The Woody Allen book 'Apropos of Nothing' has the right to be published — and to not be read

Via:  perrie-halpern  •  5 days ago  •  9 comments

By:   Celia Viggo Wexler

The Woody Allen book 'Apropos of Nothing' has the right to be published — and to not be read
Free speech isn't a reward for good behavior. It's a right that stays meaningful only if we extend it to people we find repugnant.

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T

As the world battles a pandemic, it seems like an odd time to consider the larger implications of the publication of Woody Allen's memoir, which   came out Monday   after having been axed by his original publisher.

But in such times, when   civil liberties often take a back seat   to the demands of public health, this might be exactly the right moment to stress that in a democracy, we need to tread very carefully when it comes to effectively denying someone's right to free speech.

In this country, we don't use censorship to punish people. Even convicted murderers get to write books.

Allen's nearly censored book, "Apropos of Nothing," was finally released by Arcade Publishing after Hachette Books, Allen's previous publisher,   backed out   in the face of loud protests by his son Ronan Farrow.

Farrow accused Hachette, which is also his publisher, of being " wildly unprofessional " for planning to publish the Allen memoir without giving Dylan Farrow, his sister and Allen's adopted daughter, a chance to respond to the manuscript because she   has long alleged   that she was abused by Allen when she was a child. Many Hachette employees walked out in protest of the book.

200323-woody-allen-apropos-of-nothing-co Woody Allen's memoir "Apropos of Nothing." Grand Central Publishing

I certainly understand Hachette's reluctance to move forward. The publisher faced a potential onslaught of bad publicity and accusations that it was insensitive to abuse allegations, as well as being   hypocritical   given its recent publication of Farrow's book "Catch and Kill" after he charged that media companies blocked his efforts to expose the predation of Harvey Weinstein.

But we use the courts rather than censorship to punish people. Free speech isn't a reward for good behavior. It's a right that stays meaningful only if we extend it to people we find repugnant.

And it is only more important to heed the admonition to make sure that our vigilance in protecting the vulnerable from predators doesn't make us vigilantes when the justice system hasn't found a person guilty.

Unlike Weinstein, Allen was investigated and wasn't  charged , although the Connecticut prosecutor in the case said he had "probable cause" to do so but wanted to spare Dylan the trauma of a trial. Investigators at Yale New Haven hospital, on the other hand, found  no evidence  of abuse. Even some of the director's critics  concede  that no other women and children have accused him of predatory conduct.

  personally have no idea whether Allen molested his daughter, though as a woman, mother and feminist in the era of #MeToo, I take seriously allegations of predatory crimes, particularly against children. I've   written a great deal   about the Catholic Church's long history of covering up the abuse of the priests in its ranks, and if Allen is ever proven to have done something wrong, he should be punished, too — in a court of law.

Which doesn't mean that Allen should be shielded from these allegations. Farrow and his sister have every right to continue their criticism of Allen and to encourage more scrutiny from the industry that has given him so many awards over the years.

But publishing a book doesn't mean the author gets some seal of approval for his views or his personal conduct. It's a business negotiation. If a publisher believes it meets its legal and editorial standards, the memoir should be published.

That also means those who object to Allen's behavior should demonstrate their opposition by not buying the book. I certainly won't buy it. I never was much of a fan of his films to start with, and I find his obsession with very young women to be creepy. I encourage others who find Allen's conduct unacceptable to boycott both his books and his films. The marketplace gives us that power.

But in this country, we don't use censorship to punish people. Even convicted murderers get to write books. The serial killer   David Berkowitz   worked with evangelical ministers to write "Son of Hope: The Prison Journals of David Berkowitz," published by Morning Star Communications. You can still buy it on Amazon.

And attempts by state legislatures to prevent convicted criminals from profiting from accounts of their crimes have been restrained by the Supreme Court. In   an 8-0 decision , the court struck down New York's effort to keep convicted murders like Berkowitz   from doing   so as a violation of the First Amendment.

So it was a good thing that Arcade quietly released the Allen memoir Monday. In a democracy, we depend on the courts to decide guilt or innocence. We rely on readers to decide whether or not they want to hear Allen's account of his life.


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Perrie Halpern R.A.
1  seeder  Perrie Halpern R.A.    5 days ago

I despise this pig, but I have to agree with this article 100%. What do you think?

Raven Wing
1.1  Raven Wing  replied to  Perrie Halpern R.A. @1    5 days ago

There have been many books that have been published that I refuse to read, namely due to the content. As a creative writer myself for many years I am aware of the way content is viewed and rated. Even if a book is written by a famous person it does not guarantee that it is what many people would be interested in reading.

Woody Allen is not someone whose books I would have any interest in reading, and that is my personal choice not to read them. And it is his right to have his books published no matter who does not like him as a person.

2  sandy-2021492    5 days ago

As far as I'm concerned, a publisher has the right to publish, or choose not to publish, any material they wish.  Woody Allen has a the right to write any material he wishes.  If he can find a publisher for his book, fine.  If none want to make a deal to publish it, that's their right, as well.  To me, his right to free speech is only denied if government punishes him for it, not by being denied a platform by a privately-owned business.

Lots of aspiring writers can't find a publisher.

2.1  MUVA  replied to  sandy-2021492 @2    5 days ago

I agree he doesn't have a right to be published.

2.1.1  sandy-2021492  replied to  MUVA @2.1    5 days ago

You feeling any better?

2.2  zuksam  replied to  sandy-2021492 @2    5 days ago

I think it's a little different when the publisher is bowing to pressure from a few highly vocal protestors. I just think it's a bad precedence to set since some of the most important works ever published were controversial and could in theory have been denied publishing because of public pressure by small but highly vocal groups. I don't even care if the objectors are 90% of the population I don't want anyone deciding for me what is worth reading or unfit to be published. I would support any Publisher who declared in the face of public pressure that they would publish anything that would turn a profit because doing any less would be censorship. As far as Woody goes I never liked his work anyway he is overrated and only marginally talented and everything he ever did could have been done better by any one of thousands of other people. But I still think if the Publisher thought enough people would buy and read his book they should have published it on principal with no consideration of it's veracity or offensiveness, let the public buy it, read it and condemn or extoll it as they see fit.

Perrie Halpern R.A.
2.2.1  seeder  Perrie Halpern R.A.  replied to  zuksam @2.2    5 days ago

I agree that publishers shouldn't be pressured into not publishing. But on the other hand, I think that publishers look at the protesters and think "will we make money? That being said, I think he should be allowed to publish, but I would never buy or watch anything coming from this pig. 

2.2.2  zuksam  replied to  Perrie Halpern R.A. @2.2.1    5 days ago
I think that publishers look at the protesters and think "will we make money?

I think the publishers know that when it comes to books the old saying rings true, Any publicity is good publicity. Lets face it who the hell wants to read a book about Woody Allen unless it's controversial, then you want to read it so you know what people are talking about. Well maybe not you and certainly not me but some people will and all it probably takes to make money is 10,000 copies and it would be hard to imagine that they wouldn't sell at least that many given the press it's getting.

Paula Bartholomew
3  Paula Bartholomew    4 days ago

I was never a fan of his movies, except for one...Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Sex.  I have a great behind the scenes story about it, but for another time.  He makes my skin crawl and has always creeped me out.


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