TIME Books

The Legacy of Laura Ingalls Wilder, One of America’s First Libertarians

Laura Ingalls Wilder signing books ca. 1930s-1940s.
Bettmann/Corbis Laura Ingalls Wilder signing books ca. 1930s-1940s.

David Boaz is executive vice president of the Cato Institute and author of 'The Libertarian Mind.'

The Little House on the Prairie author was a sort of libertarian matriarch

Laura Ingalls Wilder is a bestselling author again, 83 years after she began publishing her Little House on the Prairie books and 58 years after her death at age 90. Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography is a 472-page edition of Wilder’s original memoir, for which she couldn’t find a publisher in 1930.

Descended from a Mayflower passenger and other early Americans, Wilder was born just after the Civil War in the Big Woods region of Wisconsin. Life was hard on the frontier, and with her parents and then her husband she moved to Kansas, Minnesota, Iowa, South Dakota, Florida, and eventually Mansfield, Missouri. She also became, unexpectedly, a sort of libertarian matriarch.

Laura’s only child was Rose Wilder Lane. Lane was born in DeSmet, South Dakota, and grew up on her parents’ Rocky Ridge Farm in Missouri. After high school she drifted to San Francisco, married briefly, and began a career as a writer. In her early years she called herself a socialist, but by the 1930s, after traveling in Europe and returning to Rocky Ridge to care for her parents, she was a staunch libertarian. In 1935 she wrote in the Saturday Evening Post:

I am now a fundamentalist American; give me time and I will tell you why individualism, laissez faire and the slightly restrained anarchy of capitalism offer the best opportunities for the development of the human spirit. Also I will tell you why the relative freedom of human spirit is better — and more productive, even in material ways — than the communist, Fascist, or any other rigidity organized for material ends.

Those ideas can be found in the Little House books, which Lane is said to have helped edit or ghostwrite. In Little House on the Prairie, young Laura hears the Declaration of Independence read and thinks, “Americans won’t obey any king on earth. Americans are free. That means they have to obey their own consciences. … When I am a little older, Pa and Ma will stop telling me what to do, and there isn’t anyone else who has a right to give me orders. I will have to make myself be good.” That’s Lane’s voice.

Lane wrote two novels of her own about her family’s homestead, Let the Hurricane Roar (later retitled Young Pioneers) and Free Land, which made her a bestselling, well-paid writer. But her interests turned more to politics, and she became a vociferous adversary of President Franklin Roosevelt and the New Deal, which she saw as “creeping socialism.”

In the dark year of 1943, during World War II, Lane and two other remarkable women published books that could be said to have given birth to the modern Libertarian movement. Lane published a passionate historical book called The Discovery of Freedom. Isabel Paterson, a novelist and literary critic, produced The God of the Machine, which defended individualism as the source of progress in the world. And the most famous, Ayn Rand, published The Fountainhead.

Lane and Paterson helped to introduce Rand to a circle of conservative and libertarian intellectuals, who began to develop an ideological movement opposed to the welfare state. John Chamberlain, a prominent liberal journalist in the 1930s, recalled the impact those books had on him and other readers at the time:

If it had been left to pusillanimous males probably nothing much would have happened. … Indeed, it was three women — Paterson, Rose Wilder Lane, and Ayn Rand — who, with scornful side glances at the male business community, had decided to rekindle a faith in an older American philosophy. There wasn’t an economist among them. And none of them was a Ph.D.

Also in 1943 Lane met Roger MacBride, the 14-year-old son of her editor at Reader’s Digest. MacBride was fascinated by her ideas, visited her frequently at her Connecticut home, and came to think of himself as her “adopted grandson.” After he published The Electoral College, a defense of that system, he was made a Republican elector in Virginia in 1972. The joke was on the Republicans: MacBride became a “faithless elector”—faithless to Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew, anyway, but faithful to the constitutional principles Rose Lane had instilled in him.

