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Author Maggie Tokuda-Hall on how Scholastic offered to publish her book — all she had to do was remove all mention of racism

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Recently, I got an email with an offer from Scholastic’s Educational Division to license Love in the Library for an AANHPI narratives collection, I was thrilled. If you’ve been in kids’ books for more than ten minutes then you are aware of the staggering reach of Scholastic. And since I’m not published by Scholastic this seemed like a thrilling opportunity. But as soon as I cleared the opening paragraph, my heart sank.

I’ve been really proud of Love in the Library’s successes. Yas Imamura’s illustrations are incredible. My publicist, Jamie Tan, of Candlewick did her job with sensitivity and respect. Our editor, Karen Lotz, helped shape the book into its best form while never demanding the story be told in a way she deemed might be more palatable. There were starred reviews, Best of 2022 lists, personal letters from people whose families had been incarcerated to whom this story means so much.

It is also true that I wish it sold more copies than it has. It’s a story I believe in, deeply, and a story that I think merits exposure– something Scholastic uniquely offers.

And Scholastic wanted to license the book! But only with a change to the author’s note. My offer was contingent upon it. Without even looking I knew what it was going to be. It was going to be the paragraph that inspires 1 star reviews from angry patriots, the one that sends them to my inbox with words unfit to repeat here or anywhere. And sure enough that was exactly what they wanted to remove.

But not only that: the word RACISM would be removed from the author’s note altogether.

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They wanted to take this book and repackage it so that it was just a simple love story. Nothing more. Not anything that might offend those book banners in what they called this “politically sensitive” moment. The irony of curating a collection tentatively titled Rising Voices: Amplifying AANHPI Narratives with one hand while demanding that I strangle my own voice with the other was, to me, the perfect encapsulation of what publishing, our dubious white ally, does so often to marginalized creators. They want the credibility of our identities, want to market our biographies. They want to sell our suffering, smoothed down and made palatable to the white readers they prioritize. To assuage white guilt with stories that promise to make them better people, while never threatening them, not even with discomfort. They have no investment in our voices. Always, our voices are the first sacrifice at the altar of marketability.

And excuse my language, but absolutely the f--- not.

 

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It’s not surprising, the function of business is pretty much to make money. The value she provides them is marketability, that is as it has always been. They put nice words on their press releases precisely to sell product, but despite SCOTUS cases to the contrary corporations are not people (I acknowledge that’s not exactly correct legally speaking in a speech sense).
 

I don’t expect anything different from business/industry, and would consider an actual expectation of some sort of moral driver of behavior to be pretty naive after everything we’ve seen the past couple hundred years. Scholastic wants to sell books in Texas and Florida as well as California and New York, and doesn’t want to risk losing markets. Her opinion as presented in an author’s note risks that for them, so they apparently don’t want to publish it. As an author she is free to seek other publication resources that are more in line with her beliefs, maybe with a more regional focus, and if that moves the needle on their profits they’ll likely pay attention to her concerns. If it doesn’t, it won’t bother them… they’ll have other product to promote.

 

I don’t have young kids, and am not a target audience for Scholastic at this time though. Maybe it’ll cause sufficient economic pressure for them to back away from their position. 

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A suspect has been arrested today in relation to the links of intelligence information WRT Ukraine.  Info from earlier today about the kid:

 

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The leader of a small online gaming chat group where a trove of classified U.S. intelligence documents leaked over the last few months is a 21-year-old member of the intelligence wing of the Massachusetts Air National Guard, according to interviews and documents reviewed by The New York Times.

The national guardsman, whose name is Jack Teixeira, oversaw a private online group called Thug Shaker Central, where about 20 to 30 people, mostly young men and teenagers, came together over a shared love of guns, racist online memes and video games.

 

He's in deep, deep kimchi, because he's being charged under the Espionage Act.  It's still not clear HOW he got a lot of this stuff, as it really should not have been available to him.  I wouldn't be surprised if there were serious security failures so he did...but that won't be much of a defense.  What would help is if there's someone higher up the chain that fed the kid the documents.  If that hypothetical person is worth it, hey, the kid might get nothing more than a slap on the wrist, no prison time.  BUT he's going to have a seriously ugly black mark on his record, and forget ever having a clearance again.  That also is predicated on finding said person.

 

EDIT:  HOW ugly are the charges?

From NYT, as was the quote above.  Bold mine.

