Sunday, March 8, 2020

The Woke Mob Goes After Woody Allen

Woody Allen
I like Rod Dreher's take on what the Hachette woke employees did in response to news taht Hachette  planned to publish Woody Allen's memoir.

Here are key snippets:
Grand Central Publishing, an imprint of Hachette Book Group, announced this week that it would soon publish a memoir by Woody Allen. This came as a surprise to many employees of the publishing giant. Today, a number of them staged a walkout in protest...

I would love to know something about the demographics of the crowd — specifically, how many of the walkout protesters are under the age of 40. The reason I ask is because for a long time now, I’ve been hearing from conservative academics that as the old-school liberals move into retirement, they are being replaced by Millennial and Gen Z academics who are Jacobins, with no respect for liberal values of free speech, free inquiry, and expression...

This scares the hell out of me. Here’s why...

Put me down as standing 100 percent in their [Hachette's] defense on this Woody Allen thing, solely as a matter of principle.

I say that as someone who used to be a Woody Allen fan, but soured badly on him after the Soon-Yi scandal broke in the early 1990s. What he did was morally reprehensible — a symbolic form of incest. I think he’s a real creep. I have found it difficult to watch his movies since all that. I am not the target audience for this book...

That said, we do not know if Woody Allen abused Dylan Farrow. He has been accused of doing so. He was investigated and not charged. Perhaps he really is guilty, but investigators didn’t find enough evidence to charge him. Perhaps he was, and is, falsely accused. I don’t know. I don’t know that anybody other than Woody Allen and Dylan Farrow will ever know. I don’t blame Ronan Farrow for severing his relationship with Hachette over this. He believes his sister, and I respect that. That doesn’t make his judgment on Woody Allen’s behavior correct, obviously, but I understand why he has made the decision that he has made.

But employees of a publishing house demanding that the publishing house not publish a book because its author is a pariah to them is something very, very different...

But look, my argument here is not with people who think Woody Allen is guilty. My argument is with publishing industry employees who demand that the book be canceled. My argument, as a writer and former editor, is about professional standards in a liberal society. I’ve been a professional journalist for over thirty years. In some of that time, I was the editor of a Sunday commentary section of a major metropolitan daily. As an opinion columnist, I was a conservative. I saw my job as section editor to publish a section that was editorially balanced. That meant helping writers whose views I did not agree with — strongly, at times — shape their essays into the best and most persuasive versions possible...

Journalists also love to complain about their employers. Go to a bar where journalists gather, and you will find endless — and endlessly entertaining — bitching sessions in which writers run down their editors, the publisher, and bean counters, and so forth, and talk about what they would do different if only they were in charge. I’ve been part of those scrums at every newspaper at which I’ve worked. With some distance from all that, I can see that sometimes we were prima donnas … but I can also see that sometimes we were right on target. And yet, it never would have occurred to me — or, I think, any of my colleagues — to walk off the job to protest the editorial policy of the newspaper. That would be an appalling lack of professionalism. If, say, a journalist at the newspaper landed an exclusive interview with Woody Allen, in which he denied all the allegations, we might have gathered around the bar to complain about what Woody Allen said in the paper, but we never would have faulted the paper for publishing the interview. Why would we? Woody Allen — like everybody else — might be a hero or a villain, but he has the right to speak his mind.

True, neither a newspaper, magazine, or book publisher is obliged to publish his words, but to refuse to do so solely on the basis of an unproven allegation is a hell of a thing. But that’s exactly what these protesters are demanding. Why are they in the book business? I mean it. Where does this stop? Do publishing employees (or journalists at newspapers) reserve to themselves the right to dictate who their employers can and cannot publish, based on the sentiment of their employees? It’s Woody Allen today, but tomorrow, it could be someone less vividly controversial who has nevertheless gotten on the wrong side of the woke mob.

We have seen these past few years important liberal institutions – universities and academic associations, chiefly – surrendering to the illiberal demands of the progressive mob. Now it’s moving into publishing. I hope Hachette will stand firm. If the protesting employees win, then precedent established will give staffers a heckler’s veto over editorial decisions – and any writer whose work, personal life, or demographic status (“older white men”) offends militant progressives within a publishing house will find their livelihoods in jeopardy...
One more time: I do not like Woody Allen, I think his sexual exploits have been ugly, and I have no interest in buying his book. But I strongly defend his right to write the book, and the decision of Grand Central Publishing to publish it, because I don’t want any writer to have to face cancellation by an internal revolt of publishing industry employees. It’s a terrible, illiberal precedent. Yale University, like many other institutions, have surrendered to the demands of the woke mob. Stand firm, Hachette!
RW note:

I would add that if employees of Hachette don't like what Hachette is publishing, they should just find a different job.

Also, since Dreher posted his essay Hachette has announced that it is canceling its publication of the book.

Read the entire Dreher post here.


  1. Right here in River City? At some point conservatives identifying everything as "Woke gone awry" or whatever will start to sound like lefties spotting Russian spooks everywhere.

    In a private property society this is exactly how censorship would work. Your right to write does not impose an obligation to publish on anyone else. Would Mr. Dreher be so alarmed if employees at a publishing house walked out over a compilation of some hot, steamy erotic trans lit full of graphic depictions of custom-carved genitalia having a party? He claims he's alarmed that they have some standards, but really he's just alarmed that they not his standards.

  2. People scoff at me when I say censorship is already here and the Idiocracy is alive and well.