable. If students are not going to hear controversial ideas on college campuses, they’re not going to hear them in America. I believe it’s part of their education. —Donna Shalala
It is a paradox that every dictator has climbed to power on the ladder of free speech. Immediately on attaining power, each dictator has suppressed all free speech except his own. —Herbert Hoover
To suppress free speech is a double wrong. It violates the rights of the hearer as well as those of the speaker. —Frederick Douglass