Thursday, August 7, 2008

Outrage on censorship

I hopped onto LISNews for a few minutes this morning and found several stories that caught my attention and got my blood boiling. It's usually censorship issues, human resources, and general stupidity that get me all riled up, and today is no exception.

There is a story in the Wall Street Journal about an author who did a lot of research on one of the prophet Mohammad's wives, then wrote a historical fiction novel about her. The author has had a two-book deal with Random House that just recently got pulled because of stuff flying around the Internet on how offensive her book was. Only one person involved has actually read the book, a professor of Islam (who is not Muslim). The worst she could say about how offensive this book was, was just a scene where the wife consummates her marriage to the prophet. It describes it in a little detail, though much less racy than many of the historical fiction novels I read (my favorite genre). This one woman has incited near-riots by telling a large number of people how offensive the book was, and this in turn was spread by bloggers all over the Internet. For fear of violent repercussions, Random House pulled its offer.

Why do certain groups hold priority in the right to live an unoffended life? I'm going to sound like the privileged Christian white girl that I am in this rant. However, I think it is ridiculous that you can smear feces on the Virgin Mary and call it art or get rich off a poorly-written, poorly-researched book like The Divinci Code that is incredibly offensive to all Catholics, while a person can't write a well-researched historical novel on an important woman in Muslim history. Even if it turns out the research is awful and the writing is awful, bad books deserved to get published if the publisher thinks they will sell.

The KKK is still allowed to march publicly and gets police protection when they do... that offends me, but no line can be drawn between that and less-offensive examples of free speech. I think those people are morons, and go on with my life. To heck with any Muslim, atheist, or ACLU member who thinks it's okay to offend the majority while minorities shouldn't tolerate the slightest, most accidental offense. I do believe racism is a real problem and that it makes many lives a struggle that I will never understand. However, over-reactions such as this example make people like me terrified of interacting with people who don't look like me in a simple, honest desire to not offend them. Isn't that counter-productive?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

YEA! I especially agree with your comments about the divide between art and literature where individuals are allowed to make grand social faux pas and call it art, but a writer who has researched and labored to accurately report is subject to censure by individuals who have neither read nor researched the book. And for the individual who actually read the book but held up only one section as proof positive – a section that is mild in comparison to most genres today – that person should have to argue and defend their position in a forum before expressing. Shame.