Woody Allen memoir finally published

After Woody Allen and his memoir, Apropos of Nothing, were cast adrift by Hachette Publishing after an employee walkout and the loss of their author Ronan Farrow, the memoir has been acquired and will be published by Arcade Publishing, according to this announcement by Publisher’s Weekly (click on screenshot). In fact, the book was released today:

A bit of the PW report (I’ve left out the bit about accused sexual misconduct that I’ve discussed before):

After the acquisition of filmmaker Woody Allen’s memoir by Grand Central Publishing led to protests at the imprint as well as at parent company Hachette Book Group, the book has a new home. Arcade Publishing, an imprint of Skyhorse Publishing, announced that it has acquired world rights to the title, Apropos of Nothing, and has released it in the U.S. today.

Speaking to the title, Arcade, an imprint of Skyhorse Publishing, said it is “a candid and comprehensive personal account by Woody Allen of his life, ranging from his childhood in Brooklyn through his acclaimed career in film, theater, television, print and standup comedy, as well as exploring his relationships with family and friends.”

From Vox:

As part of that cancellation, Hachette reverted all rights over the book to Allen. That meant he was free to sell the book to any other publisher, and now he has. Apropos of Nothing has gone to Arcade Publishing, an imprint of Skyhorse Publishing.

Unlike Hachette, Skyhorse is not one of the so-called “Big Five” houses that dominate US trade publishing. It’s a smaller independent house that has published plenty of legitimate authors, including Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel, but also has a history of publishing conspiracy theories about the JFK assassination and vaccines. Skyhorse has also worked with Allen before: In 2011, he wrote the introduction to director Ingmar Bergman’s memoir, published through Skyhorse.

In a statement to the AP, Arcade editor Jeannette Seaver said: “In this strange time, when truth is too often dismissed as ‘fake news,’ we as publishers prefer to give voice to a respected artist, rather than bow to those determined to silence him.”

The AP appears to be the only outlet that has been able to see a copy of Allen’s memoir thus far. In the book, the AP reports, Allen continues to deny ever harming Dylan Farrow. He writes that he “never laid a finger on Dylan, never did anything to her that could be even misconstrued as abusing her; it was a total fabrication from start to finish.”

And there’s a bit more about the contents from (ugh) HuffPo, which is the only place I’ve found this (I didn’t look hard):

“Apropos of Nothing” begins in the wry tone of such literary heroes as J.D. Salinger and George S. Kaufman, describing his New York City upbringing and love affairs with Diane Keaton and others with a sense of nostalgia and angst that also mirrors Allen movies ranging from “Radio Days” and “The Purple Rose of Cairo” to “Annie Hall” and “Hannah and Her Sisters.” But it darkens and becomes defensive, not surprisingly, as he recalls his relationship with Mia Farrow and the allegations he abused daughter Dylan Farrow that for many have come to define his public image in recent years.

He was with Mia Farrow for more than a decade, and recalls happy times with the “very, very beautiful” actress that would cool over the years, especially after the 1987 birth of their one biological child, Ronan (named Satchel at birth). As he has alleged before, he and Farrow were essentially apart by the time he began dating her daughter Soon-Yi Previn, more than 30 years younger than him, in the early 1990s. “At the very early stages of our new relationship, when lust reigns supreme … we couldn’t keep our hands off each other,” he writes of Previn, whom he married in 1997 and to whom he dedicates the book.

Recalling the day Farrow learned of the affair, after discovering erotic photographs of her twenty-something daughter at Allen’s apartment, Allen writes: “Of course I understand her shock, her dismay, her rage, everything. It was the correct reaction.” But he also expresses no regret over he and Previn becoming lovers.

“Sometimes, when the going got rough and I was maligned everywhere, I was asked if I had known the outcome, do I ever wish I never took up with Soon-Yi?” he writes. “I always answered I’d do it again in a heartbeat.”

I’ve found the Arcade version on Amazon, but only in the large-print edition (it costs $40). There’s an extract on the Amazon site as well.

As I’ve said several times before, Allen deserves to have his say, and Hachette acted badly by first acquiring the book, defending Allen against his critics, and then instantly caving in to social-media and mob pressure. It was, in effect, an act of censorship. At least it will be available now (I’m betting that some woke bookstores won’t carry it), and the market can vote, though I wouldn’t trust the Amazon reviews, which will be highly conditioned by whether people think Allen is innocent or guilty of sexual misconduct.


