Wednesday News: Bezos on free speech, math’s male gaze, reading long books, and hilarious Dan Brown parody
Jeff Bezos: Gawker’s Plight Proves “Ugly Speech” Needs Protection – The Gawker lawsuit has raised many questions about how much and what kind of protection public figures should have against media coverage. As much as I think Nick Denton is obnoxiously gross, he’s correct that gossip has historically been outside polite discourse, and is therefore more vulnerable. At the same time, gossip is more likely to be defamatory than, say, core political speech, and defamation is a definite limit on free speech. I’m glad to see that Bezos has come out strongly for “ugly” but lawful speech, although I’m not certain Amazon’s own policies always protect said speech.
The question also prompted Bezos, who bought the Washington D.C. paper in 2013 for $250 million, to speak about his views on the First Amendment. “This country has the best free speech protections in the world because of the constitution but also because of our cultural norms,” he said. “Beautiful speech doesn’t need protection. It’s ugly speech that needs protection, so of course that’s where the rubber is going to meet the road.
“We have these cultural norms that allow people to say really ugly things,” he continued. “We don’t have to like it and we don’t have to invite those people to our dinner parties, but you should let them say it.” – Hollywood Reporter
The Male Gaze in a Math Book – A great little piece on the systemic patterns of sexism and the way that even small examples reinforce negative stereotypes, instructing well beyond academic subject matter. I was editing a speech at work recently – someone else has written it – and I tripped over a stunningly bold and unnecessary sexist stereotype in the middle of it. At first I was shocked that the writers had not seen it themselves, but it also reminded me that we are all subject to these blind spots, even when we think we’ve been educated out of them. Which is why we need to stay vigilant.
I can’t recommend this book to anyone for their daughters, sons, or non-binary children. How could I recommend that a young woman read a math book that reminds her on page 2 that she will constantly be judged based on her appearance, even when she is in a lecture hall trying to learn something? How could I tell a young man to look at his peers that way? . . .
It’s easy to think, “If you can’t handle one less-than-perfect sentence in a book, you’re too delicate to be here” or “Why are you so worried about this when there are people who have it so much worse than you?” But it really is relentless. One bumbling sentence is small on its own, but it’s part of a sea of messages women and men receive starting when they are infants: women are looked at, men look. – Scientific American
5 Ways to Read a 33 Hour Book – I think the Economist blogger who thinks that long books are better should read this post, which begins this way:
I don’t like long books. They take too long to read.
The opportunity cost of one long book, in terms of books not read, is high.
I like concise books. A short book forces the author and the editor to consider each word. – Inside Higher Ed
Look out, kids! It’s the return of renowned Dan Brown – Thanks to Kaetrin for the link to this absolutely heelarious parody of the YA “Da Vinci Code:”
I’ve written short stories and I’ve written long novels. Well written short stories take much more time per word to write. Every word in a short story works hard and is noticed by readers, often being interpreted two or three different ways.
I also find the readers of short stories vs the readers of novels read in very different ways. A short story reader often continues the story in her/his mind, filling in details, adding scenes. She/he often brings as much to a story as the writer does.
Thanks for the Dan Brown parody. Since politics have moved beyond parody into the realm of the surreal, I needed the laugh.
The male gaze in the math book was really interesting: truly a sea of messages we all receive. Thanks for posting the link and the parody. Off to share.
The best mystery ever written, in my estimation at least, is The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey. Depending on format it comes in at a scant 200 pages. I don’t know how Tey did it, but writers would sell their souls to have her skill. Brilliant.