He cast his electoral vote for the new Libertarian Party ticket of philosopher John Hospers and journalist Tonie Nathan, the first woman to receive an electoral vote. He became the 1976 Libertarian presidential candidate and put the party on the map with ballot status in 32 states, a widely distributed campaign book, and a distant third-place finish behind President Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter.

As Lane’s heir, he published another of Wilder’s manuscripts, The First Four Years, arranged for the popular 1970s television series, and wrote eight novels of his own about Rose’s early life, continuing in the vein of Little House.

Laura Ingalls Wilder lived American values. Her example inspired her daughter and her daughter’s protégé to spend their careers defending those values.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Books

Without Edward Snowden, Our System Could Have Failed

Ronald Goldfarb is a veteran Washington, DC attorney, literary agent and author of After Snowden: Privacy, Secrecy, and Security in the Information Age. He served in the Justice Department in the Robert F. Kennedy administration.

Snowden's actions may have resulted in positive change that proves our tripartite system works

Every time you pick up a phone, dial a number, write an email, travel on a bus carrying a cell phone, swipe a card somewhere, you leave a trace, and the government has decided that it’s a good idea to collect it all, everything, even if you’ve never been suspected of a crime.”

“…it was the creeping realisation that no one else was going to do this. The public had a right to know about these programmes. The public had a right to know that which the government is doing in its name…”

—Edward Snowden, German TV interview, January 2014

The tripartite nature of American government is on display. Congress is contemplating extending the Patriot Act, allowing it to expire, or reforming it by June 1. A federal court yesterday concluded that the controversial s.215 of the Patriot Act allowing secret meta data gathering of phone records by the government was illegal. The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals did not specifically rule that the Patriot Act was unconstitutional, though critics of the Act will certainly see the suggestion in this opinion.

In a 97-page unanimous opinion in a case entitled ACLU v. Clapper, et. al., the prestigious 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in New York City reversed an earlier trial court ruling, and held that s. 215’s bulk telephone data program is subject to judicial review. In the core of this opinion, Judge Gerard Lynch wrote that “the program exceeds the scope of what Congress has authorized.” The opinion discussed the history of the earlier Church Committee hearings about historic abusive surveillance practices of intelligence agencies, and the evolution of the FISA Act (1978) allowing secret ex parte proceedings, and the Patriot Act now under review in Congress.

The court decision dealt with the meta data practices of Verizon performed at the government’s order, and revealed by The Guardian with information leaked by Edward Snowden. The order applies to other service providers, as well, by implication.

The government argued that any complaint about its practices had to be made to the FISA court. The 2nd Circuit concluded that its judicial review was appropriate. And I would note that this court was far more “judicial” than the ex parte, secret hearings conducted by FISA “courts.”

The circuit court ruled that the government’s position—that its standard for collecting metadata conforms with prevailing search and seizure law—was wrong. “Unprecedented and unwarranted” were the words used. The court found that the “sheer volume of information sought is staggering,” and that the amount and nature of the data collected was qualitatively too broad and vague, neither within proper bounds nor limited to data required for fighting the war on terror. The government’s procedures, the court ruled, are “inconsistent with the very concept of an investigation”, lacking specificity, relevance, time limitations.

The court concluded that “to allow the government to collect phone records only because they may be relevant to a possible authorized investigation in the future “is impermissible, irreconcilable with the statute.” Congress can’t be deemed to have approved a program of which many members were unaware, and which was “shrouded in secrecy,” the court added, agreeing with critics that congressional oversight of national security surveillance procedures since 9/11 has been lacking. In an observation critical of the process of congressional oversight in national security matters, the court remarked that suggesting legislative approval of the questionable practices “would ignore reality.”

Its conclusion: S.215 “does not authorize the telephone metadata program.” It refused to deal with claims that S. 215 violated the First and Fourth Amendments, noting that Congress is considering the future of the Patriot Act and may act on these questions imminently. The court deemed it prudent to allow for that debate in Congress which may “profoundly alter the legal landscape.”

