BPC Bulletin: A Letter on Justice and Open Debate

News Reports and Commentary Selected by Franklin Carter of the Book and Periodical Council’s Freedom of Expression Committee.


More than 140 intellectuals and artists — including authors and editors — have signed an open letter that welcomes current demands for racial justice and greater equality but also warns against increasing intolerance and censoriousness in public debate.

“A Letter on Justice and Open Debate” appeared on the website of Harper’s Magazine on July 7, 2020, and will appear in the letters section of the magazine’s October issue.

Canadian signatories include Margaret Atwood, David Frum, Malcolm Gladwell, Jeet Heer, Michael Ignatieff and Steven Pinker.

Read the letter here:



The New York Times reports: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/07/arts/harpers-letter.html

The Washington Post reports: https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/07/08/letter-harpers-free-speech/

The Associated Press reports: https://www.cbc.ca/news/entertainment/writers-free-speech-1.5641645 

The BBC reports: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-53330105


A CBC journalist interviews Steven Pinker: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-erKC_TT9dQ

At TV Ontario, Michael Coren comments: https://www.tvo.org/article/cancel-culture-its-not-just-a-left-wing-problem-and-i-should-know

In the Los Angeles Times, Mary McNamara comments: https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/story/2020-07-09/cancel-culture-harpers-letter

In The Independent, Kuba Shand-Baptiste comments: https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/cancel-culture-letter-jk-rowling-margaret-atwood-salman-rushdie-a9608061.html

In The Federalist, Emily Jashinsky comments: https://thefederalist.com/2020/07/09/the-harpers-letter-will-be-a-bulwark-or-a-death-rattle/

At Vice, Tim Marchman comments: https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/y3zb9v/celebrities-famous-pundits-put-the-discourse-at-the-center-of-the-discourse

In Reason, Jesse Singal comments: https://reason.com/2020/07/08/the-reaction-to-the-harpers-letter-on-cancel-culture-proves-why-it-was-necessary/

In Jezebel, Rich Juzwiak comments: https://jezebel.com/cancel-culture-isnt-a-culture-its-a-religion-1844322044

Thanks go to Grant Buckler who forwarded the CBC’s report.


The Book and Periodical Council was formed in 1975 as the Book and Periodical Development Council to provide a venue for members to discuss industry issues, address mutual concerns and undertake projects for the benefit of Canadian writing and publishing.