Monday, January 27, 2020

Great Men Of Letters

Packer is such a weirdo.
At any rate, the consequences that befall provocateurs in America today are not terribly grave. In his speech, Packer shares the plight of one would-be contrarian who “once heard from a New York publisher that his manuscript was unacceptable because it went against a ‘consensus’ on the subject of race.” But the book was eventually picked up by a sympathetic editor and has since found “many readers.” Where one might see a positive outcome beyond the reach of the vast majority of people who hope to publish books, Packer sees the end of a horrific ordeal.

The content of the book, the merits of the arguments against consensus, naturally went unmentioned, as did the author’s name. Out of concern for his safety? No. As Packer concedes, writers today don’t “live in terror of being sent to prison.” And yet, he says, the fear of public criticism today is, “in a way, more crippling.” “A writer can still write while hiding from the thought police,” he says. “But a writer who carries the thought police around in his head, who always feels compelled to ask: Can I say this? Do I have a right? Is my terminology correct? Will my allies get angry? Will it help my enemies? Could it get me ratioed on Twitter?—that writer’s words will soon become lifeless.”.