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Night Shade Message Boards » Duchamp, L. Timmel » Will the feds start jailing editors now, too? « Previous Next »

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L. Timmel Duchamp
Posted on Wednesday, February 25, 2004 - 11:03 pm:   

The U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control recently declared that American publishers cannot edit works authored in nations under trade embargoes which include Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Libya and Cuba. On Tuesday, February 24, Democracy Now ["Publishers Face Prison For Editing Articles from Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Libya or Cuba"] interviewed ROBERT BOVENSCHULTE, president of the publications division of the American Chemical Society, which decided this week decided to challenge the government and risk criminal prosecution by editing articles submitted from the five embargoed nations. Although publishing the articles is legal, editing is a "service" and the treasury department says it is illegal to perform services for embargoed nations. It can be punishable by fines of up to a half-million dollars or jail terms as long as 10 years.


A transcript of the interview is available at
<http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=04/02/24/1557214>.

The Treasury Department can disingenuously claim not to be censoring the texts by scientists, scholars & writers from these five countries, but since anything published is necessarily edited (however one defines the term), it's difficult to see this as anything but censorship. Bovenschulte notes, "Curiously, the OFAC ruling when it came out in late September seemed to permit peer review, but very definitely prohobited this copy editing function.... And the copy editing matter is particularly curious because-- basically, they are alleging that some important service is being provided by a person who sits there and makes sure that the language of the paper-- these are highly technical papers, by the way, that the language has appropriate English and conforms to a publishers' style guidelines. This is curious to us and we cannot understand really what the rationale for that prohibition is."

The "rationale," to my eye, is casuistry. & the underlying reason is sheer bloodymindedness. The copyediting of technical papers benefits the readership (i.e., the scientific community interested in the research being reported), rather than the author. (& what a crime that would be, to benefit an individual who lives in a proscribed state!) This measure, of course, is only one among the many lately taken by the federal government having the collective effect of seriously undermining scientific (& academic) study in the US.
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Nancy Jane Moore
Posted on Saturday, February 28, 2004 - 11:44 am:   

I can't decide which is more ludicrous: a legal distinction between publishing and editing or just the effort not to publish things from those countries. But perhaps I'm the only person who immediately assumed that it was dissidents from Libya, Cuba, Iran etc. that would want to have their work published here. You'd think we'd want to publish that.

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L. Timmel Duchamp
Posted on Saturday, February 28, 2004 - 07:14 pm:   

No, you're not the only one to make that assumption. It seems obvious, doesn't it? But so many of these policies (& laws) seem to be oblivious of their wider implications.

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Forrest
Posted on Sunday, February 29, 2004 - 07:08 pm:   

Bloody hell, that's ridiculous. Hopefully this one will go to court and shoot yet another hole in the unconstitutional and wholly despotic "Patriot" Act.

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