Western Rifle Shooters Association

Do not give in to Evil, but proceed ever more boldly against it

Friday, January 15, 2010

A Letter To His Children

From the foreword to Witness, by Whittaker Chambers.

[Text removed upon claim of copyright at the insistence of a person claiming to be David Chambers, the grandson of Whittaker Chambers; see comments]


Blogger David Chambers said...

Dear WRSA,

This is David Chambers, a grandchild of Whittaker Chambers, who wrote this letter, published as the opening of his book Witness (New York: Random House, 1952).

Our family still own the copyright to his work, and we ask you know to remove this post immediately.

David Chambers
January 15, 2009 @ 07:28 AM EST

January 15, 2010 at 12:29 PM  
Anonymous Oldfart said...

He borrows a line from Coleridge that leapt out at me. It describes almost perfectly the hellish lonliness he lived through:

"Alone, alone, all, all alone,
Alone on a wide, wide sea!
And never a saint took pity on
My soul in agony.
And a thousand slimy things
Lived on; and so did I."

Penance - both for him and for The Ancient Mariner, was exceedingly painful. One can only hope it was successful.

January 15, 2010 at 5:27 PM  
Blogger Jim said...

It took me awhile to digest this.

One of the most powerful things I've read in a long time.

January 15, 2010 at 7:09 PM  
Blogger Concerned American said...

Mr. Chambers: Is the linked version an authorized version? I would like my readers to learn from and be as encouraged by your grandfather's example as I have been.

I suspect they too will buy the book, just as I have.

If the link I used is authorized, I will, with your permission, amend the post to direct readers to the book.

January 16, 2010 at 12:53 AM  
Anonymous skidmark said...

This is how I wrote to my friends about the post:
This is long. At times it may be difficult to follow, or may irritate you so much that you want to stop reading. It may take you several attempts to decide to actually read it in its entirety. It may take you several sessions to read it from start to finish.

But I think that the effort will be worth your while.

I do not like Whittaker Chambers. I did not like him when I was a young boy and heard the adults in my life discussing the Hiss case and Chambers' part in it. I do not like what he did, nor do I like how he did it. Were he still alive I would not trust him regarding anything he said, wrote, did or thought.

However, he has something important to say and I think it is just as relevant today when the buzzword is "socialism" as when the buzzword was "communism". What he has to say boils down to this:
There is a lure in every -ism and that lure is what brings people to become members of, practitioners of
that -ism. It takes a long time for the individual ism-ist to understand that that there is an underlying
"soul" of the -ism and that it is rarely a Good Thing to discover what that soul is.

However, if one intends to dedicate one's life to being an ism-ist one must determine and define the soul
of the -ism. Then one must decide if they can reconcile the soul of the -ism with their own soul.

Why am I harping on this, and asking you to consider reading something written by a person I dislike and would distrust so entirely? I am doing this because I want you to consider what he says as it may relate to our present circumstances. We have a resurgence of communism alongside a surge in socialism, both competing with a desire for the return of capitalism.

Where is your soul in this?

I may not have any of the answers. (Like heck I do not! You know me better than that. I have some - perhaps most - of the answers. All I need is for the rest of the world to stop and listen to me. Bwahahaha!) What I do know is I have most of the questions, and they are not the same ones most folks are asking. So if you are not willing to accept me and my brilliant thoughts as The Answer to the ills of the universe, you must start thinking up your own questions and finding the answers as well.

That's your task. Start asking questions and finding the answers. Then deal with whatever you come up with.

stay safe.

January 16, 2010 at 1:23 AM  
Anonymous Jon Tickner said...

My Dear David Chambers,

How many copies of your grandfather's book have been sold, recently? If that is your concern, such notice as this quotation can benefit.

If you have any hope that your grandfather's profound and hard won understanding reach an audience which desperately needs to learn from it, then this sharing of it will, I assure you, be of very great benefit.

Please reconsider your request to limit knowledge of your grandfather's "Witness."

January 16, 2010 at 4:27 AM  
Anonymous Happy D said...


January 16, 2010 at 11:22 AM  
Blogger David Chambers said...

Dear "Concerned American,"

I do not see a linked version: where is the link, and linking to what?

Your own quotation exceeds 20 pages (!) of Witness, regardless of any link or source.

