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August 13, 2012  | by: Julia Cuozzo

You may have heard recently that Joan Rivers was involved in what is being touted as “the best book publicity stunt of 2012.” Rivers, 79, chained herself to a shopping cart at a Burbank, CA Costco with a bullhorn protesting the store because they refused to carry her book. The reason is because Costco has found some of the language on the back cover to be “distasteful.”

To clarify, the back cover of Rivers book, I Hate Everyone… Starting with Me, features mock quotes from people such as Wilt Chamberlain, Marie Antoinette, and Sylvia Plath. These “quotes” from beyond the grave feature curse words that are not allowed on basic cable. The alternative word for poop that played a really strong role in The Help being one of them.

Rivers claims that this is nothing more than censorship.

“It’s about First Amendment rights,” Rivers told KTLA. “Costco banned my book because of one word on the back cover. I feel like this is a country where the people should have the right to have the literature they want.”

“This is the beginning of Nazi Germany,” she added.

That last part is what has gotten her in trouble with the Anti Defamation League. The ADL’s national director, Abraham Foxman, who is a Holocaust survivor, said in an August 10th statement that

“While Joan Rivers may be right in criticizing Costco’s decision, there is simply no comparison between a private company’s choice not to sell a book and the policies of the Nazi regime that engaged in the systematic persecution and slaughter of millions of Jews and others during the Holocaust…Such comparisons only serve to trivialize the Holocaust and are deeply offensive to Jews and other survivors, as well as those Americans who fought valiantly against the Nazis in World War II.”

Instead of issuing an apology, as most celebrities do in cases such as these, Rivers fought back. Rivers told E!

“Number one, my husband lost most of his family in Auschwitz, so don’t talk to me about the Holocaust. Number two, banning books anywhere is a bad portent. Number three, the ADL should worry more about the world’s attitude toward Israel than waste time and energy on me, because I’m not going to stop saying what I think.”

I am a person who gets very upset about the Holocaust because it is one of the most horrendous acts in recorded human history. I get disgusted with ill-informed people who deny that it happened and I have actually met people in my lifetime who think this way. It’s sad. These are the same people, of course, who swear that Muslims and Sikhs are the same, the President is one of them (which one is irrelevent) and put stickers on their vehicles that say “your in America, speak English” clearly disregarding the English language themselves by using the wrong “your.” That said, the actions of the Nazi regime, like the thoughts and actions of the ill-informed, are clear cases of ignorance and prejudice. The Holocaust was proof of what happens when people give the ignorant power, and the ignorance turns into hatred and destruction under the guise of propaganda.

However, I support Joan Rivers as an American. She is entitled to the same Constitutional rights as every other American. Whether or not this was a publicity stunt is irrelevant. She has the right to voice her opinion. She has the right to peacefully protest in public forums. She was clearly not trying to insult the victims of the Nazi regime. When Rivers made the comparison, she said that this was “the beginning of Nazi Germany.” The key part of that phrase is “the beginning.”  Whether intentional or inadvertent, Rivers shed light on the fact that the Nazi’s had an extensive list of banned books when they took over various countries and during the first year of Nazi occupancy in 1933, there were book burnings, too.

Censorship leads to bigger problems. Censorship is what creates the ill-informed masses, which leads to ignorance, which leads to prejudice, which inevitably leads to anger, hatred, and discrimination. Also, Costco should carry Rivers book. They carry video games with ‘M’ Ratings like Assassin’s Creed III and Call of Duty Black OPS II. Also, run “Costco 50 Shades of Grey” through your search engine. I guarantee you will find several hits of bloggers reporting that they walked into Costco and found the book including Catherine Deveney, writer, comedian, and social commentator who wrote:

“As soon as I walked into Costco, I was faced with 200 copies of 50 Shades Of Grey.”

What do you think? Did Rivers go too far with her publicity stunt? Or do you think she had a valid point to make?

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