johnsu01 (johnsu01) wrote,

Is this Mao story a hoax?

Update #5: Confirmed hoax.

Update #4: There's a follow-up article from the same reporter that's just been published. He was thoughtful enough to let me know about it. It doesn't really clear anything up. It raises some additional questions, like who exactly might have visited the student, since it turns out that DHS doesn't have its own agents. There are some statements from the FBI and other officials in this report that sound totally disingenuous, though. They act like part of the Patriot Act didn't specifically authorize them to monitor records like library borrowing patterns. So, obviously statements like, "However, the scenario sounds unlikely because investigations are based on violation of law, not on the books and individual might check out from the library" (sic) are just false. See Section 215. Anyway, investigations are ongoing, so we'll see what comes out of it.

Update #3: A statement from the UMass Dartmouth library.

Update #2: Lawgeek has a quote from the reporter vouching for the story after being told of some of the doubts, and promising further verification.

Update: Boing Boing is tracking the story, so I'll just let them do the work and see what comes out of it. There is mention there of an identical story being reported out of California, but I can't find it anywhere, and they don't give a link. I did just notice that the UMass incident supposedly happened back in October. So, nothing was said about it until these professors were asked for comment on the Bush spying stuff, then all the sudden they were out with it. I sure hope that the Little Red Incident is shown to be a hoax.

Some people seem to think that the story about Homeland Security visiting a student because he requested a copy of Mao Zedong's Little Red Book is not true.

I am troubled by not being able to find any mention of this other than in the one link, and of course in 20,000 blogs (mine included) linking to it.

One objection is that there is no "Peking" version of the book, or "unabridged" version, as it is described in the original story.

First of all, I can't find any version of the book at all in the UMass Dartmouth library database. Can you? So, it looks like needing to ILL it is plausible.

Second of all, here is a listing for a version of the book, with the publisher listed as "Peking, China: Foreign Languages Press, 1966".

This site has what looks to be a thorough history of the book, and notably says, " The first American version printed in the United States appeared in March 1967 in bright red wrappers as a Bantam paperback, edited by Stuart R. Schram with an introduction by A. Doak Barnett." So, the professor could have been suggesting the Peking version, as noted above, as opposed to this first US printed version, which includes some different material. The history also suggests that some editions have photos that others do not.

So, it does seem like there are different versions and editions of the book out there. The story may or may not be true, but I don't see any problem with the idea that he was using ILL to get a particular version of the book. There are definitely Peking versions of the book. I do think there is still a question about whether these are rightly described as "official". Any ideas here?

Tags: censorship, communism, emergency administration, homeland security
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