We’ve found out what the Tree of Liberty is fertilized with.
FOXNews reports that Wilder Publications, a print-on-demand operation, adds a warning to its paperbound reprints of the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Paine’s Common Sense, the Articles of Confederation, and the Federalist Papers telling readers that “This book is a product of its time and does not reflect the same values as it would if it were written today.”
Fans ordinarily are just as divided over FOXNews as the country at large, but many have been fascinated by network coverage of the Wilder Publications controversy because the imprint is owned by Warren Lapine, someone well-known in the sf field.
Wilder Publications, which mainly offers non-genre works, is a venture Lapine started following the disintegration of his sf & fantasy magazine empire in 2007. Among the casualties was Science Fiction Chronicle, sold to Lapine years earlier by founder Andrew Porter, and Porter greeted news of Lapine’s 2009 return to sf publishing with a suggestion that the story be headlined “Sauron Not Dead After All.”
In the wake of the latest controversy a Facebook page has been created to encourage people to boycott of Wilder Publications. And a number of bloggers have called for people to put the heat on Amazon.com, presumed to be a significant market for Wilder.
While I agree with those who feel it’s silly to add disclaimers to historic texts warning about their lack of political correctness, the publisher must have taken this step with serious intent. The warning doesn’t read like satire. And that makes me curious about the thought process — it could easily have a Queegian geometric logic of its own. After all, in this country history increasingly is viewed without context — think of all the bloggers who claim to be shocked to discover that Abraham Lincoln’s racial views weren’t proper for a 21st century politician. Might Lapine have imagined product liability claims being filed against the publisher of a document that perpetuates the slave trade?
[Thanks to Elspeth Kovar for the links.]