Library Juice 5:10 - March 14, 2002
- Puss In Books: Adventures of the Library Cat
- Opposing Copyright Extension
- OpenLaw in Eldred v. Ashcroft
- The March 2002 issue of First Monday (volume 7, number 3)
- Journalists be shamed: the (other) Enron scandal
- The WTO and public libraries - a Swedish perspective
- Police shut down Michael Moore's booksigning, help promote book
- Masturbation message spelled with 407 books
Quote for the week:
"There is a concern that the Internet could be used to commit crimes and
that advanced encryption could disguise such activity. However, we do not
provide the government with phone jacks outside our homes for unlimited
wiretaps. Why, then, should we grant government the Orwellian capability to
listen at will and in real time to our communications across the Web?"
John Ashcroft in 1997
Personal Homepage of the week: Amanda Etches-Johnson
1. Puss In Books: Adventures of the Library Cat
Gary Roma has a knack for making documentaries about things most of us
never consider. I featured his documentary on doorstops many months ago,
and here's yet another of his creations: a film about the common library
cat, which apparently is a lot more common than many of us realize. The
film focuses on cats throughout the country that just happen to live in
public libraries, and features interviews with librarians, pet therapists,
and even pet psychics. The film also touches on small town controversies
stirred up by folks with allergies who want the library cats removed
permanently. Cat lovers will enjoy this film, but it's sheer eccentricity
makes it worth watching regardless of your position on felines. Note:
CinemaNow requires a quick regsitration before you can view their films.
Review by Adam, Lockergnome
Thanks to Richard Alexander of the list librarians[at]tao.ca
2. Opposing Copyright Extension
A website maintained by Dennis S. Karjala, Professor of Law, Arizona State
"On October 7, 1998, both the House and the Senate passed S. 505, the
"Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act," extending the already-too-long
term of copyright protection by another 20 years. The legislation purports
to cover even works already in existence -- a windfall gift to special
interests of what rightfully belongs to the public. President Bill Clinton,
a self-proclaimed supporter of the little guy, signed the bill on October
27, 1998. Like the Congress, former President Clinton sold out the
interests of the American people to a few owners of valuable copyrights
from the 1920's and 1930's. This web site shows how and why this action was
a tragic mistake. It also supplies news on a judicial challenge to the
constitutionality of the term extension legislation, and contains materials
opposing longer copyright terms generally in the hope that, when this issue
arises again (around the year 2015 or so), those seeking to defend the
public interest will have some ammunition."
3. OpenLaw in Eldred v. Ashcroft
* Mickey Rattles the Bars: In 1999 the Berkman Center
embarked on an unusual experiment that had onlookers
scratching their heads: It launched an ambitious legal
challenge to recent changes in copyright law using an
entirely untested method. The case was Eldred v. Reno
(now Eldred v. Ashcroft), a Constitutional challenge to
the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act (CTEA). The
method was "Openlaw," a system for crafting legal argument
using the principles of open source code software
development. The working hypothesis? The Berkman Center
would match the considerable resources of CTEA proponents--
including the deep-pocketed Walt Disney Co.--by mining an
alternative resource: the Internet community itself.
How? By "open sourcing" the Eldred case--that is, by posting
case documents and briefs in an open, online forum and
inviting Internet users to brainstorm ideas, critique
drafts of briefs, and "debug" legal argument as necessary.
The move was controversial for two reasons: Not only was the
Openlaw method untested, the case itself was considered a long
shot. The issue of whether Congress's power to extend copyright
is limited by the First Amendment or the Constitution's Copyright
Clause had never before been directly litigated. In addition, the
fight to allow copyrighted materials to re-enter the public domain
seemed to have little resonance with the general public. "Thanks
to these extensions, for close to a hundred years people have
just gotten used to thinking that intellectual property is
just plain old property," explains professor Jonathan Zittrain,
a Berkman Center faculty co-director and one of the plaintiff
attorneys. "[I]t makes no sense to imagine somebody after a
certain time coming in and taking your rug or your chair and
saying 'Sorry, your ownership expired.'" For the next two years
the courts appeared to agree, and the Eldred team--anchored by
Stanford law professor Lawrence Lessig--lost a series of actions
Late last month, however, the US Supreme Court agreed to hear
the case, a decision that provoked a wide range of reactions.
