Through December 20, 2010, you can raise money for the First Amendment Project (FAP) and come up with a pretty nifty Christmas, Hanukkah or birthday gift.
FAP’s running an online auction to support its work. You can bid to have your name (or presumably a loved one’s) appear in a work of fiction by Elinor Lipman, Dave Eggers, Joshua Ferris, Lorrie Moore, Mona Simpson, Rick Moody, Walter Kirn and many more. Bonus: A lot of the authors are doing Skype chats with the winners. You could also bid to have a character named after you in an episode of Weeds, get your name into a comic strip by Ben Katchor, or hey, how about getting your kid’s name into one of Dan Gutman’s hugely popular “Baseball Card Adventures” books for young readers? I know some fellas who’d plotz for that.
The First Amendment Project provides free legal help for folks fighting for freedom of speech. FAP runs an advice hotline for students, artists, activists and journalists; offers legal advice and representation to writers whose work has been censored or who are being compelled to reveal anonymous sources; files friends of the court briefs — all kinds of good stuff.
A lot of folks think they like the idea of the First Amendment until it comes to a book they find offensive. In those cases, the justification for removing the book from the library or restricting its circulation is that the book will harm readers, particularly young ones. That argument doesn’t work for me. I’ve written about this before so I won’t go tangenting away madly now. For now I say only bid! Go become a stripper with a heart of gold and boobs the size of basketballs in a Suzanne Brockman thriller, or “become an FBI agent without setting foot in Quantico!” Fun!
(Thanks to the Jewish Book Council blog for the tip.)