Fox News Corporation (who controls Regan Books) has pulled the plug on O.J.’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 don’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 “few” copies have already been shipped, creating for an instant underground market for the book. The protesters have turned what could’ve been a non-successful, widely distributed book into a cult item and possible First Amendment poster child. But because it won’t be in their bookstore they think they’ve won. (If they really didn’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? I’m curious to know how black booksellers feel about the whole issue.

The arguments of “decency” 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. We’ve started a war that many consider to be “indecent.” 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.’s book less “decent” than anything else?

The backlash against O.J.’s book is not about decency. I think it’s a reaction because he isn’t sitting in prison. No one would blink an eye if the book had someone else’s name on the cover and it talked about some lover’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 it’s harsh reality).

The “public triumph” in shutting down a book is frightening to me. I don’t want John Q. Public or a bunch of booksellers telling me what I can and cannot have access to. I don’t want them editing my options. I’m experiencing this sort of prejudice right now and I don’t take it lightly. The publishers and booksellers who are rejoicing about their “victory” forget that it’s not them and not their book that’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 don’t think this is a triumph for the American people. Certainly not for the publishing industry. Talk about shooting yourself in the foot. It’s one thing for a government to take away rights. It’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 I’m waiting for Kato Kaelin to come out of hiding from the Playboy Mansion). Even if O. J.’s book had been released as scheduled, I think it would’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.

10 thoughts on “bad day for free speech

  1. I think we need to clarify a few points ….

    FOXNews does NOT control Regan Books …. Regan Books is published by HarperCollins. “News Corp” is the parent company and owner of HarperCollins, FOX Broadcasting and FOXNews. Blaming FOXNews for anything with regards to the book is both misdirected and unfair. FOXNews demonstrated its independent status from its parent, News Corp, by openly opposing and criticizing it’s owner Rupert Murdoch.

    I must ask … Do you actually watch FNC on a regular basis or do you just read the “far left” liberal press that is against it and attach yourself to their ideas???

    The Board of Directors at News Corp. canceled the project after a public outcry and objections by both advertisers and booksellers.

    This was all business from the start, nothing to do with censorship or the Death of Free Speech as you imply. The book was the brainstorm of Judith Regab (Regan Books) who merely interviewed Mr. Simpson and wrote a book. Simpson being the sociopath that he is, was in it just for the money and only the money!!! He’s busted!!!!

    Ms. Regan has portrayed the book as representing “O.J.’s confession,” and it reportedly contains a chapter where he explains how he could have committed the killings. Perhaps this is her perception and how she portrayed it.

    Mr. Simpson maintains that he didn’t commit the murders. (I don’t believe him) He also stated that he was very disappointed by Ms. Regan’s portrayal of the book, which he said was “ghostwritten”: Simpson further added that although he knew the project would bring an “avalanche of negative publicity”, he was willing to face it “if that’s what it took.” Definitely in for the money!!!!!!

    In another interview that I saw, Simpson indicated he wasn’t entirely unhappy the project was abandoned. “I feel like a man who’s had the weight of the world taken off me,” he said. This doesn’t sound like someone who’s free speech has been taken away!!!!!!

    I agree with you in principle, however, that the book should have been released and let the public decide its fate …. but the business side of me knows that you just don’t go throwing good money after bad …. I would have pulled the plug. There again, in that position I wouldn’t have funded the project in the first place.

    Love you Amanda … I hope your book gets off the ground

  2. Bas,

    I’m aware that News Corp owns Harper Collins, Fox News and other companies. Fox News pulled the plug on airing the interviews and News Corp pulled the plug on the book. Rupert Murdoch, head of both Fox News and News Corp (as I understand) made the public statement and seemed to have made the final decision. I’m aware of why they made that decision.

    I don’t pretend to be a substitute for news, I expect readers to do their own research if anything I mention catches their interest.

