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Joining the Axis of Silencers

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  • Joining the Axis of Silencers

    Restrictions bar publishing dissident writers from abroad
    Regulations affect nations under U.S. sanction

    Offered without comment. I'll post it over on the political thread, too.
    America has long been strong on self-censorship. I've been censored in the US more than in, say, the old Soviet Union. Is this just a further development of the habit ? Is there something we should do about it ?


    By Scott Martelle
    Los Angeles Times

    February 13, 2005

    In the summer of 1956, Russian poet Boris Pasternak - a favorite of
    the recently deceased Josef Stalin - delivered his epic Doctor Zhivago
    manuscript to a Soviet publishing house, hoping for a warm reception
    and a fast track to readers who had shared Russia's torturous
    half-century of revolution and war, oppression and terror.

    Instead, Pasternak received one of the all-time classic rejection
    letters: a 10,000-word missive that stopped just short of accusing him
    of treason. It was left to foreign publishers to give his smuggled
    manuscript life, offering the West a peek into the soul of the Cold
    War enemy, winning Pasternak the 1958 Nobel prize in literature and
    providing Hollywood with an epic film.

    These days, Pasternak might not have fared so well.

    In an apparent reversal of decades of U.S. practice, recent federal
    Office of Foreign Assets Control regulations bar American companies
    from publishing works by dissident writers in countries under sanction
    unless they first obtain U.S. government approval.

    The restriction, condemned by critics as a violation of the First
    Amendment, means that books and other works banned by some
    totalitarian regimes cannot be published freely in the United States,
    a country that prides itself as the international beacon of free
    expression.

    "It strikes me as very odd," said Douglas Kmiec, a constitutional law
    professor at Pepperdine University and former constitutional legal
    counsel to former Presidents Reagan and Bush. "I think the government
    has an uphill struggle to justify this constitutionally."

    Lawsuit filed

    Several groups, led by the PEN American Center and including Arcade
    Publishing, have filed suit in U.S. District Court in New York seeking
    to overturn the regulations, which cover writers in Iran, Sudan, Cuba,
    North Korea and, until recently, Iraq.

    Violations carry severe reprisals - publishing houses can be fined $1
    million, and individual violators face up to 10 years in prison and a
    $250,000 fine.

    "Historically, the United States has served as a megaphone for
    dissidents from other countries," said Ed Davis of New York, a lawyer
    leading the PEN legal challenge. "Now we're not able to hear from
    dissidents."

    Yet more than dissident voices are affected.

    The regulations have led publishers to scrap plans for volumes on
    Cuban architecture and birds, and publishers complain that the rules
    threaten the intellectual breadth and independence of academic
    journals.

    Shirin Ebadi, the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize winner, has joined the
    lawsuit, arguing that the rules preclude American publishers from
    helping craft her memoirs of surviving Iran's Islamic Revolution and
    her efforts to defend human rights in Iranian courts.

    In a further wrinkle, even if publishers obtain a license for a book -
    something they are loath to do - they believe the regulations bar them
    from advertising it, forcing readers to find the dissident works on
    their own.

    "It's absolutely against the First Amendment," said Arcade editor
    Richard Seaver, who hopes to publish an anthology of Iranian short
    stories. "We're not going to ask permission [to publish]. That reeks
    of censorship. And censorship is a word that gets my hackles up very
    quickly."

    Defense of rules

    Officials from the U.S. Treasury Department, which oversees OFAC,
    declined to comment on the lawsuit, but spokeswoman Molly Millerwise
    described the sanctions as ''a very important part of our overall
    national security."

    "These are countries that pose serious threats to the United States,
    to our economy and security, and our well-being around the globe,"
    Millerwise said, adding that publishers can still bring dissident
    writers to American readers as long as they first apply for a license.

    "The licensing is a very important part of the sanctions policy
    because it allows people to engage with these countries," Millerwise
    said. "Anyone is free to apply to OFAC for a license."

    Critics say they shouldn't have to.

    "We have a long tradition of not accepting prior restraint," said
    Wendy Strothman of Boston, who hopes to serve as Ebadi's literary
    agent should the regulations be struck down. "The notion of getting a
    license seems to me to be completely counter to the spirit of the
    First Amendment. ... It's really, for me, mostly about the notion of
    freedom of expression."

    The literature that might be lost to American readers is impossible to
    measure, but in recent months the best-seller lists have been
    dominated by Azar Nafisi's Reading Lolita in Tehran, a memoir she
    wrote in exile. And Marjane Satrapi's memoir in the form of a graphic
    novel, Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood, written and published
    after her family left Iran for France, has found an international
    audience.

    Tom Miller, author of Trading With the Enemy: A Yankee Travels Through
    Castro's Cuba, said the regulations not only "nullify the First
    Amendment," but also would dampen the hopes of censored Cuban writers.

    "It would be all the more depressing," said Miller, who travels to
    Cuba several times a year under U.S. licenses for journalistic,
    academic or cultural purposes. "There are two places Cubans get
    published outside of Cuba - Spain and the States. To cut that short
    list in half is devastating. In the U.S., it means less artistic and
    literary infusion from overseas."

    'Violation of ... rights'

    Curt Goering, deputy executive director for the Amnesty International
    human rights monitoring group, criticized the regulations as "a
    violation of some fundamental human rights."

    Goering said international covenants recognize the right of people to
    receive and distribute information regardless of political boundaries.
    "It's yet another example of the hypocrisy of this administration on
    human rights," Goering said, adding that while the United States
    defends its role in Iraq as a defense of liberty at home it is
    "blocking" publication of dissident voices.

    Kmiec, who is not part of the legal challenge, said the First
    Amendment - and subsequent court rulings - generally preclude the
    government from restricting publications before they are made.

    "It does allow for limitations where there are clear and present
    dangers, and compelling foreign policy or other interests that can be
    tangibly and authentically demonstrated," Kmiec said. "But short of
    that special application and very rare circumstance, government
    censorship is properly off-limits. These efforts to restrain in
    advance are almost sure to fail."

    The dispute centers on a Treasury Department interpretation this year
    of regulations rooted in the 1917 Trading With the Enemy Act, which
    allows the president to bar transactions with people or businesses in
    nations during times of war or national emergency. A 1988 amendment by
    Rep. Howard Berman, a California Democrat, relaxed the act to
    effectively give publishers an exemption while maintaining
    restrictions on general trade.

    In April, OFAC regulators amended an earlier interpretation to advise
    academic publishers that they can make minor changes to works
    published in sanctioned countries and reissue them.

    But the regulators said editors cannot provide broader services
    considered basic to publishing, such as commissioning works, making
    "substantive" changes to texts or adding illustrations.

    The regulations seem shaded by Joseph Heller's classic novel Catch-22.

    American publishers are allowed to reissue, for example, Cuban
    communist propaganda or officially approved books but not original
    works by writers whom the Cuban government has stifled.

    In a letter to Treasury officials this past spring, Berman described
    the regulations as "patently absurd" and said they form a "narrow and
    misguided interpretation of the law."

    "It is in our national interest to support the dissemination of
    American ideas and values, especially in nations with oppressive
    regimes," Berman said. "At the same time, [the Berman amendment] is
    intended to ensure the right of American citizens to have access to a
    wide range of information and satisfy their curiosity about the world
    around them."

    Copyright آ© 2005, The Baltimore Sun

    Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in Europe:
    The Whispering Swarm: Book One of the Sanctuary of the White Friars - The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction
    Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles - Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - Modem Times 2.0 - The Sunday Books - The Sundered Worlds


    Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in the USA:
    The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction - The Sunday Books - Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles
    Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - The Sundered Worlds - The Winds of Limbo - Modem Times 2.0 - Elric: Swords and Roses


  • #2
    This strikes me as another prime example of the current US push towards anti-intellectualism. Smart, educated people are dangerous to a facist regime, such as the one our government is apparently trying very hard to establish.

