November 21, 2006
As we wait for the COPA decision, the nervous flutter in my stomach is a personal thing. If the law is found enforceable, will I be among those slated for six months in prison and a stiff daily fine? As an author, I'm taking COPA very personally. Maybe it's because I lived in fascist Spain in the 1960s and got to see that kind of religious censorship close up, as a U.S. editor working in Madrid, and knew about people who went to prison because what they wrote was viewed as "harmful" to Spanish youth.
It's very personal -- my nine titles for sale on the Web -- books that could be deemed "harmful" by any religious nut who decides to lobby for my prosecution. My 1974 gay novel The Front Runner has been sold to public libraries and college courses across the country, where people under 18 can find it. My newest, The Lavender Locker Room, about GLBT people in sports, just went up on the online order page of Wildcat Press, my publishing company, as well as Amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com and other online booksellers.
I could find myself without my personal freedom and the personal ability to make a living. My body of work, which I have spent 35 years creating and publishing, could disappear in the blink of an eye. Once any author is attacked by COPA prosecution, you can bet your bottom dollar that their books -- and any books like them -- will vanish from the marketplace overnight. Few online booksellers will want to risk this kind of extreme prosecution and draconian punishment by the government. It will get very personal for them too.