Political Correctness strikes the news media…

… and mainstream publishing has already done much the same thing to the authors it publishes.  Now Amazon has decided it can stop the sale of books that don’t fit its politically correct criteria.  Can this be on the horizon for author-published books as well?

Well-known independent journalist Matt Taibbi analyzes the purge of non-PC news and journalists.

Where it gets weird is that the move to turn the bulk of the corporate press in the “moral clarity” era into a single party organ has come accompanied by purges of the politically unfit. In the seemingly endless parade of in-house investigations of journalists, paper after paper has borrowed from the Soviet style of printing judgments and self-denunciations, without explaining the actual crimes.

The New York Times coverage of the recent staff revolt at Teen Vogue against editor Alexi McCammond noted “Staff Members Condemn Editor’s Decade-Old, Racist Tweets,” but declined to actually publish the offending texts, so readers might judge for themselves. The Daily Beast expose on Times reporter Donald McNeil did much the same thing. Even the ongoing (and in my mind, ridiculous) moral panic over Substack ties in. Aimed at people already banished from mainstream media, the obvious message is that anyone with even mildly heterodox opinions shouldn’t be publishing anywhere.

Those still clinging to mainstream jobs in a business that continues to lay people off at an extraordinary rate read the gist of all of these stories clearly: if you want to keep picking up a check, you’d better talk the right talk.

. . .

… a lot of people in the press … are searching out the safest places on the op-ed page, the middle of the newsroom middle, in desperate efforts to stay on the masthead. It’s been made clear that there’s no such thing as overdoing it in one direction, e.g. if you write as the Times did that Biden “has become a steady hand who chooses words with extraordinary restraint” (which even those who like and admire Biden must grasp is not remotely true of the legendary loose cannon). Meanwhile, how many open critics of the Party on the left, the right, or anywhere in between still have traditional media jobs?

All of this has created an atmosphere where even obvious observations that once would have interested blue-state voters, like that Biden’s pandemic relief bill “does not establish a single significant new social program,” can only be found in publications like the World Socialist Web Site. The bulk of the rest of the landscape has become homogenous and as predictably sycophantic as Fox in the “Mission Accomplished” years, maybe even worse. What is this all going to look like in four years?

There’s much more at the link.  Recommended reading.  (If the article disappears behind a paywall, try this link instead.)

The question is, how long will it take before such pressures are exerted on us as well?  It’s not just our books:  it’s our social media presence, our blogs, our daily round.  There’s also the political angle.  Remember how the Obama administration weaponized the IRS against its political opponents?  Those who spoke out too loudly were suddenly being audited left, right and center, and finding the auditors strangely unsympathetic to defenses that had previously been allowable.  Will we find the same thing again?

This is, of course, deeply poisonous to free speech, and to the foundations of a free society;  but it appears to be the political correctness du jour in the USA.  Is it affecting you at all?  Let us know in Comments.

15 comments

  1. Not yet, thank the lord. But we’re really small fry, down there in the grass with the rest of the amoebas.

    I don’t believe any of this should come as a surprise. When you do politics for ideological reasons (i.e. because it’s morally right and spiritually just) instead of for transactional reasons (the spoils system and I got mine and eventually you’ll get yours if we can cut a deal) you change the tenor of your opponents when they haven’t changed a darn thing.

    That is, if “you” are doing things because it’s morally right and spiritually just and in a way that you and only you define, then your opponents are not just misguided. Nor can they become potential allies in the future when your goals align better.

    They are evil simply because they oppose you.

    Evil cannot be worked with or even tolerated. It cannot be redeemed.

    Ideological politics is even more susceptible to corruption than transactional politics because it disguises naked self-interest under a veil of piety.

    Ideological politics do not permit a loyal opposition.

    1. More broadly, politics is a cycle of ‘paying’ people for support, and using that support for the political power to make ‘payments’.

      Bread and circuses politics is collecting tangible resources to disperse to followers. In Rome, some of that was fairly explicitly collected outside of the polity by force.

      It is possible that when entirely inside a polity, resource distribution politics makes everyone poor by adding absurd transaction costs trying to chisel taxes from the taxpayers.

      Anyway, in a wealthy society, it might be cheaper to pay in intangibles. And intangibles are not all the same in consequence.

      Good governance is an intangible. One which does not have a universal definition, and related to a number of obvious costs. Forex, if supporters demand you only use your office ethically, that is a cost for you. If they don’t, it is a cost for them and others.

      Tribe is also an intangible. It is one that is very important in many societies. You have to have some kind of high trust society for “He’s a crook, but he is hurting the other guys more than us, and we can’t afford to support someone of another tribe” /not/ to be the rule.

      Ideology and other intangibles that aren’t strictly tribe or good governance are interesting. Ideology does not have to be tribal. You can definitely have factional/tribal fights in groups that are essentially the same ideology.

  2. Is it affecting you at all?

    I do not know.

    Even in the best of times, I would anticipate all sorts of strange, horrible, and improbable possibilities.

    Right now? The wider circles of situation and circumstance are unclear. That much is objective fact. Personally, I am well past being able to think clearly, and well past the easily tolerable level of disruption by other insane people.

