Monday, November 22, 2004

Acting Out

Feel like acting out? Here's your chance to do it but in a good way. Send and email to Secretary of the Treasury John Snow to urge him to settle the lawsuit Association of American University Presses, et al. v. The Office of Foreign Assets Control of the Department of the Treasury, et al. Why would you want to do this? Because

Under the Bush administration, the Treasury Department began to use a new interpretation of an act from 1977 to require that publishers obtain a government permission to edit or market the works of writers from trade-sanctioned countries like Cuba, Iran and Sudan. Those who fail to comply face draconian penalties. The issue first arose when the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control told an engineering group they couldn't translate, fix spelling or otherwise edit research reports from Iran. The decision was met with an uproar from publishers, but while the government eased the restriction some in that one example, they have consistently ruled against allowing publishers to publish or market new books from authors from embargoed countries. The effect on free speech has been chilling. One publisher postponed reprinting a field guide about birds of Cuba due to concerns about minor edits that were needed. Fines for violating the rule can be as high as $1 million, and jail time can be as high as ten years.
The email is already written up and you can add your own comments to it before you send it off to Mr. Snow. Do it now, before you forget. What are you waiting for?