British author Sebastian Horsley’s book tour ended before it started this week when he was denied entry into the U.S. Horsley’s memoir “Dandy in the Underworld”—which was published last week in paperback—contains accounts of his former drug addiction, use of prostitutes, and activity as a male escort. A U.S. waiver program allowing Europeans to enter the country without a visa doesn’t apply to anyone convicted of a crime involving “moral turpitude.” (The New York Times, free registration)
What the commentators said
Is this country really so afraid of letting in a bad influence, said the travel blog Gadling, that it had to slam the door in the face of “this poor sod”? You don’t have to pretend this “glorified vice-magnet” is a “hero” to find the way our “gatekeepers” treated Horsley a little “disturbing.” Barring him because of his bad writing would be understandable, but justifying it because he’s “a little too fond” of cocaine and prostitutes is pathetic.
The “moral turpitude police,” said the blog True Blue Liberal, “probably didn't see the irony of this happening during a week in which the ex-governor of New Jersey publicly admitted a threesome with his wife and chauffeur, the ex-governor of neighboring New York just quit because of his $80,000 prostitute habit, and the brand-new governor of New York admitted to multiple affairs on his first day on the job.”
This was a sad week for “memoirists,” said the blog Gawker, and not because of Horsley’s travel troubles. The real setback was that, “in the wake of a rash of fake memoirists,” The New York Times felt it had to tell readers that it couldn’t “independently verify” many of the details in Horsley’s memoir, which tells of cocaine and amphetamine use, and boasts that he consorted with 1,000 prostitutes. “How one fact-checks” such things is anybody’s guess, but clearly authors can’t expect any breaks from now on.
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