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On Writing Around Censors


One of the costs of a censorious society is clarity of writing, and consequently of thought. If one must write, evasive thinking is an easier way to dodge cancellation than purely evasive writing. “Reading maketh a full man; conference a ready man; and writing an exact man.” That’s Francis Bacon, and probably the best thing he wrote (unless it’s The Tempest after all). The act of writing is exacting, and it improves with the care and precision of the effort. But this means—as illustrated by the hubbub around the New York Times’s treatment of Scott Alexander, the pseudonymous blogger behind…

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