There is a new book about Tom Cruise, the American movie actor. Normally this information would not elicit even a groan from me. I simply have no interest in Cruise, movies, Hollywood and the pampered, pathetic world of the modern celebrity. But this new book, on the other hand, seems to be much more interesting then its subject matter.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Australian bookstores have been denied access to sell the book, not because of any government ban, but because the US distributor has decided that it will not sell the book outside the US or Canada. The distributor, Ingram International, will fulfill existing orders, but will not accept any more orders.
This is a very curious story. What is not said but is left implied is that the most controversial aspect of the Tom Cruise story is his adherence to the Church of Scientology. It seems that the Church came to some sort of legal arrangement with the distributor.
US-based Ingram International, described on its website as “the world’s largest wholesale distributor of book product”, sent an email to its Australian customers this morning citing unspecified legal reasons for not being able to distribute the book outside the US and Canada.
“Although I recently e-mailed stating Ingram’s ability to offer the book to international customers, the position has now changed that we will not sell it outside of the US and Canada,” Asia, Australia and New Zealand sales representative Jonathan Tuseth wrote in the email.
If so, it seems to be hardly worthwhile- anyone who wants to read the book, anywhere in the world, can do so by ordering through Amazon.com.
However it is another sad retreat from the old position of ‘publish and be damned’. The publishers of Salmond Rushdie’s book showed some courage in the face of Muslim rage in 1989, but now publishers seem to be willing to retreat at the first hint of a lawsuit.
This is just the sort of case that an aspiring young political figure with a passion for freedom should take up as a rallying cry for liberty, freedom and rationality. Do not hold your breath.