“Let’s ask, in the 21st century, are there limits to free speech?”
January 26, 2015 12:51 PM   Subscribe

UK should consider ban on Mein Kampf, says Scottish Labour MP [The Guardian]
Ahead of Holocaust Memorial Day, Scottish Labour MP Thomas Docherty has written to culture secretary urging a ‘sensitive debate’ on allowing its sale.
posted by Fizz (99 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
"Let’s ask, in the 21st century, are there limits to free speech?”


What a stupid question. There are and always have been limits to free speech. Selling historically significant documents that help us understand major developments in world history, however, sits comfortably inside those limits.
posted by yoink at 12:57 PM on January 26, 2015 [51 favorites]


You know who else banned books that he thought were offensive?
posted by schmod at 12:58 PM on January 26, 2015 [66 favorites]


He's kind of massively missing what the purpose of Mein Kampf has come to be. It's not pro-Nazi propaganda anymore; it's Exhibit A in the case of Everybody v. Hitler.
posted by Sys Rq at 1:00 PM on January 26, 2015 [40 favorites]


Mein Kampf is horrible and was written by the most horrible person. It would be nice if this horrible person and the horror that they created weren't just swept under the rug and forgotten about. Such would be a disservice to the people who were victims of that tragedy. Sometimes it's important to not let hurtful things be forgotten, and risk having them happen again.

Or on preview: He's kind of massively missing what the purpose of Mein Kampf has come to be. It's not pro-Nazi propaganda anymore; it's Exhibit A in the case of Everybody v. Hitler.
posted by Shouraku at 1:03 PM on January 26, 2015 [4 favorites]


I think it is vital to leave such a work open for all to read because it is so preposterous, to quote this lecture from Timothy Snyder:

Unless we understand how Hitler saw the planet, unless we can get inside Hitler's ecological mind, we won't be able to see why he thought the Jews had to be removed from the planet, nor will we be able to see how he was able to achieve this with such horrible success.
posted by just another scurvy brother at 1:03 PM on January 26, 2015 [2 favorites]


It's not pro-Nazi propaganda anymore; it's Exhibit A in the case of Everybody v. Hitler.

If they don't already, every printed copy of Mein Kampf should include a thoughtful preamble on this very fact, so readers are cued from the get-go that they are studying a document expousing the worst in human behaviour, not an Ayn-Rand-On-Steroids inspirational tome.
posted by CynicalKnight at 1:08 PM on January 26, 2015 [5 favorites]


Docherty said that the reality today is that if "someone puts the contents of Mein Kampf on to a blog, the police would knock on their door …"

Is that actually true in Scotland or in the UK in general, since the Guardian didn't see fit to comment?
posted by XMLicious at 1:08 PM on January 26, 2015


This is like trying to suppress information about the hazards of smoking in bed because it's so terrible that all those unfortunate people burned their houses down.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 1:09 PM on January 26, 2015 [4 favorites]


How exactly does he think that you could actually ban a book today?
posted by octothorpe at 1:10 PM on January 26, 2015 [11 favorites]


yea because those who don't/can't remember the past are doomed to repeat it.

back in the 90s I took a German friend to the Wright Patterson Air Force museum. He was absolutely shocked and horrified by the German WWI and WWII planes, SS uniforms and so on displayed with full regalia, and confused by how the Americans considered war icons such as the "Red Baron" a notable and admirable person. He went on to say that (at least in his experience) education about the German roles in both world wars was pretty thin and amounted to "we don't talk about that".

cultural assumptions aside, and I was really young at the time, but I do remember telling him that we told these stories not because we found the concept of "the enemy" or "evil" or appropriating antiheroes or whatever so fascinating (although totes some do as I later discovered to my chagrin) but that by not basically sweeping thirty or so years of history under the rug, we could hopefully as a species learn from our mistakes?
posted by lonefrontranger at 1:10 PM on January 26, 2015 [4 favorites]


It's nice to think that some of my GCSE history lessons would have been criminalised, but honestly, what a wally.
posted by sobarel at 1:10 PM on January 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


there "is a difference between a book which can cause an offence, and a book which can incite hatred ..."

No there isn't. Any book could do either, neither, or both.

In a box somewhere, my grandfather had a copy of Mein Kampf that he brought back with him from his tour in WW2. In the same box he also had a Nazi flag, and a bunch of medals that Nazis granted for various things; one, for instance was for women who gave birth to an Aryan child. I think he kept those to remind himself of what it was that he and others fought for and against. I can say that the only hatred any of those historical effects "incited" in my family was for the Nazi ideology itself.
posted by tempestuoso at 1:11 PM on January 26, 2015 [7 favorites]


We must never forget, unless remembering gets us really creeped out or whatever.
posted by PlusDistance at 1:12 PM on January 26, 2015 [36 favorites]


Docherty said that the reality today is that if "someone puts the contents of Mein Kampf on to a blog, the police would knock on their door …"

Wait 'til this guy finds out about The Godfather.
posted by PlusDistance at 1:15 PM on January 26, 2015 [3 favorites]


It's a really wishy-washy letter too, full of "for argument's sake"s and "some would say"s. For crying out loud - say what you really mean so we can accurately ascertain how much of a plonker you are.
posted by sobarel at 1:16 PM on January 26, 2015 [10 favorites]


As a slight derail, I've been thinking a lot lately about how Muslims are viewed today in the west have a very similar tone to how the Jews were treated pre-holocaust. The sentiments Hitler and Nazi Germany had towards Jews didn't occur in a vacuum. Indeed, much of the hate and fear of Jews was widespread in Europe, allowing for such sentiments to grow. And it was general apathy towards the hatred of Jews that let Hitler get to the point where he could murder millions of people.

