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RECOMMENDED!






A Publisher's Responsibility

by Wendy J. Woudstra   

 
 


A U.S. appeals court ruled this month that Paladin Press, a Boulder CO. book publisher, can be held liable over free speech for a triple murder committed by one of its readers.

In 1993, a Maryland woman was murdered by a contract killer who used one of the publisher's titles, Hit Man, an instruction manual for killers, to ply his trade. After he was sentenced to death, the woman's family launched a suit against Paladin Press for 'aiding and abetting' a murder. The suit was initially dismissed because of First Amendment issues, but an appeals court has determined that the manual was not shielded by the Constitution.

If this decision is upheld, suits could begin popping up against publishers of bomb-making manuals, assassination guides, and other books implicated in terrorist acts. Then, of course, there are guides on how to cheat on taxes, 'borrow' phone services, and other areas I haven't thought of yet.

While I certainly don't condone violence, and I detest the fact that manuals for things like contract killing are available from (in my opinion) irresponsible publishers, to react by applying the first amendment only to subjects that don't offend public morality is equivalent to nullifying free speech entirely.

As Paul McMasters (First Amendment Ombudsman) has said, "Those who would ban books come from all sectors of society, regardless of ideology or religious belief. If each sector of society is allowed to remove its slice of the First Amendment pie, there’ll be nothing left of free speech but crumbs."

 

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  The Catalog Description from Paladin Press for the book Hit Man


HIT MAN
A Technical Manual for Independent Contractors

by Rex Feral

Learn how a pro gets assignments, creates a false identity, makes a disposable silencer, leaves the scene without a trace, watches his mark unobserved and more. Feral reveals how to get in, do the job and get out without getting caught. For academic study only. 5 1/2 x 8 1/2, softcover, photos, illus., 144 pp.

ISBN 0-87364-276-7....................$10.00


Return to the story
by Wendy Woudstra