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Soccer Mom
08-06-2008, 10:24 PM
I just saw this story reported on the SBTB website. I am speechless. I can't believe in this day and age publishers are so susceptible to bullying. Caution: this site uses very strong language.

http://www.smartbitchestrashybooks.com/index.php/weblog/comments/the-jewel-of-medina-is-now-on-sale-no-wait-nevermind/



From the “Holy Shit” Department comes an article that was highlighted in today’s Publisher’s Lunch and dispatched to me by TeddyPig (Hi Teddy!): the Wall Street Journal reports that Random House is stopping publication of The Jewel of Medina (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB121797979078815073.html?mod=opinion_main_comment aries) and giving the rights back to the author, six days before the publication date out of fear of fallout from the Muslim community over the book’s content.


I'm honestly stunned that a publisher would back out of publication SIX days before publication because someone might find the book offensive.

CAVEAT: I do NOT want this thread to become a "Bash Muslims" fest. Let's keep the talk about the issue of censorship. If things go bad I'll be forced to lock my own thread and that will make me sadder than I am now.

jkcates
08-06-2008, 10:28 PM
Yeah well, I would say that I am surprised, but I would be lying. Most companies are not willing to risk something that will tarnish their name (or possibly get them sued). I guess in their minds its just easier to deal with one pissed author than CARE or the ACLU filing lawsuits against them for 'hate speech'.

Just my few cents

Cranky
08-06-2008, 10:28 PM
I just read the whole article.

Holy shit is right. I cannot believe the publisher knuckled under to that!

ETA: And this is the same house that published the Satanic Verses. WTF? I mean, yeah, that was like a generation ago, but so what?

Williebee
08-06-2008, 10:38 PM
A publisher with some courage stands to make a great deal of money off this book.

Does the name "Salmon Rushdie" ring any bells?

mscelina
08-06-2008, 10:38 PM
Stupid. Absolutely stupid. Aside from the point that this is an act of sheer cowardice, on the other side of the coin it's poor marketing. A book with that kind of buzz was bound to gain huge amounts of free publicity and people who normally wouldn'thave bothered would have gone out to buy the book.

Ridiculous.

I'm sure the book and author will be picked up by someone else by the end of the week. Asshats.

Cranky
08-06-2008, 10:39 PM
A publisher with some courage stands to make a great deal of money off this book.

Does the name "Salmon Rushdie" ring any bells?

It should for Random House, since they published the bloody thing! *tears hair out*

kct webber
08-06-2008, 10:39 PM
Random House should ba ashamed of themsleves. That really pisses me off. I'm not terribly surprised, but that only makes it worse.

On the upside... This author has already gotten more publicity than most ever do. This is one of those times when self-publishing may actually turn out to be extremely beneficial.

I really hope that the author either does that, or that another company picks up this book. The hype alone is enough to get her a couple million readers.

kct webber
08-06-2008, 10:41 PM
Does the name "Salmon Rushdie" ring any bells?

He was the first person I thought of.

Calla Lily
08-06-2008, 10:42 PM
:( Nothing surprises me.

mscelina
08-06-2008, 10:43 PM
I wonder if she gets to keep the advance since RH reneged on the contract? Anyone? A hundred grand is a hell of a lot of money.

Ol' Fashioned Girl
08-06-2008, 10:44 PM
I wouldn't have bought a copy before... now, I surely will. I'm perverse that way... and I bet more than a few others are, too.

mscelina
08-06-2008, 10:47 PM
I agree, OFG--sounds like an interesting read. *grin* And you gotta love sticking it to the big guy...

smoothseas
08-06-2008, 10:48 PM
I copy and pasted the entire article from Publisher's Lunch that came in this morning's email...





The Novel About Muhammed Cancelled by Ballantine A WSJ opinion column by Asra Nomani recounts the events that produced Ballantine's cancellation in May of Sherry Jones's debut novel THE JEWEL OF MEDINA, "a tale of lust, love and intrigue in the prophet Muhammed's harem." Nomani says "the series of events that torpedoed this novel are a window into how quickly fear stunts intelligent discourse about the Muslim world."

Random House Group deputy publisher Tom Perry says that the company received "from credible and unrelated sources, cautionary advice not only that the publication of this book might be offensive to some in the Muslim community, but also that it could incite acts of violence by a small, radical segment." They postponed publication "for the safety of the author, employees of Random House, booksellers and anyone else who would be involved in distribution and sale of the novel." Last month a termination agreement was executed so that agent Natasha Kern could shop the book to other publishers.

The column attributes the beginning of the protests to associate professor of Islamic history at the University of Texas in Austin Denise Spellberg, who says "You can't play with a sacred history and turn it into soft core pornography." Spellberg, after reviewing a galley sent for review and endorsement, spoke with someone who runs an e-mail list; that alert was expanded upon by a blogger, which led to someone posting as Ali Hemani iterating a seven-point strategy to make sure "the writer withdraws this book from the stores and apologise [sic] all the muslims across the world."

After the posting, Spellberg (who publishes with Knopf) alerted editor Jane Garrett to what she viewed as potential danger: "Denise says it is 'a declaration of war . . . explosive stuff . . . a national security issue.' Thinks it will be far more controversial than the satanic verses and the Danish cartoons." Three weeks later Libby McGuire informed the author and agent the book was postponed indefinitely for "fear of a possible terrorist threat from extremist Muslims" and concern for "the safety and security of the Random House building and employees."
WSJ

mscelina
08-06-2008, 10:52 PM
Interesting. But it sounded to me that Spellberg's original comments about the book


Professor Denise Spellberg read an ARC, she denounced the book as a “very ugly, stupid piece of work” (note to authors: Don’t ask her for a cover quote. Ever.) and said, “I don’t have a problem with historical fiction. I do have a problem with the deliberate misinterpretation of history. You can’t play with a sacred history and turn it into soft core pornography.”

started out as a personal taste issue and then she took it to the political level deliberately when speaking to her personal editor at RH. Sounds like she had a problem with the content (c'mon already--you don't think Mohammed slept with his wives????) and translated that into fearmongering--almost as if it's a vendetta against the book.

Cranky
08-06-2008, 10:54 PM
Interesting. But it sounded to me that Spellberg's original comments about the book



started out as a personal taste issue and then she took it to the political level deliberately when speaking to her personal editor at RH. Sounds like she had a problem with the content (c'mon already--you don't think Mohammed slept with his wives????) and translated that into fearmongering--almost as if it's a vendetta against the book.

And considering that Dr. Spellberg has a book of her own out about the same wife of Mohammed, I smell a big stinky rat.

Soccer Mom
08-06-2008, 11:03 PM
It's appalling that the very people threatening violence never read the book. Spellberg read it and alerted them that it was offensive. Within hours they had a plan in place to stop the book. That is where I have the problem.

If they were offended by the book subject, they had every right to protest it, but not the right to keep others from reading it.

Galleycat weighs in. (http://www.mediabistro.com/galleycat/publishing/has_random_house_let_the_terrorists_win_90974.asp)

Tish Davidson
08-06-2008, 11:04 PM
Could this be a clever marketing ploy by Random House? They say they are withdrawing the book immediately before publication, stir up intense interest in it with tons of free publicity, then decide to reconsider, publish it, and it sells wildly? Or am I being too cynical? Guess we'll know if they decide to reconsider and publish.

Ack. This is right up there in terms of intimidation of free expression with the animal rights activists who firebombed a UC Santa Cruz researcher's house this past weekend because he uses mice in his vision research.

SPMiller
08-06-2008, 11:06 PM
I'm both pissed at Random House and embarrassed on behalf of my alma mater, the UT system.

However, I'm guessing the book will now sell like hotcakes when it does get published.

Cranky
08-06-2008, 11:06 PM
It's appalling that the very people threatening violence never read the book. Spellberg read it and alerted them that it was offensive. Within hours they had a plan in place to stop the book. That is where I have the problem.

If they were offended by the book subject, they had every right to protest it, but not the right to keep others from reading it.

Exactly.

Cranky
08-06-2008, 11:07 PM
Could this be a clever marketing ploy by Random House? They say they are withdrawing the book immediately before publication, stir up intense interest in it with tons of free publicity, then decide to reconsider, publish it, and it sells wildly? Or am I being too cynical? Guess we'll know if they decide to reconsider and publish.

Ack. This is right up there in terms of intimidation of free expression with the animal rights activists who firebombed a UC Santa Cruz researcher's house this past weekend because he uses mice in his vision research.


If Random House even considered this as a publicity stunt, I don't know if I'd ever want to buy another book through them again, ever.

That's almost as offensive to me as the censorship itself.

EriRae
08-06-2008, 11:10 PM
Well, there goes my chance of publishing that neonazi YA book...:D

Soccer Mom
08-06-2008, 11:11 PM
Could this be a clever marketing ploy by Random House? They say they are withdrawing the book immediately before publication, stir up intense interest in it with tons of free publicity, then decide to reconsider, publish it, and it sells wildly? Or am I being too cynical? Guess we'll know if they decide to reconsider and publish.

Ack. This is right up there in terms of intimidation of free expression with the animal rights activists who firebombed a UC Santa Cruz researcher's house this past weekend because he uses mice in his vision research.


No, they've actually signed a termination and returned all rights to the author.

willietheshakes
08-06-2008, 11:11 PM
It's appalling that the very people threatening violence never read the book. Spellberg read it and alerted them that it was offensive. Within hours they had a plan in place to stop the book. That is where I have the problem.

If they were offended by the book subject, they had every right to protest it, but not the right to keep others from reading it.


The trouble with statements like this -- with which I agree, by the way -- is that it fails to take into account the fundamental differences in worldview and beliefs between Islam and Christianity, or Islam and western secular society. It's not just a matter of offense or of protest, but of blasphemy, a crime under the Koran and one taken very seriously. This is a religion, remember, that forbids depictions of the Prophet in art, even in religious art. A depiction which borders, even in one person's opinion, on soft-core pornography?

Again, it's a highly disturbing thing that RH pulled the plug on this, but it's important to look at the underlying paradigms, and to remember that during the days of Rushdie's fatwah (and it's Salman, not Salmon), while he was under guard, translators and other employees of his publishers around the world were being attacked, and in some cases killed.

mscelina
08-06-2008, 11:12 PM
Well, as a result of this idiocy, The Jewel of Medina will be built up to be the next Satanic Verses. The poor girl who wrote the book will never have a day of peace; she'll constantly be in fear of her safety. Extremists will take the 'opinion' of Dr. Spellberg and run with it, protesting its anti-Muslim statement without ever even touching the book--except to burn it. Of course, Dr. Spellberg has now received a huge amount of publicity as well.

I have a feeling that if there is a conspiracy involved, it intiates right there--with a woman who was given an ARC of a book that involved the same subject as hers and willfully stirred up a hornet's nest to sate her jealousy--or fear that the second book would be better than hers. RH is probably out 150 grand already, bringing the book that close to release and then pulling it. Look to the instigator...

kct webber
08-06-2008, 11:14 PM
If they were offended by the book subject, they had every right to protest it, but not the right to keep others from reading it.

This is the major problem with crazy fundementalist people (and no, I'm not just talking about Muslims). I'm talking about anyone who believes their there way is the only way, and any dissenting view is evil.

And for a publisher to cut a book in response to this type of jackassery is to encourage such jackassery.

BenPanced
08-06-2008, 11:14 PM
Could this be a clever marketing ploy by Random House? They say they are withdrawing the book immediately before publication, stir up intense interest in it with tons of free publicity, then decide to reconsider, publish it, and it sells wildly? Or am I being too cynical? Guess we'll know if they decide to reconsider and publish.

Ack. This is right up there in terms of intimidation of free expression with the animal rights activists who firebombed a UC Santa Cruz researcher's house this past weekend because he uses mice in his vision research.
This sounds like the time MTV was promoting the world premiere of Madonna's video for Justify My Love but suddenly announced about a week before they weren't going to show it. Within two weeks, the video was released for home viewing and achieved gold status. Madonna was silent on the whole matter, except for the giggle fits during trips to the bank.

But, yeah, a spade's a spade's a spade. Buncha lily-livered cowards.

Sassee
08-06-2008, 11:15 PM
Yeah, saw this earlier. The sad part was not their decision. The sad part was that it didn't surprise me.

SPMiller
08-06-2008, 11:15 PM
Although the writer will probably live in fear for a while, she's going to make boatloads of money off this. Come on, you can't have something like this happen and then not publish the book. Someone's going to pick it up...

ink wench
08-06-2008, 11:18 PM
Yeah, saw this earlier. The sad part was not their decision. The sad part was that it didn't surprise me.The decision is sad (imo) or maybe absurd. That I'm not surprised is also sad.

kct webber
08-06-2008, 11:19 PM
Although the writer will probably live in fear for a while, she's going to make boatloads of money off this. Come on, you can't have something like this happen and then not publish the book. Someone's going to pick it up...

