I've been reading on several blogs about how author Anne Stuart has publicly dissed her publisher and how anonymous literary agent Miss Snark figuratively slapped her hand for it.
And all hell has broken loose.
Apparently some people are under the misguided notion that freedom of speech means freedom to say whatever the hell you like and how dare anyone say anything against it.
I give to you the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America -
Article I - Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
(Text taken from Documents of American History to 1898 - Volume 1, seventh edition. Edited by Henry Steele Commager, Published by Appleton-Century-Croft; Division of Meredith Publishing Company, 1962)
OK - now show me where it says there that someone can't take you to task for what you say.
Freedom of speech entails that the government can't shut you up because they don't like what you say. It DOES NOT say that I can't tell you to shut up because you sound like an idiot. It also doesn't say that you can't tell me to go pound sand because I told you to shut up.
See? Really simple - if you take the time to bother to look before you quote.
Frankly, I don't give a damn what Anne Stuart said. I've never read her books. I won't go buy them simply because of this whole flap. Who DOES that? I don't know about anyone else, but I choose my books because I think I'll like the story. But that's just me.
Jenny Crusie came out in support of her friend, Ms Stuart. That's cool. Great. I think people should stand up for their friends.
But the commenters on Ms Crusie's blog need to go back and reread their Constitution (and here's a hint: The first ten amendments are called The Bill of Rights.) Anne Stuart's First Amendment right was not violated because Miss Snark said she should keep quiet. If the FBI showed up on Ms Stuart's doorstep to arrest her for speaking badly of her publisher - that's a violation of her First Amendment right. It's really so easy, but people are so damn quick to jump on the whole freedom of speech issue. And it's an important issue - I will be the first person to defend someone's right to say something, whether or not I agree. But most of the commenters on Ms Crusie's blog seem to feel that only their right to free speech exists and anyone who dares disagree is stupid at best and dangerous at worst. That sounds scarily like another era, doesn't it? Free speech is for all, not a select few, and it means that you just might not like what the other party has to say. Tough if you don't. I don't like what a lot of people have to say, but I would defend forever their right to say it.
So for all of those who think Miss Snark owes an apology for speaking her mind, or who think Anne Stuart should be slapped upside the head for speaking her mind, I offer up huge slices of clue cake. And I'm offering them to the commenters who feel that only they can speak their mind and tell those of us who disagree that we do not share that same right.
Aw, hell, I'll bake a special clue cake just for them and sprinkle it with bits of the First Amendment. It's the least I can do for souls so obviously in need of it.