NEARY: But the job of advocating for free speech has become ever more complicated in the age of social media, which Nossel says can be both an incredible tool for free expression and a threat to it. NOSSEL: It has a dampening effect on the depth of discourse, can lead to this kind of online mobbing and trolling where someone who says something controversial is then targeted, ridiculed. NEARY: Perhaps no one has crossed the line on social media more boldly than Milo Yiannopoulos, who was kicked off Twitter after he spearheaded a nasty campaign against black actress Leslie Jones. Yiannopoulos likes to describe himself as a free speech fundamentalist.
They want to enable the extremists on their own side and silence extremists on the other. NEARY: Yiannopoulos, an editor at the ultra-conservative Breitbart News, seems to take delight in infuriating people with remarks that are viewed as racist, misogynistic and anti-immigrant. Nobody's saying that. What they're saying is, we're shocked and we're outraged that you would stoop so low to make a buck as to publish this purveyor of vile hate speech. NEARY: Johnson is highly critical of a statement issued by the National Coalition Against Censorship on behalf of a number of industry groups representing publishers, authors and booksellers.
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JOAN BERTIN: We know of instances in which books that contain certain kinds of content have been shelved, deferred, redacted, edited deeply to remove content that people might object to. I mean I think, you know, the whole idea of free speech requires us to be active participants. And when we hear ideas that we think are bad and harmful, it requires us to say why, not just say shut up.
This is about combating hate speech and its entry into the mainstream. View the discussion thread. Copyright NPR. Another day, another all-white list of recommended reading. This year's New York Times summer reading list , compiled annually by Times literary critic Janet Maslin, offered up zero books by non-white authors. Novelist Angela Flournoy recently said , "I think it's an undue burden for the writer of color that's just trying to get people to care about their book as much as other people's books, to then also be the one to have the answers.
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Yiannopoulos likes to describe himself as a free speech fundamentalist: Trying to suppress hateful speech doesn't make it go away. This is not about censoring right wing voices. So much for democracy. Exacerbation of conflict: Social polarization Aside from structural policy changes and direct suppression of artwork, the new administration has exacerbated longstanding conflicts which has led to the further polarization of an already split nation.
Such polarization affects conversations about race and racism, traumatic histories, indigenous rights, sexuality, class, and the Middle East, among others. On some of the issues the President sets the tone more powerfully than on others, but the generally angry and accusatory tone coming from the White House resonates through all aspects of the public sphere, including the art world. It is thus not surprising that a loud, openly racist, nationalist and white supremacist alt-right sees itself aligned with the President and his top advisors. The administration has done very little to correct that impression.
It is harder than ever to deal with the conflict in artistic representation. Right-wing activists regularly paint individuals and institutions who are critical of Israeli government policies as anti-Israel or even anti-Semitic in an effort to silence them. Many of these efforts are successful. On the other side of the political spectrum, the cultural BDS movement threatens to boycott any institution that hosts work which is supported by Israeli government funds.
The author, Grossman, is an outspoken critic of the Israeli government and its cultural policies, as well as a prominent peace activist.
Nevertheless, a large group of prominent New York cultural figures—playwrights, filmmakers, actors, and directors, including Caryl Churchill, Wallace Shawn, Lynn Nottage, and Taylor Mac—demanded that Lincoln Center cancel To the End of the Land because the production received Israeli government funding. Lincoln Center proceeded with the play.
The free speech panic: how the right concocted a crisis
Cancelling performances would have deprived audiences of an important critical voice coming from within Israel, as well as of the opportunity to deepen their understanding of the human side of a tragic socio-political conflict. Any cultural producer considering content related to the Middle East or exhibitions featuring artists from the area needs to prepare to face protests.
As always, the worst consequence of such controversies is that, instead of daring the often ugly and ad-hominem invective of protesters, cultural producers may censor themselves and avoid dealing with the issue altogether.