Saturday, June 10, 2023

“Morality clauses” and the chilling of speech


This NY Times op-ed has me wondering why writers–of any caliber and subject matter–still find it so attractive to publish via third parties. Of course, if that publisher gives the writer carte blanche, and all intellectual property rights to the work, then so much the better. But if writers, most of whom already self-censor, are also asked to sign an agreement containing a “morality clause” allowing their publisher to cancel the publication of that author’s text based on the author’s “activity” that the publisher deems to be “immoral” or “scandalous,” then clearly the author is obliged to follow certain codes of conduct and speech, i.e.- don’t take positions or make arguments against ideas and groups currently in vogue.

What a time we live in. Once upon a time, writers, like visual artists, were the ones countering the status quo and social norms (oh, Sade. Where are you?). Which makes me wonder, how long before we see these “morality clauses” in visual art?


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