Monday, August 24, 2020

Previewing Suzanne Nossel's "Dare to Speak"


I’ve quickly ordered Suzanne Nossel’s new book “Dare to Speak: Defending Free Speech for All”, from Dey Street, 304 pages.  The author is CEO of "PEN America". 

The book appears to have the premise that individuals need to take more responsibility for how they deploy their own speech rather than depending on governments, as we saw with President Trump’s Executive Order regarding Section 230 on May 31.

Roy S. Gutterman has a prospective review in the Washington Post July 31.

The Los Angeles Times goes one better. Sewell Chan, a lead editor of the paper, interviews the author on July 21.  The author thinks that “speech transgressions” can do real harm in a culture that is already polarized and unequal at an individual level, and lays out three principles of contrition.

One of the problems, looking from a distance, seems to be “skin in the game”.  Many writers or speakers are less directly affected by issues than others when they talk about them.  With that point in mind, my own history of past speech, with gays in the military, is unusual and ironic, but less so today than it was in the years before “don’t ask don’t tell” was finally repealed in 2011. 

In today’s culture, many activists “expect” everyone to accept the idea that they belong to groups (intersectionalized) whether they want to accept that “reality” or not. One problem with inequality is that it really calls for “action”  (even willingness to appreciate and behave with “solidarity”) and not just gratuitous or undirected speech on abstractions. 

 T1J offers an interesting piece (April 2019) "Is 'Civil Debate' Actually Useful"?

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