Edward Snowden must be smiling today as he remains in his prolonged exile in Russia. All the reforms of the excesses of data surveillance he revealed indicate that his disclosures have had the impact that motivated him. Top UN officials have questioned the practices of member states which violate core privacy rights; reformative laws are pending in Congress; a White House panel has called for 46 reforms of prevailing practices; Congressional oversight of national security procedures has been questioned by prestigious experts in the field. None of this would have happened if Snowden had not committed his audacious act of civil disobedience. His influence has been historic. His answer on German TV to those who argue that Snowden is a traitor: “If I am a traitor, who did I betray? I gave all my information to the American public.” And to the world, as it turned out.

Our country sometimes acts precipitously in times of great provocation, as it did with Japanese-Americans after Pearl Harbor, for example; but in time we make amends for these excesses. Some of our actions after 9/11, extreme rendition, for example, and excessive surveillance techniques now under consideration in Congress and the federal courts, may result in reform of illegal procedures Mr. Snowden exposed. Good signs that our tripartite system works.

Ronald Goldfarb is a veteran Washington, DC attorney, author, and literary agent. He served in the Justice Department in the Robert F. Kennedy administration. His book, After Snowden: Privacy, Secrecy, and Security in the Information Age, will be published next week.

Contributors to After Snowden are: Thomas Blanton, director of the National Security Archive; Hodding Carter III, professor of leadership and public policy at the University of North Carolina; David Cole, professor at Georgetown University Law Center; Jon Mills, dean emeritus, professor of law, and director of the Center of Governmental Responsibility at the University of Florida’s Fredric G. Levin College of Law; Barry Siegel, director of the University of California, Irvine, Literary Journalism Program; and Edward Wasserman, dean of the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME advice

13 Mother’s Day Gifts for Book Lovers

These titles are sure to delight that special lady this Mother’s Day

  • My Mom, Style Icon by Piper Weiss

    Chronicle Books

    Based on the blog of the same name, this book is perfect for a fashionable mom. Filled with photos and stories of stylish women from the past several decades, it will take her on a trip down memory lane. All of the stories are grouped by theme—from wedding fashion to a mother’s “rebellious” choices—along with anecdotes from daughters (and sons!) who watched their mothers’ style evolve.

    To buy: $19, chroniclebooks.com.

  • Balancing Acts: Three Prima Ballerinas Becoming Mothers by Lucy Gray

    Princeton Architectural Press

    This book of photographs follows three ballerinas-turned-mothers over the course of 14 years. All three decided to have children in the midst of their already physically taxing careers, and award-winning photographer Lucy Gray captures a unique work-life balance as they parent behind the curtain and perform onstage. If your mother is into classical ballet or appreciates photography, she’ll love these stunning, intimate black-and-white photos.

    To buy: $19, amazon.com.

  • Icebox Cakes by Jean Sagendorph and Jessie Sheehan

    Chronicle Books

    Now, she can bake her favorite childhood dessert from scratch. With more than 20 recipes for every taste—from lavender-blueberry to espresso chip—she’ll want to give each old-school cake a try. The cookbook also lists the essential tools she’ll need, so if you notice one that’s missing from her kitchen, buy it to complete the gift.

    To buy: $15, amazon.com.

  • The Mystery Writers of America Cookbook by Kate White

    Quirk Books

    This unconventional cookbook features breakfasts, appetizers, desserts, cocktails and more from your favorite mystery authors and their characters. The book also offers multiple sidebars that link the food to the fiction—like poisons people used to plant in their gardens, and an explainer about how “red herring” went from the plate to the page.

    To buy: $19, amazon.com.