    Every medium by which we can learn what's going on in the world around us is slowly and methodically being deconstructed. And every day I meet people who don't seem to care because, to them, it's a good day if they read two paragraphs of anything.
    "Wounds are all I'm made of. Did I hear you say that this is victory?"
    --Michael Moorcock, Veteran of the Psychic Wars

    Comment


    • #3
      It's that Umurican thang -- very Texan (though, of course, Texas has turned out loads of intellectuals who know this enemy only too well).
      You find it frequently in the pre-war fascist mind-set, too, of course, just as you find it in the British football lout. Indeed, it seems to be increasingly more common, encouraged by advertisers and TV programme planners. At least the old Loadsa Money character bought
      tickets for Covent Garden ('free 'undred quid -- give us firty!'). Those
      who don't read certainly seem to feel antagonistic to those who do.
      No doubt the Vikings actually sought out monasteries so they could tear up the books. Anti-intellectualism, of course, is part of what actually got George Bush elected. Another good reason for moving to France, as far as I'm concerned! Of course, such an attitude is disastrous for the well-being of a nation -- but then Bush and Co can scarcely be said to have the well-beiong of the nation at heart, for all their rhetoric about security.
      This is probably the biggest assett-stripping operation of all time.

      Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in Europe:
      The Whispering Swarm: Book One of the Sanctuary of the White Friars - The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction
      Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles - Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - Modem Times 2.0 - The Sunday Books - The Sundered Worlds


      Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in the USA:
      The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction - The Sunday Books - Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles
      Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - The Sundered Worlds - The Winds of Limbo - Modem Times 2.0 - Elric: Swords and Roses

      Comment


      • #4
        How did Anti-intellectualism get Bush back into power? Just curious.

        I think the problem is that the kind of party line of America is 'if you have a different opinion to us in charge, then you're Anti-American,' and since it's usually the people who try to enhance their minds who start to think outside the Patriot Box, then people just don't bother and save themselves the bother of trying to think different. Thats how it feels to me, please destroy me if I'm so wrong.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Michael Moorcock
          It's that Umurican thang -- very Texan (though, of course, Texas has turned out loads of intellectuals who know this enemy only too well).
          You find it frequently in the pre-war fascist mind-set, too, of course, just as you find it in the British football lout. Indeed, it seems to be increasingly more common, encouraged by advertisers and TV programme planners. At least the old Loadsa Money character bought
          tickets for Covent Garden ('free 'undred quid -- give us firty!'). Those
          who don't read certainly seem to feel antagonistic to those who do.
          No doubt the Vikings actually sought out monasteries so they could tear up the books. Anti-intellectualism, of course, is part of what actually got George Bush elected. Another good reason for moving to France, as far as I'm concerned! Of course, such an attitude is disastrous for the well-being of a nation -- but then Bush and Co can scarcely be said to have the well-beiong of the nation at heart, for all their rhetoric about security.
          This is probably the biggest assett-stripping operation of all time.
          Heh.. I guess they don't want critique from foreign journalists about their bad behaviour. :x

          Intellectualism is the 'silver lining' in a world clouded by madness!

          I was wondering if you have read 'The Media Monopoly' by Ben Bagdikian?
          http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/AS...093022-5823067

          Jello Biafra is also another guy fighting against these kind of acts!
          By stating "Don't hate the media. Become 'the' media!".

          America.. A land of so much promise with the 'amendments' to go with.
          I boggles the mind why the american government wants to tear that piece of paper into shreds, or go around it with stupid and contriving legislations. A land that promises freedom. But is scared to death of it, because freedom means responsibility!

          I'm gonna see Out Foxed today if i can.

          Comment


          • #6
            How interesting: the US seeks to establish the anti-intellectual hegemony by judicial means, whilst the UK converges rapidly on the same end by the strangulation of research and university funding.
            Where will this fun all end? As if I didn't know.

