Contrarian’s Notebook

About this page:

 I am by nature a contrarian. My 60 years in journalism have taught me that conventional wisdom is usually wrong. In a constantly changing world, each of us needs to be prodded periodically to re-examine our long-held assumptions. 

To me it seems obvious that no society can long flourish when contrarians are treated as heretics. Yet the instinct to silence “bad” speech now threatens even the most respected journalistic institutions. This year the editor of the New Yorker abandoned his plan to interview the right-wing ideologue Steve Bannon after a Twitter mob and some members of his own staff objected. Public pressure forced the editor of the Philadelphia Inquirer to resign over a headline deemed insensitive to the Black Lives Matter movement, even after he issued a cringing public apology. The editorial page editor of the New York Times was similarly forced to resign for publishing an op-ed essay by a conservative U.S. Senator. The editor of the New York Review of Books was forced to resign after an outcry over his publishing a first-person defense by an alleged sex abuser.

This page will seek to reverse this urge to muzzle. Ideally, it will provide a safe space where men and women, liberals and conservatives, old and young, Blacks and whites, Jews and gentiles— you get the idea— can exchange views frankly without fear of getting their heads chopped off. 

As the moderator, I’m here to provoke, listen, learn, and grow, rather than promote an agenda. You are welcome to join this conversation, with one caveat: In this space, the words “Shut up!” are forbidden.