American University law professor Peter Jaszi told the New
York Times that he was "flabbergasted and delighted" that the
Supreme Court took the case, while Harvard University law
professor and Berkman Faculty Fellow Arthur Miller--who wrote a
friend-of-the-court brief in support of the CTEA in 1999--said he
thought the case was long dead. "My view on this was then and
is now that this is a matter for Congress to decide," Miller said.
"This is not a matter for courts to decide." Motion Picture
Association of America head Jack Valenti echoed the sentiment,
issuing a press statement asserting his "absolute confidence"
that the Supreme Court will uphold "the decision of the US Circuit
Court of Appeals and the wisdom of the Congress."
Whatever the final outcome of the case, says Berkman Faculty
Director Charles Nesson, taking it into an open forum and then
having the case picked up by the Supreme Court has brought the
issues at hand to a much wider audience. "The very process of
having this question validated and on the intellectual agenda
of interested constituencies for the period of time it takes
until the court speaks...in itself is of tremendous value."
Last year, Jonathan Tasini won a landmark copyright case before
the Supreme Court affirming authors' rights in the digital sphere.
Now Tasini has written a Los Angeles Times op-ed piece supporting
the plaintiffs in Eldred v. Ashcroft--asserting that, contrary
to popular belief, copyright term extensions generally benefit
corporations, not authors. Read the piece at the below URL:
***EXTRA: Interested in learning more about projects like Openlaw?
Follow the link below for a New Scientist article that profiles a
wide range of public interest initiatives inspired by open source
code software development.
< http://www.newscientist.com/hottopics/copyleft/ >
This bit is taken from The Filter, No. 4.9
----- NOT A COPYRIGHT ================
A publication of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at
Harvard Law School <http://cyber.law.harvard.edu>
You may--and please do--forward or copy this newsletter to friends
New on the Frankentoons site, in honor of the Sono Bono Copyright Extension
Act, now under challenge in the Supreme Court, it's MickeyBono, a perfectly
legal (?) fictional portrait:
Thanks for this image are due to Disney Corp., Sonny Bono, and Joel Kahn.
Feel free to spread the word.
( Frankentoons is at http://libr.org/frankentoons/ )
5. The March 2002 issue of First Monday (volume 7, number 3)
Table of Contents and Abstracts
Volume 7, Number 3 - March 4th 2002
A Tangled World Wide Web of Security Issues
by Joris Claessens, Bart Preneel, and Joos Vandewalle
"The World Wide Web (WWW) was initially intended as a means to share
distributed information amongst individuals. Now the WWW has become the
preferred environment for a multitude of e-services: e-commerce,
e-banking, e-voting, e-government, etc. Security for these applications
is an important enabler. This article gives a thorough overview of the
different security issues regarding the WWW, and provides insight in the
current state-of-the-art and evolution of the proposed and deployed
Self-Selection Strategies for Information Goods
by A. Dedeke
"This paper describes the basics concepts of first-degree, second- and
third-degree price discrimination. The author then expands on the
second-degree concepts by illustrating how managers could exploit
quantity-, features-, performance-, and time-based discrimination
approaches. The paper differentiates the affiliation-based discrimination
concepts, and presents strategies of symmetric and asymmetric quality
adjustments for the positioning multiple information products in markets."
Internet in the Lives of Turkish Women
by Ayisigi B. Sevdik and Varol Akman
"This paper reports the findings of a recent survey conducted among Turkish
women. The aim was to find out what role, if any, the Internet plays in
their lives, what they think about it, and how and why they do or don't use
it. While a small-scale study, it provided some details on the state of
Turkish women living in a metropolitan area."
