THE BIG CHILL: How the Reagan Administration, Corporate America, and Religious Conservatives Are Subverting Free Speech and the Public's Right to Know by Eve Pell

THE BIG CHILL: How the Reagan Administration, Corporate America, and Religious Conservatives Are Subverting Free Speech and the Public's Right to Know

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

Much unsystematic, unselective verbiage about various threats to free speech: from Reagan administration curtailments-of-information; from ""censorship in schools, libraries, and business""; from libel suits and ""suppression of dissent."" There is, of course, reason for unease, whether in attempts to weaken the Freedom of Information Act, or the assault on textbooks, or the damage suits by private interests against political activists. And two things can be said on Pell's behalf: she does maintain a relatively consistent anti-censorship stand, whether the would-be censors are Moral Majority forces or militant feminists; and not all of these matters have come to general attention. But only circumstance, intermittent references to McCarthyism, and timeless civil-rights platitudes bind them together: ""At bottom, censorship conflicts resemble those in the federal government, in that someone is telling someone else, 'You can only know or say what I allow you to know or say.'"" The book might provide the already-convinced with further grievances: Pell takes note of restrictions on exchange of scientific information, and the firing of a Twin Cities journalist who criticized Kool cigarettes' sponsorship of a local jazz festival, and the IRS audit of Mother Jones, and right-wing attacks on the nuclear freeze movement. (The Moral Majority/New Right conservative ""mantle of patriotism and righteousness"" is a prime target.) But for all the examples, none of these charges are revelatory--and the sketchy linkages with past history (e.g., WW I State Dept. attempts to paint pacifism as German-inspired) are simply the stuff of which counterpropaganda is made. Those who wish exactitude or understanding in any of these areas, as well as those who seek some balance, will have to look elsewhere.

Pub Date: Oct. 15th, 1984
Publisher: Beacon