Liberal pundit Kirsten Powers is fairly certain that the many critics attacking her book this week have not read a single page of The Silencing: How the Left is Killing Free Speech.
"As far as I can tell, none of these people have actually read it," Powers told the Washington Examiner's media desk. "They argue against you with things you never said. So if they want to argue about what I actually said, then I'd be up for that."
The book, which was released Monday, argues that the Left has increasingly adopted an "any means necessary" approach to suppressing contrary ideas, which includes bypassing all opposing arguments and going straight to accusing people of racism, homophobia and sexism.
Sure enough, the day her book launched, Powers was accused of being "anti-gay" in a move she says just proves her thesis: "They cannot argue with me on my actual arguments. So they say 'homophobe.' "
This claim, which Powers characterizes as "bizzaro," stems from her writing in defense of the free speech rights of former Mozilla Firefox CEO Brendan Eich, who was compelled in 2014 to resign after pro-same-sex-marriage activists discovered that he had supported California's infamous Proposition 8 legislation.
Ignoring his right to free expression, activists, including several Mozilla Foundation employees, quickly branded Eich a bigot, culminating with the tech CEO eventually stepping down from the company he helped build, she wrote.
For Powers' critics, her defense of Eich's right to free expression is enough to brand her as an enemy of the LGBT community.
"I'm such a gay-rights supporter and always have been. So it's kind of strange to see them really kind of freak out over that. Defending the right to speech makes me a bigot," she said. "I don't know why I'm surprised by this. I mean, I just wrote a whole book on it."
Though she said she expected baseless accusations in response to the release of The Silencing, the nationally syndicated columnist said she didn't expect this exact line of "pushback."
"To me, it's sort of nonsensical. It's clear that I'm defending people's right to hold their own views and advocating for people to make substantive arguments in favor of their views," she said. "It is strange to twist that into suggesting that I don't support gay rights."
There have been a few unflattering blog posts in response to the release of the The Silencing, but most of the criticism directed at Powers this week has been restricted to social media.
Powers also noted that the book was released just this Monday, so criticism for her work is still young. As a result, she said, much of the angry pushback that she has experienced this week has been sorely lacking in substance.
"Nobody has made any kind of substantive criticism," she said. "I'm happy to debate the topic. But that's not what anybody is trying to do."
"It's a little hard to talk to people about it who haven't read the book. Part of the reason I wrote it is because I think there are people who don't actually know this is going on," she added. "It's surprising people don't know it's happening, but it's hard to have conversations with people who aren't informed."
A second but lesser criticism that Powers said she has encountered is from people who seem to be under the impression that the book it is about her personal experiences of being "silenced."
"I don't think I'm being silenced. I never said that," she said, adding that the book is about tactics and trends and that it's not an autobiography. "[T]his book is not about me. It's not a memoir."
Excerpts of The Silencing have been published already on news sites including the Daily Beast and the Washington Examiner.
The response on social media to these various excerpts has been less-than-flattering in some corners, with critics repeatedly condemning Powers for claims that she never made, prompting her to exclaim at one point, "For God's sake would ONE of you actually read the book? You have no idea what my argument is."
Seemingly misinformed criticism aside, Powers told the Examiner that she expects that The Silencing will find a warm reception on the Right, adding that she hopes it will be similarly welcomed by the Left.
"I hope that they will listen and actually read the book and consider what I'm saying instead of just dismissing it out of hand and misrepresenting my argument," she said.