See for yourself:
1. Paste the text into a word processing document
2. Set font to TimesNewRoiman 12-point
3. You will see some 12 pages averaging some 650 words per page (hardback books usually run 250-350 words per page -- you do the math)

So, again, please remove this posting right away. Our book has copyright protection, while your usage clearly does not fall within the definition of "fair use," which limits use narrowly to libraries and archives, transfer of particular copy, certain performances and displays, etc.

Witness is in part online through Google Books: http://books.google.com/books?id=WIkNAAAAIAAJ&q=whittaker+chambers+witness&dq=whittaker+chambers+witness&cd=1

Please comply immediately.

If you wish to comment on the book or this chapter, I would be happy to help you manage that with limited or even no quotations -- please see my own review of the recently published Koestler in The Washington Times--and notice the dearth of direct quotations from the book.

BTW, I do not intend you any humiliation with this exchange of comments, but your hidden Blogger and/or other identification makes this the fastest, most expedient means.

If you esteem my grandfather at all, you will comply immediately.


David Chambers
January 16, 2010 @ 11:10 EST

January 16, 2010 at 4:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Personally I believe you're well within "fair use" as it has been determined under US law and precedent.

The fact is that you've linked the source of your quote and you've linked Amazon's copy of the book, which your linked source didn't even do.

You're attempting no personal profit and have attempted to increase sales of the book which aggregates to THEIR benefit.

That said, typical "best practice" is to only quote a selection - not the whole text. It's arguable that you should limit your quoting to a representative sample and link to the rest.

Were I in your shoes, that's what I would do...


January 16, 2010 at 6:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Further, I snipped a few random samples of text and Google-searched for them. I found literally DOZENS of quotes - from smaller snippets to the complete text - on various websites.

One can only guess at the reasons why "Mr. Chambers" would want to demand you remove the post while ignoring all the others...

IANAL, but... Were I in your shoes I believe I'd reduce the length of the quoted section and link to the balance for anyone who wanted to read the whole thing.

Then I'd ignore any attempts at indimidation.


January 16, 2010 at 7:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

More -- from "Wikipedia" ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copyright )--

...Copyright does not prohibit all copying or replication. In the United States, the fair use doctrine, codified by the Copyright Act of 1976 as 17 U.S.C. § 107, permits some copying and distribution without permission of the copyright holder or payment to same..."

From 17 U.S.C. § 107 ( http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.html ):

"...the fair use of a copyrighted work... for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include—
(1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
(2) the nature of the copyrighted work;
(3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
(4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work. ..."

Now... Let's look...
(1) your purpose was for education, and was non-commercial in nature. Strike 1 for "Mr. Chambers"

(2) The "Nature of" this work is that it is well known and widely considered to be inspirational in nature, and thus is widely quoted as my previous Google search proved. Your use for educational and social-commentary purposes is thus within the same category as the countless other "fair uses" of the work found through a Google search.
(3) The foreword is a small fraction of the entire book, therefore this again would clearly fall under fair use"
(4) There seems to be no possible way your fair use could negatively impact the value of the work as a whole - on the contrary you've linked to Amazon's offer for sale and urged your readers to buy - therefore this one too supports your "fair use."

Conclusion: I AM NOT A LAWYER.
As an interested layman, I believe any reasonable person would agree that this constitutes "Fair Use" as covered in the US statute quoted above.

As previously recommended, I would reduce the quote to some smaller bit and link to the entirety, but in either case I'd ignore the attempts at intimidation.


January 16, 2010 at 7:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

O-M. . . .
How powerful. How evocative. How loving.

B Woodman

January 17, 2010 at 3:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How sad that the spawn of the man who - with all his faults - wrote something so powerful would intimidate you into not sharing it.

I wonder what "David" had for breakfast?

The previous "Anon" was absolutely right - this clearly fell within "Fair Use" - especially when thousands of other examples exist on the 'net.

"David" makes me sick.

January 18, 2010 at 4:26 AM  
Blogger Concerned American said...

Anon: I have a policy that if someone makes a facially-plausible claim of copyright and has an objection, I will address the objection.

Simple decency, old boy.

Have you obtained the book yet?

January 18, 2010 at 4:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

THIS "Anon" will never buy the book after seeing what was done here.

I'll look for a used copy, or a "torrent", but I'll be damned if I do anything that might benefit this "David" or his ilk...

Way to go, Dave. Nice work. Way to make enemies of those who otherwise might have been friends...

January 18, 2010 at 9:05 PM  

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