  3. Not so far that I can see, although there was an author acquaintance from my old indy author support group who got really, really irrational and accusatory on my FB page towards another commenter, over a comment to a really surreal visual joke. Her rant was so deranged that I blocked her entirely. First time that has ever happened on my FB page, which I really only use for very anodyne and harmless comment, mostly to do with my books and upcoming events.

    1. That’s… disturbingly common. People suddenly coming unwound and burning bridges.

      It’s not like I haven’t seen it before, but it seems to be a lot more common now.

  4. I have to be careful what i say to riders, and sometimes avoid certain topic of conversation.

  5. The only affect I’ve seen is to my writing. It’s getting a bit heavy on the anti-leftist/collectivist side, with the good guys being seriously individualist, voluntarily helping each other and thriving while the larger group with the tyrannical leaders flounders . . .

  6. “The question is, how long will it take before such pressures are exerted on us as well?”

    How long before?

    This pressure has been continuously exerted on us since the 1980s, and it really picked up around 2009/10. This year, 2021, we watched Baen take down Baen’s Bar as a just-in-case move to keep the company from being kicked off the internet.

    I was in university in the 1970s, and there was no expectation that papers would have a political component. None. Politics existed, certainly, but were considered unimportant.

    I was in university again in the 1990s, and -everything- had a political component. Political correctness was very important, and I got myself in quite a bit of controversy with staff by being pointedly and deliberately politically -incorrect- in papers. Something as simple as being essentially forbidden from using the word “cripple” in papers or in speaking, which I of course took as a challenge to use the word as much as possible.

    Because I was treating school as if it was still the 1970s, and who the f- are you boys to be telling me what word I’m going to use? It got ridiculous after a while, to the point where I wrote a paper on idiotic medical circumlocutions of the last 100 years (including the evolution of the term “idiot”) and laid it on them. Didn’t even make a dent, but it made me feel better to let them know I could see their bullsh1t and I wasn’t having it.

    I think that now, 2021, a major effort would be mounted by the school to get me kicked out. They’d find a way or make one, out of sheer spite if nothing else. But much more to the point, they’d have -never- given me admission in the first place. White male over 40? No way. Because now nothing is more important than the political component.

    That’s the pressure we’re under -now-. Shortly I expect it will be made illegal to use certain words in works of fiction. Words like the n*word (which we all know I can’t spell out here, and why I can’t spell it out, even as an example) or ‘cr1pple’, or maybe ‘w0man’ and ‘m@n’. But please note that even though I bleep out the F- word as a courtesy because I know some readers here don’t like it, I don’t -need- to bleep it out. There will be no shirtstorm or inquisition over an un-bowlderized f-bomb. WordPress will not delete the whole blog over a random f-bomb in the comments. They might delete it over the n*word.

    Next week, who the hell knows? Of one thing we can be sure, the pressure will only increase. At some point they’ll write an algo to automate it, and if you’ve got a “cr1ppled reactor” in your starship in an SF book, your book will be deleted for “violating the terms of service”.

    At which point, paper libraries will become extremely valuable. As will e-book backups. Maybe hold back on thinning those bookshelves, eh?

    1. You could substitute the word “ginger”. It has all the same letters.
      And yeah, paper books are better simply because “someone” can’t go back and rewrite the text to improve it or make it fall in line with current thought.

      I understand one of the big cooking magazines is doing just that to their online archives.
      Bon Appetit maybe? That’s their historical records!

      Hysterical and insane.
      And yeah, I cheerfully use the word “cripple” in my fiction because one of my main characters uses it to describe herself.

      1. *Snort* In parts of England, to be called a Ginger is considered a fighting word, or a warning that you’d better leave now or take a beating or worse. Red-heads get run out of public housing in some districts. But you won’t get banned from the internet for using the word, since redheads are not “visible minorities.”

        Why do I write fiction? Because it has to make sense. Unlike reality.

        1. That’s because everybody in England knows that red hair is put there by the Gods as a warning. ~:D

          In some parts of England “excuse me” and “hello” are fighting words unless followed by “what are you drinking, I’ll get you one.” That would be the Scottish parts with all the red-heads, normally. ~:D

          1. Careful! Don’t suggest that Scotland is part of England to the Scots – they’ll all get very offended.

      2. “I understand one of the big cooking magazines is doing just that to their online archives.”

        This type of thing is why I am not a fan of cloud computing and the “streaming download” universe. It is far too easy for Karen to get her hands on the wheels and levers of industry and remove certain words from -everything- at the same time. Words like “and” or “the” given the abject insanity of the Intersectionalists these days. Critical Race Theory justifies pretty much anything they feel like doing, and 100% connected computing makes it easy for them.

        It would be nice to have some Dr. Seuss hard copies right about now. I’m moving forward with dead-tree copies for all my books from here out, because Microsoft really can reach into my PC and change anything they want. I’ve made it hard for them with backups, but I’m sure there’s still a way for them to do it if they really, really wanted to. Tim Cook made a speech about that regarding Apple, they were committed to ensuring people couldn’t create hate speech on their Macs and iPads.
        In other sad news, Raspberry Pi phones home to Microsoft. And the Raspy Team can’t understand why all their users were upset by that.

        These are the same people who want to declare war on the Taliban for blowing up ancient temples in Afghanistan. The noises inside their heads must be very loud indeed.

Comments are closed.