The flexibility of English, and thriving sign that it is not a dead language, permits repeated atrocities to be committed in the name of new terms. We are told that what is new is supposedly good, a sign of evolution. More accurately, such terms simply describe an old phenomenon, giving the false impression that the novel has appeared before the old.
The term “deplatforming” is de rigueur at the moment, a creature of the social media age and lecture circuit. Invitations to writers’ festivals can be withdrawn at a moment’s notice because the invitee has either not observed the current fashion, or has done something distinctly against it. Users of social media have their carpet, or platform, as it were, taken from under them.
The star recipient of that treatment was Alex Jones, who has found himself, and his Infowars, expelled beyond the city gates of social media babble. Social media giants, pressured by the very individuals who believe that free speech is vital oxygen to the body politic, have taken it upon themselves to police expression. “It’s implausible to imagine a future,” observed a bleak David Harsanyi, “in which liberal activists don’t demand that Republican groups be de-platformed.”
A creature of argumentation and debate very different to Jones is Germaine Greer, a permanent voice of insurrection whose The Female Eunuch still retains, even after a half-century, the sense of being both iconoclastic and holy. When your book…