CUP, you will recall, pulped a book, apologised, and paid over some money. Why? Because a Saudi billionaire threatened to sue the arse off them via England's libel laws.
Not surprisingly, this has attracted some attention worldwide. Latest comment appears in the Weekly Standard. This retells the story, and quotes the two authors of Alms for Jihad, the book which has generated the row.
The book's authors are Americans, and one of them points out that 'the British and American libel laws are as different as night and day.'
The Weekly Standard's article also looks back at similar cases involving this same Sheikh of Araby. There are, apparently, at least 36 of them. Either this man is much maligned, and the innocent victim of a hate campaign, or else he's got something to hide. Um... Scratches head and thinks hard. Which could it be?
There is further discussion of this worrying situation on Hot Air. And there is also a really intriguing right-wing view of the affair on Human Events, which describes itself as 'Leading the [US] Conservative Movement since 1944'. The author of the article is a Mr McCarthy. No, you mustn't laugh.
Well, all I can say is that things have come to a pretty pass if the Conservative right-wing finds itself obliged to defend the liberal press establishment. In this case, the argument seems to be that the bastards don't deserve to be defended, really, but a chap with principles has to make certain things clear. And the conclusion?
As a final comment, perhaps it's worth mentioning that those who (ab)use the UK libel laws on a regular and persistent basis, mainly to cover up things they don't want anyone to know, eventually discover that the effect is quite the reverse. Example: Robert Maxwell, a heavyweight bully who distributed writs at the least provocation. A few years of that, and people twig what is going on. What is more, they begin to poke around in your affairs even more intrusively. The outcome? Wasn't there something about a yacht?
It is crucially important to our development of a sound national counterterrorism policy that good-faith journalists are not silenced by Saudi intimidation. American courts ought to crack down on Mahfouz’s pettifoggery and make him feel the consequences of his litigiousness.... Moreover, the current administration or the next one, regardless of party, should be diplomatically pressing the Saudis to desist from, and the Brits to bar libel tourism directed at, American journalists.
Whether or not the American media deserve such protections, the American people surely do.
The Creative Commons blog alerts me to a new site where you can find short stories, and more, published under a Creative Commons licence. Titled Ten Car Train, the web site's mission statement tells readers that 'You should read these pieces in their entirety while at work or when someone is paying you to do something else.'
So far so good. However.... It seems that the web site's offerings are provided by a group of former MFA students, which may be a slight drawback, and I can see no immediate way for anyone else to post stuff there.
Edmond Clay, author of the Eros and Psyche dialogue, points out to me a poem about the English language. Several sources on the web; here's one from Humble Apostrophe, a site which also has all sorts of other stuff about the language.
The poem is modestly amusing, but would be best employed, I think, as an aid to those who teach English as a foreign language.
By the way, Keith Chapman aka Chap O'Keefe, the author of Misfit Lil, reviewed here Wednesday, points me to a few interesting bits and pieces.
Coincidentally to my piece about The New Intimacy, writer Candice Proctor/C. S. Harris has run a couple of posts on her blog: 'Are Book Trailers the New Blog?' (1 August) and 'Book Videos, Part Two' (2 August).
Keith also liked the Newsweek piece about Elmore Leonard, and his forthcoming Ten Rules of Writing, which should indeed be a fun read. Newsweek's favourite among the rules was: 'If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.'
Newsweek also went on to give Leonard's selection for 'My five most important books'. Among them was For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway. Keith Chapman adds that aspects of his latest Misfit Lil story, Misfit Lil Fights Back, were also inspired by Hemingway, in his case the famous short story The Killers; this was filmed in 1965 starring Lee Marvin, Angie Dickinson, John Cassavetes and Ronald Reagan.
Hemingway (wherever he is) and movie buffs won't recognize the characters or the setting in Keith's western, but some points of the plot situation confronting the unorthodox Miss Lilian Goodnight may be familiar.
For those who want to learn more about the Robert Hale western series, including info on the cover designs, there's an online bi-monthly magazine, Black Horse Extra. Try the Hoofprints section.