Lifestyle & Belief

J.D. Salinger Identity Bill vetoed by New Hampshire governor


J.D. Salinger, the author of literary classic "Catcher in the Rye," was the inspiration for an identity protection bill vetoed by New Hampshire's governor.


Mandel Mgan

A J.D. Salinger-inspired bill that would have limited the commercial use of the author's identity was vetoed by New Hampshire governor John Lynch on Wednesday, the Associated Press reported

Matt Salinger, the "Catcher in the Rye" writer's son, filed the bill, which sought to make a person’s right to regulate the commercial use of their identity inheritable for at least 70 years after their death, according to the AP.

The younger Salinger had spent the past two years pushing the legislation through the House and Senate on behalf of his father, a reclusive author who lived on a 90-acre compound in Cornish, New Hampshire until his death in 2010, according to Slate

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“My father moved there in the ‘50s because it was beautiful but also because of a certain kind of respect for individual rights. He basically wanted to be left alone and do his work, and New Hampshire, he quickly sensed, respected that,” Salinger told the AP. “I’m stunned and just hugely disappointed that Gov. (John) Lynch saw fit to veto something that was the result of thousands of hours of well-intentioned, diligent, bipartisan work."

Salinger added that he believed the law fit well with the New Hampshire state motto "live free or die." 

However, Governor Lynch argued that Bill 175 would have had a chilling effect on journalistic and artistic work protected under the US Constitution, the Concord Monitor reported

The version of the bill that went before the Senate contained a passage exempting "news and expressive works" from being subject to the law, but it was removed as the bill went through the legislative process, the Union Leader reported

"The protections for free speech that are guaranteed to all citizens under the state and federal constitutions are central to democracy and a free society," Lynch said. "Legislation that could have the impact of restricting free speech must be carefully considered and narrowly tailored."

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In a Wednesday op-ed, the Nashua Telegraph expressed their support for the bill, while making clear that they understand the Salinger family's motivations. 

"We’re not unsympathetic to the wishes of the Salinger family, even more so now that we’ve had the opportunity to peruse Salinger- or “Rye”-related references on thong underwear and puppy bowls," wrote the Telegraph. "But the version of the bill appropriately vetoed by the governor is too broad, too vague and undoubtedly would lead to too many lawsuits." 

On June 27, the state's legislature will vote on whether or not to override the governor’s veto, according to the AP. It will take a two-thirds majority in both the 24-member Senate and 400-member House to overturn it.