This isn't a perfect parallel. I'm not a historian, but I don't believe the Jews at the time had the same terrorist actions- but then again, lumping all Muslims as possible terrorists is a big part of the problem with how much of the west views Muslims

In light of this, I'd say banning Mein Kampf and sweeping history under the rug is really a dangerous idea and makes us more likely to repeat it, and soon.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 1:17 PM on January 26, 2015 [8 favorites]


I think as long as we're not naming libraries after SS volunteers, we'll be OK.
posted by gwint at 1:18 PM on January 26, 2015 [2 favorites]


the history we choose to hide is the history we decide to repeat.
posted by Mikey-San at 1:19 PM on January 26, 2015 [15 favorites]


It's still unfortunately very necessary that the case of Everybody v. Hitler And His Ilk be argued. I'd estimate the population of people worldwide who have a critical mass of attitudes, though probably not the juice, to do or desire roughly Hitleresque things, in the hundreds of millions, though, so it's also necessary that "Everybody" be maintained. Since most of those same people would not admit to being, to some meaningful extent, little Hitlers (Litlers?) in their attitudes, it is invaluable to have it straight from the horse's absurdly-moustachioed mouth, so folks can be called out, with citations, on the fact that their beliefs are isomorphic to ideas on a continuum with ideas that even they would be loath to support.

Basically it's important that we be able to Godwin discussions accurately!

More to the point, censorship of anything is stupid (when "censorship" is appropriately construed and context is taken into account, i.e. I'm cool with MeFi's understanding that we not link to Stormfront, and I'd like to kick your ass if you take Stormfront seriously, but I'll double my ACLU donation if someone with real power tries to do the same).
posted by busted_crayons at 1:22 PM on January 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


665th place

No comment.

The version that Amazon's selling appears to be the Jaico Books edition, an Indian publishing house. There was a fair amount of media coverage discussing Indian attitudes towards Mein Kampf a couple of years ago- here's the MeFi discussion.

Another MeFi Mein Kampf flashback goes back to 2001 - The CEO of Canada's largest book retailer will be pulling Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf from store shelves .
posted by zamboni at 1:25 PM on January 26, 2015


The thing is, Hitler is dead. He won't be starting any more wars with Mein Kampf. Other racist groups have their own texts and agendas, some of which are very useful as a way of keeping tabs on what they are up to. This particular book is a relic, not that well-written, and not exactly flying off the bookstore shelves. It's mostly of use to historians these days.

But hey, if you want to make it relevant, then ban it. Nothing helps books sales (or these days: downloads) like a ban.
posted by emjaybee at 1:26 PM on January 26, 2015 [7 favorites]


I too dislike banning any books. It might be noted that Egypt promoted and televised the forged Protocols of Zion, and that helped keep the Egyptians opposed to the Israelis, with whom they had worked out a peace deal,. And in reference to the Muslims, noted in the comment above, the Arabs clearly aligned themselves--google this--with Hitler and his anti-Jewish program

Now having said I supported fully allowing books to be published I just wish our nation would make available (it is not banned so much as kept hidden) the torture, the chemical experimentation, the disfiguring of enemy bodies in war, etc that is all a part of our history, military or otherwise...After all, the Nazi eugenics program had its parallel if not its foundation in social Darwinism taking place in our own nation
posted by Postroad at 1:30 PM on January 26, 2015 [2 favorites]


If they don't already, every printed copy of Mein Kampf should include a thoughtful preamble on this very fact, so readers are cued from the get-go that they are studying a document expousing the worst in human behaviour, not an Ayn-Rand-On-Steroids inspirational tome.

I think that anyone who gets sucked in by it is probably well on their way to being as crazy as the author already. The impression that I got of the book's popularity in pre-1933 Germany was that it was the equivalent of those books that are bought more to be a signifier of the purchaser's political leanings rather than something to be read. (After '33, of course, you pretty much had to get a copy if you were a German.)
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:34 PM on January 26, 2015


Yeah in The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich William Shirer says point blank that while everyone had a copy of Mein Kampf nobody read it, it was just there on the coffee table to show your patriotism.
posted by localroger at 1:39 PM on January 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


I think as long as we're not naming libraries after SS volunteers, we'll be OK.

What about ships?
posted by The Michael The at 1:46 PM on January 26, 2015 [2 favorites]


> "Scottish Labour MP Thomas Docherty is calling for a national debate …"

Scottish Labour are struggling with relevancy right now, so one has to consider that the importance of this statement as somewhat limited.
posted by scruss at 1:46 PM on January 26, 2015 [2 favorites]


f Everybody v. Hitler.

If they don't already, every printed copy of Mein Kampf should include a thoughtful preamble on this very fact, so readers are cued from the get-go that they are studying a document expousing the worst in human behaviour, not an Ayn-Rand-On-Steroids inspirational tome.

Because we know everyone is going to read that Afterschool Special preface and pay attention to it.
They can tear it out or just willfully ignore it.
Mein Kampf was an evil book written by a hateful man who gave millions of people justification to be evil in the name of goodness, justice, survival, and necessity. It is a coward's bible, nothing more.
We know what happened when people followed its loser advice and it has been studied to death. There is no great scholar out there who is going to waltz in, look at it and find some brand new angle to dazzle the plebeians with his/her insights.
Besides, Hitler did not invent or have the monopoly on hate literature. There are lots of dictators, terrorists, mass murderers, serial killers and other worthless losers out there with their own hate tomes and no big movements seem to be out there clamouring to read that dreck.
People like that are emotionally manipulative and just not that creative or brilliant. There are just not that many ways to justify hate and fear. Finding a scapegoat while infantilizing your pigeons and assure them it is not their fault they screwed up their lives and their country is tried and true. The End. It is merely timing and social convenience that propels hate books into public awareness.
We don't need to read Mein Kampf. There is nothing remotely instructive in it. There are lots of people who open their mouths and reveal themselves to be just as idiotic and bitter.
We don't need to give it any more legitimacy or importance. We need to understand why demented logic seems appealing in the first place and why do many people pick a losing strategy instead of living a kinder existence without always looking to absolve themselves of the blame they need to accept before they can truly change their lives for the better.
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 1:52 PM on January 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


It's almost like this guy learned nothing from the Charlie Hebdo massacre.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 1:53 PM on January 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


I read as much of it as I could stand, when studying that era. It's not so much that it's profoundly offensive (although it often is), but more that it's profoundly boring. Hitler, as a writer, was prolix, rambling and repetitive. I'm a fairly patient and scholarly reader, and I just couldn't be bothered to properly read more than about half.

Mein Kampf isn't going to suck any non-negligible number of disaffected people into its sway. A few bigots might have a wank over it, and a few nutters might get obsessed with it, but other than that it's not going to do a damn thing.

