Apparently when S&S tried to sell one of their latest into the big box stores, Walmart and Target declined to pick up copies. Former Daily Show exec producer David Javerbaum’s The Last Testament: A Memoir (by God) has offended the sensibilities of their buyers—or they perceive it will offend the sensibilities of their customers enough that it’s not worth carrying. I will admit right now that I am not the consumer they have in mind when they raise that fear, but to each his own in that regard. Much as I find the idea of Javerbaum’s book (and his @TheTweetofGod Twitter account) pretty funny, I can see why someone for whom blasphemy means something other than entertainment might oppose it. And I don’t see a private entity not selling something as akin to censorship, so I don’t morally oppose their choice.
The thing that shocks me here is that S&S UK backed out. We always hear about how we’re so much more religious and PC in this country than the UK—and as a fan of British panel quiz shows, I can guarantee you that political correctness has not taken root in UK society to the extent it has here—so it’s a surprising development. The UK market tends to be more cautious about controversial books, since their libel laws are much less defendant friendly than those here in the US, but I’m having a hard time imagining that S&S fears God will bring suit. I’m really not sure why it is they changed their minds, but I’m pretty surprised to see that S&S US went full steam ahead and S&S UK said no. Perhaps it’s the Daily Show factor? Maybe in the US, the damage will be offset by the show’s loyal following, but in the UK, there’s less of a fan base to appeal to.
So, dear readers, what say you? Offensive? Offensive enough to boycott over? Offensive enough not to publish at all for fear of poor sales or backlash? Thoughts on why the UK pulled the plug? It’s an interesting turn of events, for sure. And some fantastic publicity for the book either way.