The funny part is, that more people have heard of the book now, before it's even out, than they would have, had they just published it without complaint.

C.bronco
08-06-2008, 11:28 PM
Imagine what would happen if the American people were allowed to read the book and make judgments for themselves.

Clearly, we are not to be trusted with such power.

kuwisdelu
08-06-2008, 11:43 PM
The funny part is, that more people have heard of the book now, before it's even out, than they would have, had they just published it without complaint.

Yep. The sad part is the publicity and controversy will probably put the author in a lot more danger (a la Rushdie) than if they had just published it.

Birol
08-07-2008, 12:39 AM
I read about this morning when I was checking out the news. To me, it seems that publishing as a business has gotten so afraid risking the bottom line that they don't want anything that might be remotely controversial or offensive to anyone. Thing is, literature isn't supposed to be free of offense. It’s supposed to, in different measures, reach out and touch your soul, reveal new truths to you, and shake the foundations of your beliefs in order to make you look at the world anew.

JeanneTGC
08-07-2008, 12:40 AM
Just as dangerous a precedent being set, I think, is that we're all being told that we can't use people from history if there's a whiff of controversy about it. That concerns me on a number of levels.

I notice England's managed to not lose their heads over "The Other Boleyn Girl" and "The Tudors", though...

willietheshakes
08-07-2008, 12:54 AM
Just as dangerous a precedent being set, I think, is that we're all being told that we can't use people from history if there's a whiff of controversy about it. That concerns me on a number of levels.

I notice England's managed to not lose their heads over "The Other Boleyn Girl" and "The Tudors", though...

That's not what's being said at all.

There's a world of difference between using a historical personage in a book, and using the Prophet (depictions of whom are expressly forbidden by the Koran).

Again, I don't agree with the decision, and I don't agree with what contributed to it, and I'm opposed to fundamentalism of all stripes, but there's a lot more to it than "a whiff of controversy" about using "people from history".

JeanneTGC
08-07-2008, 02:01 AM
That's not what's being said at all.

There's a world of difference between using a historical personage in a book, and using the Prophet (depictions of whom are expressly forbidden by the Koran).

Again, I don't agree with the decision, and I don't agree with what contributed to it, and I'm opposed to fundamentalism of all stripes, but there's a lot more to it than "a whiff of controversy" about using "people from history".
And there you and I don't agree. In my worldview, all are open to comment and question, critique and, yes, even ridicule. Including one particular religion's -- ANY particular religion's -- leader.

As an example -- "The Last Temptation of Christ". I think the subject of the film was Christianity's biggest prophet and messiah. And while there was a lot of controversy and protests and such -- since a great number of people did not want that prophet disparaged in any way -- that movie was NOT pulled.

So, again, to me, we're still talking about a "person from history". And I'm still concerned about the precedent should there be a "whiff of controversy". Because the more times any large media outfit buckles like this, the less freedom of speech and freedom of idea we have, worldwide.

Calla Lily
08-07-2008, 02:06 AM
And there you and I don't agree. In my worldview, all are open to comment and question, critique and, yes, even ridicule. Including one particular religion's -- ANY particular religion's -- leader.

As an example -- "The Last Temptation of Christ". I think the subject of the film was Christianity's biggest prophet and messiah. And while there was a lot of controversy and protests and such -- since a great number of people did not want that prophet disparaged in any way -- that movie was NOT pulled.

So, again, to me, we're still talking about a "person from history". And I'm still concerned about the precedent should there be a "whiff of controversy". Because the more times any large media outfit buckles like this, the less freedom of speech and freedom of idea we have, worldwide.

Amen, Jeanne.

For the record, yes, I'm a Christian, and yes, I saw Last Temptation AND read Kazantkis' book. Neither fazed me. I try my best to keep an open mind. :)

willietheshakes
08-07-2008, 02:10 AM
And there you and I don't agree. In my worldview, all are open to comment and question, critique and, yes, even ridicule. Including one particular religion's -- ANY particular religion's -- leader.

As an example -- "The Last Temptation of Christ". I think the subject of the film was Christianity's biggest prophet and messiah. And while there was a lot of controversy and protests and such -- since a great number of people did not want that prophet disparaged in any way -- that movie was NOT pulled.

So, again, to me, we're still talking about a "person from history". And I'm still concerned about the precedent should there be a "whiff of controversy". Because the more times any large media outfit buckles like this, the less freedom of speech and freedom of idea we have, worldwide.

You know, I agree with all of this. In principle.

In a society of debate and ideas, people should be free to express their opinions, to raise whatever issues they would like to raise, to protest or defend themselves against protest.

The difficulty comes in trying to apply those ideas and ideals to a culture or religion which is fundamentally, religiously opposed to them.

The example of The Last Temptation doesn't really correlate -- there is no specific prohibition in Christianity against the depiction of Christ, as there are in Islam.

Moving away from the theoretical and idealistic, however, one is still left with the reality of the situation: during Rushdie's fatwah, innocent people in the employ of the publisher were attacked. Some were killed. And look what happened with the cartoon depictions of the Prophet a few years ago -- rioting and violence in the streets.

It would be nice if our western rationality and openness to debate extended around the world. The reality, however, is that it does not. And it is that reality that a publisher has to reckon with.

Calla Lily
08-07-2008, 02:16 AM
Then forgive me for asking the obvious, but didn't their Marketing and Legal departments consider this possibility when they bought the book? They would have had to look at the good and bad possibilities of publishing it. Perhaps they worked under the "there's no such thing as bad publicity" idea? Or seriously thought the terrible things that happened with the publication of Satanic Verses wouldn't happen again?

(I tried to read SV. I was bored out of my gourd. I wonder if the radicals had left it alone, whether it would've faded into literary obscurity.)

Soccer Mom
08-07-2008, 02:31 AM
The example of The Last Temptation doesn't really correlate -- there is no specific prohibition in Christianity against the depiction of Christ, as there are in Islam.

*snipped for brevity*

It would be nice if our western rationality and openness to debate extended around the world. The reality, however, is that it does not. And it is that reality that a publisher has to reckon with.

Two points: First, that is a generalization. There are branches of Christianity which consider depictions of Christ as the making of graven idols and it was a large schism in the early church.

Second, we are talking about a book being published in the US. If we allow other countries to tell us what can be said in our own country under threat of violence, that is the saddest commentary of all.


ETA: FYI: the comments trail is getting very interesting on SBTB. The author herself is weighing in and so are members of the Muslim community. Go read.

JeanneTGC
08-07-2008, 02:37 AM
Two points: First, that is a generalization. There are branches of Christianity which consider depictions of Christ as the making of graven idols and it was a large schism in the early church.

Second, we are talking about a book being published in the US. If we allow other countries to tell us what can be said in our own country under threat of violence, that is the saddest commentary of all.
Exactly! It's bowing to censorship, no matter how holy those asking for said censorship may feel their request is.

Freedom of speech is something Americans are allowed. A great many other countries are, as well. If Random House didn't want to publish or provide copies for Muslim-majority countries, I could understand that. But to not publish AT ALL because there is the potential for controversy is the truly frightening thing.

As Willie points out, there are ramifications to consider. But as Lily also points out, why did no one consider them up until 6 days prior to publication?

Soccer Mom
08-07-2008, 02:44 AM
Here is the author's blog discussing what happened.

http://sherryjones.blogspot.com/

CBumpkin
08-07-2008, 02:59 AM
The possible threat of mass violence and death to family members is powerful. If they pulled it this close to publication, you can bet they were already getting some backlash from the Muslim community or it never would have gotten as far to press as it did.

I don't believe all censorship is bad. We need censorship to some extent or we'll live in worse chaos than we have now, due in part to political correctness and lack of censorship.

Think about it. People on AW scream that certain posts are offensive and they're edited. But, when it comes to the complainer's posts that others are offended by, they then scream for their "freedom of speech." The fact is, none of us has the "right" to say anything and everything and express ourselves however we see fitl.

I don't agree with the Muslim faith or in the extreme violent behavior in which they approach issues, but, from the excerpts I've been able to find from The Jewel of Medina, this novel does cross the line. Personally, I hope the book never gets published. (How's that for freedom of speech?)

CBumpkin
08-07-2008, 03:01 AM
Here is the author's blog discussing what happened.

http://sherryjones.blogspot.com/

Here's Wikipedia's version. Wikipedia: The Jewel of Medina (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Jewel_of_Medina)

CBumpkin
08-07-2008, 03:03 AM
But as Lily also points out, why did no one consider them up until 6 days prior to publication?

Don't think they didn't think about it. One sure thing about publishing is that controversy sells - and I guarantee that's what they were banking on. Why do you think the "God is Not Great" book was published?

Soccer Mom
08-07-2008, 03:04 AM
I don't agree with the Muslim faith or in the extreme violent behavior in which they approach issues, but, from the excerpts I've been able to find from The Jewel of Medina, this novel does cross the line. Personally, I hope the book never gets published. (How's that for freedom of speech?)


I'm curious what you think crosses the line. I've only read a four sentence excerpt. What specifically in this novel do you think crosses a line?

kct webber
08-07-2008, 03:16 AM
I don't believe all censorship is bad. We need censorship to some extent or we'll live in worse chaos than we have now, due in part to political correctness and lack of censorship.

Most political correctness is censorship. In a free society, you do not have the innate right to be 'not offended'.

Think about it. People on AW scream that certain posts are offensive and they're edited. But, when it comes to the complainer's posts that others are offended by, they then scream for their "freedom of speech." The fact is, none of us has the "right" to say anything and everything and express ourselves however we see fitl.

AW is a privately owned forum. The moderators are tasked by the owners to keep the peace. The public is not privately owned. And, in fact, ALL of us have the right to say anything and everything and express ourselves as we see fit in the public forum, such as literature, short of yelling fire in a crowded theater.

I don't agree with the Muslim faith or in the extreme violent behavior in which they approach issues, but, from the excerpts I've been able to find from The Jewel of Medina, this novel does cross the line. Personally, I hope the book never gets published. (How's that for freedom of speech?)

I disagree with just about every word you've said here. Whether the book crosses the line or not, no one has a right to tell me that I can't read it. No one has a right to tell me I can't cross their line. If it crosses someone's line, they can not read the book.

Calla Lily
08-07-2008, 03:32 AM
Eether the book crosses the line or not, no one has a right to tell me that I can't read it. No one has a right to tell me I can't cross their line. If it crosses someone's line, they can not read the book.

Amen again. :)

mscelina
08-07-2008, 03:32 AM
I'm curious what you think crosses the line. I've only read a four sentence excerpt. What specifically in this novel do you think crosses a line?

Good question, Soccer Mom. I'd be interested in your response to this as well, C. Bumpkin. This is a historical romance, written according the specifications of the genre. Are there more excerpts posted somewhere? If so, I'd like to see some links to them so that I can judge for myself.

E. Arroway
08-07-2008, 03:40 AM
I copy and pasted the entire article from Publisher's Lunch that came in this morning's email...





The column attributes the beginning of the protests to associate professor of Islamic history at the University of Texas in Austin Denise Spellberg, who says "You can't play with a sacred history and turn it into soft core pornography."

Yes you can. It's called freedom of speech.

And when this thing actually gets published, I'm buying a copy as well. Then I'm going to read it, and then I'm to write this "professor" and thank her for publicizing the book, because otherwise I might never have heard of it, and for pissing me off enough with her idiotic comment that I actually bought it.

I do hope it's more readable than The Satanic Verses, though.

E. Arroway
08-07-2008, 03:43 AM
Ack. This is right up there in terms of intimidation of free expression with the animal rights activists who firebombed a UC Santa Cruz researcher's house this past weekend because he uses mice in his vision research.

Huh. I never heard anyone call using animals in research "freedom of expression" before. I've heard it called everything from unethical to torture, but claiming that performing experiments on animals is a first amendment right is definitely a new one on me.

Can't say I really agree.

lostgirl
08-07-2008, 03:44 AM
I'm curious what you think crosses the line. I've only read a four sentence excerpt. What specifically in this novel do you think crosses a line?

I'm also curious as to where it crosses the line?


I disagree with just about every word you've said here. Whether the book crosses the line or not, no one has a right to tell me that I can't read it. No one has a right to tell me I can't cross their line. If it crosses someone's line, they can not read the book.

How eloquently put: They can, not read the book. They can even tell all their friends and family to not read the book.. but they shouldn't be allowed to stop people from having the choice to read the book.

CBumpkin
08-07-2008, 04:01 AM
I disagree with just about every word you've said here. Whether the book crosses the line or not, no one has a right to tell me that I can't read it. No one has a right to tell me I can't cross their line. If it crosses someone's line, they can not read the book.

No one has a right to tell you that you can't cross their line? Oh really? Think again. There are all kinds of laws that say otherwise. That's a rather egotistical statement, don't you think? What makes you so special that other people's boundaries and rights don't apply to you?

You are right in that no one can tell you that you can't read a book that you want to, but that book has to be made available for you to read, first. If it's not printed, you don't have the right to read it. The publisher has a right to not follow through with printing a book, however.