What might very well lead us into an authoritarian hell is the fact that nearly every mainstream British politician is ostensibly socially and economically liberal, without actually being liberal about civil rights. We're in a crazy era, where liberalism has become wholly equated with its fruits, rather than its principles. The fact that there are certain limited echoes of Weimar Germany in this superficially liberal era is a point that Mr Docherty ought to find discomforting, but I very much doubt he even has the knowledge to understand the comparison.
posted by howfar at 1:54 PM on January 26, 2015 [12 favorites]


Don't mention the war. I mentioned it once but I think I got away with it.
posted by Poldo at 1:54 PM on January 26, 2015 [8 favorites]


Mein Kamf is an excellent book and should be mandatory reading for 11 year olds.

There is no better inoculation against right wing nonsense than seeing what it looks like on its own terms, in the words of its truest believers.

The only reason Rush Limbaugh and the like can get away with comparing atheists and feminists to Nazis (or claiming that the Nazis were atheists and feminists) is that not enough of his audience know what Nazis actually stood for.
posted by idiopath at 1:54 PM on January 26, 2015 [5 favorites]


No. No, there are not limits on free speech. That we have to explain this to anyone is enraging.
posted by gsh at 1:55 PM on January 26, 2015 [7 favorites]


Yeah, if we are going to be looking at places to limit free speech, I think harassment on the internet is a more worth (and complex and difficult) target than sad, dead Hitler's nasty book.
posted by GenjiandProust at 1:56 PM on January 26, 2015


Hugo Rifkind on Holocaust Memorial Day: "it is like the coin carried by an alcoholic, to remind him not to drink."
posted by sobarel at 1:58 PM on January 26, 2015 [3 favorites]


We don't need to read Mein Kampf.

Nobody is saying you have to read it. They are saying people who wish to read it should not be prevented from reading it.

There is nothing remotely instructive in it.


It's hugely instructive about the cultural discourse that lead to the rise of Nazism. It's simply wrong to say that this is a finished discussion. No history is ever "finished" in that sense. We continue to debate the exact nature, causes and repercussions of everything from the Punic Wars through the American Revolution to the Vietnam War. We keep trying to gain a fuller understanding of every major development in history, and we need to be able to get as full a picture as possible of every document that played a significant part in those developments.

That Hitler was an evil bastard and that his views are revolting and his prose dreary doesn't in any way lessen the importance of understanding the impact of and the contemporary response to Mein Kampf.
posted by yoink at 1:59 PM on January 26, 2015 [11 favorites]


Docherty said that the reality today is that if "someone puts the contents of Mein Kampf on to a blog, the police would knock on their door …"
Is that actually true in Scotland or in the UK in general, since the Guardian didn't see fit to comment?
XMLicious

It would be good if someone with actual knowledge of the current law in the UK could answer this. There have been quite a few changes to the laws on racial hatred in the UK over the years and there's a history of treating such things as sedition in the common law going back to at least the 18th Century.

If I understand it correctly, there are both offences that require and don't require intent. Even the offence that doesn't require intent does require that it be shown that the action is likely to incite racial hatred. I would expect this means that the requirement for some context would mean similar issues arose whether the test is subjective (did the poster put the book on their blog in order to incite anti-semitic hatred?) or objective (was the book posted in a context where anti-semitic hatred would result?).

Either way, I'd guess if it were posted by a neo-nazi on a right wing blog, it could be an offence. If it was posted by an academic on a scholarly blog about WWII or politics, it most likely would not. The law of course works in mysterious ways and the statutes are complex (I've no idea what the caselaw around it says, which is the more important question).

Would the police be interested enough to knock on a blogger's door? Would they be interested enough to even check whether the blogger was in their jurisdiction? I'd say that was more of a political question. Leaving a copy lying around at Glasgow Airport when an El Al flight is due in, or chanting extracts at Spurs fans the next time they play at Hampden on the other hand...
posted by GeckoDundee at 2:01 PM on January 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


No, there are not limits on free speech.

Of course there are: "shouting 'fire' in a crowded theater" being the obvious, classic example. There's also defamation, treason, "fighting words" etc. etc. etc. There are all kinds of perfectly reasonable limitations on "free speech." Banning the sale of Mein Kampf obviously falls outside those reasonable limitations, however.
posted by yoink at 2:02 PM on January 26, 2015 [3 favorites]


Would the police be interested enough to knock on a blogger's door? Would they be interested enough to even check whether the blogger was in their jurisdiction?

These are frightening questions. Civil liberties should be protected formally, not by the arbitrary and capricious whims of the police.
posted by busted_crayons at 2:06 PM on January 26, 2015 [5 favorites]


back in the 90s I took a German friend to the Wright Patterson Air Force museum. He was absolutely shocked and horrified by the German WWI and WWII planes, SS uniforms and so on displayed with full regalia, and confused by how the Americans considered war icons such as the "Red Baron" a notable and admirable person. He went on to say that (at least in his experience) education about the German roles in both world wars was pretty thin and amounted to "we don't talk about that".

I attended Gymnasium (high school) in Germany in the late 1990s and we absolutely talked about that ("that" being the events leading up to and including the Holocaust and WWI/WWII), often to the exclusion of other historical subject matter.
posted by mynameisluka at 2:11 PM on January 26, 2015


I'm pretty sure these questions are not answered by the police in Scotland, but by the Procurator Fiscal's office. There will always be political dimensions to decisions like this, but hopefully they won't be too capricious or arbitrary.
posted by GeckoDundee at 2:13 PM on January 26, 2015


It's not so much that it's profoundly offensive (although it often is), but more that it's profoundly boring.

These seem contradictory. People are often very excited by offensive things.

There is no better inoculation against right wing nonsense than seeing what it looks like on its own terms, in the words of its truest believers.

I guess that's why Fox News is reducing right wing idiocy so effectively, huh...

urging a ‘sensitive debate’ on allowing its sale.

is this distinct from allowing it in libraries? I'd be fine with stopping people from being able to promote and make money off of selling it. For those who are seriously curious what it was about or need to do some specific research, I don't see why it shouldn't be available to the public through the library system though.
posted by mdn at 2:14 PM on January 26, 2015


Labour MP, ey?

Would he be down with banning Marx? Mao's Little Red Book?

Of course, rhe obvious rejoinder is that banning the damned things will only encourage people to read them, which is saying something because if you want tedious writing....
posted by IndigoJones at 2:18 PM on January 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


Nobody read Mein Kampf even back in the day; it has only iconic significance now. I acknowledge that there is an argument for banning the sale and display of racist icons, such as Nazi memorabilia, but I can't see any point to this ban: it's not as if Scottish Fascism ever made real inroads, or that university students are presently marching around in grey kilts.

Incidentally, Scotland has a funny relationship with anti-Semitism: English racists conflated the supposed characteristics of Scots (frugality, a funny accent, red hair, a desire to "fit in") with those of Jews. So you would get sketches in Punch and comedy routines in music halls where Jews passed themselves off as Scots and called themselves things like "Moses McTavish". I don't believe Scotland itself was either very warm or very unfriendly to Jews; the community was always small, now much smaller, and public anti-Semitism today seems to be mostly confined to some nutters who dress it up as anti-Zionism (i.e., the sort of anti-Zionism that talks about the "the Jew Leon Trotsky"). I don't think the problem is large enough to need a legislative response, and if it were, this would not be a helpful one.
posted by Joe in Australia at 2:20 PM on January 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


Hitler, as a writer, was prolix, rambling and repetitive

Well he did dictate it from jail. Have you heard what they do to you in a German nick? I'm surprised he managed to get any coherent thoughts out at all.
posted by Hoopo at 2:23 PM on January 26, 2015


The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich

Slight tangent: I read this last year, and each time I pulled it out of my bag to read on the bus, I found myself really wishing the publisher had come up with a different book cover.
posted by Atom Eyes at 2:23 PM on January 26, 2015 [3 favorites]


I think this is a debate we should have, and there is an irony if we censor a debate about the limits of free speech.
Note the quick rhetorical twist from "I want to do this" to "I'm forced to do this otherwise it's censorship". Slippery little git.
posted by metaBugs at 2:25 PM on January 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


Nobody read Mein Kampf even back in the day; it has only iconic significance now.

Wikipedia claims,
Although Hitler originally wrote this book mostly for the followers of National Socialism, it grew in popularity. He accumulated a tax debt of 405,500 Reichsmark (about US$ 8 million today, or € 6 million) from the sale of about 240,000 copies by the time he became chancellor in 1933 (at which time his debt was waived).
posted by XMLicious at 2:25 PM on January 26, 2015


mdn: the thing is, Mein Kampf sounds a lot like Fox News, and when read with full knowledge that it is the manifesto behind one of history's great atrocities, that can help you take something like Fox News for what it's worth.
posted by idiopath at 2:30 PM on January 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


I attended Gymnasium (high school) in Germany in the late 1990s and we absolutely talked about that ("that" being the events leading up to and including the Holocaust and WWI/WWII), often to the exclusion of other historical subject matter.

Yes, the Holocaust is legally required to be taught in Germany, and I've heard people complain that so much class time is spent on it. Here's an article from Haaretz that suggests the Holocaust is studied just as intensively in German schools as in Israeli ones.

Well he did dictate it from jail. Have you heard what they do to you in a German nick?

Hitler had a very cushy time in jail (where he served only 9 months for the crime of high treason!) - the judges and jailers were all pro-Nazi.
posted by sobarel at 2:31 PM on January 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


These seem contradictory. People are often very excited by offensive things.

Oh it's not boring because it's offensive. It's boring because its badly written turgid drivel. In an era of live streamed beheadings, this is not the kind of offensive work that will capture any imaginations that aren't already caught.

I also wonder if people understand that Mein Kampf is not a rip roaring outpouring of hate, but rather a ponderous discussion of what Hitler evidently thought was his Very Serious Thought, impaired by the fact that he was a sophomoric, poorly educated and embarrassingly limited thinker. The deficiencies of the book, from the perspective of a reader, have very little to do with his being an evil fucking bastard.

Would he be down with banning Marx? Mao's Little Red Book?

Hahaha. Almost certainly. Jesus, what do you think the Labour party are? They severed all meaningful connections with socialism in 1995 at the latest.
posted by howfar at 2:31 PM on January 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


In an apparent concession to terrorists who wish to shut us up, the Harper government will be implementing new restrictions on freedom of speech in Canada. The actual contents of this currently-secret law will not be known until Friday when they pass it.
posted by Poldo at 2:36 PM on January 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


Wikipedia claims

See references above to Shirer's The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich*, and the view that people bought Mein Kampf, but rarely actually read it.

*Which is definitely still worth a read today, despite its flaws in light of modern scholarship, if only because (in contrast to Mein Kampf) it is so well written.
posted by howfar at 2:36 PM on January 26, 2015


Hitler had a very cushy time in jail

(I know, I was really hoping I wasn't the only one who remembered the schoolyard rhyme, but here I am)
posted by Hoopo at 2:39 PM on January 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


Heck, I am not even in favor of banning The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which is every bit as hate-filled and anti-Semetic, with the added benefit of being completely made up (well, cribbed from different imaginary Right-wing fantasies of conspiracy).

These things need to be out there in the open, where they can be addressed rather than left to fester and bob to the surface every decade or so in the hands of a new bunch of hate mongers. I am afraid that there is not enough sunlight to ever disinfect these hate viruses, but hiding them won't help at all. They need to be seen for the contemptible bullshit they are.
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:39 PM on January 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


Sorry Hoopo - that one whooshed right over my head.
posted by sobarel at 2:40 PM on January 26, 2015


Docherty said that the reality today is that if "someone puts the contents of Mein Kampf on to a blog, the police would knock on their door …"

I'm not sure about Scottish law specifically, but the wiki page on Hate Speech law in the UK is short and worth a read. Crudely put, it's an offence to intentionally stir up racial hatred, or to act in such a way that a reasonable person would expect to stir it up. Interestingly, it's not an offence to insult a religion, but this can get a bit squiffy depending how much people think (...or think that others think) that e.g. Muslim is a racial group. It's something that gets argued about quite a bit (although not as much as I'd like) in the UK press, with the usual problem that it's hard to fight for free speech without being perceived as a supporter of bigoted assholes. Hate speech, freedom of expression and freedom of religion: a dialogue is an interesting read on this topic, with a focus on UK law.