  • Mom’s One Line a Day: A Five-Year Memory Book

    Chronicle Books

    This journal makes it easy to keep track of everyday memories, and she can chronicle and compare special experiences, funny family quotes, or random thoughts for years. It’s a fun way to jot down even the simplest daily activities, and turns keeping a diary into a meaningful task for mom, too.

    To buy: $10, amazon.com.

  • Diamond Head by Cecily Wong


    Following a horrific tragedy, four generations of women are forced to deal with a long-kept family secret. The wives and daughters of the Leong family are haunted by a Chinese legend that says each person is bound to their beloved with an invisible string, but whenever they make a romantic mistake, that string gathers knots. This knotted string is passed through generations, and ends with Theresa—18 and pregnant—who is burdened with the Leong family secrets. The novel spans years and perspectives—chapters are told by sisters, daughters, and wives—as the women grieve, and eventually rebuild.

    To buy: $20, amazon.com.

  • Capture the Moment by Sarah Wilkerson

    Amphoto Books

    This book is both beautiful to page through and a thorough instruction manual for beginning photographers. More than 100 contributors from Clickin Moms, the largest female-photographer social network, have included photographs and advice for capturing basic, understated moments in everyday life and beautiful ways to chronicle family in photos. She’ll be inspired to pick up her camera and finally use it—without having to attend an actual photography class.

    To buy: $16, amazon.com.

  • The Legacy of Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Scott Dodson

    Cambridge University Press

    A history-buff mom will want to curl up with this recently-released history of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s legacy for hours every night. It discusses Ginsburg’s career as a lawyer, professor, appellate judge, and justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, focusing on her most influential cases. Many leaders from academic and political fields contribute to create a thorough picture of her impressive career.

    To buy: $27, amazon.com.

  • Listen to Your Mother by Ann Imig

    G.P. Putnam's Sons

    This collection of stories was born from a live event asking women to share their stories about motherhood—now the show happens in more than 20 cities across America. This frank, funny, and touching anthology puts many of those stories down on paper, and discusses the complex and diverse array of parenting experiences, from step-motherhood to infertility, and everything in between.

    To buy: $20, amazon.com.

  • Everyone Loves Paris by Leslie Jonath


    For the mom who loves travel, and specifically has a soft spot for Paris, this illustrated coffee table book highlights the city’s most memorable tourist destinations and charming streets with 85 full-color illustrations and interpretations of city life. Even if she isn’t an artist herself, she’ll appreciate this unique look at the City of Light.

    To buy: $21, amazon.com.

  • Cookie Love by Kate Leahy and Mindy Segal

    Ten Speed Press

    She doesn’t have to be a pro baker and decorator to make a batch of cookies, but she can be inspired to go beyond chocolate chip. This book contains almost 300 pages of unexpected cookie concoctions (with beautiful photographs) and expert baking secrets, as well as the pantry ingredients she’ll need to have in her kitchen at all times so that she can make a batch whenever she wants.

    To buy: $19, amazon.com.

  • Enchanted Forest: An Inky Quest & Coloring Book by Johanna Basford

    Laurence King Publishing

    Coloring books are no longer just for kids—they can be a creative way for adults to relax and unwind, as well. While this book has childlike elements—like hidden objects for the artist to find—its intricate scenes and high-quality paper to prevent bleeding make it the perfect de-stressing activity for grown-ups—almost therapeutic.

    To buy: $11, amazon.com.

  • Inspire: The Art of Living with Nature

    CICO Books

    This beautiful book offers up inventive tips for incorporating elements of the outdoors into entertaining and home décor. It’s divided by outdoor spaces—including sections on Flower Gardens, Beaches, and Vegetable Patches—with specific projects that help bring the outside in through vases, mantel décor, wreaths, and more.

    To buy: $19, amazon.com.

    This article originally appeared on RealSimple.com.

    More from Real Simple:

TIME Education

Why Schools Need to Bring Back Shop Class

Sir Ken Robinson, Ph.D, is the author of Creative Schools, The Element, Finding Your Element and Out of Our Minds.