Copyleft vs. Copyright: A Marxist Critique
by Johan Soderberg
"Copyright was invented by and for early capitalism, and its importance to
that system has grown ever since. To oppose copyright is to oppose
capitalism. Thus, Marxism is a natural starting point when challenging
copyright. Marx's concept of a 'general intellect', suggesting that at some
point a collective learning process will surpass physical labour as a
productive force, offers a promising backdrop to understand the
accomplishments of the free software community. Furthermore, the chief
concerns of hacker philosophy, creativity and technological empowerment,
closely correspond to key Marxist concepts of alienation, the division of
labour, deskilling, and commodification. At the end of my inquiry, I will
suggest that the development of free software provides an early model of
the contradictions inherent to information capitalism, and that free
software development has a wider relevance to all future production of
A Mythic Perspective of Commodification on the World Wide Web
by Glendal P. Robinson
"The Internet, initially established by scholars and scientists to
freely share information, is being transformed into a source of profit
for entrepreneurs and corporations. Commodification, the process of
developing things and concepts and even people into saleable products,
calls for a representation of the foundational mythology on the Web and
its manifestation as symbolic language. This study posits a textual
analysis of Wired for the purpose of measuring this transformation on a
mythic continuum (connectivity-location-being)."
The Internet in Schools and Colleges in Sierra Leone: Prospects and
by John Abdul Kargbo
"Sierra Leone is introducing the Internet in its educational institutions
in the year 2002. This article discusses some of the prospects and
challenges these institutions that the Internet will bring to these
6. Journalists be shamed: the (other) Enron scandal
From HOLT UNCENSORED #300, Feb. 12, 2002
By Pat Holt
The Enron debacle keeps reminding me of the Ripped Lid Syndrome (#15),
which makes itself known after catastrophic events such as the JFK
assassination, Watergate or the Iran-Contra scandal.
That is, when a tragedy occurs, the ensuing investigation not only shows
us how the event happened, it rips the lid off existing institutions to
show us how business-as-usual was so inept, corrupt or foolish that some
kind of collapse was almost inevitable.
Thus the Enron debacle may tell us as much about the inner workings of
the Bush administration's behind-the-scenes manipulations and energy
policy-making as about Enron's own massive downward spiral toward
And, as we're beginning to see from online (Salon.com, TomPaine.com) and
on-paper (Washington Post) revelations, Enron may also show us how
prestigious journalists have been taking cash payments from companies
they write about without regard to conflict-of-interest concerns.
That seems to be the case with Enron: "As one participant described it,
Enron 'collected visible people' by gathering up pundits, journalists
and politicians and placing them on lucrative retainers," the Washington
Post reported over the weekend. "For a couple of days spent chatting
about current events with executives at Enron's Houston headquarters,
executives could walk away with five-figure payments."
And sometimes six figures: Named by Salon.com as recipients of
"[Kenneth] Lay's obscenely generous checks" are these journalists:
Weekly Standard editor William Kristol ($100,000),
CNBC host and National Review Online columnist Lawrence Kudlow ($50,000),
New York Times columnist Paul Krugman ($50,000),
Weekly Standard contributing editor and Sunday Times of London columnist
Irwin Stelzer (approximately $50,000) and
Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan ($25,000-$50,000; apparently
she cannot recall the exact sum."
Enron's strategy was simple: "To earn their $50,000 annual retainers,
the company's clutch of pundits and commentators only had to make two
brief visits a year to Houston" to participate in a group with other
media folk and offer opinions," the Post explains.
"Lay called the group his advisory council, and he and then-chief
executive Jeffrey K. Skilling attended their gatherings, held in a
boardroom adjacent to Lay's office on Enron's 50th floor. 'These are
exciting times, and we need all the ideas we can get,' Lay wrote to
council members in December 2000."
Or to put it another way, journalists with an obvious conflict of
interest might have said, "These are exciting times, and we need all the
cash from Enron we can get."
OK, maybe that's a little harsh, but not more than the remark made by
one of the journalists: "Kristol said he saw no conflict in collecting
$100,000 from Enron, likening it to pocketing a 'regular and generous'
honorarium for speaking before a trade association."
Oh, right - I felt the same way when a Friends of the Library group once
offered me $75.
Some observers believe that critics should go easy on Paul Krugman of
the New York Times, who "cut his Enron ties when he joined the Times in
order to comply with the newspaper's strict conflict-of-interest
policy," writes Salon.
