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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Today's Letter of Note from Twilight Zone creator Rod Serling and the idea that it's better to confront ideas by exposing rather than banning them

A Letter of Note brings to mind the abiding principle here at Eye on a Crazy Planet, best expressed by US President Woodrow Wilson:

"I have always been among those who believed that the greatest freedom of speech was the greatest safety, because if a man is a fool, the best thing to do is to encourage him to advertise the fact by speaking."

Early-1966, celebrated journalist Alex Haley bravely entered the headquarters of the American Nazi Party in Virginia and proceeded to interview its founder - retired U.S. Navy Commander, George Lincoln Rockwell - for Playboy Magazine; to further intensify the situation, Rockwell, until then unaware of his interviewer's African roots, sat through the entire meeting within reach of a gun. Unsurprisingly, the resulting interview - available to read here - was published in April of that year to much debate.
One vocal supporter of the magazine's decision to grant Rockwell such an audience was Rod Serling, creator of, most notably, The Twilight Zone. He wrote the following fantastic congratulatory letter to the publication's offices soon after. Its message still rings true.

.."What is desperately needed to combat any "ism" is precisely what PLAYBOY has done -- an interview in depth that shows us the facets of the enemy. Yes, gentlemen, you may be knocked for supposedly lending some kind of credence to a brand of lunacy. But my guess is you should be given a commendation for a public service of infinite value. 

(Signed, 'Rod Serling')"
See the entire letter, the transcript and links to Alex Haley's interview with Rockwell here at Letters of Note

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