Guardian columnist excoriates Hachette for canceling publication Woody Allen’s memoirs

As I reported the other day (to my chagrin), Grand Central Publishing, one of the imprints of the Hachette publishing group, decided to cancel publication of Woody Allen’s memoirs, Apropos of Nothing, after Hachette employees walked off the job in protest. Two days earlier, Allen’s son Ronan Farrow (possibly the biological son of Frank Sinatra), and author of the bestselling #MeToo book Catch and Kill, published by a different division of Hachette, broke ties with the publisher because he’s accused Allen of having sexually molested his stepsister and Woody’s adopted daughter, Dylan Farrow. Allen has consistently denied those allegations, which were investigated twice and dropped for lack of evidence. Further, Allen’s adopted son Moses Farrow (who was in the house during the supposed molestation), says it never happened—Dylan was said to have been coached by Mia Farrow. (You can read Moses’s testimony here.)

Initially the CEO of Hachette defended the publication of the memoirs, but then, in the face of social-media pressure, the publisher reneged on its agreement with Allen and dropped publication. It’s not clear yet whether another publisher will touch this book.

What Hachette did is unfair on several grounds:

1.) There is no convincing evidence that Allen was guilty of sexually molesting Dylan Farrow. There were two investigations, both of which cleared him, and Moses’s testimony (he’s now a family therapist), is clear and straightforward.  Allen is not guilty of any crime and, unlike Harvey Weinstein, the accusations center around a single incident with conflicting testimony. To presume he’s guilty and walk off your publishing job because of that is, to say the least, unreflective and premature. But today’s ideological climate often conflates an accusation with guilt—a harmful trend that damages not just individuals but the justice system itself.

2.) In light of any evidence of guilt, it’s unethical to withdraw the memoirs, no matter how much nastiness there was on Twitter or Facebook. They had an agreement with Allen, and no good reason to “unpublish” his book. Remember, a good publisher will publish good books, as a good publisher is dedicated to freedom of speech, and unless the author proves to have done something nefarious that the publishers didn’t know about, there’s no “morals clause” that mandates unpublication.

3.) Hachette has prevented Allen from telling his side of the story in public—even if he’s done so in court. What kind of publisher will publish books by Ronan Farrow but prevent somebody he’s accused from defending himself?

If the evidence against Allen were more convincing, perhaps I wouldn’t be as upset. But it isn’t, and I feel sorry for those who automatically think that accusations are tantamount to guilt.

Two days ago, the Guardian—of all places—published a defense of Allen’s right to publish. You can access the article, written by Hadley Freeman, by clicking on the screenshot below.

There’s no much here that I haven’t said previously, but this is the Guardian and I have a little-fish website. So it’s good that there’s this opinion out in the mainstream media. A few quotes from Freeman:

One [Hachette} staff member said: “We feel strongly about everyone’s right to tell their own story, but we don’t agree with giving Woody Allen a platform with which to tell it that includes distribution, marketing, publicity.” So everyone is allowed to speak, but only under certain conditions. Hachette ran scared and dropped the book.

It would have been one thing if Hachette had never agreed to publish Allen’s memoir in the first place. Fair enough; that’s a publisher’s prerogative. But for it to sign him, edit him and then fearfully drop him because some people object is a terrible precedent for a publisher to set. As for the Hachette employees who walked out, it is quite something for people who work in publishing to be against the publication of books. After all, if they really are so convinced of Allen’s guilt, they ought to let him speak. When I wrote about the bewildering support in the movie industry for Roman Polanski, despite being a convicted sex offender, I quoted extensively from his memoir, Roman by Polanski. Those passages, in which he described his attack on 13-year-old Samantha Geimer, were probably the most incriminating details in the piece.

. . .But it is absurd to talk about Allen in the same breath as Polanski, let alone Simpson. Too many people now airily refer to Allen as if he were a serial sex offender, but he was not only never convicted, he was – despite being investigated – never even charged. Moreover, unlike Polanski – and Bill Cosby, and Harvey Weinstein, and R Kelly, and Michael Jackson – there has never been more than one accusation. One is one too many, but this one allegation was investigated twice and no charges brought. To talk about Allen as though he is a predatory monster who must be shunned from society goes against even the smallest idea of due process.

