We are in the middle of a significant cultural shift, and as such it is important to not miss the forest for the trees. All by itself, it may not matter much that the estate of Theodor Geisel decided to take a few of his books out of circulation. But this is not a single incident: It is part of a broader attack on free speech and free thought by the radical Left. It is not an accurate assessment to look at this in isolation.
We are seeing “cancel culture” writ large. It started with young adult novels getting canceled for various real or imagined offenses: Like a straight author writing about a homosexual character or a white author writing about a black character, or focusing on the wrong ethnic group in a historical novel. We are seeing our founding fathers attacked for owning slaves, despite the significant historical accomplishments made for liberty. We are seeing New York Times editors forced out for quoting a racial slur to ask what context the slur was used – something that is boringly normal for journalism.
We love to sit in judgment of the past, as if we would not have been shaped by the cultural and political attitudes of the time had we lived in those times. So how about a little grace for views we find offensive today, brought on by self-awareness? Why not continue to publish the Seuss books, explain why the images advance racial stereotypes and allow people to continue reading them? Why not use this as an educational opportunity to put the books in historical context?
Here is an interesting proposal:
Trademark and copyright protections are provided by the government. If trademark and copyright are utilized not to protect intellectual property from infringement, but in order to actively suppress that intellectual property, the IP should enter the public domain.
Source: Ben Shapiro’s Twitter.
In order to protect freedom of speech, this is something that should be strongly considered. The Dr. Seuss estate would not be harmed, because they are not publishing the books anyway. This keeps an important historical work in circulation. Publishers should not be permitted to hide behind copyright protections in order to engage in censorship. That was never what copyright was meant to do.
Look, everyone knows that the vast majority of the people applauding the censorship of Dr. Seuss were not actually “offended” by the drawings in the books. They are just virtue signaling, and it is repulsive. The few who were “offended” need to grow up and realize how silly it is to be “traumatized” by a book published more than 70 years ago by a man who was by all accounts an opponent of racism.