Every now and again, news stories pop up about people getting arrested or cautioned about stuff they've posted on personal blogs or social media that's deemed to have crossed the line. Doesn't seem to happen a great deal, but enough that Docherty's probably not out of bounds to suggest it.
posted by metaBugs at 2:49 PM on January 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


Since copyright is a big issue here in MeFiLand, you might be interested to know that former Senator Alan Cranston from California, was sued by former Führer Adolf Hitler back in the 30's for publishing Mein Kampf here in the USA. Cranston had it translated and he published it to let everyone here know just what this Hitler character was all about. It was a big money maker for A. H. and he got upset because no royalties. So, yes, there are reasons for publishing such items even if you violate the copyright.
posted by njohnson23 at 2:58 PM on January 26, 2015 [2 favorites]


Labour MP, ey?

Would he be down with banning Marx? Mao's Little Red Book?


A huge portion of the Labour Party and its antecedents were never Marxist. I don't know if that what the point you were seeking to make, but it's an interesting historical fact which is often overlooked. Marxism never was all that significant to socialism in the UK when compared to other countries.
posted by Thing at 3:02 PM on January 26, 2015 [3 favorites]


No. No, there are not limits on free speech. That we have to explain this to anyone is enraging.

That people think free speech is an absolute is enraging. It's not, it never has been, and with any luck it never will be. "Fire" in a theatre, sure, but what about--for example--laws that restrict claims that manufacturers may make about products? That's restriction of free speech and is an absolute societal good.

I quite like the idea of nobody ever making money off this book again. Libraries, yes. Bookstores? No.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 3:04 PM on January 26, 2015 [4 favorites]


despite its flaws in light of modern scholarship

Shirer is up-front about the flaws of his own book even in the preface; what makes it compelling, as he intended, is that he was able to write it in living memory of the events it documents. Every once in awhile Shirer can't resist slipping into the first person and telling a personal account of his experience among the Nazis. Shirer was a radio correspondent who frequently visited Germany during the rise and reported from the front lines and Berlin from the start of the war until 1940. He saw Hitler speak and personally met both many ordinary Germans and many of the principal characters in the drama. If it's not as dry as some might prefer, it's because a great deal of it was personal.
posted by localroger at 3:05 PM on January 26, 2015 [2 favorites]


He went on to say that (at least in his experience) education about the German roles in both world wars was pretty thin and amounted to "we don't talk about that".
Just to swap anecdotes, I have heard many many times that Germans are very well educated about the horrors of WW2. And I understand Mein Kampf is banned in Germany. As for WW1, I think it's ok to admire the Red Baron.

Like many non US Americans, I'm a bit more relaxed about book banning. But this one is pointless.
posted by wilful at 3:07 PM on January 26, 2015


Oh BTW you might want to stop using that stop using that fire in a crowded theatre quote. The Supreme Court decision which it was used to justify was itself very odious (the actual case was about a war protester convicted under the Espionage Act for speaking out againt the draft) and was eventually overturned.
posted by localroger at 3:08 PM on January 26, 2015 [14 favorites]


Mein Kamf is an excellent book and should be mandatory reading for 11 year olds.

There is no better inoculation against right wing nonsense than seeing what it looks like on its own terms, in the words of its truest believers.


11 year olds on Xbox Live gleefully use antisemitic slurs they learned from Cartman. I get that these materials should be available, but we needn't be so enthusiastic about it.
posted by gorbweaver at 3:09 PM on January 26, 2015 [4 favorites]


Learned something new today, localroger. Thank you.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 3:11 PM on January 26, 2015 [2 favorites]


See references above to Shirer's The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, and the view that people bought Mein Kampf, but rarely actually read it.

Claiming "nobody" read Mein Kampf, which is what was said at least twice above, or even just "rarely", seems to me quite an exaggeration of even what Shirer says:
Except for the Bible, no other book sold as well during the Nazi regime, when few family households felt secure without a copy on the table. It was almost obligatory — and certainly politic — to present a copy to a bride and groom at their wedding, and nearly every school child received one on graduation from whatever school. By 1940, the year after World War II broke out, six million copies of the Nazi bible had been sold in Germany.

Not every German who bought a copy of Mein Kampf necessarily read it. I have heard many a Nazi stalwart complain that it was hard going and not a few admit—in private—that they were never able to get through to the end of its 782 turgid pages.
But the quarter million copies sold that Wikipedia mentions is from before 1933, when Hitler wasn't even Chancellor yet.

I don't think there's any purpose served by claiming that nobody read Mein Kampf or by putting those words or "rarely" in Shirer's mouth, when clearly all he's doing is relating anecdotes and until e-readers there probably wasn't data on how often purchased books are actually read in their entirety, anyway.
posted by XMLicious at 3:22 PM on January 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


Shirer's "Berlin Diaries" and "The Nightmare Years" have all the first-person journalist's experience and none of the amateur historian.

I think everyone should read Richard L. Evans' "The Coming Of The Third Reich", which really schooled me on what exactly happened in Germany between 1918 and 1933.
posted by thelonius at 3:41 PM on January 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


seems to me quite an exaggeration of even what Shirer says:

That's a fair point. What I think I'd say is that the view that purchasing Mein Kampf was often significantly, or even primarily, a political statement, rather than an act of literary interest, is not unsupported. To some extent it's not a very significant argument, as you say. Most bibles, for example, are only partially read, if at all, but that doesn't make them, or their content, irrelevant to their owners.
posted by howfar at 3:42 PM on January 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


*shrug* like I said, I was young and taking what was told me at face value. This was 1990, my German friend was older than I, and would have graduated high school in the late '70s. Whether or not he paid attention in history class is another matter. He did say that displaying Nazi symbolism openly (such as is done on the German planes at Wright Patt AFB Museum) was banned in Germany, so perhaps that was the source of his shock/consternation.
posted by lonefrontranger at 3:52 PM on January 26, 2015


I can't imagine any large publishing house actually wanting to put out a proper new issue of this book. "Yup, were profiting from Mein Kampf now!"
posted by Pyrogenesis at 4:03 PM on January 26, 2015


Oh BTW you might want to stop using that stop using that fire in a crowded theatre quote. The Supreme Court decision which it was used to justify was itself very odious (the actual case was about a war protester convicted under the Espionage Act for speaking out againt the draft) and was eventually overturned.