Viewing vocational programs as second-rate is one of the most corrosive problems in education

The Education Committee of the US Senate is currently considering the re-authorization of No Child Left Behind. Much of the original rhetoric in NCLB was about improving job readiness and employability. In a tragic irony, the focus of the last ten years has not been on improving vocational programs at all but on testing narrow academic standards. Overall, the impact on students, schools and employability has been baleful. This is the time to change.

A study from 2013 estimated that almost 6 million Americans between the ages of 16 and 24 are neither in school or work. Although the unemployment rate for that demographic is on the decline since its 2010 high, it’s yet to reach the lows of around 10-11% in the past ten years. Meanwhile, there’s a widening skills gap between what schools are teaching and what kinds of jobs are available and needed. There’s plenty of work to be done, but too many people lack the skills to do it.

In practice, our communities — and economies — depend on an enormous diversity of talents, roles, and occupations. The work of electricians, builders, plumbers, chefs, paramedics, carpenters, mechanics, engineers, security staff, and all the rest is absolutely vital to the quality of each of our lives. Yet the demands of academic testing mean that schools often aren’t able to focus on these other capabilities at all. Vocational programs – such as carpentry or welding classes, cosmetology classes or many of the other practical areas of study available in some US high schools and in the vocational schools that dot our cities and suburbs — are seen as second-rate options for people who don’t make the academic cut. As we argue in Creative Schools, this academic/vocational caste system is one of the most corrosive problems in education. It need not be.

As with many schools in the United States, the shop program at Analy High School in Sebastopol, California, had become largely irrelevant. The main shop room had become little more than a glorified storage room. The school’s priorities were firmly focused on college readiness and success at standardized tests, and vocational programs had taken a backseat. Sebastopol is also the home of Make magazine, one of the leading voices of the maker movement, a community of inventors and do-it-yourselfers that has blossomed on YouTube and shows up in the tens and sometimes hundreds of thousands at Maker Faires all over the world. Make proposed that a group of students from Analy come to their offices to explore the possibilities involved in creating things with 3-D printers, computer-aided design, and more. The program was so popular that soon Make could no longer accommodate it in their offices, so they agreed to donate equipment to Analy if the school would ramp up their vocational program.

Casey Shea, a teacher at Analy, ran with the idea. The shop room was cleaned up, new equipment was moved in, and others in the community donated materials, more equipment, cash, and expertise. The program became hugely popular very quickly— and not just among the ‘shop kids.’ “There’s a big range, from people struggling in Algebra 1 to people in AP Calculus,” Casey said. “At least half of the kids are on the ‘academic track.’ I think it’s because we have the cool factor of 3-D printers, electronics, and robotics.”

The program is doing much more than showing kids how to use a vinyl cutter. “These kids are getting the sense that their ideas can be transformed into marketable commodities,” said Shea. “They designed really cool ornaments for the holidays and we sold more than a thousand dollars’ worth of stuff. We just put together a coaster set for a local microbrewery. We’ve got a tremendous community of artistic people and small businesses that I’m sure would be willing to do what the brewery did. The kids have to go to the business and make the pitch and figure out what the cost would be by doing an analysis of material and time and all the other costs. I’m talking with a finance teacher we have to set this up as a business class on student enterprise, with real outcomes.”

Restoring the balance between academic and vocational programs is not just about job creation: it’s about raising standards of achievement overall. I spoke recently at a meeting in Los Angeles of alternative education programs. These are programs for students who are doing least well in standardized education: the low achievers, the alienated, the ones with low self-esteem and little optimism for their own futures. They include programs based in technology, the arts, engineering, and business and vocational projects. They work on practical projects or in the community, or on artistic productions and performances. They work collaboratively in groups, with their regular teachers, and with people from other fields as mentors and role models: engineers, scientists, technologists, artists, musicians, business leaders, and so on.

