Saturday, February 7, 2009

Censorship is for idiots

"There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them."
- Joseph Brodsky

I'm currently reading Salman Rushdie's Midnight Children, and I'm reminded of its controversial history. After all, wasn't this book banned in Arab countries for its anti-Islam ideas? Last year, my beautiful Granta planner had a theme on the books stupid people tried to ban. Here are just a few of these books.

This book was banned in China in 1931. The Hunan province governor did so because it was "disastrous to put animals and human beings on the same level." Right. Pass me the Peking duck and the suckling pig.

Now banning this book actually made sense. When it was first published in the US, many bookshops were afraid to put these books in their shelves. They thought that their customers would take the title literally. Don't you just love it when other people decide for you? Think of it as free lobotomy.

During the apartheid regime in South Africa, this book was banned among many others because of "objectionable content." They found the word "black" in the title objectionable. Brilliant. Ummm, that word was actually describing the horse.

No, Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code isn't technically banned by Catholic and other Christian groups, although they're not happy about it either. It's not sold in Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Iran, Pakistan, and a few Indian states. Why? They think that it's offensive to Christianity. Awww. Aren't they sensitive? Perhaps they can dismantle their nuclear weapons next.

The term "masochism" was coined by a psychiatrist with the author Leopold von Sacher-Masoch in mind. Venus in Furs, his novel, features the main character deriving pleasure from pain and humiliation. Apprently, Eastern European countries banned this book until the collapse of the USSR. Aren't there any masochistic communists? If you're a communist, isn't being one already masochistic?