The Death of Free Speech and the Cost of a Free Lunch

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A book of essays by David Mamet, prizewinning playwright, screenwriter, director. Many of the essays originally appeared in the back pages of National Review, which means I've read them before, perhaps magazine-edited for space and (maybe) language. No matter.

The essays are short, insightful, and seemingly rambling at times. (Or maybe Mamet was just following a trail I missed. That's not unlikely.) Full of allusions, praise and pans for people famous and obscure. Very funny in spots.

As someone who cares about language and the meaning of words, Mamet can be quick and devastating when eviscerating foolish language. Here's something to keep in mind when the Sanders/Warren Democrats talk about "stakeholder capitalism":

Over the last decade "shareholder" has been replaced by "stakeholder.' I will remind my readers that a stakeholder is an onlooker to a gambling event.

The contenders in the wager trust the stakeholder to hold their respective bets (the stakes) and at the contest's conclusion to award them to the winner.

The stakeholder is one who, by definition, can have neither interest nor profit in the outcome.

I believe no further comment is required.

On a once-favored bookstore's website denouncing "systemic racism":

Now, I don't know what systemic racism is, but neither does anyone else. but neither does anyone else. Like social justice, any communicable meaning is destroyed by the adjective. Both terms are indictments of human evil; its perpetrators are easily identifiable: they are those who request a definition.

And an observation about biz-speak, on a par with woke-speak:

Employees are now referred to as human resources. The folks described are the same, but the difference is semantic, which is to say, in the way they are considered, and, so, treated. What does one do with employees? One pays them. What does one do with resources? One exploits them.

And then there's his fantasy of, when asked for his pronouns, answering that they are "His Majesty/Your Majesty".

One unfortunate false note: Mamet entertains the theory that Dorothy Kilgallen ("columnist, journalist, and television game show panelist") was murdered because she was about to reveal discoveries she made investigating the JFK assassination. (As Mamet puts it, she died "from an overdose of 'You got too close.'")

That's a well-known offshoot of that genre. I won't debate it, but… come on.

Last Modified 2024-01-16 5:05 AM EDT