More than 500 members of the literary community are urging Penguin Random House to reconsider its decision to publish Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s forthcoming book.
“As members of the writing, publishing, and broader literary community of the United States, we care deeply about freedom of speech. We also believe it is imperative that publishers uphold their dedication to freedom of speech with a duty of care,” the letter begins.
The signatories went on to state they “recognize that harm is done to a democracy” by censorship but also “in the form of assault on inalienable human rights.“
“As such, we are calling on Penguin Random House to recognize its own history and corporate responsibility commitments by reevaluating its decision to move forward with publishing Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s forthcoming book,” the letter added.
Specifically, it focused on Barrett’s vote in favor of overturning the landmark abortion case Roe v. Wade.
The letter claimed the ruling dismantles “protections for the human rights to privacy, self-determination, and bodily autonomy along with the federal right to an abortion in the United States.”
It went on:
“The ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health that overturned Roe hinged on exactly what Coney Barrett’s book is reportedly about—the judiciary’s role and ‘how judges are not supposed to bring their personal feelings into how they rule.’ Yet, it seems this is exactly what Coney Barrett has done, inflicting her own religious and moral agenda upon all Americans while appropriating the rhetoric of even-handedness—and Penguin Random House has agreed to pay her a sum of $2 million to do it.”
The signatories also insisted that if the publishing house moved forward with Barrett’s book, it would violate its own Code of Conduct and international human rights.
Finally, the letter stated, “This is not just a book that we disagree with, and we are not calling for censorship. Many of us work daily with books we find disagreeable to our personal politics. Rather, this is a case where a corporation has privately funded the destruction of human rights with obscene profits.”
“Coney Barrett is free to say as she wishes, but Penguin Random House must decide whether to fund her position at the expense of human rights in order to inflate its bottom line, or to truly stand behind the values it proudly espouses to hold,” it concluded.
Politico reported last year Barrett secured a $2 million advance for her book.
Last year, over two hundred employees of Simon & Schuster reportedly signed a letter protesting that company’s decision to publish a book by former Vice President Mike Pence.
The signatories urged the publishing house to avoid treating “the Trump administration as a ‘normal’ chapter in American history.”
“By choosing to publish Mike Pence, Simon & Schuster is generating wealth for a central figure of a presidency that unequivocally advocated for racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, anti-Blackness, xenophobia, misogyny, ableism, islamophobia, antisemitism, and violence,” the letter asserted.
It added, “This is not a difference of opinions; this is legitimizing bigotry.”
However, the company declined to drop Pence’s book as it said, “We come to work each day to publish, not cancel.”
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