Wednesday, August 13, 2003
Moral: Censorship Promotes Books Sales
File this under "When will they learn" (Subcategory: Fair and Balanced)
Name a book, movie or other publication that was actually halted in this country via prior restraint . . . Go ahead, I'll give you a few seconds . . . At least in modern times, it just isn't a viable strategy.
If anything, it merely promotes the spread of whatever Meme the censor is offended by.
Would anyone in the West have ever heard of Salman Rushdie's The Satanic Verses, if not for the death threat on his head by conservative Islamic clerics? Would Michael Moore's book, "Stupid White Men" have sold as well, if not for the initial cold feet of his publisher, HarperCollins, who feared the book's strident tone might offend so soon after 9/11? A librarian inspired buzz (no, really) over the delay of Moore's book amounted to a windfall once it was finally released from the warehouse.
Along comes the latest feat of surprising legal stupidity: Rupert Murdoch's litigation against Al "made you cry" Franken, and his book titled: "Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right."
Franken's political satire is very much part of the left/right debate. What's more emblematic of the left wing than Franken, and of right wing than Fox news? The legal question is whether trademark law trumps political speech under 1st amendment law; Given that no one on the planet could ever mistake Al Franken for a Fox commentator, I think Fox's "confusing the consumer" argument profoundly fails.
The irony is that Franken's book shot from # 489 according to the #5 on Amazon's bestseller list, according to the Washington Post ; A scant few hours later, it hit #1.
Now THAT'S funny.
Washington Post: Franken on Suit: What, Me Worry?
See also NYT: Windfall Publicity for Al Franken's Book
Pointer thanks to Tapped: AL FRANKEN'S REVENGE
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