So much for a quiet August. News has leaked that Beauford Books will publish O.J. Simpson’s quasi-memoir IF I DID IT, which was going to be published by Regan Books until public outcry led HarperCollins and News Corp. to suspend publication of the book.
You tell me: should a book like this be published?
Do publishers have a responsibility to the public to publish books that are in the public interest? Should anything be published for the public to decide or should there be limits placed on what should be published? If so, who should set those limits?
And where do you draw the line? Yesterday an anonymous poster linked to a discussion on Libba Bray’s blog about an attempt to ban Maureen Johnson’s book THE BERMUDEZ TRIANGLE in a school library in Bartletsville, Oklahoma (they subsequently put the book on a reserve shelf). Should we place limits on what children see?
Lastly, should jellyfish be fed a steady diet of phytoplankton or do you recommend microscopic crustacean?
Simpson (as I understand it) won’t/can’t profit from the book.
Not financially, that is.
But publicity is a sort of “profit,” isn’t it?
Bryan D. Catherman says
Publishers work to make money, so they need to be looking at how many people will purchase the book. If people won’t buy the book, why should the publisher be expected to print the it.
Generally, it’s government organizations–federal or local–that are charged with the responsibility of the public good. It is here we need to fight against censorship. If a library won’t carry IF I DID IT, then we have a problem.
Jenny, the fact is that a jury acquitted Mr. Simpson, whether people think he did it or not. Therefore no one has the right to take away his freedom of speech.
If you think our courts have interpreted the 1st amendment as guaranteeing only free political speech, you’ve been living under a rock. You may think that’s the only type of speech which OUGHT to guaranteed, but that’s not reality.
It’s my opinion that political and artistic speech of all sorts ought to be protected, and, perhaps unfortunately in the minds of many, this includes a lot of unsavory stuff. What I’m frankly more concerned about is the protection consistently offered to commercial speech, often to the detriment of the political process and the citizens. But I digress.
Look, your first two examples would not be legal. OJ was acquitted, which is why it’s legal for him to write this book. And, as has been repeatedly stated, he’s not going to make a dime from it. Ron Goldman’s family will.
Finally, you say: “Obviously, no one who believes he hadn’t done it would pay money to find out how he might have done it.” I have no idea why you’d consider this obvious. How can you know why other people would choose to read a book?
I won’t read or buy it because I don’t like this kind of stuff. If you don’t either, then just say no.
Goldman’s family is giving all profits to charity.
It still strikes me as odd that they’d want to publish it, but maybe they believe it will reveal the truth. In other words, if they see it as a confession, then they might want the confession printed for everyone to see. And they want the inevitable profits to go to someone other than OJ.
Personally, I think the fact of its being written is pretty disgusting. But I don’t think it shouldn’t be published.
P.S. Thanks for the great subthread about jellyfish!
I agree with Jenny’s and Josh’s comments. In the Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum, I passed a display showing a jail shirt from Charles Manson–it was autographed with a flourish. Autographed, like this guy did something he is proud of.
It sickens me, even though the monies from the sale would go to the family of one of the victims.
Disgusting that we would support the crime in the sense that we feel the need to read about it.
Reading about something doesn’t necessarily constitute “supporting” it.
1. Capitalism. Whadaryagonnado?
2. In the old days, banning or restricting access to a book would as good as guarantee that kids would read it on the fly, but now there’s free porn on the internet.
3. Just don’t feed them Doritos.