Stephen King, one of the bestselling authors of all time, regularly uses Twitter to promote his left-leaning political views to more than 5 million followers. Even though he has denounced President Donald Trump and the Republican Party as racists and pawns of greedy corporations, he increasingly finds himself under attack from his own side of the political divide.
Last week, in an argument for free speech, King expressed dismay that book publisher Hachette decided to cancel publication of Woody Allen’s memoir. Social media users responded by accusing him of supporting a child abuser. Dylan Farrow, the daughter of Allen’s ex-girlfriend Mia Farrow, accused Allen of molesting her when she was 7. Allen never faced prosecution for the alleged abuse, but a judge denied him the right to visit her. The publisher had scheduled Allen’s book for release in April, but Dylan’s brother Ronan Farrow, a journalist, and Hachette staff members protested, and Hachette killed the project.
King tweeted he doesn’t care about Allen, but “it’s who gets muzzled next that worries me.” Later on, he added, “Once you start, the next one is always easier.”
In January, while complaining about the lack of diversity in Oscar nominations, King tweeted the caveat, “I would never consider diversity in matters of art. Only quality. It seems to me that to do otherwise would be wrong.” The statement, which King tried to walk back in a Washington Post op-ed, unleashed a social-media firestorm accusing the author of insensitivity and ignorance.
Margaret Atwood, author of The Handmaid’s Tale and a longtime feminist icon, like King experienced condemnation from her own tribe when in 2018 she criticized the #MeToo movement for punishing men based on accusations rather than proof.
That King, 72, and Atwood, 80, have failed the modern left’s purity tests points to a fracture along generational lines in the political coalition. Research has shown older Democrats are far less likely to support socialist candidates, and they believe in classic liberal values more than younger Democrats do. Millennials, for example, are more comfortable with the government limiting free speech than baby boomers or members of Generation X, a Pew Research Center study found.
Concerning Woody Allen’s lost book deal, King tweeted, “If you think he’s a pedophile, don’t buy the book. Don’t go to his movies. Don’t go listen to him play jazz at the Carlyle. Vote with your wallet … by withholding it. In America, that’s how we do [it].” —Collin Garbarino