Publish or Speech Perishes

By Navasky, Victor S. | The Nation, April 23, 2001 | Go to article overview

Publish or Speech Perishes


Navasky, Victor S., The Nation


In the words of the old folk song, "When will they ever learn?" David Horowitz, former radical who these days is in the business of promoting (1) neoconservatism and (2) David Horowitz (although not necessarily in that order), has done it again. A few weeks ago he placed an ad in the Brown Daily Herald denouncing--in deliberately offensive terms--the idea that black descendants of slaves should be paid reparations. Instead of ignoring, answering or ridiculing the ad, Brown student activists denounced the Herald and trashed most of its 4,000-copy press run, thus giving the demagogic provocateur undeserved high ground.

As our own Katha Pollitt put it in a cyberconversation, "Publish it and then attack it, mock it, parody it, I say. Use it as a springboard for a teach-in, discuss it in classes.... Shutting down a discussion doesn't change anyone's mind or introduce any new information--and the views Horowitz expresses are held in whole or in part by many people. What message do they get if a paper won't print them? That the real truth is too threatening to publish. It's always better to promote speech than to silence people. Force those views out into the open and have a debate. That's how minds are changed."

As far as advertising policy goes, we believe that it is the prerogative of the Herald and the other college papers targeted by Horowitz to accept or to turn down ads they consider repellent, at their discretion. …

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