Pub Rants

Free Speech and All That

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STATUS: Working. After a long weekend though, it’s often fun to get back to work.

What song is playing on the iPod right now? Hum… I should get Dad to turn on the stereo. I could use a little Johnny Cash today (that’s been his latest playlist since we watched WALK THE LINE).

First off, I must start the blog by telling y’all about the agent warm fuzzies PODDY MOUTH is inspiring today over at her blog. I just love it when folks outside the industry “get” our job and send kudos out into the world. It’s much, much appreciated.

My mom asked me an interesting question the other day. She asked me if I read the comments left on my blog.

The answer is yes, I read them. I don’t respond. It’s not my MO but I read them. Then she asked me if I edited them as she noticed that some comments were removed by author and since I am the “author” of the blog, it must be my doing.

The answer is NO actually. I’ve never removed a comment or edited anything posted there. If a comment has been removed, it was removed by the poster—not by me. Free speech and all that. I’m not one for censorship.

I guess I would have to if someone posted a comment that was wildly inappropriate (as in pornographic) or if it specifically (and in detail) libeled another person, or if the poster was posing as somebody else and posting at will inappropriately (because I know this has happened at other blogs) because ultimately I would be responsible for it on my blog.

That’s never happened and I can always hope that it never will.

If it did, I would then remove the comment, but I’d leave a message that I had done so.

But in general, differences of opinions, other viewpoints, people who don’t like me and say so on the comments… hey, it’s all part of your first amendment right.

27 Responses

  1. kis said:

    Just this morning, over my coffee, I read that Indigo is pulling the latest issue of Harper’s off its shelves, because it contains a twelve page article on the Danish cartoons that caused all those riots. We aren’t just talking a reprint of the controversial pics, but an in-depth study on why they offended so many, and how relations and communication between the western world and Islam can be improved.

    But I guess the general public can’t be trusted to look at this. Heaven knows, we need to stifle all debate on these issues. Only by burying them can we get on with our safe little ignorant lives.

    I guess, at least in Canada, free speech is just a pipe dream.

  2. Anonymous said:

    If pubs like Indigo continue to give in, the battle for free speech will be lost (yes, there is a battle and no, we haven’t reached the pinnacle of free speech). -JTC

  3. joanr16 said:

    I thought Indigo folded some years back. I must be thinking of some other Canadian bookseller?

    It does seem things are a little more restrictive north of the border. I recall there was a law in Canada that explicitly made “hate speech” a crime. Am I correct that the law was repealed? Did it seem to work at all, or seem instead to be a horrible failure?

    Since so much of my writing is influenced by things Canadian (the Stratford Festival being a biggie), I really enjoy seeing so many comments from Kristin’s Canadian readers. ‘Sa great blog, eh?

  4. pacatrue said:

    I justed wanted to express my admiration for Kristen’s ability to remain silent in her comments. Sometimes my fingers just get twitching and I can’t hold myself back from responding, even when I know, know, it won’t help. So, kudos to you for self-control.

  5. kis said:

    Indigo bought out chapters in Canada I think, and coles–if you have coles in the states. And yes, hate speech is a crime in Canada, but it’s awfully hard to prove. You really have to push it for a prosecution to stick.

    There was a big stink a while back about a load of T-shirts that passed customs even though they said (and I’ll clean up the language a little): “I hate f*gs, d*kes, jews, r*g-heads, n*ps, w*ps and g**ks, but n****rs are OK.” People were rightly offended, but I’m afraid the law is not there to repress personal opinion, no matter how ignorant or disgusting that opinion may be.

    The idea is, you can say you hate anyone. You just aren’t allowed to incite violence toward any identifiable group. If the shirts had said “kill all. . . but leave n****rs alone,” they’d have been seized and destroyed, and the person selling them would likely have been prosecuted.

    I do think there are reasonable limits to what should be allowed in a free society. But it’s ironic that the law that permits the Islamic community to volubly protest the publishing of those cartoons, does not also protect those who would criticize the actions and rhetoric of militant muslims.