Sadly, we live in a very humanistic world that believes the end of all means is their own happiness.

As for the woman (Denise Spellberg) who ratted out the author, I think she's as hypocritical as they come and I don't like her either.


Says Ms. Spellberg: "I walked through a metal detector to see 'Last Temptation of Christ,'" the controversial 1980s film adaptation of a novel that depicted a relationship between Jesus and Mary Magdalene. "I don't have a problem with historical fiction. I do have a problem with the deliberate misinterpretation of history. You can't play with a sacred history and turn it into soft core pornography." (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB121797979078815073.html?mod=opinion_main_comment aries)

But that's exactly what The Last Temptation of Christ did and she had no problem with that. Where was her outrage then? She's a hypocrite who only spoke out because SHE was offended, because it wasn't what SHE believed. SHE played judge, jury and Chicken Little. (She's an American professor of Islam.)

And society in the US allows one person's opinions and feelings rule the majority out of fear. One pissed-off person with a loud mouth can change laws. And we allow it, morally, judiciously, and throw the welcome mat out for them because we fear these people. Nice.

What are we looking at then? Hatred, fear, anger, political correctness, humanism - all those "rights" people scream and rage to hang onto. Isn't it lovely?

So, those are my thoughts, uncensored. As kct webber says, if you don't like them, you don't have to read them. But you did read them and they probably made some of you angry. The problem is, with their own line of thinking, they haven't a leg to stand on if they say I'm "wrong" or "shouldn't say those things." Why not? Because it's my right to say them. Isn't that what this is all about?

See the Catch 22 of it all?

The way the book was yanked out of the printing presses is due to one person's big, fat, hypocritical mouth and the publishers caved in to fear and threats (as people usually do). I don't agree with that either.

mscelina
08-07-2008, 04:07 AM
Quotes from the author Sherry Jones on SBTB: (http://http://www.smartbitchestrashybooks.com/index.php/weblog/comments/the-jewel-of-medina-is-now-on-sale-no-wait-nevermind/)


Sherry Jones said on...
08.06.08 at 02:13 PM |
Not that I have anything against romance novels, but Ms. Spellberg and some here have completely mis-characterized my book! It is not a romance novel. It ‘s historical fiction with a 29-page bibliography (check it out on my blog, http://sherryjones.blogspot.com). Some publishers rejected it last year because it was “too literary.” And then, some turned it down because it was “too commercial.” All the talk of “bodice-ripping,” etc., has me flabbergasted.

I, for one, am feeling very impressed with my mastery of the English language, having apparently written a pornographic novel that contains no actual sex scenes. ;-)


Sherry Jones said on...
08.06.08 at 02:23 PM |
Oh—and I was only ever told of one warning of possible terrorism, and that was from Spellberg. I am the one who found the Husaini Youths post and discussion, and told Random House about it the next day as evidence that Ms. Spellberg was being disingenuous when she claimed, as I’d been told, that she feared for her own safety and that of her family. That claim came AFTER she’d called Shahed Amanullah and asked him to “alert” the Muslims.

I’m not trying to influence the discussion here. Just wanting to set the record straight. Those Husaini Youths did not advocate violence, although I’m not clear on what their call for “pressuring” me to remove the books from the stores and apologize to Muslims really means.

Mr. Amanullah has written to me and assured me he never meant this to happen. I believe him.

There you go. Straight from the horse's mouth. How does this change the discussion now that we have actual comments from the author to discuss? To me, it's very apparent that (at least from Ms. Jones' POV) this entire episode was stirred up and whipped into frenzy by Ms. Spellberg. As I have no reason to doubt her comments on SBTB, I'd have to conclude that this was a deliberate attempt on Spellberg's part to prevent the publication of the novel for some obscure reason of her own.

I can think of a few right off the top of my head, but I prefer not to speculate.

Now. What lines have been crossed here on the part of the author?

willietheshakes
08-07-2008, 04:28 AM
AW is a privately owned forum. The moderators are tasked by the owners to keep the peace. The public is not privately owned. And, in fact, ALL of us have the right to say anything and everything and express ourselves as we see fit in the public forum, such as literature, short of yelling fire in a crowded theater.

The public is not privately owned (hence the name), but Random House is a private company, who do have a right to say what they will and will not publish.


I disagree with just about every word you've said here. Whether the book crosses the line or not, no one has a right to tell me that I can't read it. No one has a right to tell me I can't cross their line. If it crosses someone's line, they can not read the book.

Nobody's saying you can't read it. Random House is just saying they're not publishing it.

Ageless Stranger
08-07-2008, 04:33 AM
Why do you think the "God is Not Great" book was published?

Damn good literature.

This reply came to you courtesy of the Bruce Wayne Reply Generator.
Gets yours today!

Soccer Mom
08-07-2008, 04:37 AM
[color=#ff0000]

The public is not privately owned (hence the name), but Random House is a private company, who do have a right to say what they will and will not publish.

Nobody's saying you can't read it. Random House is just saying they're not publishing it.

The problem is that Random House did want the book and did want to publish it. It was days from its scheduled release. It was on Amazon and being promoted. Suddenly, it is pulled--not because they didn't want the book but because they were intimidated by threats of violence.

That is the sad part. It is one thing reject manuscripts early on as something you choose not to publish, it's another to yank a book days before release out of fear. They may have the right to yank it, but I have the right to call Random House chicken shit.

This is censorship--not on the part of Random House who has the right to be chicken shit, but on the part of those who seek to terrorize anyone who would publish the book. They are offended by the book (which incidently they have not read) and so they have decided that no one should have the right to publish the book and no one should have the right to read it. Ever.

kct webber
08-07-2008, 04:40 AM
No one has a right to tell you that you can't cross their line? Oh really? Think again. There are all kinds of laws that say otherwise. That's a rather egotistical statement, don't you think? What makes you so special that other people's boundaries and rights don't apply to you?

You are right in that no one can tell you that you can't read a book that you want to, but that book has to be made available for you to read, first. If it's not printed, you don't have the right to read it. The publisher has a right to not follow through with printing a book, however.

Sadly, we live in a very humanistic world that believes the end of all means is their own happiness.

As for the woman (Denise Spellberg) who ratted out the author, I think she's as hypocritical as they come and I don't like her either.



But that's exactly what The Last Temptation of Christ did and she had no problem with that. Where was her outrage then? She's a hypocrite who only spoke out because SHE was offended, because it wasn't what SHE believed. SHE played judge, jury and Chicken Little. (She's an American professor of Islam.)

And society in the US allows one person's opinions and feelings rule the majority out of fear. One pissed-off person with a loud mouth can change laws. And we allow it, morally, judiciously, and throw the welcome mat out for them because we fear these people. Nice.

What are we looking at then? Hatred, fear, anger, political correctness, humanism - all those "rights" people scream and rage to hang onto. Isn't it lovely?

So, those are my thoughts, uncensored. As kct webber says, if you don't like them, you don't have to read them. But you did read them and they probably made some of you angry. The problem is, with their own line of thinking, they haven't a leg to stand on if they say I'm "wrong" or "shouldn't say those things." Why not? Because it's my right to say them. Isn't that what this is all about?

See the Catch 22 of it all?

The way the book was yanked out of the printing presses is due to one person's big, fat, hypocritical mouth and the publishers caved in to fear and threats (as people usually do). I don't agree with that either.

I'm not sure I understand what you're going for here. You are simultaniously calling me an egotist and agreeing with me.

In a country where the police protect neo-nazi marches, I think I'm right to say that no one has the right to make sure I can't say something that crosses their line. In a free country, I can say anything I please--yes, even if it crosses someone else's line, even if it crosses some boundry they've set for themselves. For example, it is against Muslim law to depict Mohammed--but I'm not Muslim. Their line is not my line. So, no--no one has the right to tell me that I can't cross their line. I'll say it again--in a free society, no one has a guaranteed right to be 'not offended'.

And the bottom line is, I'd be willing to place bets on the fact that this book will be published--by someone. And Random House will have passed to it's own detriment. So, I will get the chance to read it. And the ones who are offended by it can flush it down the toilet, burn it in the town square, or better yet, just not read the thing. The latter would be the smarter thing, but all would be in keeping in keeping with freedom of speech and expression. And the Mrs Spellberg can be offended 'til she weeps on her "Last Temptation of Christ" dvd--as is also in keeping with freedom of speech and expression.

kct webber
08-07-2008, 04:42 AM
The problem is that Random House did want the book and did want to publish it. It was days from its scheduled release. It was Amazon and being promoted. Suddenly, it is pulled--not because they didn't want the book but because they were intimidated by threats of violence.

That is the sad part. It is one thing reject manuscripts early on as something you choose not to publish, it's another to yank a book days before release out of fear. They may have the right to yank it, but I have the right to Random House chicken shit.

This is censorship--not on the part of Random House who has the right to be chicken shit, but on the part of those who seek to terrorize anyone who would publish the book. They are offended by the book (which incidently they have not read) and so they have decided that no one should have the right to publish the book and no one should have the right to read it. Ever.

Agreed. :)

willietheshakes
08-07-2008, 04:46 AM
The problem is that Random House did want the book and did want to publish it. It was days from its scheduled release. It was Amazon and being promoted. Suddenly, it is pulled--not because they didn't want the book but because they were intimidated by threats of violence.

That is the sad part. It is one thing reject manuscripts early on as something you choose not to publish, it's another to yank a book days before release out of fear. They may have the right to yank it, but I have the right to Random House chicken shit.

This is censorship--not on the part of Random House who has the right to be chicken shit, but on the part of those who seek to terrorize anyone who would publish the book. They are offended by the book (which incidently they have not read) and so they have decided that no one should have the right to publish the book and no one should have the right to read it. Ever.

Hey, you wanna call RH chicken shit, that's fine, have at it. I don't support the decision.

I do understand it, though. Look, no one walks away from a six figure investment on a whim, especially not Random House, especially not these days. They're dealing with an unpleasant reality that transcends mere controversy and hurt feelings. They're dealing with a potential for violence, and their memories are long. People died over the Satanic Verses -- this isn't a philosophical debate. There is, literally, the potential for lives to be at stake.

So you're a publisher, there's this much rancour prior to publication (far more than for TSV, by the way), in a time twenty years on when Islamic fundamentalists are far more driven than they were in 1988-9 -- what do you do?

It's an untenable situation, but in many ways I think RH did what they had to do to keep their people out of harm's way. Say what you will about the blurber's vested interest, the manufactured nature of the controversy to this point -- THIS is the world we live in.

Birol
08-07-2008, 04:52 AM
THIS is the world we live in.

Yes. Yes it is. It will change when people and companies aren't afraid to stand up to bullies. It will change when we're willing to listen, work together, and compromise, rather than deliberately undermine what others have to say.

JeanneTGC
08-07-2008, 04:54 AM
And the more people who allow terrorists and threats of violence to stop them from doing either what they think is right which doesn't violate the laws in their own country, the more those who are willing to go to extremes will feel that they can AND are allowed, even expected, to.

It may be the world we live in, but none of us have to like it and ALL of us have the responsibility to fight it -- if we choose to.

kct webber
08-07-2008, 04:57 AM
Yes. Yes it is. It will change when people and companies aren't afraid to stand up to bullies. It will change when we're willing to listen, work together, and compromise, rather than deliberately undermine what others have to say.

Agreed again. I have been in a position to deal with and study extremists in depth. When you step back from them, they don't just leave you alone. When you step back, they step forward. They are going to be in your face 'til you push them back.

I understand what your saying, Willie. I even sympathize to an extent. But that doesn't make it the smart decision in the long run, certainly.

Polenth
08-07-2008, 05:33 AM
It's appalling that the very people threatening violence never read the book. Spellberg read it and alerted them that it was offensive. Within hours they had a plan in place to stop the book. That is where I have the problem.

Where did they threaten violence? I read the email sent to the list and the seven step plan. I don't see anything violent. They wanted to send out emails raising awareness of the prophet and explaining why linking him to sex was offensive. The proposal was to read the novel and other books about the subjects in the novel, so that they could prepare their own account of what happened. They wanted to start an email campaign to get it banned. I don't agree with book banning, but I do think people have the right to ask for a book to be banned as long as they're peaceful. Free speech goes both ways.

Random House was frightened something might happen, but I don't see any mention of an actual threat (other than Ms Spellberg's threats to sue them).

Soccer Mom
08-07-2008, 05:59 AM
Where did they threaten violence? I read the email sent to the list and the seven step plan. I don't see anything violent. They wanted to send out emails raising awareness of the prophet and explaining why linking him to sex was offensive. The proposal was to read the novel and other books about the subjects in the novel, so that they could prepare their own account of what happened. They wanted to start an email campaign to get it banned. I don't agree with book banning, but I do think people have the right to ask for a book to be banned as long as they're peaceful. Free speech goes both ways.