Students who’ve been slumbering through school wake up. Those who thought they weren’t smart find that they are. Those who feared they couldn’t achieve anything discover they can. In the process, they build a stronger sense of purpose and self-respect. Kids who thought they had no chance of going to college find that they do. Those who don’t want to go to college find there are other routes in life that are just as rewarding.

These programs show vividly that these students are not incapable of learning or destined to fail. They were alienated by the system itself. What struck me is that these programs are called ‘alternative education.’ If all education had these results, there’d be no need for an alternative.

It seems that for some policy makers, ‘academic’ is a synonym for ‘intelligent’. It is not. It has a much more limited meaning and refers to intellectual work that is mainly theoretical or scholarly rather than practical or applied. This why it is commonly used to describe arguments that are purely theoretical and people who are thought to be impractical. Of course, academic work is important in schools but human intelligence embraces much more than academic ability. This marvelous variety is evident in the extraordinary range of human achievements in the arts, sports, technology, business, engineering, and the host of other vocations to which people may devote their time and lives. The vitality of our children, our communities — and our economies — all depend on cultivating these talents more fully. That’s what’s really involved in leaving no child behind.

Sir Ken Robinson, Ph.D, is the author of Creative Schools, The Element, Finding Your Element and Out of Our Minds. He advises governments, education agencies and some of the world’s leading cultural organizations. His 2006 talk at the TED conference is the most watched in TED history.

From CREATIVE SCHOOLS: The Grassroots Revolution That’s Transforming Education by Ken Robinson and Lou Aronica, published last month by Viking, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. Copyright © 2015 by Ken Robinson.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Books

Kim Kardashian’s Selfish Is Anything But

Rizzoli New York

Sarah Begley is a culture and breaking news reporter for TIME.

The people who have helped build Kim Kardashian into an icon are celebrated as an us-ie

There is perhaps no trend more disparaged as a sign of millennial self-obsession than the selfie, and Kim Kardashian is the undisputed queen of selfie-taking. Yet her new book of annotated self-taken photos, titled Selfish and out this week, feels almost like an ode to the people around her.

Yes, there is healthy ego in Mrs. Kanye West’s glam shots. There are bikini selfies, bathroom selfies, selfies in the club, selfies in the car. But sometimes, other people wander into the shot. The people who are behind the scenes, in her her hotel room or her green room. The people who help make her look like the woman everyone’s scrambling to see.

“I can look at any photo of myself and can tell who did my hair and makeup, where I was and who I was with,” Kardashian writes early on. Throughout the book, she proves it’s true: “I remember Stephen Moleski did my makeup and Clyde Haygood did my hair,” she writes next to that photo.

“Old Hollywood glam vibes,” she writes next to another, “Mary Phillips did my makeup.”

“We were done early one night, so Mario [Dedivanovic] gave me a makeup lesson…I secretly wish I was a makeup artist.”

It’s not as though Kardashian thinks she’s pulling a fast one on all of us—to the contrary, in Selfish, she seems proud to show off the manufacturing of image, both of her own, and of the selfie as a phenomenon.

The point of Selfish, as the title cheekily suggests, is Kim’s marveling at Kim. But in the age of styling, make-up and contouring, to show off her styled, made-up, contoured self is also to pay tribute to the stylists who make her look the way she does. The architecture of the Sistine Chapel may be exemplary, but it’s Michelangelo’s paint job that packs in the crowds.

The book is effectively a portfolio for Kardashian’s legion hair and makeup artists, who can point to its pages’ chronological trajectory as proof that they were part of her transformation from Paris Hilton’s sidekick to one half of the #WorldsMostTalkedAboutCouple, half of whom really did #breaktheinternet. She’s right to give credit where credit is due; and she’s also probably right to end the book on a photo with her husband, who many believe has been her most effective stylist yet.

