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Salman Rushdie and I, Rushing to the Singularity

August 27, 2008

Sometimes the world moves in ways that force you think about specific topics and that topic for me is Salman Rushdie.

I read Stanley Fish’s column over at the New York Times. And in a column on Sunday he wrote a complaint about some recent statements that Rushdie made about Random House refusing to publish Sherry Jones’ debut novel. I don’t have any opinions about Jones or her novel, because I know nothing of either, save what I found out in Fish’s column.

And at first I thought very little of Fish’s column other than his opening sentence was immature and snarky–an attitude that Fish routinely adopts to no good purpose. Rushdie is not “the self-appointed poster boy for the First Amendment” as Fish asserts. To be one would hardly have done Rushdie a lot of good since his self-expression was put in jeopardy–along with his life–not by the U.S. government but by Iranian mullahs. And if Rushdie were championing a First Amendment cause in his criticism of Random House, someone in Fish’s line of work should hardly be diminishing the effort by saying that they were “at it again” as if fighting the good fight for free expression were nothing more than a dog barking at the moon. It’s also funny that a guy with a built-in soap box at the New York Times would criticize Rushdie (or anyone else) from attempting to get their opinions printed in the newspaper. And…

OK, I’ll admit it, as per usual I thought a lot about Fish’s article and what I thought made me mad. Some of what I thought about Fish’s article appeared here, at Language Log, another blog I read regularly. Bill Poser, the blogger at LL who wrote on Fish’s column found ways to make me even more angry. It turns out Fish’s reading of “censorship” was not just overly narrow and therefore wrong. It turns out he’d actually altered the facts of the case to fit his argument better. Harumph! (He has since corrected one his alterations/omissions).

And then! Over at the Sycamore Review blog (which I linked to yesterday) I stumbled across this post from earlier this month which directed me to this article on the most recently added book to my Incredibly Long Reading List.

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