Hundreds of writers around the world are protesting Saudi Arabia’s death sentence of Palestinian poet Ashraf Fayadh, accused of promoting atheism in his 2008 book of poetry Instructions Within. As a show of solidarity with the poet, Fayadh’s poetry will be read at 122 events in 44 countries....more
Posts Tagged: censorship
For the Guardian, Sian Cain reports on recent efforts from high-profile writers to push China to release Nobel Laureate and poet Liu Xiaobo from prison. According to Cain, Xiaobo was detained for “inciting subversion of state power,” and his supporters, including Margaret Atwood and Ian Rankin, hope he will be released by the seventh anniversary of his arrest....more
A man is facing two years in prison after comparing Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to the Lord of the Rings character, Gollum. However, the judge in the case isn’t sure that the comparison is really an insult:
The judge adjourned the case to February and despatched…two academics, two behavioural scientists or psychologists and an expert on cinema and television productions…to pore over Gollum’s character and decide whether it is a comparison worth jail time.
Tenured professors might soon be a thing of the past, and that could prove particularly frightening if one Republican presidential candidate gets a hold of the Department of Education. Tenure protections were created in order to foster original thinking on university campuses and protect academic researchers from censorship....more
Ray Bradbury, Joseph Heller, Margaret Atwood, Jack Kerouac, and Kurt Vonnegut all found homes for their stories in Playboy. Now the publication better known for the highly photoshopped pictures of naked women plans to focus on its articles—by March 2016, the magazine will do away with nude pictures....more
At the Atlantic, David R. Wheeler examines recent attempts to limit freedom of the press on college campuses, tracking conflicts between university officials and college newspapers and court cases:
In 2005, students at Governors State University in Illinois lost a lawsuit claiming that their First Amendment rights had been violated over the censorship of the school newspaper, The Innovator.
The point is not to rank inflammatory books like game highlights. It’s to remind readers that information hasn’t always been free, and that we have librarians to thank for its freedom.
For Slate, Ruth Graham suggests that improved access to books and a decline in censorship has turned Banned Books Week into “crock”. So “instead of hand-wringing about a nonexistent wave of censorship,” Graham encourages readers to think about the week with some positivity and celebrate that “books won.”...more
Last week, New Zealand banned the novel Into the River, the country’s first ban in over twenty years. The country’s Film and Literature Board of Review banned the sale and distribution of the award winning book. Now, Don Mathieson, president of the agency, has spoken out to defend the decision, claiming the ban was in the ‘public interest.’...more
New Zealand, an otherwise seemingly modern nation, has just banned a book. Ted Dawe’s Into the River was banned this week in the island nation where it is now a crime to supply, display, or distribute the book with fines starting at $3,000....more
The Federal Bureau of Prisons regulations, as investigated by The Atlantic, state their right to prohibit any publications found “to be detrimental to the security, good order, or discipline of the institution or if it might facilitate criminal activity.”
Chelsea Manning is incarcerated for divulging state secrets to WikiLeaks....more
A Florida school has removed The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time from its reading list, reports the Guardian. It’s not the first time the book has been deemed controversial, and author Mark Haddon had this to say about this new complaint:
The assumption is that I should be morally affronted when this happens – and it has happened surprisingly often – but the truth is that it always generates a really interesting debate among school kids and librarians and parents, not just about Curious, but about literature and freedom and language, and this is an undeniably good thing,” said Haddon.
The New Yorker looks at books that examine the blurry lines around intolerance, political correctness, and free speech. The authors ask if the very people policing intolerance and hate speech are themselves being intolerant and stifling free speech:
[The authors] argue that what might seem like hypersensitivity is actually a form of political combat....more
Every year, the American Library Association releases a list of the top banned books in the country. But how do you determine which book is the most banned? The statisticians at FiveThirtyEight attempted to figure out exactly which book earned the crowning achievement of most banned book ever....more
Recently, Tara Shultz, a college student at Crafton Hills College, expressed her shock and disgust at the “pornographic and violent” content in the selection of graphic novels (Sandman by Neil Gaiman, Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi) used in her English class and called upon the university to excise the texts from the curriculum....more
When the Chinese government created a China-themed pavilion at this year’s BookExpo America, several writers protested the event. Writer Andrew Solomon argued that the Chinese government used that expo as a platform to present their “approved literature to the world.” Now, for the New Yorker, Christopher Beam shares his experience visiting the controversial China pavilion, and explores why Chinese publishers struggle to attract American audiences:
The problem, from what I could tell, was that publishers didn’t seem to know what American readers wanted….
China represents a huge marketplace for any product, and book publishers have finally caught on. More than 10,000 Chinese books were available at the Book Expo America. But as publishers race to embrace the Chinese market and bring Chinese authors to the West, censorship by the world’s largest authoritarian state represents a real challenge....more
Cartoonists tend to stick together because they have to; . . . their work is disproportionately singled out for suppression both abroad and in the U.S., while at the same time often regarded as not “serious” enough to deserve a full-throttle defense.
PEN America announced on Sunday their intention to honor Charlie Hebdo’s surviving staff with the Freedom of Expression Courage award at their May 5 Gala. The novelists Peter Carey, Michael Ondaatje, Francine Prose, Teju Cole, Rachel Kushner, and Taiye Selasi have withdrawn as hosts of the ceremony, claiming the French magazine promotes hate speech and racism....more
When Egyptian cartoonists offer condolences to their Parisian counterparts, they are doing so with an appreciation of the daily risks of the art form — making a joke about the assassinations remains difficult or superficial.
As the world continues to mourn the 12 dead in Wednesday’s terrorist attack on the controversial French magazine Charlie Hebdo, satirists, cartoonists, writers, and editors have come together with PEN America to stand against the attack and bolster the necessity of free expression, even when that expression is offensive to some....more