Random House was frightened something might happen, but I don't see any mention of an actual threat (other than Ms Spellberg's threats to sue them).

Do you have a link? I would very much like to read the posted seven steps to stop the publication. All I have seen are vague reports and Ms. Spellberg's allegations from the original opinion article.



"She thinks there is a very real possibility of major danger for the building and staff and widespread violence," Ms. Garrett wrote. "Denise says it is 'a declaration of war . . . explosive stuff . . . a national security issue.'


I have to respectfully disagree that someone can have a book banned because they find the content offensive. They have the right to protest and ask people not to read it and to explain why they think it is offensive, but they don't have to right to keep anyone else from reading it. Honestly, they want to read it so they can decide if others should be allowed to?

Apparently Random House took whatever they were told seriously enough to walk away from a six figure deal.

benbradley
08-07-2008, 06:28 AM
"She thinks there is a very real possibility of major danger for the building and staff and widespread violence," Ms. Garrett wrote. "Denise says it is 'a declaration of war . . . explosive stuff . . . a national security issue.'
Apparently Random House took whatever they were told seriously enough to walk away from a six figure deal.
Well, if it's a "national security issue", then shouldn't the Government be involved?

Court-ordered racial integration in US schools was not stopped due to threats of violence - the National Guard was put into place to stop it.

On the other hand, Random House IS a private company and cad decide to be chicken shit if they want to. But I do wonder if they HAD gone ahead with publication if "all involved" would have been given police protection (perhaps at great cost to the National Guard and local police departments). We may well find out what happens if another publisher picks up on the book. Imagine National Guard troops at all bookstores selling this book...

Guess what Wall Street Journal article is linked to at the top of THIS website (he's already being sued by CAIR, as you can see in links further down the page):
http://michaelsavage.wnd.com/

Williebee
08-07-2008, 07:32 AM
Was I Ms. Jones' attorney? Before I went looking for a new publisher, I'd be asking RH what they thought the book might have been worth, and suing Ms. Spellberg for that amount plus damages.

That said. The book will find another publisher, and you and I can express to RH and the planet our opinion of this kind of censorship, by buying the book. And, once it's in paperback, buying a couple more and mailing them to Ms. Spellberg, and RH. :)

Polenth
08-07-2008, 07:42 AM
Do you have a link? I would very much like to read the posted seven steps to stop the publication. All I have seen are vague reports and Ms. Spellberg's allegations from the original opinion article.

Seven Steps (http://www.husainiyouths.com/forum/topic/show?id=1979414%3ATopic%3A19950)


I have to respectfully disagree that someone can have a book banned because they find the content offensive. They have the right to protest and ask people not to read it and to explain why they think it is offensive, but they don't have to right to keep anyone else from reading it. Honestly, they want to read it so they can decide if others should be allowed to?

I don't support books being banned. I support people having the right to express the opinion that they should be banned. Which I believe is what you're saying. I think the confusion might have come from 'ask'. I mean ask as in literally saying the words "I want this book banned". I don't agree with that opinion, but it doesn't stop anyone reading the book if someone holds it. I didn't mean ask as in asking for the book to be banned and having it banned. Hopefully that's a bit clearer.

willietheshakes
08-07-2008, 08:23 AM
It may be the world we live in, but none of us have to like it and ALL of us have the responsibility to fight it -- if we choose to.

Sure.

But I'm not sure where railing about violated freedoms of speech and the sanctity of the First Amendment from the comfort of our writing spaces falls on that particular spectrum of responsibility.

It's easy to criticize the decision RH made on the basis of principles and ideals, but none of us actually had to make that decision, bearing in mind the consequences -- real and possible -- for all those involved.

CBumpkin
08-07-2008, 09:00 AM
I'm not sure I understand what you're going for here. You are simultaniously calling me an egotist and agreeing with me.

In a country where the police protect neo-nazi marches, I think I'm right to say that no one has the right to make sure I can't say something that crosses their line. In a free country, I can say anything I please--yes, even if it crosses someone else's line, even if it crosses some boundry they've set for themselves. For example, it is against Muslim law to depict Mohammed--but I'm not Muslim. Their line is not my line. So, no--no one has the right to tell me that I can't cross their line. I'll say it again--in a free society, no one has a guaranteed right to be 'not offended'.

And the bottom line is, I'd be willing to place bets on the fact that this book will be published--by someone. And Random House will have passed to it's own detriment. So, I will get the chance to read it. And the ones who are offended by it can flush it down the toilet, burn it in the town square, or better yet, just not read the thing. The latter would be the smarter thing, but all would be in keeping in keeping with freedom of speech and expression. And the Mrs Spellberg can be offended 'til she weeps on her "Last Temptation of Christ" dvd--as is also in keeping with freedom of speech and expression.

I apologize if I came across with a mixed message. I wasn't trying to call you egotistical. You made a comment that came across that way, but I don't believe you intended it to. I chalk it up to the emotion of the thread. It happened to me, too. I got snarky. And, for that, I apologize.

You're right, I do agree with you in regards to HOW this book came to be pulled. (i.e., the egotistical, fat-mouthed professor who thinks too highly of herself. She needs to shut-up and get over herself.)

Where we don't seem to agree is on this point: I believe Random House made the right decision. They were concerned for their buildings and the lives of their employees. No book being published is worth anyone dying for. Extreme muslims are not rational. They're violent and act impulsively out of sheer anger and hatred, caring for nobody but themselves and the rest of the world should be beheaded.

In the meantime, for those not involved in the situation, it's very, very easy to scream for our rights to be able to read the book if we want to and "don't give in to terrorists!" We aren't risking anything. The threat to property and people's lives is very real. Our rights don't compare to the value of someone's life. Does this cater to the terrorists? Unfortunately, yes, but without risking the lives of innocent people, how can it be fought against?

This situation isn't about our rights at all. All of this is caused by one person who should be flogged for spreading anger, hatred, fear and panic. The author should sue her for everything she's got.

kuwisdelu
08-07-2008, 09:19 AM
Where we don't seem to agree is on this point: I believe Random House made the right decision. They were concerned for their buildings and the lives of their employees. No book being published is worth anyone dying for. Extreme muslims are not rational. They're violent and act impulsively out of sheer anger and hatred, caring for nobody but themselves and the rest of the world should be beheaded.

I understand the fear, but it sounds an awful like there was no actual imminent danger except the hype and words of this Ms. Spellberg. Did Random House receive any actual, physical threats from radical Muslim groups?

kct webber
08-07-2008, 10:40 AM
Where we don't seem to agree is on this point: I believe Random House made the right decision. They were concerned for their buildings and the lives of their employees. No book being published is worth anyone dying for. Extreme muslims are not rational. They're violent and act impulsively out of sheer anger and hatred, caring for nobody but themselves and the rest of the world should be beheaded.

In the meantime, for those not involved in the situation, it's very, very easy to scream for our rights to be able to read the book if we want to and "don't give in to terrorists!" We aren't risking anything. The threat to property and people's lives is very real. Our rights don't compare to the value of someone's life. Does this cater to the terrorists? Unfortunately, yes, but without risking the lives of innocent people, how can it be fought against?

This situation isn't about our rights at all. All of this is caused by one person who should be flogged for spreading anger, hatred, fear and panic. The author should sue her for everything she's got.

I agree that RH had the right to make that choice, but I don't believe it was the right choice.

To quote what I said earlier:


I have been in a position to deal with and study extremists in depth. When you step back from them, they don't just leave you alone. When you step back, they step forward. They are going to be in your face 'til you push them back.

I'm not in this particular situation, but I can tell you, were I in there shoes, I would not have made the same choice. It sounds harsh, but our rights are worth people's lives. And lots of people--people I knew--have died for them. I understand--they are civilians. But even civilians have to stand up.

And then there's what Kiwi said. The only threat that I've heard is the empty-headed windbaggery of some fluffed up college professor, not any extremists.

CBumpkin
08-07-2008, 11:02 AM
What RH was trying to do was ensure there wouldn't be any threats of violence against the people they are responsible for, their employees. I agree that freedoms are worth dying for but I'm not willing that anyone should die just because I might want to read a story. Especially people who I'm either responsible for or people who don't know me and couldn't give two hoots about whether I can read a book or not.

There would have been backlash in some form after the hype Miss Big Fat Mouth caused. She wouldn't have just let it go. The article said she "warned Muslims." In my book, that's akin to treason.

RH played it safe, yes, but sometimes it's the right thing to do when innocent people are involved. They can still choose to publish the book once the issue is dealt with. However, if they published the book and violent backlash did occur, there aren't any remedies to fix the situation.

For all the complaining people do about the war in Iraq/Afghanistan and the lives lost in it, I don't understand how some of these same people can be so willing to risk violence, and possibly deaths, over a book.

Birol
08-07-2008, 11:31 AM
Because books contain words and words have power.

Elodie-Caroline
08-07-2008, 01:58 PM
From the link http://www.husainiyouths.com/forum/topic/show?id=1979414%3ATopic%3A19950

3) Couple of volunteers who would read as much material as possible about Holy Prophet's wife Aisha and share the info with the group.

4) Two volunteers to read information about the other wives of Holy Prophet and share info with the group.

So if Muslims are so staunch about their religion, how come they don't already know the history of these two questions? Oh yes, because women don't count in their beliefs, do they.


Elodie

JimmyB27
08-07-2008, 03:17 PM
What RH was trying to do was ensure there wouldn't be any threats of violence against the people they are responsible for, their employees. I agree that freedoms are worth dying for but I'm not willing that anyone should die just because I might want to read a story. Especially people who I'm either responsible for or people who don't know me and couldn't give two hoots about whether I can read a book or not.

There would have been backlash in some form after the hype Miss Big Fat Mouth caused. She wouldn't have just let it go. The article said she "warned Muslims." In my book, that's akin to treason.

RH played it safe, yes, but sometimes it's the right thing to do when innocent people are involved. They can still choose to publish the book once the issue is dealt with. However, if they published the book and violent backlash did occur, there aren't any remedies to fix the situation.

For all the complaining people do about the war in Iraq/Afghanistan and the lives lost in it, I don't understand how some of these same people can be so willing to risk violence, and possibly deaths, over a book.
It's not about the book, it's about not giving in to bullies.

willietheshakes
08-07-2008, 03:39 PM
It's not about the book, it's about not giving in to bullies.

This is true.

However, it's not about the author not giving in to bullies. It's not about the publisher (person), or the Bertelsmann family not giving in to bullies. It's a larger issue than that.

It is fine and appropriate and laudatory for the writer to make a stand. For her editor to make a stand. For the publisher (person) to make a stand. But in publishing the book, those people would be requiring thousands of other people to make that same stand, whether they wanted to or not. Sales reps, artists, junior editors, publicists, translators, receptionists -- ALL of those people would, potentially, be on the firing line because of a stand made by the author and her publisher.

Remember, when the fatwah on Rushdie was handed down, he went into seclusion and was under 24 hour guard (at the taxpayers' expense). But who protected the Japanese translator, who was killed over the book? Who protected the Italian translator, who was viciously attacked?

ideagirl
08-07-2008, 06:07 PM
I guess in their minds its just easier to deal with one pissed author than CARE or the ACLU filing lawsuits against them for 'hate speech'.

Um, the ACLU doesn't sue people for "hate speech." Quite the contrary-- the ACLU sues people who try to censor speech, including hate speech.

Quote from their website:
"The First Amendment to the United States Constitution protects speech no matter how offensive its content. Speech codes adopted by government-financed state colleges and universities amount to government censorship, in violation of the Constitution. And the ACLU believes that all campuses should adhere to First Amendment principles because academic freedom is a bedrock of education in a free society."
http://www.aclu.org/studentsrights/expression/12808pub19941231.html

ideagirl
08-07-2008, 06:09 PM
I wonder if she gets to keep the advance since RH reneged on the contract? Anyone? A hundred grand is a hell of a lot of money.

Oh, hell yes. I can't even imagine how the publishing house might justify taking it back. An advance is an advance on royalties--if the publishing house takes the book off the market, such that it can't earn any royalties, that's the publishing house's problem, not the author's (unless the book is taken off the market due to the writer's own actions--e.g. a writer who sells a "memoir" that turns out to be fake).

ideagirl
08-07-2008, 06:13 PM
I don't agree with the Muslim faith or in the extreme violent behavior in which they approach issues, but, from the excerpts I've been able to find from The Jewel of Medina, this novel does cross the line. Personally, I hope the book never gets published. (How's that for freedom of speech?)

What line, and who gave you the right to define where that line is? That's the problem with censorship: even if everybody agrees that there should be a line (and not everybody does), everybody disagrees about where that line should be.

I personally think it's the height of obnoxiousness for person A to tell person B "you can't write that book, because it offends me." The obvious response is "so don't read it then," and that's what I would say here.

ideagirl
08-07-2008, 06:20 PM
No one has a right to tell you that you can't cross their line? Oh really? Think again. There are all kinds of laws that say otherwise.

