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Amy Coney Barrett Line In The Sand

Hundreds of illiberal left-wing literati demand Penguin Random House deplatform pro-life Supreme Court justice
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This story involves my publisher, Sentinel:

Hundreds of Penguin Random House staffers and other literary professionals are calling on the publishing company to cut ties with Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett and to cancel her upcoming book.

The publishing house came under fire Friday after an open letter bearing 520 signatures was made public. In it, the dissenters call for a better balance of freedom of speech and duty of care, citing Penguin’s $2 million book deal with Coney Barrett as “a case where a corporation has privately funded the destruction of human rights with obscene profits.”


Among the list are a surprising number of employees of Penguin Random House, the parent company of the Sentinel imprint. PRH is a vast corporation, so it's not necessarily the case that these signatories represent a significant number of the publisher's employees (and note well that there are signatories who identify themselves as working for other publishers). The "open letter" says, in part:

This is not just a book that we disagree with, and we are not calling for censorship. Many of us work daily with books we find disagreeable to our personal politics. Rather, this is a case where a corporation has privately funded the destruction of human rights with obscene profits. Coney Barrett is free to say as she wishes, but Penguin Random House must decide whether to fund her position at the expense of human rights in order to inflate its bottom line, or to truly stand behind the values it proudly espouses to hold.

Oh, bullshit. Of course they're calling for censorship! This is what the Left does! They do not believe that a female Supreme Court justice who believes in the sanctity of unborn human life (as do tens of millions of Americans) should have a platform. They denounce their own employer, in public, in an effort to censor Justice Barrett.

I haven't spoken to anyone at Sentinel about this controversy, but I have every faith that PRH will stand behind Sentinel in this controversy. It would be right of them to issue a strong statement of support on Monday, not only for Sentinel, but for the purpose of publishing books in a liberal democracy. These censorious leftists who have marched through the institutions are a threat to free expression, and to the free exchange of ideas. They don't simply oppose what Justice Barrett stands for; they believe she should not have the opportunity to make her case in the public square.

This is a moral betrayal of publishing, carried out by an unaccountable internal elite who wish to set the boundaries on discourse to exclude even mainstream conservative ideals and beliefs. About 15 years ago, I became the founding editor of the Dallas Morning News's Sunday commentary section. I was well established as a conservative columnist and commenter, but when I moved into the editor's chair, I took very seriously my professional duty to make sure the section I edited was ideologically balanced and diverse, because that's what a general-interest newspaper commentary section is supposed to be. It was a matter of professional integrity for me to work always towards fairness and balance, even publishing essay with which I strongly disagreed. And so it is for these publishing industry figures.


My guess is that most or all of these signatories are graduates of colleges and universities where they rarely if ever had to hear a voice dissenting from the Left, including a pro-life voice. My guess is that all of them live inside a bubble that excludes any information they don't want to hear. They don't want to know what's going on in their own country if it makes them anxious. We are tyrannized by a psychologically fragile elite which, unfortunately, has power. I hope the sane people who run PRH smack them down hard, and remind them of the proper role of publishers in a liberal democracy. I think all those who work at PRH should be offered the opportunity to resign rather than continue working for an employer they find to be so offensive.

As we head toward the November election, it is worth remembering, if you are on the Left, that this is exactly the kind of high-handed, left-elite bullying that ordinary people hate. This is who you have become, on the Left. I am old enough to remember when left-liberalism defended free speech, and the freedom to publish. True, you see conservatives arguing (correctly!) for pornographic LGBT books to be taken out of schools, where children and minors should not be exposed to that material. But we are not arguing that those books should never be published, and that those authors ought to be cut loose from their publisher. With regard to Amy Coney Barrett, that's exactly what these leftist signatories are arguing. There is no equivalency here.

Understand this, readers: these elite insider protesters must be resisted. Watch what Penguin Random House does in this case. If it caves to these illiberal leftist literati, then it will have agreed that pro-lifers should be deplatformed in American publishing. Again, I believe that PRH will do the right thing -- but I'll be watching.

UPDATE: Exactly right. You wonder what these people do behind the scenes to keep people sidelined: