February 22, 1988
Sorry if I was a bit hurried and careless in my last epistle. I am rather extraordinarily busy these days.
Okay, I mistakenly wrote that Martin said Reich's "books" were like comic opera and he only wrote that about one of Reich's books, the one on the Oranur experiment. I stand corrected. I will be more careful in the future.
However, I did once meet one of the researchers who was at Reich's lab during that experiment and her account agrees with Reich's and it does not sound like comic opera to me at all, at all. It sounds damned serious.
I didn't answer all your questions because I am, as noted, busy and because, frankly, most of the questions seemed rhetorical. To answer the ones I remember -- yes, the books mostly survive, but no thanks to the book-burners.
They did not, as you seemed to imply, burn only some of Reich's books; they burned all that were in print in English. Some of the books are still not back in print and, hence, still unavailable to those heretics who want to investigate the evidence for themselves. I, for instance, only got a copy of Contact With Space by way of Amsterdam. Try to find a copy of that for yourself, if you have any lingering notion that book burning does not directly interfere with your personal right to read.
And this whole line of questioning seems bat-eyed and irrelevant to me. If the government had only burned one of Reich's books and left the others alone, it would still be a direct violation of the First Amendment -- insofar as I understand the English language. Cf. my quote from Justice Black (In WR in Hell) about the clear distinction in English between "no laws" and "some laws."
Nor do I think the Reich book-burning was an aberration from, or a deflection of, the main thrust of the work of CSICOP. They are continually trying to get college courses suppressed, or altered, just like the other Fundamentalists. They do not seek debate but try to browbeat publishers into printing only their side of each argument. They threw Prof. Truzzi the hell out for trying to open their journal to debate.
But I have no special animus against Martin Gardner. To be frank, I use him as a target so often only because his rhetoric is so full of great big gaping logical holes and therefore very easy to satirize. He's one of the few who expresses frankly the fascist mentality I suspect about the whole crowd, e.g. in his confessed desire to see SRI destroyed for coming up with laboratory results that contradict his prejudices. In a sense, I'm even grateful to him. If he didn't exist, I would have had to invent him.
My position, to try to clarify it one more time, is that every interference with anybody's civil liberties is an interference with my civil liberties. When Dr. Leary was in jail, my right to receive his signals was curtailed. When Dr. Reich's books were burned, my right to read what rouses my curiosity was suppressed. As I once said to Sean MacBride, I support Amnesty because everybody in jail for their opinions is a person who might have a signal that would enrich my brain, if bullies and tyrants did not prevent my receiving it.
"Liberty is not the daughter, but the mother, of order." -- Proudhon
Keep the lasagna flying over Napoli.