Cockburn would like to issue a preemptive apology to those who thought being extraordinarily accomplished was enough to justify a lucrative book deal. Apparently an author's manuscript should be sent to the shredder if he or she holds an unorthodox opinion on hot-button political issues.

That's the case made by the coffee-fetchers and typo-catchers in the publishing industry who signed an open letter denouncing Supreme Court Justice Amy Barrett's upcoming book with Penguin Random House. The group of "concerned publishing professionals" claim that paying Coney Barrett a $2 million advance to outline her judicial philosophy constitutes...

Cockburn would like to issue a preemptive apology to those who thought being extraordinarily accomplished was enough to justify a lucrative book deal. Apparently an author’s manuscript should be sent to the shredder if he or she holds an unorthodox opinion on hot-button political issues.

That’s the case made by the coffee-fetchers and typo-catchers in the publishing industry who signed an open letter denouncing Supreme Court Justice Amy Barrett’s upcoming book with Penguin Random House. The group of “concerned publishing professionals” claim that paying Coney Barrett a $2 million advance to outline her judicial philosophy constitutes an international human rights violation. No, seriously.

“We are calling on Penguin Random House to recognize its own history and corporate responsibility commitments by reevaluating its decision to move forward with publishing Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s forthcoming book,” the letter reads. “We believe that moving forward with Coney Barrett’s book places Bertelsmann and Penguin Random House both in direct conflict with their own Code of Conduct and in violation of international human rights.”

The dissenters’ main contention is with Coney Barrett’s vote to overturn Roe v. Wade. They assume there are no reasonable objections to the notion that abortion is a human right. Only a group of young, low-level staffers — assistants, art directors, interns and the like constituted most of the signees — could be conceited enough to believe they harness such a monopoly on truth. Certainly they must know better than a former top law professor and circuit court judge!

The irony of woke Penguin Random House staffers complaining about Coney Barrett’s human rights record while collecting a Nazi paycheck is not lost on Cockburn. For those not in the know, Bertelsmann, the multimedia company that owns PRH, was a chief propagandist for the Nazi regime during World War Two. Perhaps grappling with that legacy would be a more judicious use of the paper-pushers’ time?

Cockburn also hates to point out that PRH’s most talked-about forthcoming title, Spare, comes from a man with a proclivity for dressing up as a Nazi.

PRH wouldn’t be the first in the publishing industry to cut ties with an author if they ultimately cave to the demands of the open letter. Simon & Schuster canceled Senator Josh Hawley’s book last year after he was accused of fomenting and encouraging an insurrection on January 6.

In the larger media landscape, it has become commonplace for a small but vocal mob to seize control of editorial decisions. Take the New York Times, which apologized for publishing Senator Tom Cotton after an internal newsroom revolt, or the Philadelphia Inquirer, where an executive editor resigned after the paper published a headline denouncing looting and vandalism.

Cockburn will keep his fingers crossed that he gets to read Coney Barrett’s book in the near future. Even if she survives the open letter, the Supreme Court justice may still fall victim to the dreaded paper shortage and supply chain issues plaguing the publishing industry. Cockburn is currently scrambling to save Christmas, as several of the books he intended on gifting to relatives have been delayed until the spring.