International Bon Vivant and Raconteur (nick_kaufmann) wrote,
International Bon Vivant and Raconteur

Warren Lapine vs. the American Right

Some of you may know Warren Lapine as the publisher of the now defunct DNA Publications, which at one time was the parent company of Fantastic Stories, Science Fiction Chronicle, Aboriginal SF and a variety of other magazines, until it folded in 2007 after a spate of unfulfilled subscriptions, business debts, a postal investigation, and unpaid contributors. Many of you may also know him as the new publisher of the resuscitated Realms of Fantasy, which recently threatened its subscribers with a letter stating the magazine would go belly up because so many of them didn't love the genre enough to renew their subscriptions. But I'd wager only a small handful of you know he's also the brains behind the small press Wilder Publications, which publishes titles like Think Yourself Wealthy, The Science of Being Rich and Lapine's own story collection, Just Like the Jetsons. From what I can tell, Wilder Publications' titles seem geared exclusively toward Amazon sales, and perhaps conventions.

Like many publishers out to make a quick buck, Wilder Publications also publishes a variety of public domain titles, such as The Picture of Dorian Gray and Beowulf. They also publish a copy of the U.S. Constitution. And here's where things get silly.

Lapine, perhaps not unwisely, prints a boilerplate disclaimer on all his public domain titles that essentially warns the reader that "This book is a product of its time and does not reflect the same values as it would if it were written today. Parents might wish to discuss with their children how views on race, gender, sexuality, ethnicity and interpersonal relations have changed since this book was written before allowing them to read this classic work." It's not bad advice when dealing with books like Huckleberry Finn or even plays like The Merchant of Venice. It also covers Lapine's ass in the event of loony readers who might want to sue for mental distress after seeing, say, Twain's use of the N-word (or Poe's, for that matter). But here's the problem. Lapine, it appears, got lazy with proofing the public domain titles, perhaps in a blind rush to get them uploaded to Amazon as quickly as possible.

Because he published the U.S. Constitution with the same boilerplate disclaimer.

And the pundits on the American right went hilariously berserk, latching onto it as proof of some kind of vast liberal conspiracy, the final nail in the coffin of all that's decent, driven in by the hammer of political correctness. (Hey, pundits gotta find something to talk about each and every day if they want to eat, right?) And just as the American left does, here the American right cries, "Why hasn't the mainstream media picked up this story yet? CONSPIRACY!" As if my finding it online took more than five seconds.

If you click the link, the user comments are even more hilarious, randomly invoking the evils of Islam and the Koran, Democrats, Rachel Maddow and President Obama. One commenter even goes so far as to threaten to boycott Amazon if they continue to sell Wilder Publications titles. Yeah, good luck with that, "jessieH".

Was it stupid of Lapine to publish the U.S. Constitution with his boilerplate disclaimer? Absolutely. Hell, it was stupid of him to even bother printing copies of the Constitution in the first place when they're already widely available from every single American publisher. Why not stick to harder-to-find titles? But that's neither here nor there, because I'm not about blaming the victim. (Though maybe now Lapine will proof his company's books with a closer eye.) This is really only loosely about the American right, but even more so about punditry in general. When there's nothing major to talk about, the pundits find something minor, turning a molehill into a mountain so they can continue to appear relevant. And that's why all pundits should be fired and replaced by actual journalists and experts in their respective fields. But that's a topic for another day.

Because right now, the burns.
Tags: politics

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