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Friday, October 3, 2008

British Publisher Firebombed

In a moment reminiscent of reactions against Salman Rushdie's The Satanic Verses and Jyllands-Posten's 12 political cartoons satirizing Islamic extremism, British publisher Martin Rynja received a firebomb earlier this week for plans to publish The Jewel of Medina, a fictional account of the early life of Muhammad's first wife, A'isha. Random House was scheduled to be the book's American publisher but backed out over threats of violence and Beaufort Books has since stepped up to the plate. Three men were charged with conspiracy to commit arson and damage public property on Thursday. Rynja is uninjured, according to the book's publicist, and is not deterred from releasing the book this month. There must be, he says, "open access to literary works, regardless of fear."

Although Banned Book Week is American, anyone can see how apropo this event is. It's good to know that, though some publishers have lost their spine and bend to an insidious source of censorship, there are still a few champions of the freedom of expression. Random House ought to be ashamed of themselves. They are an embarrassment to this country that purportedly loves freedom of expression. Unfortunately, it seems Rynja and his American colleagues at Beaufort Books are knights of a dwindling order.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Recently an insurance company nearly wind up....

A bank is nearly bankrupt......

How it affect you? Did you buy insurance? Did you buy mini note or bonds?

They bailout trouble finance company, but they will not bail out your credit card bills……You got no choice, and no point pointing finger but you can prevent similar things from happen again……


Who fault?



The top management of the Public listed company ( belong to "public" ) salary should be tied a portion of it to the shares price ( IPO or ave 5 years ).... so when the shares price drop, it don't just penalise the investors, but those who don't take care of the company.....If this rule is pass on, without any need of further regulation, all industries ( as long as it is public listed ) will be self regulated......because the top management will be concern about their own pay check……


Are you a partisan?

Sign a petition to your favourite president candidate, congress member, House of representative again and ask for their views to comment on this, and what regulations they are going to raise for implementation.....If you agree on my point, please share with many people as possible....


http://remindmyselfinstock.blogspot.com/

Pete said...

Er. No thanks, Anonymous.

...

Technically, what Random House chose to do wasn't an act of censorship. It WAS a bit cowardly, but it wasn't censorship.

(As for freedom-loving country, well...I think things like the First Amendent Group and the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund see far, far too much business for this country to be very freedom-loving. We ARE shock and offense loving, though. Alas.)

That being said, I'm glad Martin Rynja is uninjured and is going ahead with publication plans. Although I do find myself hoping there's more to the book than controversy. It's story over news for me, any day.

Dani said...

Yes, I'm rather peeved by this bit of spam trash that's made it onto the blog. Is there a way to remove it?

Pete,

It's funny that you would call me out on my use of the word "censorship" because I wavered over it too. In the end, I chose to keep it because what they're doing is a kind of censorship, albeit absent of the kind of malice you expect from groups like the MPAA (at least from the Hays days). Although they may not necessarily endorse the idea of censorship (being a publishing house and all) they are no less serving that end by clearly deciding against releasing it after having already accepted it. I agree that it'll be interesting to see what kind of protection the book actually merits, though. There are plenty of books that have been darlings to the public taste and received lots of publicity that frankly fall way short of deserving the attention (The Other Boleyn Girl--gag me! The only book I'll say was actually worse than the movie and the movie wasn't even good aside from Natlaie Portman!)

And the very phrase "freedom-loving country" when referring to our own makes my skin crawl. Even while I was writing similar words I wanted to put in a subtext that said "Actions speak louder than words and we've almost never acted this way!" Historically, it's not the ones who die orverseas for "freedom" (though I certainly don't mean to diminish their sacrifice, since I've lost and might still lose loved ones to this war), it's the ones who die here and the ones who put their families, livelihoods, and personal safety on the line that make room for and protect civil rights and liberties here. The worst enemies to the freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution are almost always domestic. And censorship (be it active or by default) has been one of the worst crimes the government or any entity has, with public approval, committed. Since this is not my personal blog, however, I don't think I can actually say a lot more on the subject. But, yes, in my personal opinion, which is separate from Haydens Ferry Review, this country is far from living up to the ideals it tries to convince us it supports. No doubt things are better here than most other places but that doesn't mean there's no room for improvement. I guess I'm a bit of an idealist, though, and choose to talk about this country as if it were not hypocritical in this respect because there are those out there (such as the groups you name and many others) who do try to live up to those very high standards of a completely open forum of artistic and literary expression.

Sorry for the rambling. This is something that makes me actually angry and I'm normally fairly go with the flow. 4 November (or January, for that matter) can't get here soon enough!