Saturday, November 25, 2006

Clue Cake and Freedom of Speech

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.


Michelle said...

For someone who on jennycrusie's site mentions that she just wants this to end, you sure enjoy fanning the flames.

Kim said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Kim said...

I am sorry you feel that way. You obviously missed the entire point.

FerfeLaBat said...

Miss Snark can say anything she likes. It's also perfectly fine if readers visit her blog for entertainment. What one person enjoys (Back to the Future) may not be another person's cup of tea (Saw3).

FWIW I did not and do not want her readers to get the impression that I am criticizing them. I am sincerely concerned that if aspiring writers are visiting that site for actual writing advice, or hoping Snark will sign them if they are witty enough in the comments, or accomplishing anything even remotely constructive career-wise by hanging out there -- I want to state for the record that there is nothing there for them that will help them get published. Nada. Rien. Zilch. There is a LOT there that may hurt their shot at getting published.

I think newbies have no clue what they are setting themselves up for when they post there and Snark takes full advantage of fresh meat for the grinder. I think she demoralizes new writers and probably feels she's doing them a fine service by blasting them out of the arena before they get in any deeper and get their fingers and toes burned.

The blog*o*sphere has no ratings controls or warning labels so ... I'm going to keep doing the rounds warning the newbies off until they've donned a thicker skin and gotten a few rejections and edits under their belts.

Defend her site all you like under the freedom of speech banner. You are absolutely correct. I? Am going to keep doing interventions and hopefully save a few good writers from blog-eviceration.

Reset Agro and More DOTS! ;-) (World of Warcraft speak)

Kim said...

I wasn't defending her, nor was I defending her freedom of speech. I don't want to see anyone silenced - whether it's miss snark or a critic. The point of my comments, and my post, were simply to point out that it isn't all black or white, or us against them. It bothered me to see Miss Yoffa's post especially, because she left out a very important part of her complaint. And then I was also knocked around because I wasn't in agreement in demanding Miss Snark's head on a pike.

I enjoyed reading Ms Cruisie's entry. She was right to defend her friend. I also enjoyed reading the comments. And I wasn't saying that Ms Stuart shouldn't have said what she did. It's fine that she did, because why shouldn't she? But it just felt that if you didn't wholeheartedly agree, no ifs, ands, or buts, your opinio wasn't worth squat. Again - freedom of speech. But it can't be all one way, either. It can't be Ms Stuart has the right, but Miss Snark doesn't.

I read Miss Snark's blog. I don't take everything she says as the law. But some of her advice is good. Fortunately, I am not a newbie and I don't think any newbie should take any one person's word as law.

As I said, I didn't comment to start an argument and I'm sorry I said anything at all because of the fact that not one person had anything positive to say. It was very obnoxious, really. And I don't condone that no matter what side it's coming from.

That was all I wanted to say. There are two sides, and two points of view. I chose to share mine.

Thanks for the comment - I really had no idea anyone read this :)

FerfeLaBat said...

Didn't mean to put you on the defensive. Sorry about that. Just wanted to explain why I posted what I did on the Clue Cake blog.

Miss Snark can take pretty good care of herself I think.

I agree on the newbie thing but my experience has been that they don't have any sense of self preservation when they are just starting out and are very likely to take one persons word as law because .... well mostly because that's the only person they know who will answer their basic questions.

The entire Clue Cake affair started out negative. It's kinda cute that you thought it was even possible to put a positive spin on it.

Hope you had a good Thanksgiving weekend otherwise.

~ C