In today’s newspapers were articles about how the conservatives are gearing up to attack President Obama’s nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court. The grounds were the usual — too liberal, too activist, too outspoken, too quiet, too something. Similarly, the liberals were gearing up to defend. Role reversals from the Bush years.
As the articles noted, a mainstay of conservative judicial thinking is a return to original intent. And that got me thinking — no, not about judicial appointments, well yes, about judicial appointments, but no, not for this article — about who I will vote for in the November elections, which got me thinking about what my ideal candidate would espouse.
I think it is time for book lovers to stand up and be counted as a power constituency. I’m tired of having to set aside all that is important to my future because candidates choose to ignore those issues that are close to home for me. So I have decided that the time is right to begin building a new, powerful constituency of book lovers and demand that candidates declare unwavering support for our issues or face the extreme penalty of being lashed with 2 wet noodles. I’ve even got a name for the new power group: BLASTR — Book Lovers Acting to Save Readers. OK, the name is hokey but it’s still early in the movement’s life so name suggestions are welcome.
To get the movement moving, I propose that all candidates be required to pledge eternal support for the following ideas:
First, candidates must agree that our founding fathers’ original intent was to nurture and grow the intellectual capacity of subsequent generations through books, newspapers, magazines, and other assorted written materials, which is why they gave us the free speech and free press clauses. Consequently, promotion of both poor and good quality writing is a fundamental obligation of federal and state governments in accordance with the founders’ original intent — even in Texas!
Second, that all books are equal under our constitution and are entitled to certain fundamental rights. That the due process and equal protection clauses mean that all authors and all written material are entitled, as a federal substantive right, to a minimal standard of production quality.
Third, that these politicians will support the Comprehensive Compulsory Readers Rights Act, suggested parts of which are detailed below, but whose goal it will be to end unedited and poorly produced dreck from entering the publishing mainstream. The CCRRA will be the reader’s coup d’publishing. To begin:
- Every book is entitled to competent editing by a professional editor. Thus no book can be brought to market absent it receiving a stamp showing that it has been edited. Britain had the right idea with the Stamp Act but introduced it 200+ years too soon. Because editing can be expensive and authors are subject to the whims of economic times and writing quality,
- A national Editorial Defense Initiative will be created to provide a professional editor for every author who requests such public aid for his or her manuscript, with the author’s cost based on a sliding fee scale tied to the author’s economic circumstances, writing ability (or lack thereof), and health.
- Because great editing is insufficient to protect a manuscript’s full right to due process and equal protection, the Production Defense Corps will be created to provide access to other necessary production services such as typesetting, illustration, cover design, and marketing, for which an author will be charged based on the sliding scale.
Of course, what good does it do any author if they write a great book but no one reads it? There has to be a method to lead the horse to the water and make it drink. Consequently, the candidate must support the
- Official Book Procurement Requirement Act, requiring all books under the foregoing programs to be published as ebooks and distributed to the book-loving public as part of a subscription that every taxpayer must partake in.
- And to make sure that the books are read, taxpayers will be required to attach to their annual tax returns a 1-page essay for each book they or a member of their family has read during the preceding year that was produced under the CCRRA. For each IRS-approved essay, they will receive a tax rebate commensurate to the assigned value of the book they read.
- Because assigning values to a book can be arbitrary, conservative, or liberal, as opposed to fair, the Act will create a special new Court of Book Valuation whose judges will be responsible for resolving disputes about the literary merit and market value of a book. To ensure that all viewpoints are respected, the court will have 3 judges, one elephant, one donkey, and one independent but knowledgeable book review editor from the staff of the New York Review of Books or the New York Times Book Review.
- The Act will also create a special section of the U.S. Department of Justice will be created whose sole job is to enforce these rights.
The CCRA will solve many of today’s problems tomorrow. It will increase literacy, it will promote the literary arts, it will provide steady employment for the un- and underemployed, it will keep lawyers busy, and it will raise the cultural level of our nation from barely perceptible to somewhere on someone’s radar. Most importantly, it will honor the original intent of our founders that ours be an egalitarian society with access for all to all of the knowledge of humankind.
Were Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Adams among us today, I have no doubt that they would be founding members of BLASTR. Are you ready to join the BLASTR generation?