Some indie books are brilliant, others are awful. Just the mention of indie/self-pub writers is sure to spark debate in certain circles. People have posted various opinions about the relative worth of indies and self-pubs all over the interwebs. Some indie authors have become infamous for inability to take constructive criticism, lack of editing, and hackneyed plots. However, to judge an entire group of writers based on the actions of a few is more than a little unfair. I read several great indies in 2011, Megan Curd’s Bridger is one that stands out immediately as an indie worth reading.
OP-ED CONTRIBUTORSupernaturals and the LawBy HOYT BOONESurely by now every American is familiar with the Post Unveiling Tort Reform Act, also called “PUTRA”. (Read more about the law here.) I authored this bill in an attempt to update a body of criminal and civil laws which were written largely before the existence of mages, vampires, and other such creatures was widely known. In response, I have been compared to Hitler and Stalin, and accused of trying to roll back the basic freedoms of which Americans are rightly proud.For instance, Ellis Boyer, the district attorney in Austin, Texas, has accused me of launching an “all out assault” on the freedom of speech by proposing to make offensive spellcasting a crime. Since spellcasting requires only words, Mr. Boyer argues, we are effectively empowering the police to jail innocent citizens for what they say. He argues that this would open the floodgates for politically-motivated prosecutions and a new round of Salem Witch Trials.I would expect a lawyer of Mr. Boyer’s considerable talents to know better. Anyone who examines my voting record will find that I have been a stalwart defender of the First Amendment, and anyone who watches C-SPAN has seen me argue passionately against past attempts to curtail the rights it provides. (Ironically, some of those attempts were made by some of the very people who now call me a “fascist”.)To defend his absurd claim, Mr. Boyer cites the recent case of Austin high school student Sabrina Orr, who was charged with attempted offensive spellcasting after a classmate caught her in the school auditorium rehearsing lines from Macbeth. Boyer describes this case as “an example of the travesties of justice that could occur regularly if PUTRA becomes law,” and laments that his office “was forced to expend valuable time and resources prosecuting such a sham.”First of all, Mr. Boyer wasn’t “forced to expend valuable time and resources” doing anything. As the district attorney, he has near-total discretion over whether or not to prosecute a case. Had he instructed his office not to pursue Orr’s case, the charges against her would almost certainly have been dropped. In light of this face, one must wonder whether Mr. Boyer’s charges have less to do with his opposition to PUTRA and more to do with his own rumored plans to mount a Congressional campaign.Second of all, prosecuting offensive spellcasting is not a travesty. Rather, it is prudent, humane, and constitutional. The courts have always allowed for prosecutions of speech posing a “clear and present danger.” Is Mr. Boyer arguing that being turned into a frog or lit on fire does not constitute such a danger? There are commonly-known offensive spells to do both, and worse.Third, under my law, anyone accused of offensive spellcasting would have ample opportunity at their trials to prove that they are incapable of magic. Nothing in PUTRA affects the right of an accused person to a trial, and I have no intention of doing so.The unprecedented legal and social challenges posed by the existence of supernaturals deserve a vigorous and robust discussion. But this discussion is not well-served by those who distort the facts for political gain.Congress should pass PUTRA immediately, for the good of humans and paranormals.Mr. Boone is a Congressman from Austin, Texas.