Name one. Apart from laws that prohibit people from touching/hitting/etc. other people's bodies, or going into other people's houses/cars/etc., or messing with other people's finances, can you think of one? A law that says "people can't cross other people's mental/emotional boundaries, people can't offend people"?


That's a rather egotistical statement, don't you think? What makes you so special that other people's boundaries and rights don't apply to you?

What makes other people so special that their boundaries and "rights" extend so far as to control ME? There's nothing egotistical about the phrase "your rights stop where mine begin"--that's why there are laws prohibiting assault, burglary and whatnot. But your "rights" do not include the "right" to have a world in which nobody says or publishes anything that offends you. You might want it that way, but you don't get to have that--because YOUR rights stop where MINE begin, and I have the right to say what I want.

The limits on that right only come in where what I'm saying might actually (e.g., physically, financially...) hurt you (e.g., I can't incite a mob to go murder you, I can't publish your social security number and medical records, and so on). But I sure as hell can say things that deeply offend you; if you don't like it, don't listen.

BenPanced
08-07-2008, 06:29 PM
The possible threat of mass violence and death to family members is powerful. If they pulled it this close to publication, you can bet they were already getting some backlash from the Muslim community or it never would have gotten as far to press as it did.
If you go back to the article Soccer Mom linked to, it all started with Denise Spellberg, an associate professor of Islamic history, and her taking offense at the novel. Granted, she set off a firestorm with Islamic colleagues, but she eventually told the publishers she didn't want her name associated with the book; I'm assuming they were looking for a blurb or endorsement. Elizabeth McGuire, the executive from Random House who pulled the plug, made the leap to possible extremist behavior and death threats. I didn't see anything anywhere that said RH had gotten any emails or phone calls from any angry Muslims to provoke such a move.


I don't agree with the Muslim faith or in the extreme violent behavior in which they approach issues, but, from the excerpts I've been able to find from The Jewel of Medina, this novel does cross the line. Personally, I hope the book never gets published. (How's that for freedom of speech?)
Nice blanket statement. Way to convince me of your position. I don't agree with the Christian faith so I just don't read the Left Behind series. You don't see me screaming to bookstores to pull them off the shelves because I don't support the extremist, violent behavior of the Spanish Inquisition or the Crusades.

C.M.C.
08-07-2008, 06:30 PM
Name one. Apart from laws that prohibit people from touching/hitting/etc. other people's bodies, or going into other people's houses/cars/etc., or messing with other people's finances, can you think of one? A law that says "people can't cross other people's mental/emotional boundaries, people can't offend people"?

Libel and slander.

Williebee
08-07-2008, 06:32 PM
But in publishing the book, those people would be requiring thousands of other people to make that same stand, whether they wanted to or not. Sales reps, artists, junior editors, publicists, translators, receptionists -- ALL of those people would, potentially, be on the firing line because of a stand made by the author and her publisher.

I tell you that you cannot be seen wear "X" outside of your home, or I will kill your family, and anyone who has seen the abomination. And so, you do not wear "X" outside your home.

What point will you give in to next? Cut off your left hand so that you might not be tempted to fall back on your lifetime of habits and use it at the dinner table, and by doing so, give offense?



I understand your point, Willie, and I can see from a business and personnel standpoint, why RH might make the decision they did.

But life is hard, and dangerous. And how we act upon the principles in the Bill of Rights is all we have to define ourselves as a country and a people. That sounds stuffy and aggrandizing as all get out, but it's still true.

I'll be curious to see what the employees of RH have to say about this. I'm sure it will be even more varied than this thread.

And yeah, this is all just IMHO.

donroc
08-07-2008, 06:50 PM
FYI: When I saw the Batman title, I ignored this thread because I am not interested in the film or its hype.

Later when I found out about RH and the book, I started a thread on PC&E Hardcore because I expected some in other countries would not understand our 1st Amendment to our Constitution and policy of not giving in to terrorism, which Islamist death threats and threats of riots are.

inkkognito
08-07-2008, 07:02 PM
I'm sad to say this doesn't surprise me at all. It made me think of how Roald Dahl, author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, actually changed the book after publication because of criticism of how it portrayed the (originally) African Oompa Loompas. That has always stood out in my mind as the most pathetic case of censorship, for an author to actually feel compelled to rewrite part of his book due to that sort of pressure.

willietheshakes
08-07-2008, 07:11 PM
I tell you that you cannot be seen wear "X" outside of your home, or I will kill your family, and anyone who has seen the abomination. And so, you do not wear "X" outside your home.

What point will you give in to next? Cut off your left hand so that you might not be tempted to fall back on your lifetime of habits and use it at the dinner table, and by doing so, give offense?


Hey, make your stand. Make a sign. March in a parade. Run for office. Join the army. Mark your line in the sand wherever you choose to mark it.

I'm all for standing up for what I believe in, and I've faced some fairly unpleasant consequences for doing so. But when there is the potential for violence or other repercussions on thousands of other people, around the world, it is no longer MY stand, is it?

donroc
08-07-2008, 07:18 PM
And when there is potential for erosion of our (USA) basic freedoms, yes, one must make a stand. The death of others will always be on the heads of rioters and murderers and no one else's. To think or say otherwise is wrong -- but you are still free to say it here.

willietheshakes
08-07-2008, 07:19 PM
how we act upon the principles in the Bill of Rights is all we have to define ourselves as a country and a people. That sounds stuffy and aggrandizing as all get out, but it's still true.


It doesn't sound stuffy or aggrandizing -- it sounds idealistic. And ideals are good.

But that Bill of Rights is what puts your country and its peoples at odds, in some cases, with some parts of the Islamic world: it's a conflict of fundamental belief systems. And those never turn out well.

(It's nice, by the way, to see so many people who still believe in the Bill of Rights, considering the shit-kicking its been taking from your government over the last 7 years... oops, did I say that out loud?)

willietheshakes
08-07-2008, 07:21 PM
And when there is potential for erosion of our (USA) basic freedoms, yes, one must make a stand. The death of others will always be on the heads of rioters and murderers and no one else's. To think or say otherwise is wrong -- but you are still free to say it here.

I assume that was directed at me...

I'm pleased that you can be so cavalier about the deaths of others, in service to principles which your government doesn't seem to really believe in anymore. That's awfully noble of you, that willingness to sacrifice others for your beliefs.

Williebee
08-07-2008, 07:25 PM
But when there is the potential for violence or other repercussions on thousands of other people, around the world, it is no longer MY stand, is it?

If not ours, then whose is it? I'm not much of an idealist, really. And I've seen my share of unpleasant consequences. But whether we choose to sit or stand, it has an impact. And, since the world, in terms of communication and influence, gets smaller everyday, much of what we decide today has the potential to come back to us that much sooner.

Birol
08-07-2008, 08:00 PM
So if Muslims are so staunch about their religion, how come they don't already know the history of these two questions? Oh yes, because women don't count in their beliefs, do they.

Actually, when it was founded, the Muslim faith was very progressive in terms of women's rights.

willietheshakes
08-07-2008, 08:19 PM
If not ours, then whose is it? I'm not much of an idealist, really. And I've seen my share of unpleasant consequences. But whether we choose to sit or stand, it has an impact. And, since the world, in terms of communication and influence, gets smaller everyday, much of what we decide today has the potential to come back to us that much sooner.

I think you slip too quickly into the plural. It can certainly be your stand, and should be. I think a stand on something like this is important.

But I also think it has to be a stand made by each individual, by their beliefs, by their informed consent and agreement.

If each individual is not allowed to decide whether or not to make the stand, whether or not to put themselves on the line, that's not really freedom then, is it?

Cranky
08-07-2008, 08:23 PM
I think you slip too quickly into the plural. It can certainly be your stand, and should be. I think a stand on something like this is important.

But I also think it has to be a stand made by each individual, by their beliefs, by their informed consent and agreement.

If each individual is not allowed to decide whether or not to make the stand, whether or not to put themselves on the line, that's not really freedom then, is it?


Perhaps not. But then again, is threats of and actual violence a reasonable response to a book being published? Not in my mind. I think it's shameful.

Personally, I think this is a bit overblown on Random House's part. They published The Satanic Verses, and so they already knew that there were possibly ugly repercussions in response to this book, and they agreed to publish it anyway, until Dr. Spellberg decided to huff and puff (and I am extremely skeptical of her reasons for doing so, to be frank), and THEN they terminate the agreement.

Did they really not think of this before? I doubt it.

Jersey Chick
08-07-2008, 08:31 PM
Libel and slander.
Jumping in now to say libel and slander are not when someone is offended, but when they (or their name) is actually harmed because it's defamed by something that is untrue. There's a difference betweeen defaming and offending.

And, even if they were the same thing, you can say it all you want, there is no promise that you won't suffer the consequences of what you've said.

CBumpkin
08-07-2008, 08:34 PM
This is true.

However, it's not about the author not giving in to bullies. It's not about the publisher (person), or the Bertelsmann family not giving in to bullies. It's a larger issue than that.

It is fine and appropriate and laudatory for the writer to make a stand. For her editor to make a stand. For the publisher (person) to make a stand. But in publishing the book, those people would be requiring thousands of other people to make that same stand, whether they wanted to or not. Sales reps, artists, junior editors, publicists, translators, receptionists -- ALL of those people would, potentially, be on the firing line because of a stand made by the author and her publisher.

Remember, when the fatwah on Rushdie was handed down, he went into seclusion and was under 24 hour guard (at the taxpayers' expense). But who protected the Japanese translator, who was killed over the book? Who protected the Italian translator, who was viciously attacked?

Precisely. Well spoken.

Elodie-Caroline
08-07-2008, 08:40 PM
It's a shame that some portions of this belief/faith don't adhere to that now though, isn't it.


Actually, when it was founded, the Muslim faith was very progressive in terms of women's rights.

willietheshakes
08-07-2008, 08:40 PM
Perhaps not. But then again, is threats of and actual violence a reasonable response to a book being published? Not in my mind. I think it's shameful.

Personally, I think this is a bit overblown on Random House's part. They published The Satanic Verses, and so they already knew that there were possibly ugly repercussions in response to this book, and they agreed to publish it anyway, until Dr. Spellberg decided to huff and puff (and I am extremely skeptical of her reasons for doing so, to be frank), and THEN they terminate the agreement.

Did they really not think of this before? I doubt it.

I'm sure they considered it before -- how could they not?

But the level of attention and rancour pre-publication is FAR higher than it was for TSV. And in a much more volatile time.

This cannot have been a decision that they made lightly -- they're out probably $150K, and this under a new regime with an almost religious diligence to the bottom line.

CBumpkin
08-07-2008, 08:41 PM
Perhaps not. But then again, is threats of and actual violence a reasonable response to a book being published? Not in my mind. I think it's shameful.

Personally, I think this is a bit overblown on Random House's part. They published The Satanic Verses, and so they already knew that there were possibly ugly repercussions in response to this book, and they agreed to publish it anyway, until Dr. Spellberg decided to huff and puff (and I am extremely skeptical of her reasons for doing so, to be frank), and THEN they terminate the agreement.

Did they really not think of this before? I doubt it.

The Satanic Verses, as vile and demonic as they are, were published in 1988. We lived in a completely different world back then. The ways of "society" today were not commonplace twenty, short years ago. (That's why they call them the good ol' days.)

Yes, the publishers very likely knew that there would be controversy. They banked on it. Controversy sells books. I think they soon realized they bit off more of it than they cared to be responsible for, though. When you have innocent people's lives that you're responsible for, it's never wrong to err on the side of caution.

kuwisdelu
08-07-2008, 08:42 PM
Sure, it's something to worry about, but I don't understand how one can justify the action when no real threats were made. It would be completely different if the publisher received actual threats of violence from radical groups, but still no one has said they did. The book was pulled preemptively, to avoid even the possibility of a threat, and I don't see any justification for that. Should publishers just start pulling every book that might offend, before any actual radical groups threaten them?

kuwisdelu
08-07-2008, 08:44 PM
The Satanic Verses, as vile and demonic as they are, were published in 1988. We lived in a completely different world back then. The ways of "society" today were not commonplace twenty, short years ago. (That's why they call them the good ol' days.)

Yes, the publishers very likely knew that there would be controversy. They banked on it. Controversy sells books. I think they soon realized they bit off more of it than they cared to be responsible for, though. When you have innocent people's lives that you're responsible for, it's never wrong to err on the side of caution.

Good books also sell books, and Rushdie is a damn good author. I plan on buying this one, too, whenever it gets published.

Cranky
08-07-2008, 08:49 PM
I'm sure they considered it before -- how could they not?

But the level of attention and rancour pre-publication is FAR higher than it was for TSV. And in a much more volatile time.

This cannot have been a decision that they made lightly -- they're out probably $150K, and this under a new regime with an almost religious diligence to the bottom line.

I still think it's stupid, and I'm standing by that. You know why? In those kinder, gentler times, some very bad things happened to their employees.

