Culture

Why Whittaker Chambers Will No Longer Be Quoted, Celebrated, or Discussed at PJ Lifestyle

I present an email exchange (in full, unedited) that I had Friday afternoon from an email received via the PJ Media contact form, reprinted with permission from the sender. Consider this a warning to all who would seek to study the work of Whittaker Chambers and urge others to buy copies of his stunning, historically important memoir Witness using blogs and New Media. PJ Lifestyle will no longer discuss or quote from Whittaker Chambers, out of sincere respect for the author’s descendants’ wishes. Plenty of other books I’m eager to read explore similar ideas about history, courage, ideology and extraordinary lives that I’m currently researching for my own books and ebooks.

So I will cease my study of Chambers — I’ve read enough to get the idea… And I will now give other figures in the history of the conservative movement the attention they deserve. I’m also burnt out on Ayn Rand, the author I was reading juxtaposed with her nemesis Chambers on Thursdays. I’m 116 pages in and was expecting by now to be so hooked that  I would’ve ignored all other books in favor of following Dagny Taggart and John Galt. It’s a fun book and I agree with most of its general points (minus the atheism) and individualist spirit but I guess my fanatical radical capitalist train already left the station. I already delight in shocking my Democrat friends and family by proclaiming we have no need of Social Security and the goal of my generation over the course of the next 20 years should be to dissassemble about 85-95% of the New Deal and its demonic government grandchildren, the Great Society and Obamacare…  Perhaps it’s time to move on to reading Marvin Liebman’s Coming Out Conservative: An Autobiography and William F. Buckley Jr.’s novel Getting It Right for my Thursday study of Conservative Movement history.

PJ Lifestyle is also still very interested in studying and promoting the stories of ex-leftists, ex-Marxists, ex-Communists, ex-“Liberals”, ex-Muslims, ex-Secularists, ex-Democrats, as well as any other individual who has escaped a cult or poisonous political, religious, or cultural ideology. Please contact me at DaveSwindlePJM [@] gmail [.] com to share your story and your book recommendations. I’m currently accepting additional suggestions to add to my 7 piles in my Radical Reading Regimen. And if you are a publisher and would like excerpts from your book featured at PJ Lifestyle (or reviews of your book by our authors) then please contact me. I am a lifelong book enthusiast raised by a librarian mother and seek only to encourage all humans to read widely and deeply every day of their lives of the books that can improve and transform both them and their country…

From: [email protected]

Subject: [PJM EDITORIAL] Please contact me

Date: June 7, 2013 1:49:58 PM PDT

To: [email protected]

FROM: David Chambers

EMAIL: [email protected]

WEBSITE: http://www.whittakerchambers.org/

MESSAGE:

Dear PJ Media,

Please contact me regarding continued quotes from Whittaker Chambers by “PJ Lifestyle.”

David Chambers

http://www.whittakerchambers.org/

[email protected]

He was either wanting to discourage my promotions of Witness or offer some kind of assistance or collaboration. I responded already knowing that my attempt at celebrating a heroic figure’s memory had likely already been misinterpreted: 

——– Original Message ———

Subject: Re: [PJM EDITORIAL] Please contact me

From: “Dave Swindle”

Date: 6/7/13 5:01 pm

To: [email protected]

Hello David,

I hope my use of quotes from Witness has not caused any offense. Is something wrong?

-David

David Swindle Associate Editor

Follow me on Twitter:http://twitter.com/DaveSwindle

David Chambers responded quickly…

The purpose of printing this email exchange is so others know how to quote from Whittaker Chambers’ works in the manner which David Chambers approves:

From: David Chambers <[email protected]>

Subject: Re: [PJM EDITORIAL] Please contact me

Date: June 7, 2013 3:00:27 PM PDT

To: Dave Swindle

David,

People re-use the works of Whittaker Chambers in various ways.

Bill Buckley remains the all-time champion.  However, Bill had articles written for National Review (which we have permission to reprint on WhittakerChambers.org), the letters of Whittaker Chambers which he printed, plus stories of his own.  Otherwise, he quoted only bits from Whittaker Chambers himself.

PJMedia has run articles about Whittaker Chambers, like Laura Weiner’s piece earlier this year.  She quotes a sentence or two at a time — long ones, granted, but ultimately adding up only to one paragraph or so of long sentences.  Most importantly, she’s doing most of the writing.  “Whittaker Chambers: Taking Freedom’s Part, Irritating Everybody in the Process”  http://pjmedia.com/lifestyle/2013/01/18/whittaker-chambers-the-poet-of-anti-communism-and-a-universal-irritant/?singlepage=true

In contrast, PJMedia’s “PJLifestyle” has been running pieces that don’t quite amount to articles, at least when it comes to Whittaker Chambers.  Their titles mis-reflect his text as quoted.  They add a few words of introduction.  Then they quote at a rate of nearly a page at a time (by means of direct copies of the physical paperback) Whittaker Chambers’ memoir Witness.  If it has not already done so, PJMedia is fast adding approaching page count that amounts to copyright violation, wouldn’t you agree?

David 

I responded stating my intent to do what I have now done.

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I offered what I hoped would be a satisfactory resolution regarding the continuation of quoting the words of Whittaker Chambers at PJ Lifestyle along with free links to where readers could spend money to purchase the book themselves:

——— Original Message ———

Subject: Re: [PJM EDITORIAL] Please contact me

From: “Dave Swindle”

Date: 6/7/13 6:17 pm

To: “David Chambers” <[email protected]> 

Dear David,

Since you do not appreciate the free advertising and regular promotions of Witness then I will stop. My goal with quoting excerpts from Witness was to inspire others to purchase the book (all excerpts included a link to Amazon for purchase) and contribute to discussions of its themes as I studied it for my own research and writings. Since this is not appreciated and I am now being accused of potentially violating copyright I will stop. I also will not plan to include any references to Witness or Whittaker Chambers in any of my future writings nor assign or accept any stories about either. I will also print your letter below as a Letter to the Editor at PJ Lifestyle so readers can understand your position on how much they are legally allowed to quote from Witness in blog posts.

Take Care,

David

This is the usual way copyright queries go in my four years of full time new media editing. The copyright claimer makes their claim and the publication then complies with their requests, usually just giving a link and a credit to the copyrighted work but sometimes removing it. They really don’t come as frequently as one might expect. We try to avoid them and with Shutterstock and creating images ourselves via Instagram the emails arrive even less. (This is the first time I’ve received a copyright claim regarding the use of copyrighted text. Usually it’s for images.) I did not anticipate any copyright concerns with quoting from this book series because all of my excerpts are essentially free advertisements for the books themselves, each include a link to where the whole book could, and should be purchased. But c’est la vie.

David Chambers responded in brief accepting my offer and granting permission to be quoted here:

From: David Chambers <[email protected]>

Subject: RE: Re: [PJM EDITORIAL] Please contact me

Date: June 7, 2013 3:35:14 PM PDT

To: Dave Swindle <[email protected]>

David,

I accept; thank you.

David

DAVID CHAMBERS  |  [email protected]  |  http://www.whittakerchambers.org/

This was a useful nudge. In the coming months I plan to explore the history of this mysterious abstraction so casually called “the Conservative Movement” from more perspectives than Rand and Chambers. As always, suggestions are appreciated. (Hopefully of authors whose copyright holders won’t mind having more than a few paragraphs of their work excerpted to inspire discussion and book sales…)