Whatever success The Saturday Review may have had was directly connected to its respect for the place of ideas and the arts in the life of the mind. This emphasis takes on special significance in the light of the sleaziness that has infected the national culture in recent years. There seems to be a fierce competition, especially in entertainment and publishing, to find ever-lower rungs on the ladder of taste. . . .
is the curious notion that freedom is somehow
synonymous with gutter jargon. At one time
people who worked in the arts would boast to one
another about their ability to communicate ideas
that attacked social injustice and brutality.
Now some of them seem to feel that they have struck
a blow for humanity if only they can use enough
debasement of language not only reflects but
produces a retreat from civility. The
slightest disagreement has become an occasion for
violent reactions. Television has educated an
entire generation of Americans to believe that the
normal way of reacting to a slight is by punching
someone in the face.
* * * *
Norman Cousins was a long-time editor of The Saturday Review. These words probably were written in the 1980's.