I, once again, get to discuss the implications of Freedom of Speech thanks to Senator Josh Hawley and his disagreement with Simon and Schuster. Apparently, Josh Hawley planned to release a book but after his involvement in the riots at Capital Hill the publisher decided to cancel the project. Hawley believes this is a Freedom of Speech, First Amendment issue and he’s right, sort of. Let me explain.
Josh Hawley argument goes as follows: This could not be more Orwellian. Simon and Schuster is canceling my contract because I was representing my constituents, leading a debate on the Senate floor on voter integrity, which they have now decided to redefine as sedition. Only approved speech can now be published. This is the Left looking to cancel everyone they don’t approve of. I will fight this cancel culture with everything I have. We’ll see you in court.
Simon and Schuster is a private company that publishes books. It is quite clear they can publish whatever books they want and they can choose not to publish other books, say twelve fantastic Sword and Sorcery fantasy novels written by a fellow I know. That’s their right and while I can certainly argue that said twelve novels are among the greatest in human literature, I can’t force them to publish any more than Josh Hawley can do so.
From a Freedom of Speech there is an important difference in me ranting about how unfair it is and Hawley trying using his position as a government official to force Simon and Schuster to publish his book. He is violating the Freedom of Speech clause of the First Amendment. It is quite unambiguous to interpret but that doesn’t stop Josh Hawley from getting it completely wrong, his understanding of the clause is actually the opposite of its real meaning.
Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech ….
That’s it. That’s the wording. Josh Hawley is a member of Congress. Simon and Schuster is not a member of Congress, it isn’t even a person. It’s a private company that gets to choose what they do and do not publish which is at the very center of our freedom from government interference.
When Josh Hawley claims Simon and Schuster must publish his book, he is in direct and obvious violation of the Freedom of Speech clause. His ignorance in regard to the meaning of the Constitution of the United States is disheartening although entirely expected.