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

Recessional: The Death of Free Speech and the Cost of a Free Lunch PDF

Author: David Mamet

Publisher: Broadside Books


Publish Date: April 5, 2022

ISBN-10: 006315899X

Pages: 240

File Type: Epub

Language: English

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Book Preface

I am a playwright. My professional life has been dedicated to the depiction of conflict.

If the drama is not a conflict, it can only be a lesson. The drama’s antagonists are called characters; our knowledge of their character is limited to their actions: they made this or that choice, and it resulted in this or that outcome. The outcome was determined not by their “past lives,” or “race,” or social position, or sex, but by their choices.

Those of a religious disposition know that our free will comes from God and that free will only means the power to choose. A moral choice may or may not lead to an acceptable or good outcome. It need not; it is an outcome. It is a holy act, because it is moral—that is, in accord with divine will. If we were all good, we would not need free will, which is, finally, the possibility of courage. But we are not all good, neither is any of us good all of the time; in fact, one might say that the essence of human nature is that far from being “flawed,” we are not very damned good at all. And we know it.

The repression of this knowledge is an engine of human wickedness. And we’ve seen, in this last year, that once begun, it must escalate, like a fire searching for air. For, in a convocation of the wicked, sinners contending for acceptance quickly find that safety in the company of savagery can easily be sought in acquiescence, but status only in elaboration.

If restrooms must be redesignated to accommodate differing “genders,” how much more worthy to assert that sexes do not, in fact, exist and then that men can give birth?

If Donald Trump is evil, must not anyone who questions the proposition be evil also? And, if evil, must it not be worthy that they be destroyed? And then that those who won’t proclaim it share their fate? If speech should be limited to avoid “offense” to college students, how much more worthy to expunge the books, thoughts, and electronic footprints of any defending not only the offending matter but free speech itself?

We know that the side which sets the rules will not eventually win, but, on their assertions’ acceptance, has in fact just won the contest.

Now we are engaged in a prodromal civil war, and American constitutional democracy is the contest’s prize. The universities, and the media, always diseased, have progressed from mischief into depravity. Various states are attempting to mandate that their schools teach critical race theory—that is, racism—and elected leaders on the coasts have resigned their cities to thuggery and ruin.

The Left challenges the enraged, astonished, or grieving to “give it a name”*—its name is incipient dictatorship—and should the Left be allowed to steal another election, they will not be put to the task of doing it again.

Savagery appeased can only grow. As any know who’ve been involved in an abusive home, a vicious divorce, or the dissolution of a toxic partnership. There are two sides to the story only in those in which we are not directly concerned. Then there is only one; and that the truth must always lie “somewhere in between” was disproved by Solomon himself. Sometimes it does and sometimes it does not. Which is why we have rules for debate, one of them our Constitution.

But how may a debate (a discussion, a trial, an election) take place in which one side rejects not its opponent’s position but his right to exist?

When there is no answer to the question, the rational being must learn to ask a different question.

My question, watching my beloved American democracy and culture dissolve, was, “What can I do?” I found no answer. But I realize, a year on, that a different question has brought me closer to peace. That question is this: How might I achieve clarity?

These essays, written during that terrible year, are a record of that attempt.



Title Page



The Fountain Pen

Cause and Effect

Reds, Pinks, and Goo-Goos

What’s in a Name

Pippa Passes

King Kong

Some (Mainly) Musical Revelations

Two Hangings

Various Discoveries

Farther Along; or, The Accident Chain

On the Passivity of Jews

Bruno Bettelheim and the Broke-Down Cowboy: Two American Stories

Attention Must Be Paid

Experts and Oligarchs

Slave Lessons

Belinda Raguesto Returns from Switzerland

Hamlet and Oedipus Meet the Zombies

A Message from Schpershevski

Chelm; or, No Arrest for the Wicked

Some Linguistic Curiosities

The Nazis Got Your Mom

Demotic, a Confession

Grief and Wisdom

Time Travel

Moby Dick

Real Live

Rainy Day Fun for Shut-Ins: Xmas 2020

Give My Regrets to Broadway




Max the Hamster

Disons le Mot

Art, Time, and the Madness of the Old


The Awl Through the Ear

Goodnight, Irene




About the Author

Also by David Mamet


About the Publisher

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