Opinion | Senator Hawley’s Canceled Book Deal: No First Amendment Issue

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To the Editor:

Re “Twitter Bans and Scrapped Books: Maybe Unwise, but Hardly Illegal” (news article, Jan. 10):

After Simon & Schuster announced that it was canceling Senator Josh Hawley’s publishing contract because of his leading role in trying to prevent the formalization of Joe Biden’s election as president, the Republican senator issued a statement calling the action “Orwellian” and a “direct assault on the First Amendment.”

Mr. Hawley, a graduate of Yale Law School, must know that his claim is specious: The First Amendment prohibits the government from muzzling speech; private entities, like publishing houses, have no such restraints.

When Donald Trump tries to cash in on his disgraced presidency by publishing his memoirs (which undoubtedly will rewrite history beyond recognition and foment further strife), every publishing company in the United States should follow Simon & Schuster’s example.

Daniel B. Bernstein

The Inequities of Remote Work

To the Editor:

Re “On Work: Are You Sure You Want to Go Back to the Office?,” by Anne Helen Petersen (Sunday Review, Dec. 27):

When Ms. Petersen states firmly that “people don’t really want to get back to the office,” even when it becomes safe to do so, she is speaking from a position of privilege. Remote working suits people who are established, have power and have a home to work in, but many people simply do not have these advantages.

I have worked with students who live in conditions where even doing a piece of homework is impossible at home. How on earth are they meant to enter into a field of work that presumes that they will be able to afford a room, internet, heating and quiet? How can they compete with wealthier colleagues who have all those things?

Bullying, too, is easier under remote working conditions: It is easier to over-delegate to people when you can’t actually see them and when you know that they aren’t visible to others. Remote and flexible working, while absolutely necessary during Covid-19 for safety reasons, should not be advocated when it is safe to return on the false argument that it will benefit everyone.

Varsha Shah
Middlesex, England

The Inhumanity of Evictions

To the Editor:

Re “When It’s Time for the Tenants to Go” (front page, Dec. 20), about a Massachusetts sheriff’s attempt to make evictions “respectful and humane”:

An eviction can’t be humane if the circumstances around it are inhumane. Since homelessness causes and perpetuates structural poverty, U.S. institutions need to be accountable for housing citizens.

I’ve practiced law in Boston housing court for six years, representing vulnerable clients pro bono. Eviction makes it harder to hold or apply for a job, fulfill prescriptions or get mail. The tenant may be barred from Section 8 assistance. Public records document the eviction for future landlords.

The full impact is felt even later: in the despair of a mother who can’t feed or house her child, in the anxiety of a former addict fearful of a relapse, in the inevitable hopelessness of marginalization. Shelters provide a bed (when available), but expose the vulnerable to theft, assault and others dealing with mental crises.

Sheriff Nicholas Cocchi’s actions are praiseworthy, but housing should not rely on charity or the discretion of local officials. To truly help the most vulnerable, and make evictions humane, housing must be guaranteed to citizens by law.

Andre Garron

The Plight of Landlords

To the Editor:

Please provide more balance in articles regarding eviction. Landlords are not in the business of evicting renters, and we have been working hard without any unemployment benefits or federal or state funding during the Covid pandemic. Yet we are expected to house the public for free. While we understand that many residents have lost their jobs, how do we maintain our properties without income? How do we pay our mortgages, insurance, property taxes, payroll, utilities and repair bills?

Most landlords are private citizens working hard to provide and maintain housing. We expect payment in exchange for our services, just as we must pay for essential services like groceries, gasoline and internet. Why is housing different?

During this pandemic, most of our renters have been working with us to help them get through this time. But sadly we have some who are taking advantage of the eviction moratorium, continuing to work and refusing to pay rent. We have had one renter attack and beat up another, and we cannot evict the violent renter. We cannot sustain our properties for much longer without financial assistance from the government.

Katherine Johansen
Tustin, Calif.

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