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disregard of the law.” As Pell points out, we run into a problem right away with Martin Luther King, Jr. Further provisions of the code bar “material which could cause embarrassing situations . . . in the classroom.” The Texas textbook battles have, for all these years, provided terribly illuminating insights into the mindset of the censor. It is their refusal to see that “the American side” could be, in fact, two sides, or three or four, that leads one into the perverse position of raising one’s voice against speech, and of combating the First Admendment to the Constitution in the name of Americanism. And, if it is true that free speech is most endangered when social protest is most faint, perhaps; that explains why censorship has taken root in Texas somnolent conformist Texas, where folks are proud to think the same way. But censors of all kinds have popped up in all kinds of places. The American Library Association reports that censorship attempts in the nation’s schools tripled between 1975 and 1979 and have tripled again since 1980. There are censors on the Left, as Pell acknowledges, but she lets them off easy: attempts by these groups “are not nearly as numerous, as effective, or as disruptive” as the efforts of the Right. A very brief section on pornography concludes feminists ought to “fight speech with more speech” and are on safe ground “so long as the movement repudiates government intervention.” The area in which Pell seems to most frequently speak of “chilling effects” is the section on libel. It has become a favorite practice of business to intimidate critics through libel suits. This has been a fact of life for small struggling publications for some time, but libel has recently \(as this book was publicity surrounding General William Westmoreland’s suit against CBS, and Ariel Sharon’s suit against Time, can only serve to remind writers of how big the stakes have become. “The fear of libel suits among writers and publishers has grown so strong that it now acts as a prior restraint,” Pell says. Her words are perfectly borne out by events of recent months in which Senator Paul Laxalt of Nevada filed a $250 million suit against the Sacramento Bee over a story alleging questionable financial dealings. Other news organizations prepared stories on Laxalt \(including ABC News, and but when they received warnings from Laxalt’s lawyers, they bugged off. Pell’s writing stumbles a bit under the weight of the overly broad subject \(it useful catalogue of recent transgressions against the First Amendment. The “big chill” metaphor is perfectly apt; it would have been a good title had it not been used already for a Hollywood movie. In setting the historical framework for her book, Pell discusses the 1963 Supreme Court case that struck down Louisiana law because it had “a chilling effect” on First Amendment Rights. Pell writes, “A law may not stop free expression from taking place and, an important step farther, it may not inhibit expression.” Multimillion dollar libel suits would tend to inhibit expression, it seems, but as Pell’s book shows, this is only one gust of the chilly winds that blow across America in the 1980s. AFTERWORD Chicago For quite a few years now I’ve been coming down from my workplace in Chicago to visit family in Kerrville, where I’ve always felt safe from the waves of trendiness, fashion foods, and other cosmopolitan refinements that keep sloshing over Middle America in their travels from either coast to the other. In Kerrville, I know exactly where to go for the chicken-fried steak, Tex-Mex food and barbecue on which I overdose to purge my system of the culinary exotica that visiting writers, lawyers, and other riffraff expect in the big city, or that my cultured friends insist on serving me in a gallant but futile effort to expand my gastronomical horizons. I’ve been described by colleagues as “a tragic case of arrested culinary development” who Longtime Observer contributor Bill Helmer is a senior editor at Playboy. should take courses in “remedial eating.” My ex-wife once called me a “food bigot”! Hell with ’em. If there’s a clam on any menu in Kerrville, I don’t know about it, and for sure wouldn’t eat food prepared in the same kitchen. So one can imagine the constriction that seized my throat on one visit to my favorite little city when my eyeballs picked up and transmitted to my brain the single word in foot-high letters strung out on one of those illuminated plastic roadside signs in front of an otherwise attractive fast-food establishment. It read, quite matter of factly, QUICHE My sudden braking of the car alarmed my mother, and I had to explain that I had been startled by a sign I’d just seen. “What sign?” she asked. I answered a bit hesitantly, “Well, ah, it said QUICHE.” Mom knows her son only well enough not to try to understand him and didn’t press the matter, but she looked more upset than usual and I tried to laugh the whole thing off with a short explanation about how quiche is a type of food that symbolizes cultural elitism and social pretentiousness among trendy intellectuals who also are suckers for butcherblock, house plants, copper pots and Greek fisherman caps. I could see this wasn’t helping, so I wound things up with “I guess I was just surprised to see quiche being sold at such a nice-looking little drive-in place in Kerrville, is all.” “Oh, that sign’s been there for quite a while,” she said. “Maybe a month or two.” At this, I asked offhandedly if quiche was becoming popular in these parts. She didn’t know. She’d never seen it on a menu anywhere. “But I had some in Fredericksburg once. They have it there.” Oh-oh, I thought to myself. All of my New York friends have been eating quiche for years, to the point where it’s passe. My Chicago friends accept it as a fancy-restaurant staple. I remember seeing it for the first time in Austin at a campaign party for Ralph Yarborough over ten years ago. I don’t know exactly when the Austin influence carried quiche to Fredericksburg, but I imagine it was during the post-Luckenbach gentrifica Quiche Comes to Kerrville By Bill Helmer 22 JANUARY 25, 1985