Shhhhhh...You Can't Talk About THAT!


A journalism professor is publishing a book described as a "robust defense of freedom of expression." It looks like it might be interesting, but the circumstances under which it is being published may be even more so., 


The publisher--Simon and Schuster--was excited to distribute the book as long as the author took out his chapter on discussing transgender issues. 

Here's how the publisher describes the book:

It's Debatable: Authentic Discussions about Tricky Topics offers a path toward a deeper, richer public conversation than might seem possible in today’s polarized political climate. Robert Jensen writes for those who yearn for debates based on evidence, reason, critical self-reflection, and mutual respect. The book offers a model for how to engage others rationally without discounting the powerful emotional component of our lives; how to think for oneself and at the same time recognize that thinking is a collective enterprise; and how to defend strongly held political positions while inviting critique. It’s Debatable demystifies intellectual life and encourages rigorous thinking by ordinary people, to better equip citizens to participate in political life.

Jensen has logged 10 years in journalism and 30 years in academia, along with decades of community organizing in feminism and on the left side of the political fence. As a journalist, he learned to write clearly and concisely. In his teaching career, he got pretty good at explaining complex things to students. In his public speaking and writing, he presented radical ideas in ways that didn’t scare off people. This book draws on all those skills.


Sounds good, Simon and Schuster! It may or may not actually BE good--not having read it yet I can't say--but one thing I have learned from its journey from author to Amazon is that Simon and Schuster isn't at all interested in "debates based on evidence, reason, critical self-reflection, and mutual respect."

You see, some issues are beyond debate. Of the three topics directly addressed by Mr. Jensen, only two could even be discussed in polite company. bigotry and sustainability. Since nobody I know will say out loud that bigotry is GOOD, this strikes me as an easy topic to cover without offending liberals. 

Sustainability? I'll have to read the book to know whether Jensen hues the line on the approved Narrative™ or not. Clearly he did not draw far enough outside the line to get banned from polite society. 

Transgenderism issues, though, cannot be discussed at all because we already know the Truth™, and there is nothing to debate. Even suggesting that there could be is enough to get the publisher's ire up. 


No debate. At all. Ever. It is a topic on which there is one and only one approved opinion, although that one changes hourly depending on what various activists say. Are there 10 genders? 100? 1000? One million? Who knows? But whatever the approved line is RIGHT F'ING NOW, you must hew to it. 

Apparently, Jensen doesn't. Perhaps it is as simple as committing something to paper makes it more difficult to change the line when it needs updating. That is why all the academic websites explaining what words may or may not be used change frequently. 

Jensen has put the chapter up on the internet--with the permission of the publisher, I understand since they retain clean hands--and an explanation for why it wasn't printed.

The editors at Interlink Publishing/Olive Branch Press raised objections to the analysis and political implications of that chapter. They told me that they wanted to publish the book but, in good conscience, couldn’t do so with this chapter because of their support for the goals of the transgender movement. 

I understood their concerns and also wanted them to publish the book, given their excellent work and the positive relationship we had built. Still, I believed that chapter was integral to the book. We potentially were at an impasse. But after a constructive conversation, I agreed to drop that chapter from the published book. In turn, Interlink agreed to allow me to explain the process and direct readers to my website (, where they can read the missing chapter for free.

Interlink Publishing has a long history of supporting LGBTQIA+ rights. You can read the note from the publisher about Interlink’s decision to publish the book, despite their profound disagreement with me on this issue, by visiting this page on their website (

I am grateful that Interlink didn’t pursue a scorched-earth policy and reject all of my writing on the basis of a disagreement on one issue, something I have experienced with some critics in the past. (For details, see the Conclusion.)

Several times in this book I have asserted that “reasonable people can disagree” and continue a healthy and productive conversation. I believe the way that Interlink and I resolved this disagreement is an example of that.


The explanation from the publisher, by the way, has been taken down, so I don't know their side of the story. That it was taken down says quite a bit already. Somebody has given them heat. 

Unlike Jensen, I don't agree that the publisher participated in a "healthy and productive conversation." They shut one down. 

That they consented to work with Jensen and speak to him is not much of a concession since a BOOK PUBLISHER that no doubt would scream "censorship" at the drop of a hat literally censored the book for political reasons. 

Alphabet ideology is a religion, and even discussing issues rationally is a form of heresy. 

I am glad that Jensen wasn't subjected to an auto-de-fé, but that is hardly a victory for rational discussion. 

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David Strom 1:20 PM | July 18, 2024