Yesterday we linked to several articles on judging people by the background books in their Zoom meetings/interviews. Today rightwing Brit tabloid The Evening Standard (owned by a Russian, significantly) says, We shouldn’t be judging people by what’s on their shelves. What? How else should I judge people? I am so lost now.
A squall over the contents of the Gove family’s bookshelves sent me reeling back to two formative experiences about free speech and its near cousin, freedom of reading. They hail from contrasting ends of the ideological spectrum. The first was studying in the old East Germany, where taking a work by Orwell or Nietzsche out of the university library became a complicated ritual of applications to the “Poison Cupboard”, where writers deemed too dangerous for general consumption were kept. Such applications were grudgingly granted and permissions were recorded, ensuring that the state could form its judgement on undesirable reading habits.