When I created a Facebook page for my book, Dare I Call It Murder?: A Memoir of Violent Loss, Facebook would not allow me to use the title of the book in the page address. I tried several times, using various permutations on the theme, but it kept being rejected without any explanation as to why. I had to settle for “LarryEdwardsBook.”
I discussed this with Diane Duthweiler and Gail DiRe, my PR pros at Book It Northwest, and they suggested that Facebook rejected it because the title contains the word “murder.” Apparently we mustn’t be so gauche as to mention such a disconcerting topic in this obviously high-class social media environment. Shades of when Facebook censored all references to “breast” as if the word could only be related to porn—never mind the prevelance and critical nature of breast cancer.
Although not directly related, it brings to mind my consternation with another “F” entity and topic: The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA (which might also loosely represent “Frustrated attempts to Obtain Information).
In 2002, I met with a retired special agent to discuss the FBI’s investigation into my parents’ deaths. I had never received a satisfactory explanation from anyone, although I had my suspicions. Legally, he could not tell me everything I wanted to know because it had never been revealed publicly or introduced in court. So he suggested I get a copy of the report for myself.
“It’s all in there,” he said.
As with Facebook, I tried and tried and tried. Initially, a clerk at the Dept. of Justice told me the report did not exist, even though I had given him the case number supplied by the retired FBI agent in Seattle. I contacted the clerk again, giving him specific names and the title of the case. He insisted the report did not exist, even though I’d seen a copy of it on the agent’s desk—it comprised nearly a ream of paper and looked about the size a large city phone book (in case anyone remembers what a phone book looks like).
Over a period of months, I wrote letters and made phone calls. Finally a woman with a soft heart agreed to help. She called me back a few days later—she had found the report. The problem, she said, was that I didn’t have the right file number.
How could that be?
She said the FBI, in all its wisdom, had two separate filing systems, one for headquarters and one for its field offices. So when the report from the Seattle office arrived at HQ in Washington, D.C., the file number changed. I’ll leave it to your imagination as to the words bouncing through my mind at the time. (Hint: Facebook WOULD censor them.)
Once I had the “official” file number, I resubmitted my request and the FBI began processing it, albeit at the speed of bureacracy. When I finally received the bulky package, it proved to be quite revealing. Stunning, in fact.
I have posted another excerpt on my book’s website , this one from Chapter 28, in which I disclose key information from the FBI report, which includes radio transcripts and witness statements as to what occurred during the hours and days after my brother reported my father’s death via short-wave radio.
I will post one more excerpt next week.
For the latest news about the book, I have posted a Book Update: 11 Days and Counting on the website as well.
Book Release: July 9
I am officially launching the book on July 9. I will be giving away prizes to people who have signed up for the mailing list. (Names randomly drawn; no purchase required.) If you’re not on the list, you can sign up at the Dare I Call It Murder? website.
A fellow author has said some nice things about my goals for the book:
Last night I started reading your book, and the Author’s Note was so powerful that I made my husband read it in the middle of his own book. It’s generously empowering and so brave. Congratulations. This WILL help others. Of course, it’s meant to help families of murdered people, and it will do that. But we ALL need to feel more compassion for the families of victims of violent death. And we need to adjust our legal system to take into account the fact that ONE person’s murder traumatizes TEN people. We need to be stronger about controlling violence and fear of violence.