Canadian readers interested in knowing about the inner workings of the Church of Scientology will remain unenlightened unless they travel to the United States to acquire the forbidden knowledge.
A detailed exposé of the secretive church much anticipated south of the border, Lawrence Wright’s Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood and the Prison of Belief, is not being published in Canada, the author’s U.S. publisher, Alfred A. Knopf, told The Globe and Mail. Sources at the company’s Toronto-based subsidiary, which normally distributes all its parent’s major titles in Canada, confirmed that their company is not publishing the book and it will not be available in Canadian bookstores.
The news follows a recent decision by British publisher Transworld to drop long-established plans to bring the book out there – a move widely interpreted as being motivated by fear about potential lawsuits.
Officials at Random House Canada declined to provide specific reasons why the book will not appear in Canada. “I’m not certain if it’s a rights issue, or a legal one, as has been suggested is the situation in the U.K.,” company spokesperson Sheila Kay said in an e-mail. “It’s my understanding that the book will not be available for purchase in Canada, for now.”
Random House of Canada has distributed all of Wright’s previous books, including The Looming Tower, for which he won the Pulitzer Prize. Although Going Clear appears on the company’s website, it was “incorrectly listed,” according to Kay.
Although it says little for the state of free speech in Canada, a decision not to publish a book like Going Clear due to legal concerns would be undeniably prudent. Both Britain and Canada share a legal tradition that makes it much easier for plaintiffs to win defamation lawsuits than it is in the United States, and the Church of Scientology is famously litigious.
Wright first drew attention to his project with a long profile in The New Yorker magazine of Paul Haggis, a Canadian-born filmmaker and prominent Scientology apostate. The new book is already creating Internet buzz with previously untold stories about the role of the church in the lives and careers of Hollywood stars John Travolta and Tom Cruise.