Authors Facing Increasing Pressure To Retroactively Edit Their Work To Appease Critics

We have been discussing writerseditorscommentators, and academics who have embraced rising calls for censorship and speech controls, including book banning and blacklisting. That movement has now become retroactive. Authors are now being successfully pressured to remove lines from published books that are deemed objectionable by some readers. It appears that even speech that has published can be retroactively “corrected” under the threat of public accusation.

One of the authors who has agreed to curtail her own prior writing is Elin Hilderbrand who agreed to retroactively remove her own lines in the 2021 book, The Golden Girl.  According to an article in Publishers Weekly, there was an objection to a line of the character Vivi who responded to the suggestion of her friend Savannah that they hide out for the summer in the attic of Savannah’s parents’ attic. Vivi asks. “Like … like Anne Frank?” The two friends laugh at the absurdity, but Vivi thinks, “Is it really funny, and is Vivi so far off base?”

That led to some readers to declare that the line was “horrifically” antisemitic and demanding an apology for thinking “antisemitism is funny.” Hilderbrand responded with a profuse apology and a promise to remove the line.

Author Casey McQuiston also yielded to such demands after readers objected to a line the gay romance novel Red, White & Royal Blue when the president in the United States in the book complains “Well, my UN ambassador fu**ed up his one job and said something idiotic about Israel, and now I have to call Netanyahu and personally apologize.”  Readers decried that the line “normalizes the genocide & war crimes done by Israel that will always be backed up & unashamedly supported by America.” It was a bizarre objection since the line could be viewed as an implied criticism of deference shown to Israel in American politics. Nevertheless, McQuiston caved to the pressure and promised to remove the line.

What is striking is how few objections were made to these books and how quickly the authors yielded. The point of cancel campaigns is to create a chilling effect for academics, writers, editors, and others. No one wants to have their careers or lives altered by being labeled racist or anti-Semitic. It is easier to yield.

We just discussed the one year anniversary of the disgraceful action of the New York Times to sack an editor and to issue a cringing apology for publishing the views of a Republican senator. The action of the Times sent a loud message to all writers that the ability to continue to work depends on avoiding any such accusations.  Following the Cotton controversies, various writers were forced off major publications in a purging of those with conservative or opposing views.

The decisions of these book authors will fuel greater calls for retroactive censorship of controversial lines in creative works. Works can then be sanitized to remove any material objectionable to readers.  That may be advantageous for these authors but it will only further erode the protections and expectations of free speech for writers as a whole.

68 thoughts on “Authors Facing Increasing Pressure To Retroactively Edit Their Work To Appease Critics”

  1. Welcome to 1984 and the ministry or truth. Time to change history. This is really scary.

  2. Except for companies like HBO (that oppose unAmerican censorship), many movie companies have edited older movies since at the least the 1980’s without informing viewers or without giving viewers the choice of watching the original unedited version. These are shows not filtered out by parental-control viewing filters. This nanny-state has made the choice for us.

    We the consumers are paying the monthly cable bills to have this nanny-state make those choices for us but we are not allowed to choose non-censoring companies like HBO instead of the unAmerican channels without paying more money. We pay for the channels we don’t want but are censored using our own money.

    For example: Want to watch the iconic classic “Animal House” (which is really about arbitrary government and similar to our post 9/11 foreign style government with “double-secret probation”) most us aren’t allowed to view it uncensored. We pay for it but can’t watch it uncensored.

    The younger generation has dropped cable bills altogether and receive uncensored content for free. Seems like a losing business model for cable companies.

  3. An off topic treat: Sometimes you just need to remember what courtroom movies were like when you could say what you wanted, when you could tell the truth and when the crowd could cheer because justice was clear. Oh, and when Al Pacino was Arthur Kirkland, Esq. in his tour de force, “And Justice For All”:

    1. An amusing but totally unrealistic movie scene. If you would like a good portrayal of an actual courtroom summation in the real life trial of Leopold and Loeb, I submit Clarence Darrow who would have been, I submit, a Never Trumper:

      https://youtu.be/CrjbL4eedkQ

        1. Mespo,

          Well, at least I don’t believe in the delusion as you and the Trumpists do that Trump will be re-instated in August! Of course, you can deny here and now that you are so deluded, but then you will be cancelled by the Turley Trumpists as a RINO.

          1. Mespo, have you heard Trump say that? Has anyone with a name stepped forward to say that? Do we have a quote from Trump saying that?

            The answer is no. This is a story typical of what Ball-Less Jeff believes. Ball-less hasn’t yet gotten to the law school textbook chapter on what is a fact. Maybe after he reads that chapter, he will begin to make some sense.

