Free expression – What do you think? And something from the local library

October 9, 2017 | By Jim Stovall | Filed in: newsletter.

This newsletter was sent to Jim’s email list (3,567) on Friday, Oct. 6, 2017.


I am still watching the Ken Burns/Lynn Novick series on Vietnam. It has been difficult and emotional, and I will have more to say about it later.

Don’t forget the victims of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, and Maria. Too many people are suffering even though the storms have passed. The United Methodist Committee on Relief ( is my favorite charity. Please make a contribution to yours.

Viewing tip: Click the display images link above if you haven’t done so already.

The First Amendment, free expression and “hate speech”

In August 1917 — a little more than 100 years ago — Virginia Arnold stood in front of the White House with a banner that was headlined “Kaiser Wilson.” The banner referred to President Woodrow Wilson. Arnold was a school teacher in North Carolina and a suffragist. At the moment she took her stand, along with several other suffragists that day, America was at war with Germany, and anti-German fever ran rampantly through the nation. Had there been such an expression in 1917, Arnold’s banner would probably have been termed “hate speech.”

Arnold and the other suffragists who picketed the White House then came to mind as I read Jill Lepore’s short and excellent article in the New Yorker magazine this week. It is a reminder, in light of some of the protests by National Football League players, that maintaining a society in which free expression is protected is not easy or simple.

Those of us who advocate free expression and First Amendment values sometimes have to defend what may seem indefensible — “hate speech.” As Lepore points out, dozens of universities have instituted regulations banning “hate speech,” whatever that is. In doing so, they have sacrificed the principle of free expression so that some among us won’t feel offended or threatened.

We should remind ourselves of people like Virginia Arnold, who were willing to speak out no matter who it offended or threatened. She is this week’s Remarkable Woman.

But this newsletter should be a conversation rather than a sermon. Any thoughts of free expression, First Amendment values, “hate speech,” or related issues? I would enjoy hearing from you.

Previous weeks’ remarkable women: Margaret FullerLillian Ross


Foothills Voices

The county in Tennessee where I live, Blount County, has an exceptionally good library that does some extraordinary things. One of those things has been to sponsor and nurture a group of amateur writers from the area and to help them tell the stories they want to tell. The result is Foothills Voices: Echoes of Southern Appalachia that is now on sale on Amazon. Some friends and I had a small hand in this project in that we read some of the drafts and met with the writers as they were putting together their stories. Appalachian culture seems to be popular these days. Here’s a chance to find out something about the real thing.


Best book of the summer? A final response

I’ve had one final response to the question I’ve asked for several weeks running: What was the best book you read this summer?

RobinLove That Boy by Ron Fournier. A former member of the White House Press Corps, this memoir is a story about his journey through coming to grips with his son’s Aspberger Syndrome diagnosis. Well researched and interesting insights into how parents perceive and interact with their children. Very well written and quite interesting.


Author Jo Allison: The Good Old Summertime

I introduced you to Jo Allison/Linda Dobkins last week and want to remind you about her and her books again. She has a series of mysteries that have an interesting twist. Here’s how she describes them:

The novels center on a young “new woman,” named Julia Nye. A “new woman,” in early twentieth century parlance, was one who supported progressive causes, including the right to vote, who likely worked outside the home, and who challenged the restrictions of the women’s sphere of activities.

Linda and I were faculty colleagues at Emory and Henry College a few years ago. We had offices across the hall from one another and talked about writing a lot. It’s a pleasure to recommend her work to you. Take a look at the first in the series, The Good Old Summertime.

And since last week, Linda has informed me that she has been interviewed by the Speak Up Talk Radio Network podcast. The 18-minute interview can be heard here:… Linda has some very interesting things to say about her writing.


Some of the giveaways below have been listed here before, and they are still valid. Plenty of books are available as free downloads, so check them out if you have not done so already.

Win a $240 Amazon gift card. Again this month I have joined with several other authors to offer our newsletter subscribers a chance at winning a $240 gift card from Amazon. All you have to do is sign up:…?The contest opens today and will close Oc. 10.

Books and More Club multi-prize contest. I joined this club to give you an excellent opportunity to win some great prizes. The big one is an Amazon Kindle Fire. Then there are two $25 Amazon gift cards, two $10 Amazon gift cards, and four $5 Amazon gift cards. All you have to do is sign up here: This contest runs until Oct. 8.

The Prolific Reader. Kill the Quarterback is listed there along with some other great mysteries.

Finally . . .

I continued this week to concentrate on watercolors rather than writing. Here is a second watercolor that I will be donating to the local beekeepers association for its auction to raise money to help new beekeepers get started. It’s called Fall fishing trip.

Best quotes I have come across this week:

“The ship of my life may or may not be sailing on calm and amiable seas. The challenging days of my existence may or may not be bright and promising. Stormy or sunny days, glorious or lonely nights, I maintain an attitude of gratitude. If I insist on being pessimistic, there is always tomorrow. Today I am blessed.” Maya Angelou.

As societies grow decadent, the language grows decadent, too. Words are used to disguise, not to illuminate, action: you liberate a city by destroying it. Words are to confuse, so that at election time people will solemnly vote against their own interests. Gore Vidal

Keep reading and have a great weekend.


Jim Stovall

You can connect with Jim on FacebookTwitterLinkedin, and BookBub.

His Amazon author page is where you can find more information about his books.

Last week’s newsletter

5-star review: 
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It held my attention, and the plot unfolded bit by bit, keeping me guessing about what was coming next throughout nearly the entire novel. There were some surprises. My first surprise was that protagonist of the story is a teenage girl. How in the world could the author, a middle-aged man, possibly present a believable character, having never bee a teenage girl himself? Again I was surprised – he nailed it. Granted, Max Wayman is not your typical teenage girl, but I could relate to her nonetheless because she is something like I had been as a teenage girl. I could readily identify with her struggle to succeed in a society that valued boys over girls. I also enjoyed learning right along with Max about what a point spread is and what it means for a team to shave points. The colorful, interesting, and even eccentric, characters Max interacted with made the story seem almost as if it could really happen. Well done, Mr. Stovall.

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