But let's remember that Krugman was an MIT professor of economics in
1999, "when he wrote a puffy Enron piece for Fortune magazine." He
mentioned the Enron advisory board in that column, but not his huge
paycheck of $50,000. "Even Fortune's white-collar readers would probably
be stunned to read about that kind of pay for two days' work," Salon
The Bigger Picture
It's all just another nail in the nobody-to-trust coffin that's getting
larger and weightier every day in the minds of readers.
When the American press wonders why it's losing audiences, "Punditgate,"
as the Enron scandal has been called, is one more reason. The damage is
more far-reaching than the sullying of a few writers' careers at one
paper or another. Everybody gets tarred by this brush.
True, Americans know better than to trust advertisements, political
speeches, book jacket blurbs, weather predictions, before-and-after
photos of thin people, infomercials featuring The Perfect Pancake Maker
and Cher's claims that she's never had plastic surgery.
But let's not add journalists to that group - especially columnists
whose expertise may be bought off at five figures. Let's make
"Punditgate" set the bar: When the appearance of impropriety on the
part of a journalist is a possibility, let's make a rule that no cash
changes hands, no appearance is made for an "honorarium" you'll have to
defend later on.
And take a tip from independent booksellers: When the only thing you
have to sell is trust, never, ever risk losing it.
7. The WTO and public libraries - a Swedish perspective
[SRRTAC-L:7373] WTO as a threat to public libraries - a Swedish perspective
Date: Thu, 3 Jan 2002 09:26:47 -0600
From: Al Kagan <akagan[at]uiuc.edu
To: SRRT Action Council <srrtac-l[at]ala.org>
Reply to: srrtac-l[at]ala.org
Here is an interesting exchange from our Swedish friend, Lennart
Wettmark, who edits their progressive journal, BIS (Libraries in
Society). Note that the Swedish position is quite different than the
US and Japanese positions (as Fiona notes).
In the upcoming issue of bis we publish answers from both the minister and
culture and of commerce on the articel we had in bis issue3/01. That
article was a sort of remake of the speech Fiona delivered in 2000 and
which was published in Progressive Librarian in extenso in issue 18. I
contacted Fiona and presented her a slightly different version, which she
looked at and added a few things to.
Since I would like to keep her informed I have translated the two Swedish
answers. Having done all the job and knowing that this could be of interest
to you I hereby send it on the lib-plic list with the best wishes for 2002.
If you have any comments you're most welcome!
This is the original bis article:
WTO - a threat to public libraries
bis: You have in a speech on globalisation through WTO said that public
libraries could disappear now that services are next to be liberalised
FH: Yes, but before I begin, let me say that globalisation itself is not
necessarily a bad thing; it could be a good thing. And it is perhaps
inevitable. The WTO's globalisation agenda,however, is corporate-driven and
the rules are being written with the good of corporations, not the
well-being of the public, in mind.
The GATS (General Agreement on Trade and Services) introduces a whole new
field to international trade, namely services.
The GATS strives to deregulate all services across all borders world-wide
with the goal to commit each country to deregulate every service sector and
provide national treatment for foreign service-based companies. Services
include almost everything that is not a good or commodity: education,
health care, broadcasting, child care, social services, water treatment,
energy distribution, and a multitude of other things including libraries,
museums and archives.
The GATS is explicit in its goal of privatizing the last remaining vestiges
of the public sector. Public libraries would face the same threat of
extinction under the GATS that was predicted with the Multilateral
Agreement on Investment (MAI), a draft treaty that was abandoned in
December 1998 after France's withdrawal from the proceedings. The
difference is that the GATS already exists and is relatively unknown to the
public, making it an easier target for WTO negotiators.
The GATS is going ahead. All negotiations are secret and carried out behind
closed doors, with little or no information about the substance of the
talks feeding out to the public.
bis: "National Treatment" seems to be a key concept?
FH: Yes, the concept of national treatment is built into all WTO agreements
and is meant to create a level playing field for all companies doing
business in the same market so that there is no discrimination against
foreign companies. WTO-style national treatment goes one step further,
however. Not only must foreign corporations be treated the same as domestic
corporations, there is no way for governments to place performance
requirements on them
bis: In what way could this be a threat to public libraries in Sweden?
FH: Public libraries are in the public domain, supported by public taxes.
