Unethical (And Ominous) Quote Of The Month: 600 “Members Of The Writing, Publishing, And Broader Literary Community”[Link Fixed]

“As members of the writing, publishing, and broader literary community of the United States, we care deeply about freedom of speech. We also believe it is imperative that publishers uphold their dedication to freedom of speech with a duty of care. We recognize that harm is done to a democracy not only in the form of censorship, but also in the form of assault on inalienable human rights. As such, we are calling on Penguin Random House to recognize its own history and corporate responsibility commitments by reevaluating its decision to move forward with publishing Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s forthcoming book….”

—Signatories (600 and rising) from the world of publishing in an open letter titled “We Dissent,” demanding that Penguin Random House refuse to publish a book by Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett.

Here is the whole, head-exploding, censorious thing, an “it isn’t what it is” (Yoo’s Rationalization again!) classic that could have been composed by the lackeys of “1984’s” Big Brother:

WE DISSENT

“Now there will be those who will argue that this could all too easily drift into a form of censorship, albeit self-censorship, but I don’t buy that argument. It has to be possible to balance freedom of expression with wider moral and social responsibilities.”

– David Puttnam,“Does the media have a duty of care?” (TED Talk)

As members of the writing, publishing, and broader literary community of the United States, we care deeply about freedom of speech. We also believe it is imperative that publishers uphold their dedication to freedom of speech with a duty of care.

We recognize that harm is done to a democracy not only in the form of censorship, but also in the form of assault on inalienable human rights. As such, we are calling on Penguin Random House to recognize its own history and corporate responsibility commitments by reevaluating its decision to move forward with publishing Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s forthcoming book.

On June 24, 2022, Coney Barrett joined Justices Alito, Roberts, Kavanaugh, Thomas, and Gorsuch inoverturning the landmark ruling Roe v. Wade, dismantling protections for the human rights to privacy, self-determination, and bodily autonomy along with the federal right to an abortion in the United States. International human rights organizations widely recognize abortion access as a fundamental human right and have condemned the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision. In fact, Human Rights Watch—founded by Random House’s second publisher, Robert L. Bernstein, who held nascent meetings in Random House’s offices—notes that “the human rights on which a right to abortion access is predicated are set out in the [United Nations’] Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” a document to which Penguin Random House parent company Bertelsmann commits itself in Section 2.2.1 of its Code of Conduct.

The ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health that overturned Roe hinged on exactly what Coney Barrett’s book is reportedly about—the judiciary’s role and“how judges are not supposed to bring their personal feelings into how they rule.” Yet, it seems this is exactly what Coney Barrett has done, inflicting her own religious and moral agenda upon all Americans while appropriating the rhetoric of even-handedness—and Penguin Random House has agreed to pay her a sum of $2 million to do it.

Therefore, we believe that moving forward with Coney Barrett’s book places Bertelsmann and Penguin Random House both in direct conflict with their own Code of Conduct and in violation of international human rights.

This is not just a book that we disagree with, and we are not calling for censorship. Many of us work daily with books we find disagreeable to our personal politics. Rather, this is a case where a corporation has privately funded the destruction of human rights with obscene profits. Coney Barrett is free to say as she wishes, but Penguin Random House must decide whether to fund her position at the expense of human rights in order to inflate its bottom line, or to truly stand behind the values it proudly espouses to hold.

We the undersigned have made the decision to stand by our duty of care while upholding freedom of speech. We cannot stand idly by while our industry misuses free speech to destroy our rights.

First, an important word from Geena…

If this isn’t sufficient to make you worry about the increasingly open and flagrant totalitarian tilt of the American Left (as an election looms), I’m not sure what can be done for you, or the United States for that matter. Here are hundreds of the people responsible for what Americans get to read, think about and factor into their own analysis of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness making a self-contradictory endorsement of censorship based on viewpoint disagreements, all the while disingenuously claiming to value free speech.

Are they liars? Are they that stupid? Do they think American are that stupid? In any case, such people are not qualified to be the gatekeepers of literature and public discourse. Who of good will and classic liberal orientation could read this transparently dishonest screed and think, “Hey, what a good argument! I’ve got to sign this!”

The letter begs for a paragraph by paragraph fisking, but I’m not going to do it; I assume my readers here can do it themselves, because anyone not in the throes of GoodThink can see that…

  • ….”we care deeply about freedom of speech. We also believe it is imperative that publishers uphold their dedication to freedom of speech with a duty of care” means “We support freedom of speech when it communicates our views, but are careful to constrain and limit speech that doesn’t.
  • …can see the humor in the letter’s most hilarious line: “This is not just a book that we disagree with, and we are not calling for censorship” as the letter calls for censorship because it disagrees with the book and its author.
  • ….the signatories don’t comprehend the law, Roe, Dobbs or the role of the U.S. Supreme Court
  • …that the intent of the letter isn’t to protect anyone, but to punish one member of the Supreme Court 6-3 majority in Dobbs by interfering with a legal contract (a tort, by the way).

