Monday, May 29, 2023

David Mamet’s Critique of Political Correctness (and other dogmas)

Today I ordered David Mamet’s new book, Theater (2010), and as luck would have it I also found a good overview of his new book. Ronald Collins, over at The First Amendment Center, gives a good overview of Mamet’s book as well as some accompanying free speech legal doctrines. Here’s a taste:

When it comes to ideas, then, there can be no official orthodoxy, at least not one sanctioned by government. Or as Justice Robert Jackson put it so well in West Virginia v. Barnette (1943): “If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion.”

I would take the argument a step further: The more orthodox a culture is when it comes to ideas, the more likely it is to be repressive, even if such repression is not formally waged by the government. I don’t want to live in such a society, however “correct” its orthodoxy may be. And I don’t want to get cozy with the “politically correct” or the “culturally correct” or the “religiously correct.” This is not to say that all ideas are created equal; they are not — and I do not deny that some ideas are vile and perhaps even potentially dangerous. That said, I still recoil at the thought of orthodoxy, which brings me back to David Mamet, a kindred soul on that count.

Theater seems to be a continuation of Mamet’s 2008 Village Voice confessional, David Mamet: Why I Am No Longer a “Brain-Dead” Liberal, where Mamet takes on liberal “correctness” dogma. Can’t wait to read this one!


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