If this is a more volatile time, why even bother accepting it for publication, then? They didn't need a crystal ball (or a Dr. Spellberg) to tell them there could be backlash, right? I doubt it.

They knew, and they didn't care until Dr. Spellberg made a fuss. That's when they yanked the agreement.

BenPanced
08-07-2008, 08:51 PM
IMHAO WARNING

The more I see about this, the less I'm convinced there's any religious persecution or potential jihad coming into play. For some reason, RH is bowing down to Dr. Spellberg's Chicken Little routine; I haven't heard or read anything about any reaction from the Muslim community in the US.

Cranky
08-07-2008, 08:53 PM
The Satanic Verses, as vile and demonic as they are, were published in 1988. We lived in a completely different world back then. The ways of "society" today were not commonplace twenty, short years ago. (That's why they call them the good ol' days.)

Yes, the publishers very likely knew that there would be controversy. They banked on it. Controversy sells books. I think they soon realized they bit off more of it than they cared to be responsible for, though. When you have innocent people's lives that you're responsible for, it's never wrong to err on the side of caution.

They backpedaled.

Bottom line. Their right to do it, absolutely, but they should never have bought the book when the cost could be more than they were willing to bear in terms of bad publicity or damage to their employees. And given what happened back in the good ol' days, as you call it, they should have realized that the backlash could be the same or worse now, given recent events surrounding other art concerning Mohammed.

They were dumb, and I have no sympathy for their point of view at all. I would if they had decided against publishing the book in the first place.

I hope the author finds a new home for the book.

Sheryl Nantus
08-07-2008, 08:56 PM
actually, "The Satanic Verses" was published by Viking Penguin.

just thought I'd toss in a fact here and there for clarification.

and "vile and demonic" is an opinion, not a fact.

HeronW
08-07-2008, 08:59 PM
I hope Sherry Jones is a pseudonym and that the real person has bodyguards and a great security system or else she'll be another statistic in the intolerance list.

Cranky
08-07-2008, 09:01 PM
actually, "The Satanic Verses" was published by Viking Penguin.

just thought I'd toss in a fact here and there for clarification.

and "vile and demonic" is an opinion, not a fact.

Really? I could've sworn I saw a copy published by Random House. My mistake, then. Mea culpa, and all that.

ETA: I guess it looks like Random House might've bought paperback rights (or Owl Books, I'm not sure which). So that was a mistake, bigtime, on my part.

That said: I still think they made the wrong decision, perhaps for admirable reasons, but reasons they should have forseen. Did no one there ever hear of the Satanic Verses, and what Muslim clerics thought of THAT book? Geesh.

benbradley
08-07-2008, 09:44 PM
...
Where we don't seem to agree is on this point: I believe Random House made the right decision. They were concerned for their buildings and the lives of their employees. No book being published is worth anyone dying for. Extreme muslims are not rational. They're violent and act impulsively out of sheer anger and hatred, caring for nobody but themselves and the rest of the world should be beheaded.

In the meantime, for those not involved in the situation, it's very, very easy to scream for our rights to be able to read the book if we want to and "don't give in to terrorists!" We aren't risking anything. The threat to property and people's lives is very real. Our rights don't compare to the value of someone's life. Does this cater to the terrorists? Unfortunately, yes, but without risking the lives of innocent people, how can it be fought against?
Random House certainly has the right to make the decision it did, but if no other publisher picks up on the book (or it never legitimately becomes publushed, perhaps online as an ebook or as a freely readable webpage), then I feel something wrong will have happened. It's NOT that it's not being published because it's "bad" in the literary sense of being badly written or a bad/cliche'd plot or whatever - it was vetted and about to be distributed by a major publisher, which says the editors thought it was well-written enough to sell.

If there's not been actual threats of violence in this case, there's certainly been insinuations of such threats. In fact, the woman you write about here:

You're right, I do agree with you in regards to HOW this book came to be pulled. (i.e., the egotistical, fat-mouthed professor who thinks too highly of herself. She needs to shut-up and get over herself.)
perhaps should be charged with criminal wrongdoing by her attempts to "stir the pot." No doubt the Random House lawyers have thought about a civil suit against her (they undoubtedly lost lots of money from this situation), as well as whatever the author might do to her.

Libel and slander.
That would be interesting, Muslims suing others for libel and/or slander against their Prophet Mohammed and/or his wives.

IANAL and I could be wrong, but I think current Western laws are "inconvenient" in this case in that you can't be sued for libel or slander against a historical (and not currently living, at least that can be demonstrated in court) person.

Really? I could've sworn I saw a copy published by Random House. My mistake, then. Mea culpa, and all that.
The paperback of The Satanic Verses is published by Random House, and the original hardback was by Viking:
http://us.penguingroup.com/static/html/aboutus/adult/viking.html
I've seen this in other books: The paperbacks of Martin Luther King's books were (and are) published by Beacon Press, but the original hardcovers were by a larger, mainstream publisher (I forget which one).

benbradley
08-07-2008, 09:47 PM
Really? I could've sworn I saw a copy published by Random House. My mistake, then. Mea culpa, and all that.

ETA: I guess it looks like Random House might've bought paperback rights (or Owl Books, I'm not sure which). So that was a mistake, bigtime, on my part.

That said: I still think they made the wrong decision, perhaps for admirable reasons, but reasons they should have forseen. Did no one there ever hear of the Satanic Verses, and what Muslim clerics thought of THAT book? Geesh.
Might they have bought paperback rights before the controversy erupted?

willietheshakes
08-07-2008, 10:00 PM
Might they have bought paperback rights before the controversy erupted?

The opposite, actually.

Penguin refused to publish the paperback, and the book disappeared for several years before Consortium picked up the pb rights. Vintage picked them up after that.

Cranky
08-07-2008, 10:03 PM
The opposite, actually.

Penguin refused to publish the paperback, and the book disappeared for several years before Consortium picked up the pb rights. Vintage picked them up after that.


Nice. So they bought the rights because the controversy made the book lucrative enough for them to do so.

How...hypocritical of them.

willietheshakes
08-07-2008, 10:04 PM
Nice. So they bought the rights because the controversy made the book lucrative enough for them to do so.

How...hypocritical of them.

Glass half-empty much?

I suspect they bought the rights because they bought the rights to all of Rushdie's books -- he's been published by Knopf/Vintage ever since, I believe.

Cranky
08-07-2008, 10:05 PM
Glass half-empty much?

I suspect they bought the rights because they bought the rights to all of Rushdie's books -- he's been published by Knopf/Vintage ever since, I believe.

I don't approve. I just happen to disapprove of Random House's decision, rather than the book itself.

Soccer Mom
08-07-2008, 11:23 PM
Here is more information about the case, including a link where you can read the prologue of The Jewel of Medina. There is also some interesting commentary from a Muslim reader at that site after she read the prologue.

http://www.smartbitchestrashybooks.com/

Cranky
08-07-2008, 11:46 PM
Interesting stuff. I see why it would be offensive to some Muslims (though I already did get the general idea). She's inferring a rather honkin' big sin...almost like saying the Virgin Mary wasn't a virgin at all, etc. Which, by the way, has been said before, IIRC.

That said, I still don't believe they (Random House) should've terminated their agreement with the author. Anyone who is offended has every right to complain about the book, to boycott it and encourage others to do so as well. But to have it not be published because it offends them? I'm sorry, but I cannot agree with that, at ALL.

My final word on it. I think.

JeanneTGC
08-07-2008, 11:56 PM
This is true.

However, it's not about the author not giving in to bullies. It's not about the publisher (person), or the Bertelsmann family not giving in to bullies. It's a larger issue than that.

It is fine and appropriate and laudatory for the writer to make a stand. For her editor to make a stand. For the publisher (person) to make a stand. But in publishing the book, those people would be requiring thousands of other people to make that same stand, whether they wanted to or not. Sales reps, artists, junior editors, publicists, translators, receptionists -- ALL of those people would, potentially, be on the firing line because of a stand made by the author and her publisher.

Remember, when the fatwah on Rushdie was handed down, he went into seclusion and was under 24 hour guard (at the taxpayers' expense). But who protected the Japanese translator, who was killed over the book? Who protected the Italian translator, who was viciously attacked?
Who protected the Jews, Catholics and homosexuals in Europe during WWII?

Some brave people did.

Who said this isn't right and fought back?

Most of the world.

But...until that point, there were a lot of people saying it wasn't their problem and what Hitler was doing, well, it didn't affect THEM, it wasn't right for them to take a stand about those things, because it wasn't affecting them, personally, at that moment. Maybe those Jews were really bad people and maybe if we ignore it it'll go away or it won't touch us.

IMO, the more we allow terrorists of any kind to control everyone else's actions, the worse shape we are in the world as a whole. As Birol said, books have power. As many have said, the option to not read the book is a more civilized option than demanding the banning of a book.

And, yes, I do believe some things are worth fighting for and risking your life for. You don't seem to. And there, again, we disagree.

BenPanced
08-08-2008, 12:05 AM
I can't believe I'm about to type this...

By not publishing the book, we're doing what Shrubya has pontificated on for nigh on 7 years now: WE'RE LETTING THE TERRORISTS WIN.

willietheshakes
08-08-2008, 12:10 AM
Who protected the Jews, Catholics and homosexuals in Europe during WWII?

Some brave people did.

Who said this isn't right and fought back?

Most of the world.

But...until that point, there were a lot of people saying it wasn't their problem and what Hitler was doing, well, it didn't affect THEM, it wasn't right for them to take a stand about those things, because it wasn't affecting them, personally, at that moment. Maybe those Jews were really bad people and maybe if we ignore it it'll go away or it won't touch us.

115 posts before Godwin's Law comes into effect -- not bad.

Of course, the situations aren't remotely the same. And the decision not to publish was taken in order to protect people...


IMO, the more we allow terrorists of any kind to control everyone else's actions, the worse shape we are in the world as a whole. As Birol said, books have power. As many have said, the option to not read the book is a more civilized option than demanding the banning of a book.

And, yes, I do believe some things are worth fighting for and risking your life for. You don't seem to. And there, again, we disagree.

You'll note several places in this thread where I've said there are things that are worth fighting for and risking my life for. MY life. I'm not prepared to put the lives of others on the line in support of MY beliefs and my cause. In doing so, I would be doing EXACTLY what Islamic extremists have been known to do: sacrificing innocent, uninvolved others in pursuit of my own agenda.

Soccer Mom
08-08-2008, 12:22 AM
Let's take a breath here. This is not the place for a personal dispute about who is doing more. No personal attacks. Period.

willietheshakes
08-08-2008, 12:23 AM
Let's take a breath here. This is not the place for a personal dispute about who is doing more. No personal attacks. Period.

yes, mooooooom.

:)

Soccer Mom
08-08-2008, 12:25 AM
There will be milk and cookies now.

C.M.C.
08-08-2008, 12:25 AM
WE'RE LETTING THE TERRORISTS WIN.

Really? I'm pretty sure that we can look around all of the forms of media and find a lot of examples of works having the plug pulled on them for reasons of content without an indignant riot of self-righteousness. In a perfect world, yes, we would all be able to write and say anything we want and have it be accepted all over the world. However, since things are a business, you have to learn to suck it up every once in a while. No one is getting hurt by not printing the book, and the American way of life isn't changing, so the terrorists aren't winning, and it's beyond stupid to claim that they are for such a trivial case.

willietheshakes
08-08-2008, 12:29 AM
There will be milk and cookies now.

Well all right then...

Soccer Mom
08-08-2008, 12:33 AM
Really? I'm pretty sure that we can look around all of the forms of media and find a lot of examples of works having the plug pulled on them for reasons of content without an indignant riot of self-righteousness. In a perfect world, yes, we would all be able to write and say anything we want and have it be accepted all over the world. However, since things are a business, you have to learn to suck it up every once in a while. No one is getting hurt by not printing the book, and the American way of life isn't changing, so the terrorists aren't winning, and it's beyond stupid to claim that they are for such a trivial case.

You know what? I'm going to have to disagree. In a roundabout way, we are letting the terrorists win when we let them tell us what to do.

What I mean by that is there isn't any proof so far of actual threats. They aren't afraid of people protesting. (And I am NOT equating those who planned a peaceful protest with the terrorists of the world.) Protesting equals buzz in the publishing world. The book wasn't pulled because it would offend people. It was pulled for fear of violence.

Because of terrorists actions around the world, publishers are afraid to put out a book the terrorists won't like. That is how terrorists win. Fear.

Regular people become afraid to say what they believe, write what they believe, for fear of reprisal. That is letting them win. And I find that chilling.

Sheryl Nantus
08-08-2008, 12:41 AM
I'll put my life on the line.

Right here, right now I'll say that I will read from THIS book anywhere in the United States (or Canada) in a public space and put myself at risk. I plan to buy it and won't be afraid to read it when out in public. I won't hide it under a book cover or slide a magazine around it. Maybe it's good, maybe it's crap - but that's for ME to decide and no one else.

