Absolutely nobody needed the one millionth one of these things, but it must be conceded that this is an unintentionally revealing quote:
“It’s happening on both sides,” Sargent told me recently. “It’s just a different mechanism. On the right, it’s going through institutions and school boards, and on the left, it’s using social media as a tool of activism. It’s aggressively protesting to increase the pain threshold, until there’s censorship going the other way.”
“One the right, censorship is taking the form of censorship. On the left, it’s taking the form of people on social media criticizing their social superiors.” This is it, right there, except the original is meant unironically.
You will never guess, when the column gets down to a specific case, what kind of argument the columnist believes has some kind of moral right not merely to be platformed but promoted:
Even when a potentially controversial book does find its way into print, other gatekeepers in the book world — the literary press, librarians, independent bookstores — may not review, acquire or sell it, limiting the book’s ability to succeed in the marketplace. Last year, when the American Booksellers Association included Abigail Shrier’s book, “Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters,” in a mailing to member booksellers, a number of booksellers publicly castigated the group for promoting a book they considered transphobic. The association issued a lengthy apology and subsequently promised to revise its practices. The group’s board then backed away from its traditional support of free expression, emphasizing the importance of avoiding “harmful speech.”
This is simply an absurd complaint. Prominent review and bookstore shelf space are incredibly limited limited to the numbers of book published; no book has any kind of right to it. That a book has hateful content is an excellent reason not to give it these scarce resources. There is no earthy reason why what its very title suggests is an unhinged anti-trans screed by a no-name author should expect lots of prominent reviews and table placements at Barnes & Noble, and certainly choosing not to review or carry a book has nothing to do with “free expression.”
But as Paul’s decision to assign another TERF book to a reviewer virtually guaranteed to give it a positive notice when she was editor of the Book Review indicates, as always the real claim here is “there’s nothing actually wrong with anti-trans arguments, and you are wrong to criticize them,” with a specific implied “you should not say I made bad choices to promote them when I was one of the country’s most influential literary gatekeepers” added.
And that’s where these anti-woke blogs pretty much always end up; certain people should be allowed to determine what views deserve promotion and what don’t, and the role of everyone else is to shut up because the Great Principle of Free Speech demands no less:
Pamela Paul is gives the game away in this passage.
It’s ONE thing to have a lawyer read a book and weed out anything that might offend powerful actors who keep lawyers on retainer.
But asking members of a subordinate class to read and provide notes? GASP! CENSORSHIP! pic.twitter.com/5YnFFHXAB2— dave karpf (@davekarpf) July 24, 2022
If, in 2022, you’re still focused on raising the alarm about the latter trend, then it’s a pretty clearly signal that you’re less interested in protecting *speech* than you are in protecting the *status hierarchy.*
(“those people” shouldn’t be able to pressure publishers.)— dave karpf (@davekarpf) July 24, 2022