As with so many of the post-Dobbs protests, the letter’s argument relies on a flawed and controversial interpretation of “human rights” that includes a right to take the life of an unborn, living human being. There is no fundamental right to aborting a child, and the full extent of the letter’s argument that it is consists of “everybody does it” and an appeal to foreign values, which the United States explicitly rejected when it was founded.

H.L. Mencken notwithsatnding, appealing to the U.N. is the last refuge of a scoundrel, or at least leftist hacks. The attack on Comey for “inflicting her own religious and moral agenda upon all Americans” is particularly despicable. All SCOTUS justices have belief systems forged from experience, education, peer groups, parents and in many cases, religious thought. Belief systems unavoidably play a role in judicial perspectives, but Comey’s position in Dobbs was and is also supportable on the basis of pure legal analysis: the fact that Roe was wrongly and irresponsibly decided has been the majority position of objective legal scholars for half a century.

But I digress. The genuinely ominous aspect of this letter is that it is an open call for literary and intellectual censorship for partisan political goals by the same people charged with advancing the means of public discourse. This is what the Left has become. This is where it is going. They aren’t even hiding it any more.

We all have an ethical duty to recognize this, take it seriously, point it out, condemn it and fight it, before they censor us.

15 thoughts on “Unethical (And Ominous) Quote Of The Month: 600 “Members Of The Writing, Publishing, And Broader Literary Community”[Link Fixed]

  1. There are more than six hundred members of the writing, publishing and broader literary community?

    (And there’s that word again. “Community.” You keep using that word. It’s supposed to evoke warm and fuzzy feelings toward a group, but it’s been turned into a passive-aggressive shibboleth and weapon. As in “We are a COMMUNITY, and therefore above reproach, and if you dare to disagree with us, you are a Philistine.)

  2. I would be interested to know who the signatories are, and what roles they perform in the “writing, publishing and broader literary community.” Not for doxxing purposes; I’m just curious how many actual heavy hitters are amongst them (the heavy hitters would likely be more influential).

    Regardless, this smacks of feeding your neighbors to the tiger in hopes the tiger will eat you last.

    But there may be glimmers of hope: https://www.nationalreview.com/news/cowardice-washington-post-media-critic-admits-he-was-scared-to-defend-publication-of-tom-cotton-op-ed/

  3. Still trying to wrap my head around how it’s okay to tell a baker he *must* create a cake even though he disagrees with the message it sends, but then turn around and tell a publisher that they can’t be part of creating a book with an “objectionable” message.

  4. ””… We care deeply about freedom of speech. We also believe it is imperative that publishers uphold their dedication to freedom of speech with a duty of care.” Who endowed publishers with the duty of care? Any publisher can publish anything. That’s called free speech. So the NY Post has the exact same duty of care that the Times has? And which, really, is discharging that duty responsibly?

    Where were you guys when in 1955 Nabokov wrote “Lolita,” every pre-adolescent’s introduction to sex? Should he not have been published just in case some innocent kid got hold of it? According to your screed, duty of care does not apply beyond opposing political beliefs, right? Either get off it or broaden your scope to censor every single thing we read. Totally fascist.

  5. This week’s change of ownership of Twitter may see these types of leftie-my-way-or-the-highway open letters come to an end. They only published this because they don’t fear any blowback in the mainstream media. If Twitter changes its protective stripes and opens the free speech door, these weenies will shrink from view just like they jumped in a mountain lake in February.

  6. It should be policy that authors of such rhetoric must must accurately identify themselves or their writings/demands will be summarily dismissed (thrown into the trash bin). Anyway, this dissertation claims to abhor censorship while calling precisely for censorship. There is a term that describes these totalitarian loving people in a most succinct manner: Evil.

  7. Re: The United Nations Declaration of Human Rights. This document has been misused time and time again. Probably because it is misread or not read at all. Eg. It proclaims that every man and woman has the right to marry with free consent. At the time of its promulgation that meant a man marrying a woman, not homosexual unions. The pro-abortionists use it to assign universality to the so-called right to abortion when the word abortion does not even occur in the document.
    Re: Censorship. Censorship is an individual right, not a corporate one. I engage in censorship every time I pick up a book at the library or the bookstore. I read the reviews, the table of contents, and the bona fide of the author, peruse some pages, (I recently rejected a book because the opening sentence was a 75-word run-on.), and decide whether or not I should borrow or purchase the book. What I object to is some outside entity deciding a priori what books I can peruse.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.