Imagine an information services company entering the Swedish market and
demanding the same subsidies and tax support that public libraries get. It
would be entitled to do so under national treatment rules, providing it can
prove itself to be the same kind of operation. The government's most likely
response would be to cut back on or eliminate public funding to libraries
so as to avoid similar claims in the future. Libraries could find
themselves forced to generate income to survive. The worst case scenario is
that, without public funding, libraries could disappear altogether. The
public would then be required to buy their information from information
companies or from libraries, if libraries could stay afloat by charging for
their services. Either way, the public would find itself paying for
information that was once in the public domain.
bis; Somehow this is very hard to imagine*
FH: Yes, it is, but the threat is very real. One issue that could affect
the magnitude of the threat to libraries is how they are classified
according to the GATS. As it happens, libraries fall under the broad
classification of Division 96 Recreational, Cultural, and Sporting Services
under the UN classification of services. The UN classification is the one
generally used by countries when they make their commitments under the
GATS. You can go to:
http://gats-info.eu.int/gats-info/swtosvc.pl?&SECCODE=10.C to find the
countries that have made commitments under library services. You'll see
that the US and Japan have made almost total commitments, meaning that any
country's private library services could bid on contracts for local
libraries once the sector has been opened up to competition.
bis: Do you see other more specific indications that public libraries are
threatened, or is this more of general concerns?
FH: According to an article in the Vancouver Sun dated August 1999, there
are companies launching what they call information markets on the
Internet. Information markets are essentially Internet-based reference
desks, providing reference service to paying customers (Ott 1999). The
Information Market pairs up experts in various fields with people seeking
answers to e-mailed questions; once an answer has been received, the seeker
pays a fee, from which both the expert and the Information Market take a
cut. Should companies offering this type of service enter the US market,
they could, under national treatment guidelines, try to claim government
funding, describing themselves as library-like companies offering
library-like services. In addition, many libraries are experimenting with
fee for service arrangements to deal with already inadequate funding
levels; these schemes could open the door to competition with companies
offering the same kinds of services
bis: Which options does the Swedish government have, then?
FH: Well, if you read the draft Services document drafted at the Seattle
WTO Ministerial Conference, November 30 - December 4, 1999, you'll see
that it is dangerously ambiguous, leaving the door open for negotiators to
take whatever direction they like. WTO members must offer up sectors to be
committed. This constitutes the request-offer approach mentioned. Members
will commit sectors they are willing to open up to liberalization.
Decisions made during the negotiations will be applied to these committed
sectors only. However, some GATS clauses will be applied horizontally to
all sectors, even those sectors not committed in the request-offer process.
So, even though a WTO member may not commit its education sector, or health
services, or libraries, these sectors will still be subject to probably
some of the worst GATS clauses.
bis: This means that it would be impossible to have a national cultural
FH: In response to a WTO challenge, a country would need to prove that the
regulation under challenge was serving a legitimate objective.
Incidentally, in putting together a WTO-approved list of legitimate
objectives, safeguarding the public interest has already been rejected. So
have cultural diversity and environmental protection. Instead, a May 9,
2000 confidential paper suggested that legitimate objectives could include
economic efficiency, competition and economic development.
There is a clause in the GATS that exempts services supplied in the
exercise of governmental authority. However, public services operating in
competition with other service suppliers (like private schools) would not
qualify for this exemption. A library could be considered to be operating
in competition with other service suppliers by engaging in fee for service
bis: What do you think Swedish LIS workers should do then?
FH: Regardless of the rhetoric being used, the agenda is to liberalize all
sectors, if not immediately, then gradually over time. Article 19 of the
GATS talks about progressive liberalization and indeed, this document (see
the introductory paragraph) states that the aim is to achieve progressively
higher levels of liberalization of trade in services...
There are many things you can do to help stop this progression!:
- get informed on the issues
- spread the word to your friends and colleagues
- write your political leaders
- put up displays in your libraries to inform the public
- invite speakers to your library to inform the public
- join a listserv devoted to these issues
- make some noise! Demonstrate publicly...