 

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Garland’s description indicates that Teixeira will be facing charges under 18 U.S.C. 793, also known as the Espionage Act. It criminalizes the unauthorized removal, retention, and transmission of closely held documents related to the national defense that could be used to harm the United States or aid a foreign adversary. Each such document would be its own charge; a conviction carries a penalty of up to ten years in prison per count.

 

He leaked hundreds.  

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37 minutes ago, unclevlad said:

A suspect has been arrested today in relation to the links of intelligence information WRT Ukraine.  Info from earlier today about the kid:

 

 

He's in deep, deep kimchi, because he's being charged under the Espionage Act.  It's still not clear HOW he got a lot of this stuff, as it really should not have been available to him.  I wouldn't be surprised if there were serious security failures so he did...but that won't be much of a defense.  What would help is if there's someone higher up the chain that fed the kid the documents.  If that hypothetical person is worth it, hey, the kid might get nothing more than a slap on the wrist, no prison time.  BUT he's going to have a seriously ugly black mark on his record, and forget ever having a clearance again.  That also is predicated on finding said person.

 

EDIT:  HOW ugly are the charges?

From NYT, as was the quote above.  Bold mine.

 

 

He leaked hundreds.  

 

Usually, these sort of sentences are set to run concurrently.  So likely, he would be sentenced to 10 years.

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23 minutes ago, Ranxerox said:

 

Usually, these sort of sentences are set to run concurrently.  So likely, he would be sentenced to 10 years.

 

Not my area of expertise, but when there's THIS many?  I don't think it'll be just 10, but I'll buy it's unlikely to be centuries...unless the prosecution can paint him as intending to undermine US military policy with the leaks, or something along those lines.  We shall see, tho;  obviously, proceedings have barely started.  I believe he hasn't even been arraigned yet. 

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39 minutes ago, unclevlad said:

 

Not my area of expertise, but when there's THIS many?  I don't think it'll be just 10, but I'll buy it's unlikely to be centuries...unless the prosecution can paint him as intending to undermine US military policy with the leaks, or something along those lines.  We shall see, tho;  obviously, proceedings have barely started.  I believe he hasn't even been arraigned yet. 

 

Reality Winner got 5 years for a much more well-intentioned leak of much less material that did far less damage to the intelligence networks of the U.S. and its allies.  But we shall see.

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Yeah, that's... what I was concerned about, more or less.  When I heard he had brought all that material to his home and had been going through the documents, it pretty much screamed to me that he was searching for intel he could use.  Not from an altruistic interest in the occupation.

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11 hours ago, Pattern Ghost said:

Stumbled upon this. Looks like some movement toward viable smart gun technology for limited use cases:

 

 

I do kinda wonder what happens when the military (eventually) comes up with something superior to a slug-thrower, and a decision has to be made over whether to make it available for sale to the public.  Even a hand weapon, more powerful and accurate than any pistol, able to discharge dozens or hundreds of times before "recharging", would be immensely disruptive in the hands of the civilian population.  

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3 hours ago, megaplayboy said:

I do kinda wonder what happens when the military (eventually) comes up with something superior to a slug-thrower, and a decision has to be made over whether to make it available for sale to the public.  Even a hand weapon, more powerful and accurate than any pistol, able to discharge dozens or hundreds of times before "recharging", would be immensely disruptive in the hands of the civilian population.  

 

Well, we're still quite a way from a man-portable lethal directed-energy weapon. The US Navy has contracted effective vehicle-mounted lasers, and the Chinese reportedly have a prototype "laser rifle" that can burn exposed skin and ignite clothing with a two-second burst, and probably detonate explosives or fuel tanks; but a projectile weapon is still far deadlier. A plasma or particle-beam weapon would be rapidly dispersed by atmosphere, so is nearly useless unless in space.

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17 hours ago, Pattern Ghost said:

Stumbled upon this. Looks like some movement toward viable smart gun technology for limited use cases:

 

 

 

That's an interesting subject. 

 

I've heard, proposed, to have a voice match system such is used to activate Siri on an iPhone. A problem I have with that is that idea is that my daughter and my wife can use each other's Siri, even though my wife has a mid-west accent and my daughter has a muddled mess of an accent which isn't very similar.

 

Amusingly, they can also unlock each other's iPhone through facial recognition (though I don't think that look very much alike).

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6 hours ago, megaplayboy said:

I do kinda wonder what happens when the military (eventually) comes up with something superior to a slug-thrower, and a decision has to be made over whether to make it available for sale to the public.  Even a hand weapon, more powerful and accurate than any pistol, able to discharge dozens or hundreds of times before "recharging", would be immensely disruptive in the hands of the civilian population.  

