Every book almost always has some errors, its almost impossible to catch every error. Usually after collecting these errors, the publishers and authors normally release a second edition where errors are fixed. But when somebody actually demands that a book be withdrawn rather than just the errors be fixed, then it means that the person is against freedom of speech and for book banning. Why am I talking about this? Well, this came around in my in-box. I quote:
To: Penguin Group USA Penguin Books India
SCANDALOUS cover jacket of the book - copy for ready reference at http://www.scribd.com/doc/26565460/Scan-0002
Ms. Susan Peterson Kennedy
President , Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson St, New York, NY 10014, USA
Mr. Mike Bryan,
CEO & President, Penguin Books Pvt Ltd.
11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi 110 017
Dear Ms. Peterson Kennedy, Mr. Mike Bryan,
The following is a petition from concerned signatories to the Penguin Group asking for an apology for the publication of the factually incorrect and offensive book “The Hindus-An Alternative History” by Wendy Doniger. We expect Penguin Group to withdraw the book immediately.
“The Hindus: An Alternative History” is rife with numerous errors in its historical facts and Sanskrit translations. These errors and misrepresentations are bound and perhaps intended to mislead students of Indian and Hindu history.
Throughout the book, Doniger analyzes revered Hindu Gods and Goddess using her widely discredited psychosexual Freudian theories that modern, humanistic psychology has deemed limiting. These interpretations are presented as hard facts and not as speculations. Doniger makes various faulty assumptions about the tradition in order to arrive at her particular spin. In the process, the beliefs, traditions and interpretations of practicing Hindus are simply ignored or bypassed without the unsuspecting reader knowing this to be the case. This kind of Western scholarship has been criticized as Orientalism and Eurocentrism. The non Judeo-Christian faith gets used to dish out voyeurism and the tradition gets eroticized.
Then follows a list of errors. Some are factual, some are debatable, some are opinions. Asking for an apology is frankly stupid and I am not even going to talk about it. But to ask for the withdrawal of the book is asking for book banning, censorship and a violation of the freedom of speech principle.
There are now a bunch of signatures on the petition. Now here’s the amusing bits, there are so many signatories who are professors, doctors and people from USA who are of Indian origin. The fact that professors and doctors signed a book banning petition which violates the freedom of speech principle means that all these doctors and professors are, lets say, at barely nodding acquaintance with the concept of freedom of speech. I mean, I can understand an uneducated rage boy shouting and screaming for book burning, but professors and doctors? Well, very disappointing that all that education on opening up their minds was sort of wasted.
But for the Indian Americans, did they realise that they signing this petition means that they have basically now proven to everybody that these people do not believe in the first amendment to the US constitution? And now there is permanent proof for their enemies to point to them and say, look at these people who dont believe in the US constitution’s first amendment. oh! well, if they indeed believed in the essential principles of freedom of speech, then I would have called them educated in the literal sense, proof that even getting PhD’s or MD’s does not mean that they are educated. After this serious stupid error, any petition or statement or any advocacy they come up with can immediately be rejected by people saying, ah!, but then they dont believe in freedom of speech and the US constitution. Pitiful. Talk about big foot in mouth and shooting off their own foot. At one stroke, they have damaged India, Hinduism and their own reputation by signing a frankly illiberal petition which calls for book banning, censorship and against freedom of speech. Poor chaps. Also, those who have not signed yet will hastily try to walk away from this. And those who have signed will now try to get their names off the list.
I think that as soon as the petition owners realise this, the wording of the petition will be changed or withdrawn.