Because the freedom of expression is worth it. Because, yes - it lets the terrorists win when we start self-banning ourselves because of what *might* happen if we dare to put words down on paper.

C.M.C.
08-08-2008, 01:11 AM
You know what? I'm going to have to disagree. In a roundabout way, we are letting the terrorists win when we let them tell us what to do.

What I mean by that is there isn't any proof so far of actual threats. They aren't afraid of people protesting. (And I am NOT equating those who planned a peaceful protest with the terrorists of the world.) Protesting equals buzz in the publishing world. The book wasn't pulled because it would offend people. It was pulled for fear of violence.

Because of terrorists actions around the world, publishers are afraid to put out a book the terrorists won't like. That is how terrorists win. Fear.

Regular people become afraid to say what they believe, write what they believe, for fear of reprisal. That is letting them win. And I find that chilling.

I would only agree if this was a widespread phenomenon. One book being pulled off the shelves because of concern is not going to affect much of anything. If anything, I would say this is the preferable outcome. If the publisher puts the book out, knowing about the threats, and they then come to fruition, wouldn't it be wholly irresponsible of them to have led to a situation in which they knew violence was going to ensue? If you want to pull out the "we can't let the terrorists win" card, are you also willing to say that we shouldn't have security at our borders and airports to make sure that people aren't bringing bombs into areas where civilians can be killed? We didn't have as much security before we became aware of the terrorist threat, so they're already winning, aren't they?

Jersey Chick
08-08-2008, 01:23 AM
Well, in that case, if it's only one book...

But then it's another book. And another. And so on. It all starts with one book and someone saying, "Well, it's only one book..."

Any time someone uses fear to push through a new law or supress a freedom, yes, you can say the terrorists are winning because they are. When we become afraid of our own shadows - they've achieved what they wanted. Fear is a huge motivator.

Bubastes
08-08-2008, 01:31 AM
Well, in that case, if it's only one book...

But then it's another book. And another. And so on. It all starts with one book and someone saying, "Well, it's only one book..."


And if that one book is your book, well, then that's a whole different story.

Jersey Chick
08-08-2008, 02:27 AM
My book? Nah... no one would ever not want my book...

But all kidding aside, exactly. And who is the judge of what's offensive and what isn't? Some parents want Huckleberry Finn banned from school libraries - I think those people are crazy. Who's right and who's wrong and who decides?

Bubastes
08-08-2008, 02:35 AM
Who's right and who's wrong and who decides?

Also, how come the decision-makers get to read the book but no one else does? That imbalance in access to ideas, to me, is also scary.

Ageless Stranger
08-08-2008, 02:38 AM
There should be some kind of fund for books that get rejected for reasons like this.

Bubastes
08-08-2008, 02:41 AM
It's still going to be published, just not in English:

BTW, the book will be published in Spanish worldwide next spring, and publishers in Italy and Hungary have bought rights, too.

http://sherryjones.blogspot.com/2008/08/dont-believe-everything-you-read.html

I wouldn't be surprised if another publisher picked up her book in the US.

Ageless Stranger
08-08-2008, 02:42 AM
Well that's cheering.

Jersey Chick
08-08-2008, 03:10 AM
I knew I should have paid better attention in Spanish class! ;)

Birol
08-08-2008, 03:35 AM
If you want to pull out the "we can't let the terrorists win" card, are you also willing to say that we shouldn't have security at our borders and airports to make sure that people aren't bringing bombs into areas where civilians can be killed? We didn't have as much security before we became aware of the terrorist threat, so they're already winning, aren't they?

The call for the fence around the United States has less to do with keeping terrorists out and more a symbolic representation of the United States' emotional fear that others have the drive and passion to achieve what we once had. The security on the borders is more about economic fears and less about terrorism. Airport security is a knee-jerk reaction. They are done in response to things, reactive not proactive, and most of the so-called security is doing little to keep terrorists from killing civilians in the airports.

BenPanced
08-08-2008, 07:25 AM
Really? I'm pretty sure that we can look around all of the forms of media and find a lot of examples of works having the plug pulled on them for reasons of content without an indignant riot of self-righteousness. In a perfect world, yes, we would all be able to write and say anything we want and have it be accepted all over the world. However, since things are a business, you have to learn to suck it up every once in a while. No one is getting hurt by not printing the book, and the American way of life isn't changing, so the terrorists aren't winning, and it's beyond stupid to claim that they are for such a trivial case.


I would only agree if this was a widespread phenomenon. One book being pulled off the shelves because of concern is not going to affect much of anything. If anything, I would say this is the preferable outcome. If the publisher puts the book out, knowing about the threats, and they then come to fruition, wouldn't it be wholly irresponsible of them to have led to a situation in which they knew violence was going to ensue? If you want to pull out the "we can't let the terrorists win" card, are you also willing to say that we shouldn't have security at our borders and airports to make sure that people aren't bringing bombs into areas where civilians can be killed? We didn't have as much security before we became aware of the terrorist threat, so they're already winning, aren't they?
Show me ONE INSTANCE of RH, RH staff, the author, or anybody being threatened, beyond Ms. Spellburg getting an acorn dropped on her head, and I'll certainly "suck it up". The threat is perceived and the reaction is knee-jerk. Until I hear any evidence of any sort -- an email, a phone call, a letter to the New York Times, a pirate broadcast on CNN, anything that shows anybody made any threats against anybody else in case this book gets published -- I'll go about screaming at the top of my lungs this case of a book not being published because of The Reds Under My Bed is anything but trivial.

mscelina
08-08-2008, 08:40 PM
All censorships exist to prevent any one from challenging current conceptions and existing institutions. All progress is initiated by challenging current conceptions, and executed by supplanting existing institutions. Consequently the first condition of progress is the removal of censorships.

---George Bernard Shaw (1856 - 1950)

Sums it up for me.

C.M.C.
08-08-2008, 09:50 PM
Except that, technically, we're not talking about censorship. No one prevented the author from writing the book, talking about the book, or anything of the kind. Having a major company mass market your statements is not censorship; it's business.

JeanneTGC
08-08-2008, 09:51 PM
Except that, technically, we're not talking about censorship. No one prevented the author from writing the book, talking about the book, or anything of the kind. Having a major company mass market your statements is not censorship; it's business.
But having a major company threatened and then said major company pulling your book IS censorship.

benbradley
08-08-2008, 11:40 PM
There will be milk and cookies now.
Can I read while I eat? Puhhhhleeeease????
http://www.stoptheaclu.com/archives/2008/08/06/clueless-dhimmitude-and-denise-spellberg/
But having a major company threatened and then said major company pulling your book IS censorship.
Well, technically, censorship is when The Government stops something from being published.

But this is certainly suppression of the written word.

C.M.C.
08-09-2008, 12:19 AM
Can I read while I eat? Puhhhhleeeease????
http://www.stoptheaclu.com/archives/2008/08/06/clueless-dhimmitude-and-denise-spellberg/
Well, technically, censorship is when The Government stops something from being published.

But this is certainly suppression of the written word.

Exactly. Suppression is the correct term. You can't make wild claims and accusations and be taken seriously if you don't use the right word.

Soccer Mom
08-09-2008, 12:35 AM
Exactly. Suppression is the correct term. You can't make wild claims and accusations and be taken seriously if you don't use the right word.

Easy there cowboy. This has been a civil discussion. Let's keep it that way.

C.M.C.
08-09-2008, 12:40 AM
Easy there cowboy. This has been a civil discussion. Let's keep it that way.

I'm being perfectly civil. I haven't said anything demeaning or offensive to or about anyone. I'm merely pointing out that accuracy is important when going so far as to claim that "the terrorists are winning."

Soccer Mom
08-09-2008, 12:43 AM
I'm being perfectly civil. I haven't said anything demeaning or offensive to or about anyone. I'm merely pointing out that accuracy is important when going so far as to claim that "the terrorists are winning."


The part in bold is a perfectly civil way to make you point. Let's leave it there.

JeanneTGC
08-09-2008, 09:29 AM
Well, technically, censorship is when The Government stops something from being published.

But this is certainly suppression of the written word.


Exactly. Suppression is the correct term. You can't make wild claims and accusations and be taken seriously if you don't use the right word.

Per Dictionary.com --

Censorship:

cen·sor·ship http://cache.lexico.com/dictionary/graphics/luna/thinsp.png–noun 1.the act or practice of censoring. 2.the office or power of a censor. 3.the time during which a censor holds office. 4.the inhibiting and distorting activity of the Freudian censor.

Per American Heritage --

The act, process, or practice of censoring.
The office or authority of a Roman censor.
Psychology Prevention of disturbing or painful thoughts or feelings from reaching consciousness except in a disguised form.Per WordNet --
noun1. counterintelligence achieved by banning or deleting any information of value to the enemy 2. deleting parts of publications or correspondence or theatrical performances


I note that while there are indeed references to the office of a Censor, most of the definitions still hold up under this particular example. Particularly #2 from WordNet.

I could look in more dictionaries, but I'm fairly sure I'm not using the term censorship incorrectly.

C.M.C.
08-09-2008, 06:26 PM
Per Dictionary.com --

Censorship:

cen·sor·ship http://cache.lexico.com/dictionary/graphics/luna/thinsp.png–noun 1.the act or practice of censoring. 2.the office or power of a censor. 3.the time during which a censor holds office. 4.the inhibiting and distorting activity of the Freudian censor.

Per American Heritage --
The act, process, or practice of censoring.
The office or authority of a Roman censor.
Psychology Prevention of disturbing or painful thoughts or feelings from reaching consciousness except in a disguised form.Per WordNet --
noun1. counterintelligence achieved by banning or deleting any information of value to the enemy 2. deleting parts of publications or correspondence or theatrical performances


I note that while there are indeed references to the office of a Censor, most of the definitions still hold up under this particular example. Particularly #2 from WordNet.

I could look in more dictionaries, but I'm fairly sure I'm not using the term censorship incorrectly.

The definition that you point out does not support your argument. According to it, censorship is deleting parts of a publication that the publisher wishes to withhold. That says nothing about not producing a work at all, which is the case here. It would be censorship if the book were to come out with the content changed against the will of the author, but as that is not the case, it is still not censorship in the purest sense.

Jersey Chick
08-09-2008, 06:30 PM
Okay - can we say that not publishing it is deleting parts of it - all parts of it?

This is ridiculous. You're arguing semantics.

willietheshakes
08-09-2008, 06:45 PM
You're arguing semantics.

Only if you believe that "we're not going to publish this book" means the same thing as "you can't publish this book".

Jersey Chick
08-09-2008, 07:00 PM
Look - everyone in this thread pretty much gets what is meant by censorship - so to argue over the word choice is pretty much sound and fury signifying nothing. It's silly and totally defeats the purpose of the discussion. And if you want to spend another three pages arguing over what the meaning of "is" is, knock yourself out.


(and no - I know we aren't discussing the meaning of is, but given the context of the thread, we all know what was meant by censorship)

Bubastes
08-09-2008, 07:05 PM
The professor who lit the match weighs in. I think she needs to be reminded that a novel is FICTION. Fic. Tion.

I never had this power, nor did I single-handedly stop the book's publication. Random House made its final decision based on the advice of other scholars, conveniently not named in the article, and based ultimately on its determination of corporate interests.

...........

If Ms. Nomani and readers of the Journal wish to allow literature to "move civilization forward," then they should read a novel that gets history right.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB121824366910026293.html?mod=googlenews_wsj

I find it interesting that the professor doesn't think she's responsible for the book being pulled even though she relayed this information to Random House:

Spellberg also aired her concerns with Random House. "Denise says it is 'a declaration of war ... a national security issue'," said an email from Jane Garrett, an editor at another Random House imprint that was quoted in the journal. "Think it will be far more controversial than the satanic verses [sic] and the Danish cartoons."

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2008/aug/09/fiction.terrorism?gusrc=rss&feed=networkfront

What the heck did she think would happen to the novel after saying something like that?

willietheshakes
08-09-2008, 07:11 PM
Look - everyone in this thread pretty much gets what is meant by censorship

Um, actually, given the stated differences of opinion, I'm not sure I agree with this statement.

As I said before, it's NOT a matter of semantics. There's a crucial distiniction between "WE'RE not going to publish your book" and "you CAN'T publish your book". The former is germane to this case, and regardless of justification and rationale, is a business decision. The latter is censorship, and it doesn't apply here.

Williebee
08-09-2008, 07:28 PM
There's a crucial distiniction between "WE'RE not going to publish your book" and "you CAN'T publish your book".

True, but it isn't a relevant point. RH isn't censoring Sherry Jones. They are allowing Sherry Jones, and themselves, to be censored. (Possibly by an only assumed act of intimidation. We may not know the truth of all this yet.)

The possibility/probability that someone else will publish and distribute her book does not negate this particular act.