 

Yeah, that's a whole can of worms of its own.

 

It's never been against federal law to own your own muzzle-loading cannon (which has always been undeniably a weapon for military use rather than home defense or hunting). Even today, if it was made before something like 1890, you can buy and own it without any restriction.

 

If it was manufactured after that, you have to buy a $200 permit to legally own it. And that's only due to a law from the 1920's which was written before the invention of a background check.

 

Now your state might have some law on the books which would prevent you from owning it (without first winning a lawsuit overturning the state law).

 

But the federal government doesn't stop you from owning one.

Edited by archer
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3 hours ago, Lord Liaden said:

 

Well, we're still quite a way from a man-portable lethal directed-energy weapon. The US Navy has contracted effective vehicle-mounted lasers, and the Chinese reportedly have a prototype "laser rifle" that can burn exposed skin and ignite clothing with a two-second burst, and probably detonate explosives or fuel tanks; but a projectile weapon is still far deadlier. A plasma or particle-beam weapon would be rapidly dispersed by atmosphere, so is nearly useless unless in space.

I was thinking of some hypothetical weapon that would do the equivalent of EMP to a living body's electrical system, effectively shutting off the person, i.e. killing them, at a distance.   I don't think it's possible now, but maybe someone will figure out how to do it.

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50 minutes ago, megaplayboy said:

I was thinking of some hypothetical weapon that would do the equivalent of EMP to a living body's electrical system, effectively shutting off the person, i.e. killing them, at a distance.   I don't think it's possible now, but maybe someone will figure out how to do it.


That seems to meet the criteria of “dangerous and unusual” weapons set by Heller, so it would be banned right out the gate without heavy governmental oversight. Like machine guns, flamethrowers, and grenade launchers it can be restricted by the State (is my understanding).

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The Reagan Revolution occurred during my teenage years and I bought in whole-heartedly. I believed less government was better, people should look not to government to solve their problems but to themselves, and that lower taxes on the wealthy and less regulation on businesses would make us all wealthier.

 

So when it came time for college, of course I chose Business Administration. And that's where I learned how things really worked. You can't administer a modern business without understanding this stuff, so how things work were stated plainly and in positive terms. Things like transfer pricing to minimize taxes, regulatory capture to blunt regulation, and public relations to manage perceptions were just items on the syllabus.

 

That sort of stuff nudged me a little to the left, but one of the things that drew me over the line was learning the history of business in the US. One of the key lessons was antitrust, because it intersects with so many outrageous abuses by monied interests.

 

But of course, by the time I was in college, antitrust had already been undermined by the neoliberal view that all that mattered when it came to antitrust was "consumer harm." That led to 40 years of weak antitrust enforcement that's allowed some of the abuses of the past to come back -- as long as a figleaf claim of no "consumer harm" could be made, industries across the economy were allowed to combine and grow more powerful with little pushback. Who cares if all the buyers of a given farm commodity combine and farmers are forced to sell to the one remaining buyer in their area at ruinous rates, as long as consumers aren't affected? And if that one buyer slowly but steadily raises prices on consumers as well, then no one's going to be able to show "consumer harm."

 

So one of the few bright spots recently has been the Biden administration's antitrust stance. Finally we have an FTC that is at least making noises about doing its actual job. Along with Chairwoman Lina Khan and Commissioner Rebecca Slaughter, Commissioner Alvaro Bedoya is making waves. Bedoya's recent speech made plain the early history of antitrust in this country, how judicial activism worked before FDR brought the courts to heel for a while, and how much suffering the system tolerated even as laws changed and decades passed.

 

The speech is fully footnoted and is a good read for anyone interested in the intersection of antitrust, the courts, the legislature, and labor.

 

Here's a link to the PDF if anyone's interested:
https://www.ftc.gov/system/files/ftc_gov/pdf/bedoya-aiming-dollars-not-men.pdf

 

Edited by GM Joe
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And the next shoe has dropped in the judipolitical farce surrounding mifepristone.  Fortunately, it's the last one for a few days.

 

After 2 separate, conflicting rulings, the appeals court probably rejecting the decertification (the period to challenge expired) but saying "oh but you can't mail it"...Alito issued a stay, restoring the status quo until the Supreme Court can look at things.  The stay expires Wednesday, but arguments are required by Tuesday.  

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