- volunteer with any one of the public interest groups fighting against these proceedings
This is the answer of the Swedish minister of cultural affairs:
In last issue of bis, WTO and GATS are described as a threat to the public
libraries. Is that correct? This is my answer:
Municipalities, county councils and the state have certain obligations
regarding libraries. Those obligations are stated in the Library Act
(1996:1596). The regulations applied to libraries in the public sector are
also valid to library activities carried out by somebody else commissioned
by the municipality, the county council or the state. If for instance a
municipality chooses to outsource libraries, the municipality is still
responsible for the sphere of activities.
I have in various situations expressed strong criticism against plans of
outsourcing, such as the non-socialist proposal for bidding on all public
library activities in the city of Stockholm. As it has appeared there is no
big interest in this proposal, largely depending on the fact that the
Library Act doesn't allow public libraries to charge for book loans, which
makes it difficult for commercial actors to make money in this kind of
There are three other elements, which speak against the scenario described
in the bis article:
Firstly because each country in the GATS negotiations chooses in which
sector it want to make commitments of market access for foreign deliverers
of services. Secondly because the country keeps its own right to
nationally regulate the service sector for which commitment on access and
certain treatment of actors from other countries have been done.
Thirdly because it is the individual country itself which decides about
privatisation of a publicly provided service.
However, there are threats both to the cultural and the media sector. The
work of the ministers of cultural affairs is in EU very much about
resisting the interpretations of the Commission of the EU rules of
competition. We have the same vigilance concerning WTO/GATS, to which we
have formulated a common attitude: "During the forthcoming WTO negotiations
the Union will ensure, as in the Uruguay Round, that the Community and its
Member States maintain the possibility to preserve and develop their
capacity to define and implement their cultural and audiovisual policies
for the purpose of preserving their cultural diversity"
The Swedish government will act actively and very firmly against all
proposals which in any way could jeopardise Swedish library policy or
cultural policy. To us it is evident not to make any such commitments
during the ongoing negotiations on services.
Minister of Cultural Affairs
The answer from the minister of commerce
in the article "WTO - a threat to public libraries" in bis issue 2001:3
aspects of GATS is discussed. The minister of culture Marita Ulvskog has
commented the Swedish policy regarding libraries and its link to GATS. I
will focus on some over all aspects of trade in services, GATS and the
Swedish position in the ongoing negotiations on liberalisation of the
international trade in services.
Sweden was a driving part during the negotiations, which led to GATS - the
first agreement regulating the international trade in services. While
through GATS getting an agreement which gives Swedish companies access to
the service market of other countries, some basic principles of the right
of countries to regulate its own service market was established. GATS
openly states that publicly provided services - such as our system of
education and health care - are not included in the agreement. The full
right of the countries to regulate on their own and introduce new
regulations in the field of services is established in the agreement.
The commitments that the member countries of WTO have done in GATS are done
by positive listing. That means that the countries by themselves decide
which commitments they want to do - in which sectors and to what extent
they will open a certain service market to participants from other
countries. The fact that one country has made a certain commitment does not
force another country to do the corresponding commitment. Consequently,
there is nothing in GATS which urges a country to open a certain sector. It
is the governments of the countries, which negotiate in WTO, not companies.
I also want to stress that GATS only is about international trade in
services. The concept Liberalisation, which is about international trade,
is separated from Privatisation. Privatisation within different sectors is
done from political decisions in the specific countries and can not be
forced upon by GATS.
The principals in GATS, which I have referred to above, are very important
to the government and we will safeguard them in the ongoing negotiations on
further liberalisation of the international trade in services. Sweden is
not going to do the kind of commitments which could have an influence on
the policy we want to persue in the field of trade in services, including
that of the public sector in Sweden and for instance our public libraries.
Since Sweden is a relatively small country, it is
important that we can export our products and services to other
Services constitute two thirds of the production in Sweden today. Through
export, jobs are created in Sweden and growth is promoted. In order to
increase the opportunities of our companies to export to other countries
the government is encouraging liberalisation of the international trade,
including trade in services. The Swedish market of services is already
today relatively open, which provide the Swedish consumers a broad supply
of services to reasonable prices.
On the WTO website (www.wto.org) there is an abundance of material on GATS.
