Twitter logos hang outside the company's offices in San Francisco, Monday, Dec. 19, 2022. Credit: Jeff Chiu / AP

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If you were a writer living under Soviet control in the 1920s and 1930s, your work was expected to promote the Communist Party line or it didn’t get read — unless you snuck illegal copies to your friends or smuggled them to the West. And in the late 1940s, Random House’s Bennett Cerf encouraged his fellow publishers not to print material critical of the Soviet Union; I believe he had George Orwell’s manuscripts in mind.

Recent events in this country suggest there’s been a renewed desire to limit speech and censor people whose beliefs don’t jibe with our own: Like the hundreds of people in the publishing business(!) who signed an online letter, last fall, calling for Penguin Random House to cancel publication of Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s forthcoming book; and all the people the Anti-Defamation League has, I believe, tried to stigmatize and marginalize for supporting the Palestinians; and when Angus King(!) identified a number of accounts he thought Twitter might want to look into. This came to light after Elon Musk took over Twitter and made public the censorship that the social-media platform had previously engaged in, some of which was apparently done at the urging of politicians seeking to muzzle their opponents, and some at the urging of the FBI(!) — which I think amounts to abridging American citizens’ First Amendment rights by proxy, i.e., through private companies.

George Orwell said, “If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”

Melodie Greene