Next time you see Kim post a perfectly made-up, cleavage-heavy photo, don’t ask why she’s so obsessed with herself—ask who’s making her look so good.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Books

What the PEN and Charlie Hedbo Scandal Says About Freedom of Expression

PEN American Center Literary Gala
Jemal Countess—Getty Images Charlie Hebdo editor-in-chief Gerard Biard accepts the PEN/Toni and James C. Goodale Freedom of Expression Courage Award onstage with Charlie Hebdo Film Critic Jean-Baptiste Thoret, left, and New York Cartoon Editor Bob Mankoff, right, at the PEN American Center Literary Gala at the American Museum of Natural History on May 5, 2015 in New York.

The spat over an award for Charlie Hebdo is about much more than just authors fighting

Thursday night, PEN, an organization of writers devoted to freedom of expression, gave an award to the French magazine Charlie Hebdo. It’s the sort of ceremony, taking place at a New York gala attended by the literary world’s upper crust, that would seem de rigeur—PEN events in recent years haven’t drawn much attention, or elicited much conversation, outside of the narrow world of writers and editors. But the award to Charlie Hebdo, and the debate over whether or not it was merited, has resonances beyond literary circles. It gets to the heart of how America is meant to respond, in the long-term, to the terrorist attack on the magazine.

Earlier this year, the offices of the magazine in Paris were attacked, part of a string of violent responses to the publication of depictions of Mohammed, which are forbidden in the Muslim faith. This gave rise to two things: first the global popularity of the phrase “Je suis Charlie,” in solidarity with the slain magazine staffers, and later, to a debate over exactly what the value of Charlie Hebdo‘s provocation had been. This was a difficult needle to thread: The magazine styled itself as an equal-opportunity provocateur but many felt it had a particular taste for needling France’s Muslim minority.

PEN’s decision to honor the magazine didn’t merely condemn the murders or call for solidarity with the magazine’s writers. The decision argued that these men and women were exemplary and deserving of praise and honor. Many critics of the decision (including Junot Díaz, Lorrie Moore, and Joyce Carol Oates) signed an open letter to PEN that argued an award given to the Charlie Hebdo staff was a different thing from decrying their murder, and that, while the events in Paris were to be decried, other recipients may have been more deserving of an award for furthering the cause of free expression. Couched though this was in sympathy for loss of life, it still occasioned impassioned defenses of the magazine from many, including Salman Rushdie. The knee-jerk defense of Charlie Hebdo, that we were all Charlie, became something much more complicated, given the number of people who felt empowered to say that they didn’t want to be Charlie. The award finally broke through a set of received opinions around Charlie Hebdo that were unsustainable.

Even still, this award, in the grand scheme of human events and even for the New York-based literary community, means little. But the opportunity it provided to further the conversation about speech means a lot. What sorts of speech are worth defending is, for most believers in free expression, obvious—it’s all of them! But what sorts of speech are worth valorizing is a much more complicated matter—one that had been difficult to confront in a flurry of earnest sympathy for slain writers. There are very few free-speech cases in which the sort of speech is, to so many, as offensive as that of Charlie Hebdo. That makes the questions thornier, and more worthwhile.

The debate is far from over, and it shouldn’t be restricted to the New York literary community—though writers, concerned as they are with words and expression, are the vanguard on this. The recent shootings at a Texas “Prophet Mohammed cartoon contest” show that the Charlie sensibility, and the terrifying reaction it can elicit, is still with us. Do those who stood with Charlie stand, now, with the self-consciously provocative prophet artists in Texas? Those who do, and those who do not, should have the same sort of debate that’s been unfolding in New York. It would be a far better tribute to free speech than signing on to a catchphrase and a set of pieties.

TIME Books

How LSD Cemented Willie Nelson’s Relationship With Pot

Sarah Begley is a culture and breaking news reporter for TIME.

"My love affair with pot became a long-term marriage," the musician writes in his new memoir

It’s no secret that Willie Nelson is fond of weed: he recently announced he’ll market his own brand of recreational marijuana, “Willie’s Reserve.”