You can argue that Allen is a beneficiary of a system that favours the rich and powerful. But you should still want him to publish his memoir because suppressing words, ideas and even people never works in the long run. Let the guilty damn themselves, if guilty they be, and trust the public to see the truth for themselves. Arguing for silence will only work to your disadvantage, because one day the one who will be silenced is you.

I wonder if some day, when my mortal remains are in the clay, people will look back on these times of wokeness as a time of mob hysteria, when those on the Left, once the guardians of free speech, devoted a lot of the time to deciding who would not be allowed to speak.

Hachette cancels publication of Woody Allen’s memoirs after Ronan Farrow objects and the publisher’s employees walk out

This is really infuriating: a publisher has caved in to mob mentality to cancel the scheduled publication of Woody Allen’s new memoirs.

You all know about the accusations of pedophilia against Woody Allen, which have been investigated several times, with no good evidence found that he molested his seven-year-old daughter Dylan. In fact, there’s just as much evidence that Mia Farrow coached Dylan to confect the accusation as there is that Woody Allen was guilty (see the convoluted timeline of this story here). In this era, however, accusations are, for many, as good as guilty verdicts. In some cases, like that of Harvey Weinstein, accusations were sufficiently numerous and consistent to make me conclude that he was guilty,—a suspicion borne out by the verdict in New York.

About Woody Allen, though, who knows? Although several actors have stopped working with him, others defend him, and my own view is that I have no idea what happened.

But I am infuriated at what the publisher Hachette did this week, canceling Allen’s accepted and scheduled-for-publication memoir, Apropos of Nothing, after their employees walked out. Why did they walk out? Because another Hachette author, Ronan Farrow (Dylan’s brother), published the book Catch and Kill, a well known account of Harvey Weinstein’s sexual predation and attempts to cover it up.

Realizing that his own publisher was scheduled to publish Allen’s memoir, and absolutely convinced that Allen molested Dylan, Ronan Farrow broke ties with Hachette, releasing email exchanges with Hachette in which they defended the independence of different divisions of their company to decide what to publish (the two books were handled by different Hachette imprints).

Two days after Ronan Farrow’s announcement, some employees of Grand Central Publishing, the imprint of Hachette scheduled to publish Allen’s memoirs, staged a walkout, saying “We stand in solidarity with Ronan Farrow, Dylan Farrow, and survivors of sexual assault.” Apparently they somehow knew that Dylan Farrow was a “survivor”—in other words, that Woody Allen was guilty. The article below, from Publisher’s Weekly (click on it), gives the details.

Apparently the protestors demanded that Hachette not only cancel the book, but that Hachette’s CEO Michael Pietsch apologize.  Pietsch stood by the publishing group’s decision, saying “there’s a large audience that wants to hear the story of Woody Allen’s life as told by Woody Allen himself. That’s what they’ve [Grand Central Publishing] chosen to publish.”

But never underestimate the power of the mob.

Yes, the book was canceled by Hachette the day after the walkout. Here’s the announcement.

Two accounts of the debacle are given below, from the NYT and from wfuv.org.  Pietsch attempted to hold a town hall meeting with his employees, but they walked out. At that point they gave in to the mob and canceled the memoirs.

This is a reprehensible act of cowardice by Hachette. It conflates accusations with guilt itself, and if you’re going to go that route, then look at all the publishers who have published Hitler’s Mein Kampf without protest (Houghton Mifflin) and books by Henry Kissinger without protest (various publishers). If Allen had been convicted, that would be another matter, but there’s no convincing evidence of his guilt and I, for one, would have wanted to read what he had to say. Now that likely won’t happen.

Beyond the sheer craziness of the mob in this case, unable to distinguish an accusation (and only one accusation) from a conviction, ask yourself What has been accomplished by these protests and by the book’s cancelation? Do the protestors think that canceling the book will deter sexual predators? That’s about as ridiculous a notion as I can imagine. All they’ve accomplished is kept Woody Allen’s voice—and I don’t know if he was even going to discuss the accusations—from being heard.  This kind of response simply silences those whom the protestors don’t like, and gives them an excuse to flaunt their virtue.  I suppose you could say that it keeps Woody Allen from profiting from his writings, but Allen doesn’t need the money and, remember, there is no credible evidence that he’s a criminal.

Somehow we’ve got to stop people from taking single accusations as firm evidence of guilt, and punishing the accused without any legal or civil convictions. This kind of stuff is plaguing colleges and universities all over the U.S., as colleges and universities get sued because they didn’t give the accused in sexual misconduct cases a fair hearing. In other words, adhering to Title IX procedures, they equated a claim with an act.