There you can find the text of the agreement, see what commitments the
different countries have done and read the minutes from the meetings of
WTO. On the site of Foreign Department (www.utrikes.regeringen.se) you will
find information on different trade policy issues. Kommerskollgium also
have good material (www.kommers.se) which explains different aspects of
8. Police shut down Michael Moore's booksigning, help promote book
Police Raid, Shut Down My Booksigning in San Diego
It's a few minutes before midnight, on Friday
night on 3/8/2002. I'm in San Diego, and I have
just escaped being arrested by the San Diego
police. This book tour keeps getting more
surreal, but the last hour has been unlike
anything I have yet seen.
I have come to San Diego to speak at an event
organized for my book ("Stupid White Men"). The
event is being held at a middle school in an
auditorium that seats about 800 people. I have
spent the week in California, pretty much at my
own expense. Weeks ago, the publisher informed me
that they would not be sending me to this state
if they had to pay to get me there.
So I called up my friends at "Politically
Incorrect" and asked if they could book me on the
show and bring me out there. They were more than
happy to help out. I can't believe the crap this
show has had to endure because its host one
night, early on in "America's NEW War" had the
guts to state the truth as he saw it. Now
advertisers have dropped like flies, affiliates
in DC, Columbus, and other cities have canceled
the program, and ABC seems eager to deep-six the
whole hour it shares with "Nightline." But, for
now, they have come to my aid, and I am grateful.
In the past six days, I have spoken to 15
separate mobs of people. I don't know what other
word to use because, quite simply, wherever I go,
there is this unbelievable pandemonium. Every
day, every night, hundreds -- or thousands -- jam
themselves into halls, arenas, churches,
auditoriums to listen to me talk about my book
and whatever else is struggling to make its way
through my brain. Forget about standing room only
-- these venues look more like breathing room
only. A clever fire marshal could have made a
small fortune tailing me across this state. As I
look out at the crowds of humans doing their best
to impersonate sardines, I worry not that some
deranged person may shout "Fire!" but rather that
someone may belt out, "There's an extra six
inches over here by the radiator!"
I have visited the most out-of-the-way places in
California and, no matter where I go or how
right-wing the congressman is that represents
their district, all sorts of people are desperate
to get inside to be with the thousands of others
who want to be part of "United We Stand Against
the Thief-in-Chief." Grass Valley, Hayward, San
Francisco, Santa Rosa, Ukiah, Arcata, Berkeley,
Westwood, East L.A., Koreatown (L.A.) -- I wish
all of you could see what I have seen. In every
town, at every stop, huge throngs of Americans
who are sick and tired of the silence that has
been demanded of them, lest they be thought of as
"unpatriotic" should they dare to question the
actions of George W. Bush and company. That's
what this tour is all about. It's time to come
out and start acting like Americans again.
And then there was San Diego.
Over a thousand people are packed inside the
800-seat auditorium. Outside, another thousand
people are on the lawn trying to get in. The
traffic on the street is tied up and the stream
of San Diegoans keeps filing up the sidewalk. I
tell the organizers that I am going to spend a
half-hour outside here speaking to the people who
cannot get in. They are, after all, like me --
slackers who are habitually late. The crowd
outdoors is wired and jazzed that they are being
honored for being tardy.
Then I go inside, give my usual talk, and begin
to sign books. There's a 90-year-old lady whose
granddaughter has driven her down from Orange
County. There's a union organizer from the
antiunion San Diego Union-Tribune newspaper who
announces that his grandfather was a sit-down
striker with my uncle back in 1937 in Flint. Some
punk-poet kid tries to finish me off for good by
offering me two Krispy Kreme donuts. Hundreds
line up to have their books, their "Awful Truth"
DVDs and, in one case, an Iron Maiden jean
jacket, signed. I am told that we are getting
close to the time when we will have to leave the
school, as it has only been rented until 11pm.
That is not good. Hundreds are still in line. I
don't think any of these signings this week have
been over before midnight.
Somewhere around 11:30pm, I hear a commotion at
the back of the auditorium. I see people start to
scatter. The San Diego police are coming down the
aisle, their large flashlights out (the
auditorium lights are still on, so we all
understand the implied "other" use of these
instruments). The police are telling everyone to
"VACATE THESE PREMISES IMMEDIATELY OR YOU WILL
ALL BE ARRESTED!" I cannot believe what I am
hearing. "YOU WILL NOT RECEIVE ANOTHER WARNING.
