literature | September 16, 2012

Salman Rushdie on Today Show: Free Speech Shouldn't Be "Malicious"

One day before the release of his highly-anticipated memoir, Salman Rushdie sat down with Matt Lauer on NBC's Today Show to discuss Joseph Anton, the “outrage industry,” and the perils of free speech, something he knows a lot about. 

“One of the problems with defending free speech,” Rushdie told Lauer, “is you often have to defend people that you find to be outrageous and unpleasant and disgusting."

In the interview, the acclaimed novelist, essayist, critic, and speaker discussed the differences between the reaction to his book The Satantic Verses, in 1989, and the public outcry against a new movie that has led to violence and protest in the Middle East and around the world. The difference is intent, Rushdie noted. "I think [the filmmaker has] done something malicious, and that’s a very different thing from writing a serious novel." He continued: "There are people who look for things to provoke their audiences with, and it is to a large extent manufactured. The fact that you can unleash these violent mobs like this is obviously completely unacceptable."

Tomorrow, Rushdie's Joseph Anton, one of the most anticipated literary memoirs ever, will be released. It is the first time that he has written about the ten years he spent in hiding, “a time of incredible stress.”