Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Petition to Ban Sale of "Insulting" Books? Pathetic!

From the messy desk of Paul Levine...

Dear World Jewish Congress:

Thank you for the email marked "urgent" I received today.  Yeah, the one that says "Petition Amazon to Stop the Sale of Hate Books."  Allow me a moment to tell you why I regard your petition as pathetic, stupid and self-defeating.  (Let me also say in passing I am not a "world Jew."  I am an American Jew).

You list the names of three Holocaust-denying books you demand not be sold.  You state:
"Recently, Amazon.com was exposed. It carries many titles denying the Holocaust and insulting Jews. Free speech is guaranteed by the First Amendment to the US Constitution. But that should not serve as an excuse for big corporations like Amazon.com to make money from selling hate literature."
Exposed, were they?  Insulted, are we? 

Well, too damn bad.  This is a country built on free expression of ideas, even moronic, ill-informed or hateful ideas.  The Supreme Court has told us so on many occasions.  (And yes, I know you're not talking about the government banning the books, something clearly unconstitutional.  But to me, your petition is just as offensive to rights of free expression).

 Let me make my points succinctly:

1.  You're drawing more attention to these obscure, idiotic books, which you mention by name on your website.

2.  The same books are also offered by Barnes & Noble and many other booksellers, though not many are sold.

3.  Do you not recognize the irony of a Jewish group advocating actions that, metaphorically speaking, amount to "book burning?"

4.  Just how far do we go in banning "insulting" books?  Should PETA be able to ban books on hunting?  What about books that are degrading to women?  Who gets to draw these lines?

5.  Let the free marketplace of ideas reign. The truth will rise to the top. It always does.

Happy Chanukah.



  1. Thank you, just thank you.

  2. Well said, Paul. And Happy Chanugiving or Thanksgivukah or any other mash-up folks are free to create.

  3. Paul here: A great turkey (or potato latke) day to our friends out there in the electronic universe.

  4. from Jacqueline

    Way to go, Paul! Happy Thanksgiving to you, or whatever you want to celebrate. Your post reminds me of a story about the German invasion of the Channel Islands (no, not the ones off the coast of Santa Barbara, but the English Channel Islands). A Nazi officer went into the library on Jersey and demanded the burning of loads of books considered subversive. The librarian stood her ground, pointing out that they even had a copy of Mein Kampf in the library.

  5. Your view just gives me another thing to be thankful for.