    When researching for a blog post, I Google the subject and read whatever seems to be most credible and most interesting. So whether that’s liberal or not, I can’t say. I read two Google pages of news articles about the O.J. thing. I fixated on a CNN article as it seemd to be the most concise. (I also read a TON of posts about it in various publisher forums, lists, blogs, etc.) As far as I can tell, no one else seems to have the same opinions I do.

    The fact that public opinion managed to shut down a book that was slated for production is deeply disturbing to me. Book publishing is ALWAYS about the bottom line but again, the decision to stop a book that had already gotten the green light because a few booksellers, advertisers and the families of the victims said “no” bothers me. They DO NOT represent the general population and should not have this much control over deciding the fate of a book.

    And of course, in the interest of making money, this whole thing was started by the need to stir up controversy to sell books. The fact that books have to be sold by appealing to prurient interests says a lot about the American public, many of whom apparently wanted to buy this book (based on its pre-selling Amazon ranking).

    Many people besides O.J. have made money off his trial and the murders. I don’t think this book is any more reprehensible than those people. If it weren’t for the deaths of Nicole and Ron, it’s doubtful that Johnnie Cochran would’ve had a TV show (for example). The entire thing is awful and to point the finger at just a single book is hyocritical.

    This was a publicity stunt that backfired. I hate the victory booksellers were handed because now they think they can stop any book they don’t like. This is the “monster” I mentioned.

    My interest in this case is personal, yes, but it’s also because I’m trying to look further down the road. I feel this sets a very bad precedent. It was done without a trial, based on a very tiny minority of the population.

    XX
    Amanda

  3. I see and understand your position … I really do. I have followed your trials and tribulations of both the book and your non-profit, ever since you left Dallas. I admire you for your convictions and perseverance. I guess that is why I keep checking in from time to time …. to see how you are doing.

    I personally believe the OJ Book was an ill-considered project from the get go. I have read Ms. Regan’s explanation and I have no reason to doubt her intent was geniune, but the senior mangement at News Corp, must have been on drugs when they gave this the Green Light ! I’m sure they all thought this was going to be the biggest “Gotcha” of the century and J.Q.Public would embrace them ……….. and yes, fill their pockets.

    I’m sure that more than just a “few” had a hand in shutting this down …. I haven’t been too fixated on the whole thing, but from everything I have read … the backlash was overwhelming from numerous advertisers & booksellers and also from the public who ulimately feed the whole thing. I would dare say that “few “people were disappointed even though we both know it would probably have made the Best Sellers List. Crazy world we live in!!!!

    FOXNews played a heavy hand, I am sure, in the book’s demise …. but again I feel it shows their independence from News Corps influence. That’s what I want from a “news” organization …… put the ALL of the FACTS on the table, give me multiple view points and let ME decide. I respect their approach!!!!

    I have to disagree with you, that a “very tiny minority of the population” was responsible for pulling the plug. Yes the Brown’s and the Goldman’s have a huge voice, but it was the people who listened. I don’t think the monster had much of a choice on this one!!!!!

    You are right about the monster though … and it is very sad that a tiny few can control so much. I feel the same way about the Far Left Liberal Press …… but that is a whole other topic entirely and I don’t wish to hijack your thread.

    Hope you had a great Turkey Day and I wish you all the best …. I have no doubt you will succeed.

    BAS

  4. Bas,

    The fact that this book probably would’ve sold well seems to have bothered a lot of people, which might be one of the reasons that they wanted it shut down. (Would I have bought the book? NO.) This is also a strange twist in this case since most companies want a book that sells well.

    There are nearly 300 million people in the US, according to current CIA stats. The vast majority did not speak up about the O.J. book, so I still believe that the minority controlled access to a book that was slated for general release. No matter what the news media did and did not report, the general public made its statement on Amazon. The minority made its statement and succeeded in stopping the book.

    Not that I think books should undergo some sort of a vote before being released (God forbid). Of course, one could argue that the minority elects government officials since the majority don’t vote and you’d get no arguement from me. That’s the population exercising their right to vote (or not).

