1984 Today!
1984 Today!
Episode 104: Elle Griffin on Faith, Hope, and Clarity

Episode 104: Elle Griffin on Faith, Hope, and Clarity

Author Elle Griffin discusses her open letter defending Substack's stance on speech, humanism, mythology, and the art of imagining a better world

Can Substack survive mainstream media pearl-clutching?

Do we dare to dream of utopia?

Was the Virgin Mary really a virgin?

These are just some of the questions I get into with the fascinating and contagiously positive Elle Griffin in this wide-ranging conversation.


Elle is the author of The Elysian, an exploration of utopian ideas through fiction and non-fiction that goes out to over 11,000 subscribers on Substack.

In December 2023, her open letter defending Substack’s content moderation policy, co-signed by a large number of Substack authors, went viral. The catalyst? An article in The Atlantic1 by Jonathan M. Katz called “Substack Has A Nazi Problem”. Katz’s main beef is that Nazis and extremists have Substack newsletters that in some cases have paid subscribers, and therefore, he claims, Substack is helping Nazis to make money, and is taking a cut in the process. No prizes for guessing what he thinks would solve the “Nazi Problem”.

Would censorship and de-platforming be better than the hands-off, walled garden approach that Substack has chosen?

The following response from Substack’s Hamish McKenzie was not enough to assuage and re-cage the outrage:

I just want to make it clear that we don't like Nazis either — we wish no-one held those views. But some people do hold those and other extreme views. Given that, we don't think that censorship (including through demonetizing publications) makes the problem go away — in fact, it makes it worse.

To paraphrase Louis XV: Après ça, le déluge.

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On one side of this argument stand arrayed the usual suspects from the commentariat and the haunted casket of the New York Times.

On the other side, the signatories to Elle’s letter such as Matt Taibbi of Racket News, Michael Shellenberger of Public, Glenn Loury, and many more.

Elle and I do our bit to tease out the subtleties of the situation while maintaining our sense of humour. I hope you enjoy it.

Feel free to explore the links above and leave a comment letting me know whose argument you find most compelling.

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Referred to as “America’s flagship of suck” by Matt Taibbi of Racket News.