Freedom of Speech meets “Loose lips sink ships”
It was inevitable. Joe the Plumber has a book coming out. According to the Huffington Post:
The book, called "Joe the Plumber -- Fighting for the American Dream," is to be released by a group called Pearlgate Publishing
and other small publishing houses.
"I am not going to a conglomerate that way we actually can get the economy jump started. Like there is five publishing companies in Michigan. There's a couple down in Texas. They are small ones that can handle like 10 or 15,000 copies. I can go to a big one that could handle a million or two. But they don't need the help. They are already rich. So that's spreading the wealth to me," he said.
Errrkaaay…It’s totally possible that a gifted ghostwriter could take the raw material of Joe's life story and make a great book out of it, but I don’t think that’s going to happen here. I think this is going to be more of his chunky, ill-informed "folk wisdom" (not). Frankly, I wish the dude would, for the good of the nation, shut up and go away. But I love living in a country where people don't have to shut up and go away. It's a conundrum. I guess if not having a plumbing license hasn’t kept him from being “the plumber,” there’s no reason his Flintstonian grasp on the language should keep him from being “the writer”. All I can do is exercise my right as a reader to say no thanks.
One of the most disturbing trends in the publishing industry lately is the manipulation of bestseller lists in order to impart legitimacy on books that haven’t earned the bestseller rank. I suspect many of these would never get done at all if the publisher didn’t know in advance that a sponsoring special interest group was going to buy the copies required to pump it into the market like a barium enema. If a book I hate is loved by enough readers to earn a place on the lists, so be it, but bulk purchases that use the lists as a high-priced ad space corrode the credibility of lists themselves and harm authors who’ve legitimately gotten agonizingly close, only to be edged out by well-funded pretenders. It kills me that respected publishers participate in these shenanigans. The only upside is that the dirty money might be used to provide advances for more deserving authors. Whatevah. All I can do in my little corner of the universe is email bookstores and tell them that I will not patronize the store while books with falsified bestseller stats have FOS (Front of Store) placement.
My extended family is living proof that liberals and conservatives can peacefully coexist with genuine love and respect for one another. Coulter, Hannity, and Limbaugh are not my enemies. Franken, Moore, and Olbermann are not the enemies of my parents. In the big picture, it’s the constant vociferous bashing, jingoism, and hate talk that are the enemies of peace and progress. I can't tell Rush or Rachel to shut up. I cherish their right to speak freely. But I am hereby exercising my right to say "I'm not listening." I refuse to tune in for one more word of slanted, vitriolic, blow-holes-gone-wild blather, be it righty tighty or lefty libby. And I'm taking fifteen minutes a couple times a week to email the local businesses who sponsor AM hate radio to tell them that I will be unable to patronize their business as long as they sponsor programming that promotes hate and ignorance because I feel that it is tangibly damaging the country I love.
I will never support any restrictions on free speech. I honor Joe the Plumber’s right to peddle his pretzel logic and snake oil via the media of his choice. God bless the America in which any megalomaniacal pinhead is free to grasp after his fiteen minutes and sign a "book deal" (with like five publishing companies in Michigan and a couple down in Texas), but having heard this guy talk, I’m just not interested in anything he has to say. I invite you to join me in my disinterest and enjoy not reading Joe’s book. (I’m going to enjoy not reading it next week almost as much as I’m enjoying not buying it right now!)
Do the tiny seeds I sow in my little victory garden change the world? Heck, yes! They change my world. Cultural dynamics begin with personal conscience. We the People (make that We the Market) have the power to guide the publishing industry and the airwaves in a more intelligent direction by choosing civility over slander, journalism over jingoism, craft over craftiness. One little string bean at a time, we can tone down the tone by turning down the volume (the sales volume, that is). It can’t be legislated politically, it has to be embraced individually.
We don’t need less freedom; we need less speech.