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April 30, 2018


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Tamara Piety

These people are fundamentally confused about this "free speech" issue. Publishers aren't the government. The can certainly decide what content they will publish. There has never been an entitlement to a book contract and publishers have always wanted to have authors whose books they can promote. If a particular person is embroiled in a controversy, a criminal case, etc., it is not surprising if a book publisher does not want to publish the books. I think part of the problem is describing this as a "morals" clause. Sexual assault is not about morality (except to the extent that not violating the law is generally about morality); it is criminal. I suspect that any criminal charge might result in the author being similarly cut loose. The First Amendment certainly doesn't apply to the book publisher in the same way it might a book seller. As far as I know, publishers have long been able to decide what they want to publish and have not been subject to some sort of mandate to ensure that they do not suppress anyone's speech. How it suppresses someone's speech to decide you don't want to publish their book if the book becomes unmarketable is a puzzle. I would be surprised if publishers published books that they thought had no literary, artistic, intellectual or market value. Haven't they always done this, regardless of whether the author was "immoral"? It is nevertheless telling that some in the industry are apparently conflating sexual assault with freedom of speech.

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