It has been five years since I began this experiment to showcase my own day to day thoughts and literary musings. Some seventeen years since the terrorist event in New York confirmed the worst of my fears that the rhetoric of justice for all citizens and protected rights under the Constitution and Bill of Rights were shown up to be naught but empty wallpaper. Whatever your own perspective may or may not be as a reader it is evident that the right to express one’s unvarnished thoughts publicly without possible censure is coming to an abrupt close. The attitude of aloofness from what one might think effects others but not them has been in my own case, totally dispelled. The right to speak your mind is now in the hands of individuals that take their cue from an overbearing private corporate hegemony run by an moneyed elite that quietly holds court over what you can think or dare not think.
In my own case, this comes from out of the blue with a publisher Blurb.com that I have produced some twenty-two different titles over seven years. They have elected to discontinue doing so based upon an unspecified complaint by parties that they refuse to identify. Consequently, any print publications of my own from this company will very soon be unavailable for purchase. This will not stop my avocation to continue to express myself freely. But it will for an indefinite time limit those who wish to have a printed version of material from this site from having same. I might say that if you are considering putting your work on a printed page very carefully consider that the politics of the publisher may at any time dramatically impact your decision to use them as an outlet. I am providing text (below) from Blurb’s notices as well as two letters sent to their CEO for any who might be useful in knowing how these situations evolve.
|Giada ( Blurb Support)
Aug 6, 11:43 AM EDT
I am contacting you from the customer support department at Blurb. We have received a complaint about the subject matter of a book you published using Blurb’s self-publishing platform. That book is titled “Boris Wittinsky’s Instagrams”.
After thoroughly investigating the complaint, we have concluded that the content of your book is in breach of Section 11 of our Terms and Conditions (http://www.blurb.com/terms). We have therefore deleted that book from your account.
Please let me know if you have any questions.
[From Scott Becker – 1st Letter]
Mr. Brix Kramlich
580 California Street
San Francisco, IL 94104
Dear Mr. Kramlich
I am writing in receipt of an email communication sent to my by one “Glada”(?), stating that my latest work submitted to being printed, “Boris Wittinsky Instagram’s” has been removed from sale my section of your site due to an unspecified complaint by parties unknown. I have just gotten off the phone with your phone attendant for you main office at your California Street location in San Francisco that claimed that she could not connect me by phone to a live body representative in your customer service department.
In consideration of this I find myself having to contact you directly in terms of this matter. As it may be apparent from looking at my many books on your site, I have been doing business periodically with your company for some seven years now. In the past when I have ups and downs about publishing issues that were dealt with directly and figured out for which I was grateful. Now it appears there is initially a situation of remoteness that given the gravity of a non-specific claim my dealings with your organization have been impacted.
There are a few topics that I would like to have clarified by your organization.
1) I would like to get some specific clarification in terms of the specific identity of persons or organizations that have lodged this complaint.
2) What in specific is their stated issue with my book or its content that is the center of the complaint that they are lodging against me?
3) What are the specific value judgments, political or otherwise, that your company impart on the content of authors that use your printing services in general beyond specific material that qualifies in terms of a status that can be legally considered officially as defamation, copyright infringement, or violating the provisos of the 1st Amendment of the Constitution of the United States.
4) I notice that the book remains upon my portion of the site. Is your organization going to continue to print out copies based upon my own personal orders with your firm?
Considering that my own experience up to now has been one not based upon mass marketing distribution I am curious to know the specific nature of what has occasioned this problem? Given my long association with your organization and the positive recommendations I have made in terms of other would be authors, I would appreciate the courtesy of a direct and timely response by the appropriate person by telephone and email. I look forward to your prompt response in this matter
|Giada ( Blurb Support)
Aug 8, 3:56 AM EDT
Thanks for your reply. I won’t be able to call you back but I can answer your questions via email.
We’re unable to disclose the identity of the people who have lodged this complaint.
You may find details of why your book was removed in Section 11 of our Terms and Conditions (http://www.blurb.com/terms). Please read sections 11 to 11.6.