            Comment


            • #7
              And crap telly.
              ...the strangulation of research and university funding, and crap telly.
              Cathode-ray Soma will/ has replace(d) intellectual activity for the most part anyway. Be lucky if anyone reads any books soon, let alone dissident ones.
              Sorry. Simplistic cynicism head on today.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by PerdixA
                How interesting: the US seeks to establish the anti-intellectual hegemony by judicial means, whilst the UK converges rapidly on the same end by the strangulation of research and university funding.
                Where will this fun all end? As if I didn't know.
                Cracking story potential there.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by TheAdlerian
                  That’s a strange article. You would think that a nation would want to hear from dissenting individuals living in “enemy� countries. What better marketing could one have for American activities abroad?
                  I think the problem here is that they are not enemy countries, but "potential allies waiting to be liberated", a fancy term meaning "invaded and occupied". Also, dissidents may have certain things to say about the policies of their own government, but I doubt they all praise their american and allied "liberators".
                  Yuki says, "Krimson used to be known as Kommando, but he rarely uses that name anymore. Sometimes he appears as Krimson Gray as well. Do not be confused, he still loves cats and bagels."

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by TheAdlerian
                    I'm going to tune in 24 messages from now and see what PerdixZ has to say about the issue! See you later.
                    He's multiplied? 8O
                    Yuki says, "Krimson used to be known as Kommando, but he rarely uses that name anymore. Sometimes he appears as Krimson Gray as well. Do not be confused, he still loves cats and bagels."

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      But....everyone likes America...you can't disagree with America and not be a terrorist.. :?

                      Sorry

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        The strong anti-intellectual (kulak) thread which runs through many of the 'red' states sees Bush as a no-nonsense average sort of guy who
                        (like John Wayne, let's say) will take on all these 'liberals' with their fancy hair-splitting who have (legend goes) got us into this mess in the first place. Of course, it's the likes of George Bush, with their liberal economics, who have got the poor buggers into the mess in the first place, but then they don't read enough to be able to know that. Sooner or later, if history repeats, we should see people starting to get themselves educated again as they realise that voting for the likes of Bush doesn't actually improve their lot. Of course, the fewer dissident voices heard, the longer Bush and his cronies can go on stripping the country of wealth.

                        Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in Europe:
                        The Whispering Swarm: Book One of the Sanctuary of the White Friars - The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction
                        Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles - Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - Modem Times 2.0 - The Sunday Books - The Sundered Worlds


                        Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in the USA:
                        The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction - The Sunday Books - Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles
                        Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - The Sundered Worlds - The Winds of Limbo - Modem Times 2.0 - Elric: Swords and Roses

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Michael Moorcock
                          The strong anti-intellectual (kulak) thread which runs through many of the 'red' states sees Bush as a no-nonsense average sort of guy who
                          (like John Wayne, let's say) will take on all these 'liberals' with their fancy hair-splitting who have (legend goes) got us into this mess in the first place. Of course, it's the likes of George Bush, with their liberal economics, who have got the poor buggers into the mess in the first place, but then they don't read enough to be able to know that. Sooner or later, if history repeats, we should see people starting to get themselves educated again as they realise that voting for the likes of Bush doesn't actually improve their lot. Of course, the fewer dissident voices heard, the longer Bush and his cronies can go on stripping the country of wealth.
                          People mistakenly believe (or maybe simply want to believe) that large structural problems can be easily solved. Similarly, people who articulate simple solutions to complex problems are easy to believe because they skip the nuances that usually make the problems, well, problematic. Bush is often described as "plain spoken" about an issue when he simply doesn't have command of the issue he addresses, but people seem to be satisfied with the condensed version of things. Details matter to the problems, but not often enough to the people they affect. Apparently they don't matter to the people making decisions about them, either.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Interesting coincidence in the counter-intellectualism/ 'approved' intellectualism of the 'red' states and the former Red State, really. Hollywood has already started on the creation of alternative, approved histories; it's just like Uncle Joe's revisionism! Who'd a' thought it.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Perdix
                              Interesting coincidence in the counter-intellectualism/ 'approved' intellectualism of the 'red' states and the former Red State, really. Hollywood has already started on the creation of alternative, approved histories; it's just like Uncle Joe's revisionism! Who'd a' thought it.
                              Any example of these Hollywood- US Government Approved Histories?

                              Comment

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