Michigan Regents Try to Ban Pluto Press
The three University of Michigan regents who signed this letter, urging a ban on distribution of Pluto Press books because one of the books criticized Israel, are wrong. First of all, they assert that “reputational damage” is sufficient grounds for banishing the distribution deal. This presents an alarming possibility that the Regents might seek to ban other books, or perhaps even get rid of faculty or students, on similar grounds of “reputational damage” when someone criticizes Israel.
An analogy is worth making here: should universities allow outside groups to rent their facilities? Obviously, the answer is yes. Doing so benefits the community and the university by enhancing revenue and allowing more ideas to be heard. But by the regents’ reasoning, the renting of facilities should be prohibited because it provides only a tiny proportion of the university’s revenue and creates the danger of “reputational damage.” The principle of free expression should be held in much higher regard than the fear of someone being offended by a book.