I have no hopes, given today’s climate of easy outrage, that people will stop conflating accusations with convictions in court.

Malcolm Gladwell and other authors who make big errors in their books

When I started writing books for the general public (“trade books”, as they call them), I was surprised to find out that I alone was responsible for the accuracy of their content. While publishers do have their legal departments vet books that may violate laws against libel, or cause other legal troubles, publishers have neither the time nor the money to have books thoroughly fact-checked. This is one reason why authors put references for many factual statements at the end of the book, as I did with my two.

Even so, errors slip in, and sometimes those errors are numerous.  A new piece in the New York Times cites some serious or numerous mistakes in popular books. Here are four that are highlighted:

Accusations of sloppiness and journalistic malpractice now quickly explode on social media. Ms. [Jill] Abramson was pilloried on Twitter by sources and other journalists this year for mistakes in her book “Merchants of Truth” and for failing to cite source material from other writers. She made corrections and credited sources in the digital version and future print editions.

. . . scrutiny of such books is growing. After [Michael] Wolff in June published “Siege,” his account of volatility inside the Trump administration, journalists highlighted numerous inaccuracies in the book.

. . . In May, The New York Times Book Review published a blistering review of [Jared] Diamond’s book “Upheaval.” The reviewer, the author Anand Giridharadas, cited mangled facts and what he described as misleading generalizations, and argued that the flaws were emblematic of a systemic lack of fact-checking in publishing.

. . . When publishers do conduct a factual review, it’s often in response to a crisis. In June, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt postponed the release of [Naomi] Wolf’s “Outrages,” which explores how 19th-century British courts criminalized same-sex relationships, and commissioned independent evaluations from several scholars after questions were raised about the accuracy of her research. The publisher took the unusual and costly step of recalling copies from retailers and pulping them. Ms. Wolf has said that she disagrees with the delay, and that only a small number of errors must be corrected.

To be fair, some of the authors contest these accusations, while others are correcting the errors. But if you’re writing nonfiction, rigorous scrutiny should be given to all assertions of fact.

When we write scientific papers, all factual statements are followed by a citation like (Schlemiel, 2015), with the reference given at the end of the paper. For you know that captious reviewers are going to scrutinize your paper before a decision is made on whether it should be published. If trade publishers or authors could follow such a practice (my habit was to send bits of the book to experts in the field for their reactions), it would dramatically improve the accuracy of books.

Which brings us to Malcolm Gladwell.

I haven’t read any of Gladwell’s trade books, but of course they’re immensely popular and have made him a multimillionaire. Some of my friends who are savvy and have read them dismiss them as pop sociology, lessons in how to market the obvious by pretending it’s profound. I can neither agree nor disagree, as I plead ignorance.

But the verdict of “superficial” is rendered by Andrew Ferguson in this new Atlantic article (click on screenshot), which claims that with his newest book, Talking to Strangers, Gladwell has finally exhausted his formula—to the point where a central thesis is barely discernible. If you’ve read this book, or Gladwell’s other ones, you can be the judge.


But though I haven’t read the book, I was pretty offended by one of Gladwell’s assertions (also mentioned in the NYT article), a falsehood that bespeaks poor scholarship, and would make me wonder how sound the rest of his assertions are. Here’s the fact in dispute (Ferguson’s prose):

I don’t know whether default to truth [Gladwell’s catch phrase for the obvious fact that we tend to believe things other people tell us] will enter the Gladwell lexicon with tipping point and stickiness. But his appropriation of the phrase does show that his attitude to social science remains unquestioning. When he encounters a study published in a journal with a complicated name, he defaults to swallowing it whole. At times he approaches self-parody. Just follow the footnotes.

“Poets die young,” he writes, in a section on Sylvia Plath. “And of every occupational category, [poets] have far and away the highest suicide rates—as much as five times higher than the general population.”

Interesting, sort of, if true! But how would such a calculation be made? Poet is a strange “occupational category.” Hardly anybody makes a living as a professional poet. The Bureau of Labor Statistics, in its Standard Occupational Classification System, lists 867 occupations. The closest it gets to “poet” is “Writers and Authors,” a category so baggy it includes bloggers and advertising copywriters. What kind of poet wants to be confused with Mad Men? Wallace Stevens wrote sublime poetry, but I think the BLS would still prefer to classify him as a vice president of an insurance company.

