Margaret Atwood, Noam Chomsky, Garry Kasparov, J.K. Rowling, Salman Rushdie and Wynton Marsalis are just a handful of over 150 intellectuals and cultural figures who signed an open “Letter on Justice and Debate,” published Tuesday on the Harper’s Magazine website.
Perhaps under normal times, such a letter wouldn’t be noteworthy. Then again, in normal times, few would likely see the need for such a letter, which bemoans the fact that the current wave of social protest in the United States is being accompanied by “an intolerance of opposing views, a vogue for public shaming and ostracism, and the tendency to dissolve complex policy issues in a blinding moral certainty.”
The letter concludes: “As writers we need a culture that leaves us room for experimentation, risk taking, and even mistakes. We need to preserve the possibility of good-faith disagreement without dire professional consequences. If we won’t defend the very thing on which our work depends, we shouldn’t expect the public or the state to defend it for us.”
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