From Neil Richards over at Concurring Opinions:
Beware the Teenie Weenie: Social Norms and Expressive CultureThe post talks about a German article about a noted German children's book author whose would-be American publisher refused to print her book unless she removed an offensive picture. What was it?
What could possibly have got the suits at [the publisher] so hot under the overly starched collar? A painting depicting a gratuitous Roman orgy being viewed by wide-eyed 5-year olds? A massive bronze phallus gawped at by an awestruck group of pre-teens? Hardly. Apart from a tasteful nude reclining in a slightly blurred watercolor in the background, the main offending artifact was a tiny male statue and its microscopic penis.All that leads Neil to make the point:
The teenie weenie case points up the critical role of social norms in helping to define the contours of our expressive culture. Theories of free speech focus a great deal on legal rules even though most people's decision to speak or not speak on questions is principally mediated by the concern of how others (employers, friends, strangers, book publishers) will act towards us depending upon what we say. The norms of the book publisher in this case meant that this book was not made available for the US market.Well said. When people are outraged over "censorship," it's actually a private actor bowing to pressure from some outside source.
Regardless, "beware the teenie weenie" is good advice for everyday life, IMHO.