California College Bans Book because of Gun on the Cover

Maloney cover 1By David Higginbotham

This sounds like an April fools gag, but it isn’t. It is May. After agreeing to sponsor Santa Barbara City College’s Annual Scramble, a golf tournament that raises funds for the college’s athletic department, Maloney asked if he could set up a table and sign a few books. An author who is helping to sponsor a college fundraiser wants to sign some books? Seems like business as usual. And it was, until the college judged the book Breakfast Ball by its cover. Someone at the college got cold feet, and Maloney’s book was banned from the tournament.

Though I don’t agree with any violations of the Second Amendment, I would not be surprised if a California college decided to turn down a request to carry a concealed handgun at the golf tournament. I could even imagine a public college opposing the contents of a hypothetical book. Yet this whole debacle would seem to have very little to do with the right to bear actual arms, or the contents of Breakfast Ball. Instead it has more to do with the First Amendment. Breakfast Ball is a murder mystery, and there is a murder in the book, so the cover included an image of a gun. Some left-handed character is hiding under the green and has managed to stick his hand, and what appears to be a Beretta M9, out of the 18th hole. It is an absurd, almost comical image coupled with a laughable administrative decision.

If the cover of Breakfast Ball caused problems, the cover of Death at the High End is likely to incite riots.

If the cover of Breakfast Ball caused problems, the cover of Death at the High End is likely to incite riots.

Before the tournament began, a representative from the college’s athletic department called and told Maloney that he couldn’t sell or sign copies of his book at the golf tournament. The murder part, that was fine with the SBCC—it was the gun on the cover. That was simply too dangerous. Impressionable golfers might get the wrong idea.

Breakfast Ball is primarily about golf. Maloney is an acknowledged expert in mortgage origination, too, so there’s a healthy dose of the housing collapse thrown in as well. Write what you know, as the old cliché goes.

Maloney knows housing, and he knows golf, but he isn’t as dialed in to gun culture as this controversy might suggest. In fact, when I asked him about the gun on the cover, he replied, “It is a standard pistol (not a Colt or Ak-47 or anything exotic). But that’s all I know.”

I find this last part to be ironic. If I get caught up in a political debate about guns, I can hold my own. As someone who’s taught numerous writing classes (I was a college writing professor in a previous professional life), I advised Maloney that little details like these matter. I doubt there’s a single flaw in any of Maloney’s references to golf or mortgage finance, yet when he couldn’t tell me the make of the pistol on the cover of his book, I knew he needed our help.

Breakfast Ball is already in print. Maloney’s second in the series, Death at the High End (which has a knife and a gun on its cover), has just been released. It is too late to overhaul any gun-related factual errors in either of those, but this is a series, and there are two more books in the works. Maloney’s absurd experience with SBCC has made him one-of-us. Let’s help him make sure his characters’ use of firearms is correct. Click here for part two in this series, Novelist Needs Advice on Gun Details, Care to Help?.

If you like murder mysteries that are saturated in golf and housing chaos, Maloney’s books should speak to you. Show him some support.


{ 11 comments… add one }
  • Rita Revell May 31, 2014, 12:41 pm

    I’m confused. Are these infants that require protection? Oh my goodness, these people have lost their ever loving minds!

  • Mark S. Tercsak May 28, 2014, 6:52 am

    My nephew who just turned 18 years of age was suspended for three days because of a tee shirt , That he purchased last fall and has worn to school a number of times, its black in color and has a painting of a female figure in a swim suit.
    last Thursday his one teacher decided that the figure who is not even an actual women is naked has duct tape and is trying to apply the duct tape to a fantasy figure.
    My nephew told her not to touch him and she tried again and he told her to back off and she explained why she was going to apply the duct tape, he said to her, first I have worn this shirt a number of times to your class before and you never complained then ? Now you have an issue ? she tried again and told her you are going to apply duct tape to my shirt and ruin it (Fat-Ass).
    She told him to go to the principles office, he was not suspended for the (Fat-Ass) comment but for the shirt and not allowing the teacher to duct tape the fantasy female who is wearing a swim suit.
    Thus I guess the (Fat-Ass) comment must be True?
    I have no issue with the school suspending my nephew for using the comment (Fat-Ass) and he should have been suspended for that, but as I said he was not.
    I do have an issue with the City of Pittsburgh and in particular this high school Not suspending the teacher for three days,
    she stared the incident, she tried to damage private property, and she tried to touch him.
    My sister found out something about this High Schools recent prom, there were pictures taken of some female students and my sister friend said you should see these girls, they may as well have been wearing nothing.
    Yet nothing was done to them be the School or the school board.
    I told my sister if your son had a tee-shirt with a muscle bound dude of named Willie he would have received a pat on the back instead of a three day suspension.

  • Don May 27, 2014, 5:30 pm

    Think Ray Bradury might disagree. Even though you only got the combustion temperature of paper off by 1 degree. It’s Farenheit 451.

  • Wallace Johnson May 27, 2014, 4:04 pm

    Did the California College just ban the book or did they also burn it?

  • DaveW May 27, 2014, 3:30 pm

    Nothing new here. After all, this is the state (my home state and ancestral home since prior to 1840) which produced the likes of Sen Diane Feinstein who reclassified semi-automatic firearms as military weapons, yet got a CCW and a weapon for her own protection while saying no one should be able to own a personal weapon. It’s the state where a cross on a hill honoring troops who died in WW1 is considered so offensive and anti-American that the courts have ordered it removed. Where the governor wants a bullet train and continues to sign new gun control bills while the city he left to become governor has the worst violent crime rate in the state.

  • bob May 27, 2014, 12:14 pm

    So now collages are banning books, seems like Fahrenheit 450, why is it that novels like Fahrenheit 450, G. Orwell’s 1984, that pertain to utopian society’s and government control seem to be coming true. What’s next, Logan’s run, Soylent Green? With all the crap that’s hidden in Owevomit care, I wouldn’t doubt it for a minute. Then it’ll be novels like Running Man. This is the progress the left is leading us too. Who the hell would think that this is a good idea? Fcking liberals that’s who.

  • MSG John Laigaie May 27, 2014, 11:26 am

    After all this is california………..What is wrong with these people? Are they even afraid of the image of a firearm? Molon Labe

  • mesaman May 27, 2014, 11:08 am

    Ah yes, from the halls of higher “yearning” comes this tidbit of existential fundamentalism. By placing one’s head deeply into the sand of irrational thinking, the badness of the world ceases to exist.

  • Keith Breedlove May 27, 2014, 8:25 am

    OK, like no one has ever been beaten to death by a golf club?

    • tom g May 27, 2014, 10:19 pm

      Hey didn’t Tiger Woods wife try and take a nine iron to him ?

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