But pot is not the only drug the “On the Road Again” singer has tried over the years. In his new memoir, It’s a Long Story: My Life, out this week, he recounts an experiment with LSD in the ’70s. “Could I expand my mind?” he asked himself while deciding to take the plunge. “Could I lose my ego?”

He may not have lost his ego, but he did lose his grasp on reality. Nelson accidentally took triple the amount his “hippie friend” recommended just two hours before a concert, and had to perform while tripping.

As I started singing, my voice sounded like it was coming from inside a cave. Didn’t sound like my voice at all … The flickering lights out in the crowd took the form of fiery figures. Was I freaking? Were there demons out there?

Once offstage, he felt even more panicky, but realized he had to relax as much as possible because his trip worsened with anxiety. When it was over, he decided he would never drop acid again.

[E]xperimenting with LSD convinced me that I had already found the high that worked for me. My love affair with pot became a long-term marriage. It was, by far, the smoothest of all my marriages. Pot and I got along beautifully. Pot never brought me down, never busted my balls. Pot got me up and took me where I needed to go. Pot chased my blues away. When it came to calming my energy and exciting my imagination, pot did the trick damn near every time I toked.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Books

How Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland Stays Modern

929 edition Lewis Carroll's "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland,"
Harry Ransom Center Cover of 1929 edition Lewis Carroll's "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland," illustrated by Willy Pogany.

The book celebrates its 150th birthday this year

This post is in partnership with the Harry Ransom Center at The University of Texas at Austin. The article below was originally published on the Ransom Center’s Cultural Compass blog.

The titular heroine of Lewis Carroll’s whimsical classic Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and its sequel Through the Looking-Glass has changed to reflect the aesthetics of the times outside her fictional word. The fantastical nature of the story allows a certain freedom of temporality: although the narrative was written to occur in Victorian Britain, there are no specific indicators of the year, and the story could just as easily have been set in the twenty-first century. The changing visual depictions of Alice reflect this sense of timelessness. Having a contemporary-looking Alice makes it easy for younger audiences to relate to her and helps to explain Wonderland’s enduring popularity.

First published in 1865, Sir John Tenniel’s iconic illustrations imagine Alice in a contemporary mid-Victorian pinafore, apron, and stockings. Tenniel’s depiction of Alice was the standard for the rest of the 1800s, but by the turn of the century, when the book went out of copyright, other illustrators reimagined the tale. Bessie Gutmann created Nouveau Alice in 1907, who wears a white, high-necked dress with full, long sleeves; her hair is long, swept up, and adorned with a flower.

In the 1920s Alice became a sporty flapper. Willy Pogany’s 1929 illustrations depict a lanky Alice, somewhat older than previous representations, wearing a short, plaid skirt, short sleeve top with a tie at the neck, and knee socks. Her hair is bobbed and boyish, as per the androgynous Jazz Age fashion.

Mid-century Alice reverts to the traditional, much like popular culture at the time. Disney released the animated Alice in Wonderland film in 1951, in which Alice dons a blue dress, white apron, and a black ribbon in her hair, very similar to Tenniel’s depiction. Subsequent illustration from the period shows Disney’s influence.

During the 1960s and ’70s, Alice adapts to the fashion of the period. One 1970 edition puts an older-looking Alice in a hot pink minidress with a Brigitte Bardot-esque bouffant; another illustration from the same year makes Alice look like she walked off of the set of The Brady Bunch, in a floral-accented minidress, knee socks, and long, straight hair.

The continued success of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is related to its ability to stay relevant and fresh to generations of readers. The story itself is not rooted in any particular temporal setting, and thus Alice has the ability to change her style to look like her readers. Although Alice was created in the Victorian era, she is anything but drab and prim: she is, more than many other literary heroines, thoroughly modern.

See the rest of the gallery of Alice book covers here at the Harry Ransom Center blog

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