That seems like getting confused about how analogies work. Holmes wasn't passing a law about yelling fire in a crowded theatre, he was comparing the actions of that "war protestor" to someone who yells "fire" (falsely and maliciously) in a crowded theater. That the analogy may have been a poor one and that the legal decision was ultimately overturned doesn't reflect in any way at all on whether it is either legal or a good idea for someone to falsely induce panic in a crowded theater.

That the law reasonably and correctly imposes many, many limits on free speech (such as maliciously yelling "fire" in a crowded theater) remains a fact even if we ultimately changed our minds about whether this one particular limit was reasonable.
posted by yoink at 4:13 PM on January 26, 2015 [3 favorites]


yoink, from the article I linked...
In 1969, the Supreme Court's decision in Brandenburg v. Ohio effectively overturned Schenck and any authority the case still carried. There, the Court held that inflammatory speech--and even speech advocating violence by members of the Ku Klux Klan--is protected under the First Amendment, unless the speech "is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action".
So no, it wasn't just a bad analogy for Schenck, the analogy itself is wrong. The solution to an asshole who yells "fire" isn't to make a law against it, it's for those around him to shout "No there isn't" and for people generally to not panic at such a warning.

The rest of the article makes other good points. The fire analogy can be used to justify censoring just about anything, just as the speech in Schenck was a lot milder than stuff we take for granted as being permissible today.
posted by localroger at 4:28 PM on January 26, 2015 [3 favorites]


Who holds the copyright to it, anyway? Supposing that some major publishing house did want to print a new edition, for whatever reason and with some sort of interesting preface or on tabloid-sized sheets with 300% more critical commentary than actual text... doesn't the German government technically own the copyright?

Did they have translations done into English back in the 30s, as well? I assume that they did, since I've heard references to Americans reading it back then, but they might still have valid US copyrights as well, which are later than the original German one.

Presumably the rightsholders could prevent it from being reprinted without any actual government censorship, much like Disney does with some of their more, er, regrettable old cartoons.

It's one thing for the government to say, with its monopoly on violence, that a book cannot be printed or read; it's quite different if the entity that owns it decides for their own reasons that they would prefer not to have it in circulation while it's still their right to decide. Of course, copyright terms are absurdly long, but while they exist that way, the rightsholder does have something of a say in the matter.

Also this is sort of a weird argument to even be having anymore; if anyone wants to simply read the book, they can find it online at Project Gutenberg Australia, where it is apparently now in the public domain due to their somewhat more reasonable copyright laws.
posted by Kadin2048 at 4:30 PM on January 26, 2015


I think a comparison between Mein Kampf and the Bible is very apt. I have personally read the Bible cover to cover three times, which is exactly three more times than nearly every Christian I've ever known has read it. Given the reviews I'd accept that only those afflicted with a powerful enough curiosity or truly diehard interest bothered with the Kampf.
posted by localroger at 4:31 PM on January 26, 2015


well, that's an interesting tidbit from wikipedia:
The U.S. government seized the copyright during the Second World War under the Trading with the Enemy Act and in 1979, Houghton Mifflin, the U.S. publisher of the book, bought the rights from the government pursuant to 28 C.F.R. 0.47
And
Houghton Mifflin's abridged English translation left out some of Hitler's more anti-Semitic and militaristic statements. This motivated Alan Cranston, an American reporter for United Press International in Germany (and later a U.S. Senator from California), to publish his own abridged and annotated translation. Cranston believed this version more accurately reflected the contents of the book and Hitler's intentions. In 1939, Cranston was sued by Hitler's publisher for copyright infringement, and a Connecticut judge ruled in Hitler's favour.
posted by Zed at 4:42 PM on January 26, 2015 [3 favorites]


Why did my grandfather translate Mein Kampf? It was published as a serial in Britain in 1939:
Barkow, then produces a Murphy edition which Hutchinson brought out in 18 weekly parts. Bright yellow and red, each part sold for sixpence. What's extraordinary, though, is what it says down one side of the cover: "Royalties on all sales will go to the British Red Cross Society." On the other side of the cover: "The blue-print of German imperialism. The most widely discussed book of the modern world."
The state of Bavaria holds the copyright in Germany now. Even at the time, there was some confusion about the copyright, because he published his translation in the UK against the wishes of the government in Germany:
My grandfather, however, did not receive royalty payments. Hutchinson argued that he had already been paid by the German government and that the full copyright hadn't been secured, so they could still be sued by Eher Verlag. An official letter from Germany, which turned out to be a diatribe against James Murphy, made clear Berlin disapproved of his translation. But the Germans didn't take any action. Eher Verlag even requested complimentary copies and royalty payments. They didn't receive them.
posted by BungaDunga at 4:54 PM on January 26, 2015


So no, it wasn't just a bad analogy for Schenck, the analogy itself is wrong. The solution to an asshole who yells "fire" isn't to make a law against it, it's for those around him to shout "No there isn't" and for people generally to not panic at such a warning.

The analogy was wrong because the court ultimately determined that what Charles Schenk did was not the equivalent of "shouting fire in a crowded theater." They did not determine that shouting fire in a crowded theater is o.k.

And it's like some hilarious libertarian fantasy to say that the solution to someone shouting fire in a crowded theater is for the crowd to collectively assess the validity of the claim by some kind of individual polling of the trustworthiness of those shouting "fire" vs. those shouting "no there isn't." That's just utterly absurd. The whole point of the example is that panic ensues upon the shout of "fire" and in that panic it is not possible for people to quietly sift through the evidence pro and con the actual presence of the fire. Fire moves fast and kills fast (especially in theaters in those days, with the naked flame of the footlights etc.). The only prudent course on hearing a shout of "fire" was not to spontaneously set up a Committee for Establishing the Veracity of the Fire Claim but to get the hell out. But when everyone decides to get the hell out, trampling and other deaths are very likely to ensue.

In other words, the action is very much akin to that speech "directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and...likely to incite or produce such action," which, as you note, rightly remains thoroughly illegal.

