Simon & Schuster Scraps Sen. Josh Hawley’s Forthcoming Book
Authored by Maureen Mackey
In the latest instance of cancel culture, a forthcoming book by Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO)—slated to be released by Simon & Schuster in June—will no longer be published.
“As a publisher it will always be our mission to amplify a variety of voices and viewpoints,” the company said on Thursday in a statement. “At the same time, we take seriously our larger public responsibility as citizens, and cannot support Senator Hawley after his role in what became a dangerous threat to our democracy and freedom.”
Hawley, on Twitter, called the publisher’s cancellation of his book a “direct assault on the First Amendment.”
The senator shared this statement on Twitter: “Simon & Schuster is canceling my contract because I was representing my constituents, leading a debate on the Senate floor on voter integrity, which they have now decided to redefine as sedition. This is the Left looking to cancel everyone they don‘t approve of. I will fight this cancel culture with everything I have. We will see you in court.”
— Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) January 7, 2021
Hawley’s book was entitled, “The Tyranny of Big Tech.” It was scheduled to be released on June 22.
The publisher’s statement, posted on its website, reads in its entirety: “After witnessing the disturbing, deadly insurrection that took place on Wednesday in Washington, D.C., Simon & Schuster has decided to cancel publication of Senator Josh Hawley’s forthcoming book, THE TYRANNY OF BIG TECH. We did not come to this decision lightly. As a publisher it will always be our mission to amplify a variety of voices and viewpoints: at the same time we take seriously our larger public responsibility as citizens, and cannot support Senator Hawley after his role in what became a dangerous threat to our democracy and freedom.”
Ahead of many other elected officials, the Missouri Republican had made clear his intention to challenge, on Jan. 6, 2021, the results of the Electoral College vote. His efforts and those of others, namely Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), resulted in congressional deliberations that began on Wednesday. Those deliberations resumed on Wednesday after the lawlessness and upset at the U.S. Capitol and continued well into the early hours of Thursday.
“The Tyranny of Big Tech” was to argue that today’s Big Tech companies “represent the gravest threat to American liberty since the monopolies of the Gilded Age,” according to Politico, which cited the publisher’s website.
Hawley, on his Senate website, makes clear his disdain for Section 230 in a paper that can be read right now by anyone who’s interested. (The provision, part of the Communications Decency Act of 1996, says that “no provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.”) Hawley writes, “Following a pattern of abuses by Big Tech companies and concern about the power those companies exercise, a bipartisan consensus has emerged that section 230 in its current form cannot stand.”
He continues, “For years, Big Tech’s version of section 230 has gone unquestioned. Journalists, members of Congress, and the public have assumed current practice reflects the law Congress passed in 1996. This paper challenges many of those accounts. It briefly explains what the law was before section 230, why section 230 was drafted and what it was intended to do, and how the courts—influenced by Big Tech’s lawyers—distorted section 230 into something unrecognizable from the law that Congress passed. It is long past time to revisit section 230.”
“The law was passed 24 years ago, designed for a different internet, long before Google and Facebook,” Hawley also writes. “Despite its age, the need to reform section 230 would be less pressing if it had not been distorted by courts. As several legal scholars have noted, a series of ‘outlandishly broad interpretation[s]’ by courts have given tech companies far more immunity—and far less responsibility—than Congress ever contemplated.”
Hawley has served in the Senate since January 2019. He is a constitutional lawyer and previously served as Missouri’s Attorney General.
Maureen Mackey is a writer, editor, and web content strategist in the New York City area. Follow her on Parler @Maurmackey.