Friday, January 2, 2009

The Voice Will Miss Hentoff

Although my disagreements with Nat Hentoff on abortion eroded my degree of agreement with his columns, since 9/11 he has been a heroic voice for civil liberties. Add to that his reporting on the utterly misguided strategies for policing New York City public schools, which strip power from principals and treat ordinary kids like criminals, and you have two reasons why he has been one of the best reasons to read the Village Voice. But now that's over: the Voice has laid him off.

As the Times reported on the last day of 2008, Village Voice Media (a Phoenix-based outfit that changed its name after it bought the Voice) laid off Hentoff as part of its continuing effort to shrink the staff in a time of declining ad revenues.

Time are tight everywhere in newspapers, but Hentoff was more than a living link with the old Voice, which was a vastly better paper than the one given away today. He remains a strong voice for civil liberties in an age when we need to think hard about getting the right balance between freedom, order and security. Hentoff will go one writng, but the Voice will be poorer without him.

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