Considering the sort of potentially-offensive content the average Internet holds, it’s almost charmingly quaint when this sort of thing happens.
Mr Lake said the police were very gentle when they arrived and asked that the book be removed from the shelf.
Mr. Lake runs Imprints Booksellers in Adelaide, Australia. The book at the center of the “gentle” raid was originally published 24 years ago.
[American Psycho], by American author Bret Easton Ellis, has been classified R18 under national censorship legislation since its release in 1991, requiring it to be sold in plastic and only to those aged over 18.
So, what happened? Two things. First, a new edition was published featuring a foreword by Irvine Welsh — someone who’s no stranger to plumbing the depths of humanity. This edition — which arrived roughly 24 years after the original classification and sans the sealed plastic covering — was noticed by a local citizen, who then got her third-party outrage on.
He said the raid occurred because somebody complained to police after reading in a weekend newspaper column that the book was being sold by bookshops without plastic wrapping.
“I had a phone call from a lady on Tuesday who was quite aggressive and questioned why we were selling this classified product out of its wrapper,” he said.
As per usual, it’s the squeaky busybody that gets the grease, despite the book being a good couple of decades past the point of its original outrage and being surpassed in terms of graphic violence several times over, including in plenty of unwrapped books sold by the same booksellers.
Music (mostly) blog The Quietus has probably the best description of what likely went down in the this “gentle raid” over the most shocking novel of the early ’90s.
Imprint Books in Adelaide (AUS) was ‘gently raided’ by – some apparently very polite, possibly even contrite, hopefully totally fucking embarrassed – police officers for displaying unsealed copies of Bret Easton Ellis’ 1991 satirical (adjective: sarcastic, critical, and mocking another’s weaknesses) novel American Psycho.
Now, while Australia — a nation of adults constantly being treated like children (and paying far too much for the “privilege”…) by their government — has earned a reputation as a busybody in its own right, it’s highly doubtful these police officers were very thrilled with this assignment. But ignoring the complaint was likely out of the question. Anyone sufficiently motivated to ring up both the bookshop and the cops because of something they read in the newspaper is the sort of person who won’t let the issue go until it’s been resolved to their satisfaction. So, rather than just blow off the misplaced concern, they apologetically and gently “raided” the bookseller. No doubt this was followed by a surreptitious reconnaissance mission by the complainer to verify that the complainee had been sufficiently cowed.
As for the bookseller, he made the sort of assumption anyone would make when the latest edition of a 24-year-old novel arrived without the protective R18 shrinkwrap.
“We just assumed the classification has been lifted,” he said.
Because that would make sense. But no, the R18 is still in place and people with nothing better to do but read newspapers and make angry phone calls will continue to put local law enforcers in an unenviable position: Do you raid the bookshop and look foolish? Or do you answer call after call from aggrieved locals until you finally decide to raid the bookshop and look foolish? When your choices are this awful, the best course of action is to just get it over with.