LEAVE NOW -- OR FACE ARREST!"
The cops approach the stage where I am signing
the books. People are visibly frightened -- and
about half the book-line bolts toward the doors.
I stand up and speak to the officers. "I am the
author of this book," I tell them politely.
"These people are only here to get a book and all
I am doing is signing them. We will be done shortly."
"I don't care who you are," they reply. "We have
received a call from the school district and we
have been told to remove you. You were supposed
to be out of here at 11:00pm." We had apparently
violated our curfew.
"C'mon guys, you can't be serious," I said. "Are
you saying that you are going to arrest me for
signing people's books, and arrest the people who
are here because they want to read this book?"
"I don't care what you are doing -- this is your
last warning. I am ready to arrest you and everyone else."
"Who is your superior?" I ask.
"I'm it. Only the Chief is above me at night, and
I am not going to wake him up. This has already
gone through many channels. We are here because
this has already gone through many people in the
last half-hour, people in authority, and the
decision has been made to clear you out of here
or arrest you."
I have never been arrested, strange as that may
seem. I could not believe that, of all I have
done, all I have stood for over the years, that
it has come down to this -- and I was about to be
hauled away for autographing books!
"OK," I said. "We'll leave." I then mumbled
something about the last time I checked, this was
still the United States of America -- even if we
were just five miles away from where it ends.
They escorted me and the few remaining souls out
of the building. The brave lady who was the owner
of the independent bookstore and who was there
selling my book, leaned over and whispered to me,
"I am willing to go to jail for this if you want
me to." Ya gotta hand it to the independent
bookstores -- they've been through hell lately,
so much so that they are now ready to be led away
I walked outside and about 40 people ask me if I
would still sign their books in the dark of the
parking lot. A girl gets out her pocket
flashlight. A guy runs over and turns on his
headlights. I remark that it feels like we're in
some sort of banana republic or East Berlin,
secretly meeting so we can have our little book
gathering. "Sign quick, Mike, here come the police!"
I finish the last book and hop in my sister's
car. She remembers to give me a plaque that had
been presented to me in abstentia (while I was
outside talking to the people who couldn't get
in). It was from the city councilwoman from the
area of San Diego we were in. It read "Official
Proclamation: City of San Diego Declares -- March
9, 2002, 'Michael Moore Day.'"
"Maybe we should have shown this to the cops, "
she says. We drive to her house where I catch
four hours sleep before I get up and head for Denver.
PS. I have heard from so many of you about how
hard it is to find my book in the bookstores.
It's true -- the book does not exist in most
stores. Yet it is #1 in most cities across the
country on the bestseller lists. I don't get it.
HarperCollins has been very slow to print books
and get them out there. Why this is, I do not
know. No doubt they have been caught by surprise
with the overwhelming response to the book. You
can't really blame them -- they thought the
"president" had an 80% approval rating.
Bookstore owners have been desperately pleading
with me to help them get books shipped to their
stores. I called HarperCollins, and their
official line is that "There are plenty of books
out there and the book has never been out of
stock." Everything that I and others have
personally seen says the exact opposite.
So, I need your help. If you go to a bookstore
and they don't have the book, please send an
email to HarperCollins at ...
... and be sure to c.c. me at ...
Hopefully, this will help.
You can also call the Customer Service Hotline at ...
(Punch in 1,1,0 to get to message center.)
PPS. This week, you can catch my Stupid Tour in
Ann Arbor and Detroit on Tuesday, Flint on
Wednesday, Chicago on Thursday, and
Minneapolis/St. Paul on Friday.
Check my website, www.michaelmoore.com , for
9. Masturbation message spelled with 407 books
by Andrew Fickes
Asst. news editor
Central Washington University Observer
Central Washington University's library's personnel dealt with an unruly
incident of inconvenience last Friday morning.
On Friday, March 1, Judy Allen, a facilities management custodian, reported
to work at the campus library and found, in the fourth floor lobby, 407
books spelling an anonymous message: "I'm home the masturbator." Many of
the books used were taken from the education section. The books were put
back on the shelves by opening hours began at 7:30 a.m."
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