Gladwell’s footnote shows he has drawn this curious statistic from a paper titled “Suicide and Creativity,” by a college professor named Mark Runco, published in 1998 in the journal Death Studies. Runco in turn cites a book, Touched With Fire, by Kay Redfield Jamison, a clinical psychologist.

To get her “five times” figure, Jamison explains in her book, she studied the lives of “all major British and Irish poets born between 1705 and 1805.” She determined their “major” status by consulting old poetry anthologies. She decided there were 36—not 35, not 37, but 36—major poets, ranging from the well-known and era-defining (William Wordsworth) to the obscure and improbably named (John Bampfylde). Of the 36 poets, two committed suicide. (It’s not clear that these two can even be classified as poets, however: One was a physician by trade, and the other died at 17, probably too young to qualify for an occupational category.) Jamison reckoned that two out of 36, proportionally, is five times the suicide rate for the general population.

Voilà! A statistic is born.

This is thin soup. One wonders whether Gladwell bothered to trace the statistic back to its source. Jamison’s sample is clearly too small and peculiar to yield a reliable understanding of the suicide rate among poets, even 18th-century poets in the British Isles. Many people who spend a lot of time writing poetry are eccentric; the elevated suicide rate feels true, intuitively. But for Gladwell, as for so many consumers of social science, the intuition becomes real only if it’s quantified, even when any kind of useful quantification is implausible on its face.

I read Jamison’s book years ago, but don’t even remember that assertion. But what Gladwell did with it is pretty bad—turning a sketchy hypothesis based on scanty data into a general claim about suicide and professions. This is not simply a misreading, but a distortion bespeaking, at the least, sloppy research.

You may say that this is trivial, but as a scientist it bothers me. A claim like that, were it to appear in a scientific paper, would be pounced on by reviewers demanding that it be fixed or clarified. We should expect no less from factual assertions in popular books.

At any rate, if you don’t like Gladwell, you’ll enjoy a good bout of Schadenfreude with Ferguson’s article. To wit: its ending:

Rather than offering made-up rules and biases and effects, Gladwell has chosen to issue a plea, asking that we recognize how difficult it is for us to understand one another.

Of course, if Malcolm Gladwell had practiced epistemological humility for the past 20 years, he would have sold millions fewer books. But let’s pass over the irony. When you’re talking to millions of strangers, as Gladwell does, saying nothing in particular is better than telling them things that aren’t so. He may have embarked on an exciting new career.


The Great Science Publishing Scandal

by Matthew Cobb

Earlier this week, BBC Radio 4 broadcast a programme I made, along with producer Deborah Cohen, about how scientific publishing works, the problems associated with it, and why everyone should be concerned about it. Click on this picture and you will be able to listen to the programme from anywhere in the world.

You might think this is a fairly niche issue, but if you or anyone in your family has a disease and you want to read up on the latest treatments, you will find that, unless you work or study at a rich university, you may not have access to the material, which is behind a paywall.

The programme is not primarily about the massive profits of the publishers* but about something much more interesting – how we got to this situation, and how academics (not just scientists) are complicit in the system. We also explore various alternatives, including Sci-Hub, a site run by a Kazakh hacker, which has stolen the whole of the academic literature, pretty much, and gives it away for free. But as one of my interviewees put it in a quote we didn’t use – “Stolen from whom?”

The programme is only 28 minutes long, and the response so far has been very positive. Those who are particularly keen on one or another Open Access option have been disappointed that the programme is not either more polemical or more focused on one solution. I felt that explaining the complexities of the problem to the general listener would be more interesting.

* For example, in 2017, the largest academic publishing company, Elsevier, made £913 million profit, up £60 million from 2016. Its 2017 profit margin was 36.8%. The raw material underlying that profit – the academic articles and their reviewing – was provided free of charge by academics, often from research that was funded by the public either through taxes or through donations to charities.

The problem of “sensitivity readers” in publishing

I managed to put a post together that I started before I found the sick duck, and writing this helped take my mind off its death. It may not be as fluent or coherent as usual, but so be it.

As you may recall, many publishers, especially those of young adult and children’s books, tend to use “sensitivity readers” to make sure that everything is culturally correct and positive. I have, for instance, recounted the story of Laura Moriarty, whose book American Heart was first given a starred review by Kirkus (important for sales to libraries and schools), but then the star was withdrawn because a vetter who was “an observant Muslim person of color” decided that the book was seen through a white protagonist “filter”, and projected a “white savior narrative.” Other people who hadn’t read the book also applied pressure to Kirkus.