In other words, it is entirely o.k. to write a book in which you say "Theaters are death traps; every time you go into one you'll burn to death!" It is not o.k. to stand up in the midst of a crowd in a confined space with constrained exits and start shrieking "Fire, fire, oh my god, we're all going to die! Run, run!'" (or, more likely these days, "Oh my god, he's got a gun! Run!") unless you are genuinely persuaded that a fire is imminent, and such action, if determined to be undertaken maliciously would, rightly and for very good reason, be prosecutable.
posted by yoink at 5:01 PM on January 26, 2015 [5 favorites]


I think this is a perfect example of how we look back at Nazism with a kind of twisted reverence. To ban Mein Kampf would be to give it unwarranted gravitas and send the message that the ideas it contains are so powerful and dangerous, so...awesome (in the biblical sense), that they must be hidden from view.

The reality is that Mein Kampf is nothing more than the long-winded and delusional rantings of an asshole. It's actually its own best argument against itself.
posted by seymourScagnetti at 5:04 PM on January 26, 2015 [3 favorites]


As a slight derail, I've been thinking a lot lately about how Muslims are viewed today in the west have a very similar tone to how the Jews were treated pre-holocaust.... This isn't a perfect parallel. I'm not a historian, but I don't believe the Jews at the time had the same terrorist actions...

It's very imperfect. There had been a (comparatively) low-grade antagonism against Jews for centuries. Martin Luther - the father of Protestantism - in particular was... not a fan - and that was the early/mid 1500s, and not new ideas even then. Various times and places were better and worse, but Muslims in Europe have not had to endure nearly as much crap as the Jews historically have. And even as bad as it was - it still took Hitler to bring it to a whole new extreme.

What I'm trying to say is that anti-jewish sentiment was embedded in the culture in a way and degree that anti muslim sentiment really is not.

That being said, I continue to be impressed at the ways humankind refuses to learn any lessons from history at all, so it is entirely possible you will one day be right.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 5:20 PM on January 26, 2015


Mein Kampf is horrible and was written by the most horrible person. It would be nice if this horrible person and the horror that they created weren't just swept under the rug and forgotten about. Such would be a disservice to the people who were victims of that tragedy. Sometimes it's important to not let hurtful things be forgotten, and risk having them happen again.

On occasion I've though the same thing about statues of fallen tyrants. Part of me wishes they would be left standing as a reminder, but the other part of me realizes that I would want to tear down a monument to a guy who killed my family or something.

Books are obviously something completely different.

Slight tangent: I read this last year, and each time I pulled it out of my bag to read on the bus, I found myself really wishing the publisher had come up with a different book cover.

The cover should have included an arrow pointing upwards at your face reading, "TOTALLY NOT A NAZI."
posted by brundlefly at 5:32 PM on January 26, 2015


Not remembering or pretending it didn't happen..... Is the crime.
posted by mrgroweler at 5:47 PM on January 26, 2015


I can't imagine any large publishing house actually wanting to put out a proper new issue of this book.

Kobo Books: seven editions from $0.25 to $16.74, including the "Special Banned Edition". (I know it's not a "proper new issue", but still.)

Money is the universal solvent, at least for concerns like this.
posted by sneebler at 6:05 PM on January 26, 2015


yoink, the problem is not that it's inherently wrong to shout fire in a crowded theatre, it's that it's wrong to think you can make that illegal, and far more wrong to use the analogy as an excuse to argue for banning just about anything else. As the article said it's a lazy cheat. If you really want a form of speech banned you can do better, and if that's all you got I got Schenck saying maybe it ain't enough.
posted by localroger at 7:09 PM on January 26, 2015 [2 favorites]


As a slight derail, I've been thinking a lot lately about how Muslims are viewed today in the west have a very similar tone to how the Jews were treated pre-holocaust.

Really? What makes you say that?

Was there some 1930's reaction to jews beheading people on the streets of Germany, perhaps? Or publishing videos of themselves beheading people that shaped how Europe viewed them?

Are there brownshirts walking around European cities, kicking muslims out of their lawfully owned businesses while the legal authorities stand and do nothing but watch with tacit approval?

Perhaps there's anti-muslim propaganda like this popping up in the mainstream media that I've missed?

How does someone even use a tone to view a group anyway? And how do you detect that tone at work?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 7:40 PM on January 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


"Yet, along with all the pretentious and disordered thoughts, the book contains some deep insights, born directly of Hitler's profound irrationality, and well as many sharp formulations and striking images. ... His attempts at logic are at variance with his dull repetitiousness, and the one element in the book that nothing counteracts is the monotonous, manic egocentricity. This corresponds only too well with with the lack of human feeling and human beings in its many pages. The book may be tedious and hard to read. Yet it does convey a remarkably faithful portrait of its author, who in his constant fear of being unmasked actually unmasks himself." -- Joachim Fest

The Labour MP was clear that there “is a difference between a book which can cause an offence, and a book which can incite hatred … I don’t think this is a debate about The Satanic Verses, or the film The Last Temptation of Christ. Both caused offence, but they don’t seek to incite hatred,” he said. “This is not a debate around political books or manifestos or books which cause offence … What Mein Kampf and books like it do is specifically set out to incite hatred. It is literally the manifesto for Nazism.”

Except, Mr. Docherty, for this: Geert Wilders (among others) has argued, frequently and loudly, that the Dutch ban on Mein Kampf provides the exact reasoning for "books like it," including and especially the Koran, to be banned -- it's also a book that "incites hatred," in his view, so why stop with Mein Kampf?
posted by blucevalo at 8:24 PM on January 26, 2015 [2 favorites]


What I'm trying to say is that anti-jewish sentiment was embedded in the culture in a way and degree that anti muslim sentiment really is not.

Not that the comparison is particularly apt (or relevant to the FPP), but, like, no, sorry, that's nonsense.

Islamophobia is baked into Europe every bit as much as antisemitism is. Indeed, many European nations' very identities are unapologetically based around that time they drove all the Muslims out of some Emirate or Caliphate or Khanate or Neverending Clusterfuck or other. In these days of an increasingly united Europe (plus whatever the heck Russia is), popular (and official) sentiments regarding what is and is not acceptably European (or Russian, etc.) often seem like nothing more than thinly-veiled 100- or 500- or 1000-year-old grudges between long-dead empires, the Other of which unfortunately happens to have been Muslim.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:33 PM on January 26, 2015 [4 favorites]


Perhaps there's anti-muslim propaganda like this popping up in the mainstream media that I've missed?

Unless you've been in a coma for the last thirty-five years, I don't see how you could've missed it.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:38 PM on January 26, 2015 [2 favorites]


My CC professor had a few copies, the paperback orange ones with a swastika, and gave another student and myself a copy for a panel discussion at university. I asked if I could cover the cover.

