Publication: The Cancel Mob targets Amy Coney Barrett’s new book

Last year, The mind matters covered the new phenomenon of publishing house staff going to war against the publisher’s own books. This is a far cry from the days when publishers might have to defend their books in court. Last year, the target was, among other perpetrators, successful psychologist Jordan Peterson.

Amy Coney Barrett

We were informed by Maclean’s Magazine that “Penguin Random House Canada employees share how they are rethinking their workplace and why publishing, broadly speaking, should weigh its moral responsibilities” as part of Peterson’s latest article, Beyond Order: 12 More Rules for Life (Penguin 2021).

The book was published, despite them, to five-star reviews. But Cancel Culture staff continue to lead the charge for “depublication” and have succeeded with many lesser-known targets. Orwell Prize-winning author Kate Clanchy’s memoir has been canceled by her original publisher (although acquired by another. Blake Bailey’s biography of author Philip Roth has been canceled by WW Norton due to Me Too sins of author and subject Young adult author Jessica Cluess was canceled after she defended literary classics.

The latest big-name quashing attempt targets U.S. Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett. In early 2021, she was signed by Penguin’s Sentinel imprint to write a book about her judicial philosophy and the reasoning behind her decisions.

Barrett was one of the judges who struck down Roe vs. Wade through the Dobbs decision — thus allowing states to make their own abortion laws, as they had done before 1973. So you would think that many people would be interested in hearing his point of view, especially since, for the most, the public heard mainly from the opponents of Dobbs. But if we think that, we misunderstand Cancel Culture.

Now that his book should be on track, “a group of concerned publishing professionals” began circulating a letter against him:

At the heart of the statement’s argument against PRH’s decision to publish Coney Barrett is the alleged breach of the Bertelsmann Code of Conduct. The statement notes that Human Rights Watch, which was founded by former Random House publisher Robert L. Bernstein, cited the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights in stating that access to abortion is a human right. The code of conduct of PRH’s parent company, Bertelsmann, also cites this statement, noting that the editor is “committed to the principles” of the document. The statement claims that to publish Coney Barrett’s book would violate both the company’s code of conduct and international human rights.

Sophie Stewart“Open Letter Condemns Amy Coney Barrett’s Book Deal” to The weekly publishers (October 25, 2022)

The heart of the argument doesn’t make much sense to non-Cancel Culture attendees because an editor advances a reasonable discussion of a topic by publishing a main character’s point of view. But as of this writing, 559 “concerned publishing professionals” have signed the letter, the penultimate paragraph of which reads:

It’s not just a book we don’t agree with, and we’re not calling for censorship. Many of us work daily with books that we find unpleasant for our personal politics. Rather, it is a case of a corporation privately funding the destruction of human rights with obscene profits. Coney Barrett is free to say what she wants, but Penguin Random House must decide whether to fund its position at the expense of human rights in order to inflate its bottom line, or to truly uphold the values ​​it stands for. proudly.

But of course, from a traditional publishing point of view, the “professionals concerned” are call for censorship. They want the publisher to cancel a book they vehemently disagree with.

One way to understand the Cancelers’ point of view: Participants in Cancel Culture generally give themselves the right to assume the identity they want and then demand that others consent to it. So when they engage in behavior that they themselves would probably call censorship when others do they demand that the world not regard them as censors. Much depends on whether the publishing world will let the Cancelers off the hook.

Joanna Williams, author of How Woke won (John Wilkes, 2022) sees the Woke as stepping into a void of lost values ​​in publishing:

…despite the few activists, organized groups or political parties that rally around the word “woke”, the values ​​associated with the term have come to dominate all aspects of society, from schools and universities to the police , business, health care and justice. The creative industries – museums and art galleries, journalism and publishing – have proven to be particularly fertile ground for cultivating awakened values. This did not happen overnight, but over several decades. And this did not happen because of the merits of enlightened thought, but because institutions, devoid of any intrinsic sense of purpose, were unable or unwilling to uphold liberal values.

Joanna Williams“How Woke Put Paid to Publishing” at city ​​newspaper (August 28, 2022)

At worst, Madam Justice Barrett will have to find a less distinguished editor but it will always be possible so far read his defense of his pro-life judicial philosophy. But this in turn raises an interesting question:

Does the future of publishing – as an intellectual enterprise – belong to smaller, lesser-known publishers, with the big publishers reduced to publishing only what the Cancel crowd does not object to? now? The next few years will probably tell.

You can also read: Why has the publishing industry gone to war with books? Readers need to know how things have changed. For various reasons, traditional publishers today try to get rid of controversial books instead of profiting from their sale.