[UPDATE: Ms. Moriarty has posted a comment below explaining the situation, which is even more bizarre than I describe above. Have a look!]

It doesn’t take a reviewing site to vet a book; books can be changed or even banned by social-media mobs, even before the book has appeared.

To avoid this, and to boost sales, publishers are employing readers who make sure books are ideologically correct, and project only positive images of minorities. This is discussed in the following Guardian article (click on screenshot).

Is there any value to such readers, given that their main job seems not to ensure that a group or culture is portrayed accurately, but rather that it’s portrayed positively? I can see only one bit of value in vetting, which I’ve bolded in the Guardian extract below.

While some sensitivity readers charge by the hour, fees start at about $250 (£180) a manuscript. Demand is clearly high: a search on Twitter finds dozens of authors over the last few days alone looking for the service. “I am in need of a black Muslim sensitivity reader ASAP,” says one writer. “I’m seeking Japanese and Japanese-American sensitivity readers,” says another.

Anna Hecker, whose young adult novel When the Beat Drops is published in May, says she first contacted sensitivity readers after two rounds of edits with her publisher. Her protagonist, Mira, is mixed-race – half Caucasian, half African-American – and Hecker is not.

She hired three sensitivity readers, who all gave feedback. Hecker did not describe race in her initial draft, something she was told was typical for white writers. As a person of colour, it was suggested that Mira would make note of white characters’ ethnicities, in the way a white character would make note of black or Latino characters. One reader queried how Mira’s white mother learned how to braid her daughter’s mixed-race hair. Another encouraged Hecker to be more creative with descriptions, saying her initial description of “light brown skin, a wide nose, and kinky dark hair” was both cliched and boring – feedback Hecker described as “fair”.

But beyond the fact that if you describe ethnicity of some characters, you should do it for others, I don’t see the point of changing words to avoid offending people. That ultimately puts all books on the same bland level, even if the words used do offend some. It is the job of an editor to edit the book, not ideologues who want all cultures portrayed positively. The fact is that some aspects of some cultures are offensive (what about the mass slaughter of prisoners by Aztecs, or the treatment of Native Americans by U.S. settlers), and of course many people in every culture are not wonderful folks.  Ultimately, the use of “sensitivity readers” produces a bland, homogeneous, and inoffensive literature in which “everyone shall have prizes” and nobody gets offended. But if literature loses the power to offend, it loses its rationale. For offense leads to thought and discussion, and many books considered “offensive” have turned out to be classics of world literature.

So, for example, I have no problem with someone republishing “Mein Kampf” or, for that matter, “Huckleberry Finn” or “To Kill a Mockingbird”—books that many schools have tried to ban. None of these would pass a sensitivity reader, and even if “Mein Kampf” isn’t suitable for young adults or children, the other two books are. Imagine how many great works of literature would be purified into valuelessness by “sensitivity readers”!

This page gives a list of books that have been banned or challenged, and it includes even great works by black writers—books like Ralph Ellison’s “Invisible Man”, Richard Wright’s “Native Son”, and Toni Morrison’s “Beloved.” Even “Bury my Heart at Wounded Knee” was challenged because its topic, the extermination of Native Americans by whites, was “controversial.” Make no mistake: “sensitivity readers” don’t just want to purge negativity about anyone in a minority group, but also want to purge controversy per se. “Sensitivity readers” are Pecksniffs, censors, and thought police.

So let us have good editors, for all authors need a good editor, but let us also forget about “sensitivity readers,” whose very job is to turn literature into pablum.

I brought up this topic with a friend who reads a lot, and was happy to see that zhe agreed with me:

As you know, I’m a complete Stalinist for free expression – I take no prisoners, people can say what they damn please; the point is to inoculate the weaklings so they’re not wounded by others’ words, not wrap them in cotton wool and pad all the corners of the world. The point isn’t to publish defensively (make sure you offend no one) and you have to rely on your own smarts to avoid the oafish. If there had been sensitivity monitors, we’d probably not have any books by Hemingway, Mailer, Trollope, Shaw, Austen (all those terrible things she says about clerics), Atwood, Twain, or Shakespeare.

h/t: BJ