"Here" she took back the book and proceeded to rip the cover off and flung it in the trash.

"I bet that felt good"
posted by clavdivs at 9:02 PM on January 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


Libraries, yes. Bookstores? No.

This no longer works in an era of e-readers and using Amazon as a library.
posted by corb at 10:15 PM on January 26, 2015


Labour politician - says it all really.
posted by shmarko at 5:01 AM on January 27, 2015


Labour politician - says it all really.

Well yes, but you could as easily substitute "Tory politician" in there and it would be true too. We've has 20 years of clearly authoritarian and illiberal legislation from both main parties (I'd argue that Thatcher was actually better on civil liberties than her successors in many ways, much as it irks me to admit it; PACE, for example, was a genuinely important piece of legislation in terms of the rights of the individual.)

The CJPOA 1994, the Crime and Disorder Act 1998, SOCPA 2005, the Terrorist Asset-Freezing Act 2010, the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 (which both chillingly and hilariously removed the requirement for scientists to be consulted on drugs policy, because facts can tend to cloud a politician's judgement), LASPO 2012 (which lays the foundation for the ongoing gutting of Legal Aid, and represents a huge blow against practical civil liberties), the Immigration Act 2014 (under which a requirement for landlords to demand passports from prospective tenants is currently rolling out)...I could go on.

The last Labour government was fucking appalling on civil liberties. The Coalition is, perhaps, marginally better (some small concessions on control orders, for example), but clearly only because of the marginal influence of the Lib Dems.

Our current batch of politicians are sleepwalking us all towards authoritarianism because they think that politics is managerial. They don't take threats to freedom seriously, no matter what they say, because they don't really understand the history or context of such threats. They have bought into the lie of the end of history, and I very much fear that we will all pay for their idiocy.
posted by howfar at 5:55 AM on January 27, 2015 [6 favorites]


You know who else banned books that he thought were offensive?

The PTA?

So, I used to work for Borders. We were right across the street from a major German company. They had a lot of people visit on short term work projects, so these folks would come in and really stock up on books, since they said they were super expensive back home with the VAT or whatever. Almost every single one of them would buy a copy of Mein Kampf. We sold like 1000% more copies than any other story in the chain. I couldn't figure it out. I didn't think we were being inundated with racists or closet Nazis. I don't question other people's book buying though, so it wasn't until one finally said, "This is banned in my country," that I understood the desire to read it. As a kid, and as an adult, nothing makes me want to do something more than telling me I can't.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:51 AM on January 27, 2015 [2 favorites]


as an adult, nothing makes me want to do something more than telling me I can't.

Isn't society kind of based on things like

o Don't kill your neighbours
o Don't drive on the left
o Don't not pay your taxes

?
posted by sneebler at 10:20 AM on January 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


Eh, I suppose, but I more mean things like:

o Don't smoke marijuana
o Don't listen to the devil's music
o Don't read this book.

I guess the difference is whether or not I agree it's a bad thing. So if someone tells me not to murder, I'm going to agree. If someone tells me they are outlawing salt and butter in restaurants I am bringing my own.
posted by cjorgensen at 11:14 AM on January 27, 2015 [3 favorites]


From James Clavell's novel Tai-pan, which is set in Hong Kong in the 1840s:
"Strange, strange people, the Chinese, Culum," Struan said. "For instance; only the emperor among three hundred millions is allowed to use vermilion ink. Imagine that. If Queen Victoria said, ‘From now on, only I am allowed to use vermilion,’ as much as we love her, forty thousand Britons would instantly forswear all ink but vermilion."
(No idea if that claim about vermilion ink was really true in China.)
posted by XMLicious at 1:18 PM on January 27, 2015


(It is true, to a certain extent; only the Emperor was allowed to do calligraphy with it, but everyone used it for those little red square signature chops that are on everything. It's just as well its use was restricted, since vermilion is made from highly toxic mercury sulfide.)
posted by Sys Rq at 1:30 PM on January 27, 2015 [3 favorites]


I guess the difference is whether or not I agree it's a bad thing. So if someone tells me not to murder, I'm going to agree. If someone tells me they are outlawing salt and butter in restaurants I am bringing my own.

I'm all for marijuana and buttered rolls, but I kinda hope there's more of a cogent philosophy at work than "I should be allowed to do things because I want to do them / I think it's a good idea for me to do!" That's the domain of kings, toddlers and sociopaths—much the same thing, admittedly.

I'd humbly suggest that—at least in my experience—any reasonably intelligent person who puts their mind to the task of creating a more general system of morality will tend to arrive at something very close to the same conclusion that some dead white guy came to a while back.
posted by Kadin2048 at 4:17 PM on January 27, 2015


"how the Americans considered war icons such as the "Red Baron" a notable and adm..."

It should be noted that Goering was the last commander of Jagdgeschwader 1.
Speer relates in both his books that in the berghof guest rooms two books were by the nightstand. Porn and mein kampf. The former being used often wereas MF was never opened.
posted by clavdivs at 4:02 PM on January 28, 2015


I'd humbly suggest that—at least in my experience—any reasonably intelligent person who puts their mind to the task of creating a more general system of morality will tend to arrive at something very close to the same conclusion that some dead white guy came to a while back.

That does suggest that all the non-Kantian ethicists in history weren't "reasonably intelligent". If you start from roughly the same metaphysical assumptions as Kant you will reach roughly the same ethical conclusions, but let's not pretend that the assumptions themselves are necessary truths.
posted by howfar at 2:00 AM on January 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


"I should be allowed to do things because I want to do them / I think it's a good idea for me to do!" That's the domain of kings, toddlers and sociopaths—much the same thing, admittedly.

The sociopath isn't able to see the needs of those outside himself. I'm saying that if my wants don't affect you, then fuck off.

I guess I am childish, but when you tell me no, I do want to do it more. I haven't eaten red meat in 12 years, but every time I see some activist do something like this, it makes me want a giant burger. Railing against a book makes me curious what's so bad about the book.

This often backfires. I read the book American Psycho because so many people were trying to get it banned. I guess I can take some pride in not liking it because I thought it was poorly written, but I still read a shit book out of spite.
posted by cjorgensen at 7:35 AM on January 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


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