Joyce Carol Oates tweets on Sterling Two-Minutes Hate

“Sorry, old man. Because of the weak imagery, scanty plot, and pedestrian
 language in your latest, we`ve turned your table over to Joyce Carol Oates.”
William Hamilton *, New Yorker, early to mid-1970s

I talk a lot about how when I was a kid in the late 1960s and 1970s, there was a huge cultural emphasis on nonconformity, privacy, free expression, taboo-violating, etc etc

Obviously, things have changed. My usual explanation is that the people who won back then are now still in charge so they don`t see any reason to let anybody else use the tools they used to claw their way to the top. They like it up there and they intend to stay.

Still, some people from that era actually still believe in that stuff; for example, the novelist Joyce Carol Oates, who is now 75. Oates is sort of the female John Updike: she`s published so many novels that no single one stands out in critical esteem as the one that you must read. So, that`s my excuse for never having read any of her multitudinous books. (I, did, however, recently read her 1979 TNR review of my favorite Updike novel, The Coup, and it`s a stupendous book review.)

Not surprisingly, the prolific Princeton professor has a Twitter account. And she has had a lot to say on how much the Two-Minutes Hate directed at the old man`s semi-senile ramblings violates her outdated ideals:

Joyce Carol Oates ‏@JoyceCarolOates  20h
Nostalgia for time when one could say anything in private no matter how stupid, cruel, self-serving or plain wrong & not be criminalized.

Joyce Carol Oates ‏@JoyceCarolOates  15h
“Self-righteousness is the collateral damage virtue must risk in stamping out vice.”    Le Roquefortchaud 

 Joyce Carol Oates ‏@JoyceCarolOates  17h
Slurs “Commie” & “pinko” in 1950s–slurs of “racist” in our era–casually uttered, to denigrate another who differs from you even mildly. 

Joyce Carol Oates ‏@JoyceCarolOates  18h
Is there a federal law providing “expectation of privacy” in personal situations, or is it a state law? Or is it even a law?  Am I dreaming? 

 Joyce Carol Oates ‏@JoyceCarolOates  18h
As lawyers advise, “Never put anything in writing,” soon the admonition will be:
“Never put anything in words that might be recorded.” 

 Joyce Carol Oates ‏@JoyceCarolOates  18h
Only stand-up comedians & clearly designated satirists are allowed an almost total freedom of speech today in US. (Note “almost.”) 

 Joyce Carol Oates ‏@JoyceCarolOates  18h
Many who frequently speak in public have begun to speak much more circumspectly than we once did, for fear of being quoted out of context. 

 Joyce Carol Oates ‏@JoyceCarolOates  18h
Would, or could, ACLU today defend Nazi`s right (or “right”) to march through Skokie, Illinois? Real test of principle vs. extreme backlash. 

 Joyce Carol Oates ‏@JoyceCarolOates  20h
Tragic pessimist George Orwell could not have foreseen that individuals would give up their freedom to be punitive Big Brother themselves. 

 Joyce Carol Oates ‏@JoyceCarolOates  20h
In 2039 murmuring something “critical” about the President may result in a fleet of drones sent in your direction.  “Wait–just kidding!” 

 Joyce Carol Oates ‏@JoyceCarolOates  20h
If one individual is so vilified for making private statements, one day you may not dare say anything “critical” about the President. 

 Joyce Carol Oates ‏@JoyceCarolOates  20h
Why do so many people confuse an individual case (agreed, despicable) with a principle? “Free speech”–”free press”–US Constitution. 

 Joyce Carol Oates ‏@JoyceCarolOates  20h
In US law, no one is “indefensible.” If prosecution does not need to prove a case, we are all susceptible to false accusations, arrest. 

 Joyce Carol Oates ‏@JoyceCarolOates  20h
Many, perhaps most, US citizens now seem to believe that to defend just the principle of “free speech” is to defend a particular individual. 

 Joyce Carol Oates ‏@JoyceCarolOates  20h
Many, perhaps most, US citizens now seem to believe that you can/ should be punished for what you say even in private. Repercussions? 

 Joyce Carol Oates ‏@JoyceCarolOates  20h
This era of ever-vigilant social media & NSA surveillance may one day be seen as the end of “free speech” in America.  Happened so quickly. 

 Joyce Carol Oates ‏@JoyceCarolOates  20h
Am I the only person in US surprised that a private conversation (no matter how ugly) can be the basis for such public recrimination?

 Joyce Carol Oates ‏@JoyceCarolOates  20h
Nostalgia for time when one could say anything in private no matter how stupid, cruel, self-serving or plain wrong & not be criminalized.

 
Oates`s Twitter followers are largely aghast at her for saying this.

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* Yes, there are a lot of famous William Hamiltons.