Fox News Corporation (who controls Regan Books) has pulled the plug on O.J.â€™s book due to the controversy it created. In other words, O.J. has been censored. And why? Really? Is it because the Board of Directors at Fox care about two dead people and their families? Or is it because they want to avoid financial fallout from the book? You get three wild guesses and the first two donâ€™t count.
As more than one person has pointed out, this is the same Fox News Corp. that is totally behind the war in Iraq and gives a public forum to people like Sean Hannity.
The public outcry about the book has been loud. A â€œfewâ€ copies have already been shipped, creating for an instant underground market for the book. The protesters have turned what couldâ€™ve been a non-successful, widely distributed book into a cult item and possible First Amendment poster child. But because it wonâ€™t be in their bookstore they think theyâ€™ve won. (If they really didnâ€™t want the book to sell, they should not have made a single peep.)
I wonder what really motivated the protesters? Was it because they were afraid it might actually sell? Iâ€™m curious to know how black booksellers feel about the whole issue.
The arguments of â€œdecencyâ€ are hollow. We have horror movies coming out every month which graphically depict new and terrible ways to kill people (usually teenagers, usually girls). We have hypocritical religious and political leaders right and left. Weâ€™ve started a war that many consider to be â€œindecent.â€ We have laws that invade the bedrooms and bodies of women. And plenty of best-selling books that depict drugs use, unsafe sex and violence. How is O.J.â€™s book less â€œdecentâ€ than anything else?
The backlash against O.J.â€™s book is not about decency. I think itâ€™s a reaction because he isnâ€™t sitting in prison. No one would blink an eye if the book had someone elseâ€™s name on the cover and it talked about some loverâ€™s spat in which the woman was killed. It would be a run-of-the-mill memoir because violence against women is run-of-the-mill news (not that I think this is a good thing but itâ€™s harsh reality).
The â€œpublic triumphâ€ in shutting down a book is frightening to me. I donâ€™t want John Q. Public or a bunch of booksellers telling me what I can and cannot have access to. I donâ€™t want them editing my options. Iâ€™m experiencing this sort of prejudice right now and I donâ€™t take it lightly. The publishers and booksellers who are rejoicing about their â€œvictoryâ€ forget that itâ€™s not them and not their book thatâ€™s getting this treatment. They should be ashamed. But, as I said before, they believe in the First Amendment only as far as putting a button on their Web sites. Although this is a democracy, the First Amendment was not created to be subject to a public vote.
I donâ€™t think this is a triumph for the American people. Certainly not for the publishing industry. Talk about shooting yourself in the foot. Itâ€™s one thing for a government to take away rights. Itâ€™s quite another to stupidly, voluntarily hand them over.
Even with all this fuss, a few months from now no one will remember anything about O.J. and his book (although Iâ€™m waiting for Kato Kaelin to come out of hiding from the Playboy Mansion). Even if O. J.â€™s book had been released as scheduled, I think it wouldâ€™ve died out of public consciousness pretty quickly. The murders and he are both old news.
The public should’ve been allowed to vote with their wallets after the book was released. That’s the American way. Of course, that’s also the reason Fox News made the decision that it did before the book was released.
The First Amendment works just fine if you allow it to do its thing. Then the public can do theirs. Reverse the process and a monster is born.
the First Amendment
If you would like a plain English translation of the Amendments, go to this page at Cornell Law.