PHOENIX, Feb. 24 - In our TiM GW Bulletin 99/2-3 (Feb. 11, 1999), filed from Western Australia, we said:
"Writers who told the truth under the oppressive Soviet regime were called dissidents. The West cherished them and toasted them as heroes. Writers who tell the truth nowadays under the oppressive New World Order regimes around the world face the fate worse than death for a writer - silence!"
Well, Dymocks, a national book store chain in Australia, has now broken its silence. The Truth in Media has obtained a copy of the Feb. 12, 1999 fax-letter from Keith Perkin, Dymocks' managing director, to Scott Balson, author of the book, 'Murder by Media,' now banished from all Dymocks' stores by a top executive's order.
Perkin's letter is a shameful admission of Dymocks' cowardice in the face of the truth, and a sad example of the state of affairs in Australia's media. Here's, for example, what Dymocks' managing director had to say about the rewards of writing the truth these days:
"Even if that is in fact the case (that the book contained the truth about the slanderous articles which the establishment 'reporters have written over the last three years'), we have been advised that truth alone is not a defence to defamation actions in Australia."
Let us repeat in bold print Dymocks' fascinating admission:
"Truth alone is not a defence to defamation actions in Australia."
Neither it was in the Soviet Union. Nor in Red China. Nor in Nazi Germany. Are those the kinds of societies contemporary Australia is modeling herself after?
Dymocks' ban of a book which told the truth about the corruption and collusion between the establishment media and the establishment parties in Australia, is a case of self-censorship which would make the communist commissars proud. And would make the likes of Alexander Solzhenitsyn, or the former Hong Kong governor, Chris Patten spit nails.
Okay, everybody can see why a dissident Russian writer, like Solzhenitsyn, might be upset to see that the West, which he had sometimes idealized, is not much better than the communist dictatorship against which he had rebelled. But why the former Hong Kong British governor? Because he happens to have become a writer.
After having served as the last British governor of Hong Kong, Patten wrote a book of memoirs which told the truth about Red China, the western New World Order's partner in crime against freedom, as it turns out. In other words, it was critical of the Chinese communist government which western multinationals have showered with over $202 billion in investments during the 1990s. That's about $51 million per head of each Tiananmen Square pro-democracy victim.
Well, guess who tried to pull the "Dymocks trick" on Gov. Patten's book back then? None other than Rupert Murdoch, one of the two Australian media moguls whose transgressions and manipulations were detailed in the book "Murder by Media" (the other "mogul" being Kerry Packer, reportedly a chum of Dymocks chairman, John Forsyth).
In February 1998, Murdoch ordered Harper Collins, the publishing company he owns, to cancel a scheduled fall publication in Britain of Gov. Patten's memoirs. The reason? Fear that the book would offend the Red Chinese with whom Murdoch's business ventures are happily in bed (e.g., his Star TV satellite service).
"I'm extremely angry," Doris Lessing, a British novelist also published by Murdoch's Harper Collins, one of several authors who had threatened to leave this publisher, told London's Daily Telegraph last February. "Rupert Murdoch's attitude is very unprofessional. It is so shocking I can't find words for it."
Unlike the Dymocks' executives, however, Gov. Patten was no pushover. He basically told Murdoch to stuff it, sued Harper Collins for a breach of contract, and signed on with MacMillan's, a rival publisher. His book was eventually published last October and sold well, even in Hong Kong.
The Patten scandal was not the first time Murdoch, who has major business interests in China, has deferred to Beijing. In 1994, he removed the British Broadcasting Corporation programs from his STAR satellite system's offerings to China, reportedly because the Chinese government was upset by a documentary about Mao, among other things.
Patten didn't mince any words about how he felt about this "Red Rupert" move. "'It was 'the most seedy of betrayals' for those who champion freedom of speech in one country 'to curtail it elsewhere for reasons of inevitably short-term commercial expediency'," the New York Times reported on Feb. 28, 1998.
Until now, it seems. For, Dymocks' decision to murder the "Murder by Media," maybe even tops "Red Rupert's" spinelessness. Because it happened in Murdoch's native country which ostensibly "champions (the) freedom of speech," according to Patten.
So why would a bookseller perform such an unnatural act as to voluntarily deprive itself of a book's sales and profits? "The sole ground of its decision in this case is the possibility that the book is defamatory," wrote Dymocks' Perkin in this Feb. 12 letter.
Well, if that's the case and is so obvious to everybody, why then would the bookseller's managing director feel compelled in the next sentence to threaten the book's author with legal action if he continued to tell the truth? (i.e., if Balson makes any statement "which suggests that Dymocks decision resulted in any way from an attempt to censor your book and prevent the views expressed in it from being circulated").
Besides, doesn't Dymocks check out the books before agreeing to sell them? Assuming that it did do so in the case of the "Murder by Media" (which would be normal practice for book distributors), why did Dymocks suddenly get cold feet over the book's allegedly defamatory content only AFTER it had already placed it on its stores' shelves? Could it be that the bookseller is now trying to intimidate the author into silence because it is itself feeling threatened? If so, by whom?
Maybe Scott Balson should add a "Murder by Dymocks" chapter, and then take a page out of Gov. Patten's book, and get himself a new book distributor, preferably a direct rival of Dymocks'. Surely Dymocks is not the only book chain in Australia? And even if it were, or even if all other distributors were equally scared from the truth coming out, there is still the amazon.com. No longer just an alternative way to market books, this Internet high flyer is threatening to put the traditional booksellers out of business.
Meanwhile, just in case you were tempted to dismiss the above book controversy as some peculiar "Down Under," Australian media censorship quirk, don't! Here's, for example, what the Truth in Media wrote to the Wall Street Journal on Apr. 26, 1998, regarding its duplicitous attitude toward the truth:
"Where was the Wall Street Journal's righteous indignation when one of your media brethren, Rupert Murdoch, ordered Harper Collins last February to cancel a scheduled fall publication in Britain of a memoir by Chris Patten, the last British Governor of Hong Kong, for fear it would offend the same Red Chinese government? Why was the Journal AWOL? Your silence in defense of Murdoch's assault on free speech was deafening."
Birds of a feather flock together? You bet! And not just in the establishment media circles.
Meanwhile, there is nothing like a controversy to help sell a book, especially one which, now that it has been "banned" by Dymocks, is likely to become a "collectors' item." So here's how you can get your copy of it: