Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Reply to ACLU COPA blog entry by Patricia Nell Warren

This is also entered on the ACLU COPA blog at this address.

Here is my reply:

Have the closing arguments been completed? When will the PDF files be posted?

I do feel Ms. Warren's sentiments myself, but I am trying to get at the bottom of what really has been argued, with some sense of "objectivity."

The devil in all of this is in the details. Yet, I really do understand the philosophical perspective (on individualism, v. "socialization" by the family) that underlies the intention of a law like COPA (whatever the words in the act "literally" say).

You can email me if you like at JBoushka at aol.com or look up the contact info at my site and call.

I am hoping to see the closing arguments on the ACLU site soon (as PDF files) so that I can assess what was really said in detail. I believe that the arguments were completed Monday Nov 20, 2006, but I am still trying to find out. Anyone who knows is free to comment.

My concerns with this case are existential, beyond the letter of the law, and I have not depended on writing for a living, but in "retirement" I want to, and I don't want to be kept from talking about some things just because these matters, when public and easily found, make certain people uncomfortable in their own family or religious environments. Ultimately, we get down to that kind of a debate.

Warren's blog entry makes another subtle argument: since the Internet and Web are indispenable now to book marketing, and since publishers and search engines want to make books searchable online, enforcement of COPA (at the subject matter level) could make books that deal with sensitive subject matters unpublishable, even in hardcopy, as an indirect result of the way the Web markets hardcopies. As a whole, commercial book publishers and search engine companies have shown little interest in or concern about COPA (as potential plaintiffs).

Patricia Nell Warren has been well known for years for her novels, which include The Front Runner (1977) which has sometimes been sold in special printings as a collector's item. Her publishing company is Wildcat Press. IMDB.com shows an in-production listing for a film of this book. Her posting mentions her time in fascist Spain several decades ago, and there is a new film from Picturehouse (New Line Cinema) dealing with the fascist period in Spain, Pan's Labyrinth.

Another famous writer for comparison would be Patricia Highsmith, who wrote many suspense novels with wicked plots, some of which have been successful (if somewhat anti-social, in the minds of some people) films like Strangers on a Train and The Talented Mr. Ripley, often with homosexual characters and undertones.

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