Your book was removed completely from your dashboard. When content is prohibited as per section 11 of our Terms and Conditions, it is prohibited from our website and not only for selling.
Mr. Brix Kramlich
580 California Street
San Francisco, IL 94104
RE: Removal of “Boris Wittinsky’s Instagrams”
From my perspective, given the lack of transparency parsimoniously offered by your pseudonymous, “Glada”, this is an untenable situation. While this might be your official very extended all inclusive six-part “terms and conditions” section #11 based extended stated corporate policy clause this situation is certainly beyond an Orwellian fashioned in the context of a Kafka. And for me personally, an unworkable situation in terms of conducting normal business relations.
- A) I am expected to have a proper two-way discussion with someone not fully identified beyond a possible professional pseudonym of a supposedly familiar first name. Someone I cannot speak to directly one to one as I have with representatives of your company in previous situations over the last few years. Essentially a ‘one-way’ communication that tells me but that I cannot engage in a direct dialogue with.
- B) I am being told that some unspecified entity (?), animal (?) vegetable (?) or mineral (?), has theoretically made a protest about some unspecified portion of the content of a publication that I had your company produce. But that I am not allowed to know what that objection or objections might be by you as the unspecified company representative.
- 1) I am not allowed to know if it was someone outside your organization, or possibly within it?
- 2) I am not being told if this is ‘political’ decision based upon the default views of your company?
- 3) What qualifications and standards did your ‘investigation’ use to judge the content of my book that was submitted for mainly for print production. Something that was going beyond what you were contracted by me as a service to be performed.
- 4) I have not been given a clear and direct response by you, as company representative, to those questions initially posed in my previous email (as seen below)?
You may note from the findings of your supposed unspecified ‘investigation’ that I have to date secured your services to produce some 22 different titles over seven years since 2011. Your company has greatly benefited over that time from business from myself, and others like me. And yet now, I am refused any effective ability to determine the exact nature of an alleged violation of terms and conditions and given no information in terms of what sort of specific restrictions I am to undergo?
This is exactly the type of totalitarian situation in terms of policies and behaviors that were in force throughout Soviet Russia up to the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. It is also unacceptable. Your company is not providing proper clearly defined explainable standards for the benefit of its customers. It is merely hiding behind a set of voluminous boilerplate policies that are specifically configured to function as a legal catch all giving your company sole power in any business agreement it may have with a potential customer. That is very, very wrong!
And if I was foolish enough to continue to engage in further business with your company, then I would be a fool!
Giada ( Blurb Support)
Aug 9, 12:29 PM EDT
I understand this situation is not ideal for you but the reason why your book was removed is explained in the terms and conditions, which is why I suggested you read all the sections in the link I provided.
We are a self-publishing platform and we do not review, monitor, or edit content as it comes through our system. We do, however, have specific policies in place for reviewing content once concerns have been raised by either our print partners or other Blurb users.
We received complaints about your book because it contains offensive content. The meaning of “prohibited content” is explained in Section 11.1 of our terms and conditions, and section 11.6 explains what happens in case we find offensive content on our website.
I’m sorry but I really don’t have a different explanation. The reason why your book was removed is explained there. The only question I cannot answer, for privacy reasons, is to disclose the identity of the people who have lodged the complaint.
Blurb Customer Support
[From Scott Becker – Final Response]
That is not an answer. And quite frankly you are tripping yourself up when you state that “We are a self-publishing platform and we do not review, monitor, or edit content as it comes through our system” when in your first communication you stated “After thoroughly investigating the complaint, we have concluded that the content of your book is in breach of Section 11“. You “investigation” is/was “reviewing”.
You have do have the right to refuse to have a title on a site that you run. But the manner in which your organization is dealing with me as a longstanding customer of your firm is reprehensible. You simply refuse to address my inquiries point for point in detail behind a unaccountable mask (Glada?) and simply avoiding them as if they were never asked. That is not responsible business dealing but simply cowardice.
As I mentioned in my last communication I is foolish if not idiotic to deal with people and companies like you. I will look forward to spreading that very message.
I have deleted my publications, close my account!