    I think Indigo may be taken to task for this censorship. If nothing else, they’ve pissed off a lot of people, some of whom wouldn’t have bothered to read the article, but are irked all the same at not being given the opportunity to do so and form their own opinions.

  6. Anonymous said:

    Hey Kristin, I’ll give you a hug, chocolate, jewelry, even a great big kiss … but first I need to hear back from you on my query…


  7. joanr16 said:

    kis, thanks for the info! I’ve never heard of Coles, but that doesn’t mean anything since I’m in the middle of nowhere, pretty much.

    Don’t you wonder what type of person would find those T-shirts funny? Were the Bush twins visiting Canada at the time?

  8. kis said:

    Coles is a 100% Canadian franchise, I think. They’re a pure bookstore–no coffee or computers or whatever. At one point, they were all over the malls here, before Chapters came in and started to squeeze them out. I bought my first book with my own money from a Coles–I think it was Helen Kushner’s Swordspoint. Awesome book.

    And yah, it’s rough letting stuff like that shirt slide. But what are you going to do? We’re already on the slippery slope towards militant political correctness. You start nailing people for saying they hate stuff, and well, next thing you know, they’re dragging me out of bed in the middle of the night over stuff I’ve said (on other people’s blogs) about French Canadian separatists and guys named Bubba.

    Wait–what’s that noise? Ack, its the PC gestapo! Help! Help!

  9. December Quinn said:

    Well I’d be happy to send candy and jewels to you anytime, Kristin, and I haven’t even queried you.

    (I might, on of these days, though. Shall I include the candy and jewels in the query letter, so you’ll know it’s me? Ha ha.)

  10. Anonymous said:

    joanr16, You are letting your ignorance hang out all over the place with that remark about the Bush twins. Do you know them? One can even use freedom of speech to make themselves look small. -JTC

  11. joanr16 said:

    JTC, my opinion of the Bush twins is based on their public (not private) behavior. Please don’t blame that on me.

  12. kis said:

    Now, children, no need to get nasty. I’m one of very few Canadians out here who feel as strongly about George W. Bush as I would about a mulberry bush, which is to say, I don’t spare him or his clan much thought at all.

    I’m too busy ranting about separatists and the state of the Canadian publishing industry to care what he does. For those of you who waste your energy thinking bad things about him, consider this: It’s not his fault he’s dumb. It’s also not his fault he’s the frigging president. It’s not like he voted himself into office.

    And for all those who are associated with him–by blood, marriage, or political necessity–it’s not YOUR fault he’s dumb, either. Unless you’re the person who dropped him on the head when he was a baby. 😉

  13. kis said:

    oops, I hope I didn’t just get this blog put on some homeland security watch-list by using the words George, W, Bush, and dumb in the same post.

    haha. I think.

  14. Anonymous said:

    ks, You do not get where Dubya is today by being dumb. He may be a “politician” in every definition of the word (including the bad ones), but he isn’t dumb. It is not like I am a big supporter or anything (although he was, at the time, the lesser of two evils). I am just saying people can make themselves look dumb by name-calling or pronouncing someone else dumb that is obviously intelligent. joanr16 all but called the Bush girls racists and I think she really looks shallow making comments about people she really doesn’t know. I don’t mean to pick fights, I just want folks to realize how hypocritical (sp?) they can sound if they aren’t careful. -JTC

  15. kis said:

    People are hypocritical by nature. And no, I don’t believe Bush is actually dumb–although he has a command of the English language that makes my dumb-ass party-animal neighbors look like poets. I supported Bush when he was first elected, and I–gasp!–do not object to what he is trying to achieve in the middle east (though I’m not sure it will ever actually work).

    I try not to comment on things people say that I find embarrassing–I’ve said some things recently that have made my fellow Canucks blush with chagrin in my stead–simply because I don’t think it’s my job to call them on it. No, I don’t hink it’s fair–even if you hate Bush–to lump his family in with him. That was the point I was trying to make. Problem is, I can’t resist making trouble, even when I’m trying to be serious.

    People do sometimes get embarrassed or offended at what I say–and that’s their right. Sometimes, that’s the exact reaction I’m going for. But the really embarrassing thing is not that people make fun of George Bush (or French Canadian separatists, for that matter), its that Bush (and separatists) make it so easy to do so.

  16. joanr16 said:

    A few facts. Jenna and Barbara Bush are 24 years old. For the past five years, their father has been the most powerful person on the planet. They’re descended from several generations of wealth, privilege and political influence. The Bush family is at the forefront of a political movement that claims to expect “personal responsibility” from everyone. A couple of years back, the First Daughters threw themselves a birthday party with the theme “cowboys & injuns.” I grew up too close to the poverty of the Winnebago Reservation to find the wit in that. Even after alcohol-related criminal convictions, Jenna Bush is still photographed laughing while she is literally falling-down-drunk in public.

    I don’t agree with the notion that, while racism and stupid behavior are protected “speech,” noticing racism or stupid behavior isn’t. I am also astonished by the argument we can’t be critical of anyone unless we know them personally.

  17. kis said:


    sheesh, maybe I didn’t make my point. I have no problems with whatever you might think of the Bush girls, or their dad, for that matter. Zip over to EE’s blog, and you’ll see I’m just as outspoken about French-Canadian sovereignty as you are about the First Family.

    (You might also notice I kinda got bitch-slapped for it.)

    People can say and think whatever the heck they want–even racists. Even you and me, and even JTC. The point isn’t that you have justification for how you feel–or even a point to make. Simply put, this is supposed to be a free society. People are supposed to be able to say what they want, no matter how stupid, or inaccurate, or embarrassing, or profound or completely appropriate it may be.

    Those girls can say “injuns,” and their dad can say “nucular bombs,” and we can by all means expose them for the nitwits we believe them to be.

    I just think it’s important to keep a sense of humor about it. Don’t be some zealot on a soapbox. Channel a little Denis Leary or Lewis Black, and you’ll reach a lot more people.

  18. kis said:

    Oh, and JTC, I make fun of my mom, too, for mispronouncing words. She–and Bush, for that matter–at least have the grace to laugh at themselves.

  19. kerrick said:

    Joanr16–Just FYI, one of the Bush twins, Barbara, works with pediatric AIDS victims in South Africa, and the other one, Jenna, is also involved in some sort volunteer work, though I can’t at the moment remember what it is. I heard about it recently, though. Anyway, my point is that the girls are growing up and doing responsible things, and it’s unfair to characterize them as spoiled and privileged (not to mention racist) when they are in fact working selflessly to help others.

  20. joanr16 said:

    kis, I wasn’t responding to anyone specifically in my last comment, but because of the timing of the post, it appears you felt that I was responding to you.

    I think this disagreement arises from the notion that some well-known people, no matter their behavior, are “off limits.” Now, originally I did make a joke– based on my own observation of the First Daughters and the context of their behavior– but apparently that isn’t deserving of the same tolerance as, say, a cartoon of Mohammed. So no jokes about Prince Harry either, I suppose. Dang.

  21. kis said:

    If everyone will remember, this entire discussion began with my observation that there is no tolerance for those pesky cartoons, from Muslims, or from the self-appointed PC head goon, who happens to be the CEO of Indigo.

    And Kerrick, my whole point is, that even were the First Daughters innocent angels of whom the most morally upstanding parent would be proud, people should be allowed to be critical of them.

    No matter what I personally think of Bush, I’ll defend every American’s (and Canadian’s) dog-given right to call him an idiot.

    Even if he is one. I mean isn’t. Whatever.

  22. Anonymous said:

    kis, It appears you and I think a lot alike. As I said, joanr16 has the right to say and think what she wants. I was just trying to point out that she should consider the harm she could do to herself first. -JTC

  23. kis said:


    Harm she could do to herself?

    Oh, dang, you aren’t some anti-american watchdog, are you? We didn’t all just end up on some database somewhere, did we? Gaahh!