Friday, May 17, 2002
1. I knew Damian Penny had exquisite taste -- I just didn't realize that this was true on so many dimensions. I am also eagerly awaiting the opening of "About a Boy" -- one of the best books I've read in the last five years (author: Nick Hornby). I wasn't too impressed with the film version of "Hi Fidelity" (also by Hornby), even though it was a very faithful adaptation, but hope springs eternal.
2. Pejman Yousefzadeh offers a savagely appropriate Fisking of Jonathan Steele's latest bonehead article in the Guardian. One part in particular caught my eye: in dissecting Steele's assertion that people's canceling their newspaper subscriptions to protest editorial policy represents a "muzzling of the press," Pejman writes:
How does any of this constitute a muzzling of the press? Is it really "press muzzling" simply when subscribers decide that they no longer like a particular publication, and cancel their subscriptions because they don't want to read it anymore? This statement is startling in its intellectual weakness. What is The Guardian saying? That subscribers to particular magazines have an obligation to keep up their subscriptions, no matter what, since to do otherwise is to countenance "press muzzling"?
Ah, but Pejman forgets that Steele and the Guardian are from Britain, so they may indeed be saying that. After all, in Britain all television owners are required to pay a head tax [NB: when I first posted this, I inexplicably wrote "poll tax." Sorry!] to support BBC, whether they agree with the programming content or not. (I have friends who lived there recently for a few years during grad school. Neither watched television much, so they went for a couple of years without any, and then bought an old black-and-white set. They tell me that government employees -- I don't know which department -- actually visited their apartment to verify that they had no television.) Given this bizarre system, it's not too big a stretch to condemn subscribers' exercising their power of the purse as an act of censorship.