            1. JS:

              “Mespo, here is the polling results of which I speak. Are you in the 30%?”

              (Earlier in the thread) “Well, at least I don’t believe in the delusion as you and the Trumpists do that Trump will be re-instated in August!”
              *******************************

              Seems your mental Jury already came in on that topic and with nary a bit of evidence, so typical of the sophist.

          2. Jeff:

            Perhaps the most glaring example of the Left believing a movie is real would be The Handmaid’s Tale, a movie based off a book that was unapologetically bigoted against Christian conservatives, especially conservative women.

            They seem to believe it’s real.

            1. I didn’t see that movie. While Christians cannot be discriminated against, their beliefs can be ridiculed since no beliefs are sacrosanct.

    2. mespo:

      That was a painful movie.

      While I understand a right to a defense attorney on the behalf of the accused, what does it cost that attorney? What does it do to their soul, if they find out their client is guilty and they get them off?

      I was deeply troubled by that interview with Hillary Clinton chuckling over how she got a pedophile rapist off. If I recall correctly, the lab had accidentally thrown out the blood and semen stained evidence from her underwear. The rape was so violent that the victim was unable to have children afterward. And she laughed. I heard it.

      This is the same woman who went after the characters of those who accused Bill Clinton of sexual misconduct, knowing the entire time that their accusations were true.

      What does that do to a person’s soul, to lie like that? To not care like that? At the end, there is only the soul.

  4. That led to some readers to declare that the line was “horrifically” antisemitic and demanding an apology for thinking “antisemitism is funny.”

    Is it anti-Semitic to be rigidly opposed to Jeffrey Toobin getting sloppy seconds for CNN going flaccid at Jim Acosta’s Fake News Inc?

    Jeffrey Toobin returns to CNN eight months after exposing himself to colleagues on Zoom call
    https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/jeffrey-toobin-returns-cnn-after-exposing-himself-zoom-call

    1. With any luck, Donald Trump will be prosecuted and convicted which should put a dagger in the heart of Trumpism.

        1. No, Phyllis, just a prediction. I take it that you will refuse to accept a criminal conviction of Trump regardless of the evidence and even if Turley agrees with the verdict?

      1. Jeff, prosecuted for what? He’s been audited repeatedly. Multiple charges against him have been found to be baseless, including that of being a Russian spy. It turned out to be just falsified opposition research paid for by Hillary Clinton. The sub source said it was never to be presented as fact, let alone to the FISA court.

        Meanwhile, Joe Biden brags on camera about the quid pro quo that dismissed the Ukrainian prosecutor who coincidentally was investigating Burisma, where his crack addict son Hunter Biden coincidentally worked, paid millions without any expertise, knowledge, or skill in oil and gas, and nothing happened to him.

        Hillary Clinton can have a bootleg series of servers in her bathroom, tidied by people with zero clearance, and backed up to the Cloud, with classified information, and nothing happened to her.

        Democrats seized entire city blocks in sedition, burned down a police precinct, torched small businesses struggling during a pandemic, and nothing much happened to them.

        There’s a laptop strongly implicating Joe Biden in a pay to play scheme, and nothing seems to be happening to him.

        But let’s spend years and millions of taxpayer dollars sifting through Donald Trump’s life history of actions and transactions, in the hope that at some time, somewhere, he might have broken some law. Show the Left the man, and it can show the crime.

        I guess in the Democrat hegemony, there’s two legal systems, depending upon the politics of the accused.

        1. Karen,

          If Hilary, Joe or Hunter Biden are prosecuted and convicted of a crime, I will applaud it. I don’t care who faces justice.

          I’ll ask you again, if Donald Trump is tried and convicted by a jury and his appeals upheld, will you accept the verdict of our justice system? Or will you engage in “whataboutism”?

        2. “Jeff, prosecuted for what? He’s been audited repeatedly. Multiple charges against him have been found to be baseless, including that of being a Russian spy.”

          After all these prosecutions of Trump, Jeff is still convinced that Trump is guilty yet over and over again he asks the question, “I’ll ask you again, if Donald Trump is tried and convicted by a jury and his appeals upheld, will you accept the verdict of our justice system? Or will you engage in “whataboutism”?”

          This a lawyer who can’t see that he is answering virtually the same question he is asking. He cannot stand Trump has not been proven guilty despite the media, IC, lies from members of Congress etc. He wants it to go on forever and will never accept an innocent Trump. Pure nonsense.

Leave a Reply to Karen S Cancel reply