    The future will tell if O.J. was sincere in wanting to get his message out. There are some other ways he could try. If, of course, he was merely in it for the money, then this book will die. (My personal vote is in it for the money, along with everyone else involved with the project.)

    I still don’t like the idea of booksellers setting a precedent. That could very easily be me (actually, it already is, in some ways).

    Marci,

    O. J. had a book that was written and waiting for release. Others didn’t think he should be allowed to release his book to the general public and stopped it from its final printing and release. The books are slated for destruction.

    If this was happening to Gore Vidal or a piece by President Bush, do you still think I’d be misusing the word?

    XX
    Amanda

    PS: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Censorship

  5. Marci … in a way, yes the book was censored. Censorship is the editing, removing, or otherwise changing speech and other forms of human expression. Most commonly applied to acts that occur in public circumstances, and most formally involves the suppression of ideas. News organizations do this every day!

    The fact that the O.J. book was “removed” and ultimately destroyed …. it was indeed censored. Sort of a self-censorship, perhaps influenced by value systems, but more likely because of the particular interests of News Corp, the distribution companies, their owners, and their commercial and political connections. Bad publicity is not always good publicity in the entertainment world!!!!

    Amanda makes a strong argument and offers a valid point. I understand where she is coming from. She has a product, maybe “politically un-correct”, that she wants to get out. A subject matter many would find offensive. Should that matter??? I personally feel she should get the opportunity to say what she wants to say and be heard by those that want to hear it!

    O.J.’s book was more “tabloid” journalism to me …. but since I did not get to read it, (I wouldn’t have anyway) … I’ll never know if my preconceived judgement was correct.

  6. Pingback: Political Pass
  7. Political Pass:
    I respect what you had to say even though I feel some was slightly misdirected.

    I don’t see where Amanda implied the “government” was guilty of anything!!! Her post implied that FOXNews was responsible and censored OJ’s Book and thus FOXNews violated his “Free Speech”. I disagreed.

    I stepped in because FOXNews had zero control over the release of the book, or its content. FOXNews voiced an opposition and openly criticized the project. Perhaps refusing to assist its parent company with promotions, interviews, etc. But control over the book rested with a totally separate entity who just happened to be owned by the same company.

    I, myself, own five companies … all are related, but none have dominion over the other nor influence any business decisions made that affect the other.

    I do agree with you that News Corp had every right to cancel (self-censor) the project. I also agree that NO Free Speech violations occurred … this was Judith Regan’s book … not OJ’s. The way I understand it …. OJ holds no rights over the project other than a fixed monetary gain if it were released. OJ was upset over the way it was portrayed. Doesn’t sound like he had any control over content, the way it was written, the title … nothing! He was simply being paid for information and perhaps the use of his name, image, etc.

    Amanda is frustrated … she has a book she wants out, but is running into obstacles due to its subject matter. You hit it right on the head when you stated … “No-one has the right to have anything published. Publishers routinely turn down submissions for any reason. And in such cases it is a few people who control the fate of a book as opposed to public opinion.

    From everything I know, Amanda is a good person who is well read, smart, articulate and also happens to be very sexy. I don’t always agree, but I respect her opinions. and try to see the picture from her point of view!

  8. Censorship can be as simple as a moderated forum or as elaborate as government crackdown on a topic. Nor does a one-time act of censorship imply that the expression of the person in question is ALWAYS going to be censored.

    I feel O.J.’s book was censored by the social pressure of individuals but I certainly don’t believe this is his only avenue for expression (I’ve said this before). Nor do I believe it’s censorship when a publisher turns down a book project but since his project was to the point of being printed and distributed, this is not the case of a publisher deciding they didn’t want to deal with his topic (since it may well have been the publisher’ s book idea in the first place). The attempt to print and distribute a point of view was stopped in its tracks.

    Regardless of my personal feelings about O. J. himself, my point is a vocal minority of people have caused the destruction of a book. That’s a very slippery slope.

    And I bow out of the discussions. I’m thoroughly tired of the topic. Comments, if made, will be posted of course.

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