Huck Finn is available in the public library. If a group threatens the local school board to get them to remove Huck Finn from the school library, in an effort to keep kids from reading it, isn't that an act of censorship?

willietheshakes
08-09-2008, 07:39 PM
True, but it isn't a relevant point. RH isn't censoring Sherry Jones. They are allowing Sherry Jones, and themselves, to be censored. (Possibly by an only assumed act of intimidation. We may not know the truth of all this yet.)

The possibility/probability that someone else will publish and distribute her book does not negate this particular act.

Huck Finn is available in the public library. If a group threatens the local school board to get them to remove Huck Finn from the school library, in an effort to keep kids from reading it, isn't that an act of censorship?

No, it's still a crucial distinction: a privately held company capitulating to outside forces is not censorship. It is certainly supression through fear, but that's not the same thing as censorship.

In your example re: Huck Finn, it's somewhat different, as it is a public body withdrawing access to an available book. This is different from the RH case in a couple of critical ways (public -- ie official -- vs private --ie business --, denial of availability vs. denial of publication).

Books aren't published for lots of reasons. This is a particularly reprehensible case, but it remains, still and all, ultimately a business decision (under durress, but a business decision nonetheless) taken by a private business, which does not have a legal/First Amendment responsibility to guarantee access to every book (and you can be sure that they'll fulfill their contractual responsibility vis a vis cancellation of publication).

Sherry Jones has not been censored: she still has the right to publish this book, as is. It's just not RH that's going to be doing it.

Williebee
08-09-2008, 08:03 PM
Again, private vs. public isn't relevant. Either can be censored.

However, further reading causes me to agree with you, somewhat. Censorship is involved, just in a different way. The threat itself might not qualify as censorship. This link [URL="http://www.uow.edu.au/arts/sts/bmartin/dissent/intro/DNAleaflet.html"]here[/URL would title it as "Suppression of Dissent", that resulted in "self-censorship". An interesting piece on "Suppression of Dissent".

I'll pull out this one section:


Self-censorship often occurs because people are worried about risking their jobs, promotion prospects or ability to live without threat in their community, or because they fear direct suppression. Self-censorship makes overt suppression unnecessary.

Methods used against critics include:

* censorship of writing;
* blocking of publications;

Obviously I haven't seen the book contract, but I'm sure RH had the right to pull the book, for pretty much any reason. It's their money on the line. Someone at RH made the call, and it sounds like they did it in the interest of protecting their people and property.

Me, personally? I can't say that I agree with the decision, but I wish them (RH and Ms. Jones) the very best of fortunes.

benbradley
08-09-2008, 10:07 PM
... You're arguing semantics.

"...but then neither you nor I are anti-semantic. (http://www.grupthink.com/answer/3413)" - Gene Simmons to Terry Gross in the infamous "Fresh Air" interview. That was one of the least controversial things he said, but I thought it was funny. The rest of the interview wasn't just funny, it was f'in hilarious.

I think it's time for a popcorn break.

:popcorn:

Maybe Susie Soccer mom will bring us some (more) chocolate-chip cookies and milk.

Soccer Mom
08-09-2008, 10:20 PM
Susie[/s] Soccer mom will bring us some (more) chocolate-chip cookies and milk.

Only if you all promise to behave.

http://img2.travelblog.org/Photos/2347/8112/f/31609-Cookies-and-Milk-0.jpg

CheshireCat
08-09-2008, 10:22 PM
Only if you believe that "we're not going to publish this book" means the same thing as "you can't publish this book".

Wasn't going to weigh in on this one, but I so agree with the above.


Um, actually, given the stated differences of opinion, I'm not sure I agree with this statement.

As I said before, it's NOT a matter of semantics. There's a crucial distiniction between "WE'RE not going to publish your book" and "you CAN'T publish your book". The former is germane to this case, and regardless of justification and rationale, is a business decision. The latter is censorship, and it doesn't apply here.

It's also important to note, IMO, that "censorship" is one of those loaded words that needs to be used carefully, not because it isn't powerful but because it is. And any powerful word, if used passionately for what is really a lesser or gray-area offense, is in effect diluting the power of the word and its meaning.

People are disgusted with RH and feel their decision was cowardly, which is fair enough. (Though it's also important to note that just because we've read various accounts of what happened, that doesn't mean we know every bit of information that went into that decision.)

But to say that this is a case of censorship is inaccurate. Burning books is censorship. Doing something to prevent the dissemination of ideas and information is censorship. Imprisoning people to, among other things, prevent them from speaking out against an injustice or a governing body is censorship.

RH made a business decision and pulled the book from its schedule, returning all rights to the author. The author was not punished and, quite probably, will make more money and sell more books because of the publicity -- and her opportunity to, in effect, sell the book twice.

Now, if the US government told every publisher that they were forbidden to publish the book, that would be censorship.

This? This was a privately-owned company choosing not to sell a product to the public. Which is certainly their right.

Williebee
08-09-2008, 10:35 PM
mmmmm cookies.

Thanks, Mom.

RLB
09-10-2008, 06:49 AM
I just read this in Publisher's Lunch today. Someone is going forward with it.


Sherry Jones's THE JEWEL OF MEDINA, to Margot Atwell at Beaufort Books, for a very small advance ("we'll earn our advance back in about two minutes," Kern says) for publication in mid-October 2008, plus a sequel, by Natasaha Kern at Natasha Kern Literary Agency.

I saw on Wiki this is the same publisher who was slated for OJ's If I Did It. They sure aren't afraid of controversy...

And isn't that an amazingly fast turn around time? Sold to published in just over one month? I had no idea the industry moved that fast.

Birol
09-10-2008, 07:05 AM
Haven't you ever seen how fast after a trial a true crime book comes out? Sometimes, the industry can move very fast indeed, but there is a cost. First, there's other projects and then there's the age-old triumvirate: quality, speed, and expense. In business they say the customer wants all three, but it's only possible to provide them with two. Something can be done quickly and cheaply, but it won't be quality. Something can be done well and quickly, but it's going to be high dollar. Or, you can do something high-quality and cheaply, but you'll get it when you get it.

Soccer Mom
09-10-2008, 07:44 AM
Well, considering that this book was only days away from publication before it was dropped, I would imagine it's already been thouroughly edited and such. The publishers want to strike before people forget the book.

Phaeal
09-10-2008, 05:45 PM
The trouble with statements like this -- with which I agree, by the way -- is that it fails to take into account the fundamental differences in worldview and beliefs between Islam and Christianity, or Islam and western secular society. It's not just a matter of offense or of protest, but of blasphemy, a crime under the Koran and one taken very seriously. This is a religion, remember, that forbids depictions of the Prophet in art, even in religious art. A depiction which borders, even in one person's opinion, on soft-core pornography?

Again, it's a highly disturbing thing that RH pulled the plug on this, but it's important to look at the underlying paradigms, and to remember that during the days of Rushdie's fatwah (and it's Salman, not Salmon), while he was under guard, translators and other employees of his publishers around the world were being attacked, and in some cases killed.

No one has the right to impose his religion on me. Let him impose it on his co-religionists and leave the rest of us alone.

willietheshakes
09-10-2008, 07:58 PM
No one has the right to impose his religion on me. Let him impose it on his co-religionists and leave the rest of us alone.

"He" isn't trying to impose his religion on you -- "he" has, however, demonstrated that "he" is willing to kill unbelievers and those who blaspheme "his" faith.

Birol
09-10-2008, 08:42 PM
Let's not turn this into a religious debate, 'kay?

Phaeal
09-10-2008, 09:51 PM
"He" isn't trying to impose his religion on you -- "he" has, however, demonstrated that "he" is willing to kill unbelievers and those who blaspheme "his" faith.

If he is trying, through violence or any other form of coercion to force me to abide by his rules about blasphemy, sorry, I consider that an imposition.

ideagirl
09-16-2008, 11:18 PM
Well, technically, censorship is when The Government stops something from being published.

That's one definition of censorship, but not the only one. The OED's second entry for "censor" is "One who exercises official or officious supervision over morals and conduct." (See http://dictionary.oed.com).

First, it says "official," not "governmental"; if there were a person in a private company whose duty was identical to that of a classic governmental movie/book censor--reviewing every letter, brochure, publication etc. before it went out, and removing offensive parts or removing the whole thing if it was all offensive--then under the OED definition, such a person could properly be called a censor. So such acts, whether governmental or not, can be called censorship. And second, given the "official or officious" language, it doesn't even have to be an official act to be properly termed "censorship."

I think your argument--that it's not censorship unless it's the government--is based on conflating "censorship" with "violating freedom of speech under the First Amendment." The two are not identical.


If he is trying, through violence or any other form of coercion to force me to abide by his rules about blasphemy, sorry, I consider that an imposition.

I agree.

narnia
09-29-2008, 08:28 PM
Hope no one minds an update .... :o

In yesterday's NYT there is an article about an arson attempt on the new publisher's home which also serves as the company's headquarters. Speculation is that the Saturday morning attempt is tied to the book's pending publication.

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/29/world/europe/29jewel.html?ref=books

veinglory
09-29-2008, 09:53 PM
In terms of the Gibson Square attack it is more than just specilation. The arsonists were being monitored by security and police who advised the publisher to vacate the premises well in advance so they could catch them in the act--thus maximising the ability to prosecute--presumably for attempted murder as the building was an occupied residence.

angelgirl
09-29-2008, 11:34 PM
I've only made it through about half of this thread, but I felt a need to comment. Of course I support free speech. It is the foundation of our country. Although I am disappointed that Random House dropped the book from a philosophical standpoint, I can understand it from a human standpoint. Putting myself in the publisher's shoes, I'm not sure that I would be willing to risk the lives of my employees and their families to take a stand in favor of free speech in this particular situation given the nature of the extremists involved. While I might be personally willing to take that risk, it is not my place to force others to, and I am sure that this is the situation in which the powers that be at Random House found themselves. We may be disappointed, but I don't think we should be so quick to judge since it wasn't our lives on the line.

veinglory
09-30-2008, 12:53 AM
I judge the two much small, poorer presses who would take that risk are more admirable. I judge that Random House saying they would and then changing their minds 6 days before release are not very admirable at all--or nor very clever if they somehow didn't realise a book about the prophet's wife would attract this attention.

angelgirl
09-30-2008, 01:44 AM
I also admire the presses who did take the risk. While I am extremely disappointed that Random House waited so long to drop the book, I can still understand why they did so. I'm not saying they behaved admirably at all. Veinglory is right that they should have anticipated the attention and possible repercussions before they even accepted the book. Given the subject matter, anyone with any inkling of the world around them would have to assume that there would be some level of outrage. Afterall, it wasn't that long ago that a certain Danish cartoon sparked a giant controversy. The problem definitely could have been averted by better handling well before a publication date had been set.

That being said, I guess my point is that even though I believe in the author's right to publish her work, I don't know that I would put the lives of my family members in jeopardy to do so; therefore, I do not feel that I can judge people too harshly who had to make what must have been a very difficult decision. Could it have been handled better? Certainly. Was it the right decision? I don't know. Perhaps I try too much to give everyone the benefit of the doubt. I will be following the story with interest.

Bartholomew
09-30-2008, 01:50 AM
Free Speech, Power of the Press > Control Freaks

narnia
09-30-2008, 08:27 PM
In terms of the Gibson Square attack it is more than just specilation. The arsonists were being monitored by security and police who advised the publisher to vacate the premises well in advance so they could catch them in the act--thus maximising the ability to prosecute--presumably for attempted murder as the building was an occupied residence.

Thanks for the update! It is indeed a scary place we live in and while I do agree RH could have handled the situation better I am not so sure there are easy solutions to these types of situations in general. I am glad no one was hurt, and I truly hope that this will be the only such incident.

Spiny Norman
09-30-2008, 09:21 PM
I've lost a lot of faith in Random House recently, because of this and personal encounters with them. They're very conservative, business-wise, bordering on tentative. They're not willing to take any risks at all.

I'm neither surprised nor pleased by their behavior.

On the other hand, I do think that the protesters of the book are the villains here. You can say all you want about culture differences, but it's my belief that being allowed to say what you want is one of the most fundamental rights of mankind, and anyone trying to hedge in on that is pretty despicable. It's likely the ACLU would have been on her side, not against it. At least, if they knew what they were doing...

CheshireCat
10-01-2008, 04:05 AM
You can say all you want about culture differences, but it's my belief that being allowed to say what you want is one of the most fundamental rights of mankind, and anyone trying to hedge in on that is pretty despicable.


Yes, but that's your belief, which happens to be shared by many others. But not everyone.

So, to those who simply disagree with your belief, would you choose to cram it down their throats? Insist that "an artist" or anyone else has the right to demean someone else's god or insult their other religious or cultural icons in the name of the Free Speech in which you believe and they don't?

It's a democratic principle, but that doesn't make it universal. And the truth is that we do have to live in a world where cultures differ. Dismissing that difference as unimportant is an insult to other cultures.

I would really hate it if one of those other cultures decided to impose their values on the democracy I value so highly.

Just sayin'.