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Thursday, December 06, 2007

More censorship by so-called "Christians"...

Yet another school, this time in Calgary, is pulling the His Dark Materials children's book series.

This proves, at least as far as I am concerned, that one religious zealot is as bad as another.

Let's not forget that the central theme of the series by Philip Pullman is to get children to understand that taking any belief system and following it dogmatically, fundamentally and zealously is absolutely, positively wrong. The overriding moral of the story is to not let anyone use religion to empower themselves at your expense, that we should not live under the yoke of religious oppression.

What astounds me is the same people who were outraged by the Fatwah placed on Salman Rushdie over The Satanic Verses are the ones who are banning this book in a free, Western democracy. I wonder if the so-called Christians who are performing this act of censorship would feel the same about a book written by, say Irshad Manji, a Muslim who is very critical of Islamic fundamentalists...probably no, for the simple fact that she criticizes Islam, not Christianity. But those same Christians who would support her condemn Philip Pullman...claiming he's "indoctrinating" children into atheism. The last time I checked, the indoctrination of children was being done by people who force their children to be baptized and then drag them to sunday school and mass every week...or by missionaries setting up "schools" and hospitals where among the medicine and "education" a rather unhealthy dose of Christian fanaticism is doled out, as well.

I'm not saying people don't have the right to their beliefs. I, myself believe that there is something greater than ourselves out there; however, to claim that any one religion has all the answers, or for that matter the ONLY answers, or to turn around and not only attack other religions but to attempt to ostracize, censure and censor people whose views are not like theirs, well, that's got nothing to do with God. In fact, it's the most Godless act of cowardice I can imagine.

The Catholic league is leading an attempted boycott of "The Golden Compass" movie and the books. I have to wonder: where were the outcries from the Catholic League, when priests were raping and molesting children? Where was the outrage when the Archbishop of Cologne revived the Nazi-coined term "Degenerate Art" to describe works of art he disapproved of? Where were the Catholic Leagues protests when their own Pope, and former member of the Hitler Youth and Nazi Party Joseph Ratzinger describe Islam as an evil, violent religion?

If one movie, if one book is such a danger to the hearts and minds of the people of your religion, you should ask yourself just how meritless your religion really is.

As an author I find the censorship of any book reprehensible, and disconcerting; because it's so easy to ban one book, then another, and another and another...through fear-mongering, hysteria and populist ignorance, freedom of expression is curtailed and crushed...boycott a movie, ban a book, burn a CD...and then there's a new movie to boycott, another book to ban...soon enough, the movies don't get made, the books don't get published and then it's only a matter of time before the writers, the artists and the intellectuals are silenced, arrested, made to disappear.

History, even in the supposedly "free" West, is rife with examples. Below is just a partial list of names of authors whose works have been banned from libraries, here in
North America, in just the last century. Philip Pullman is in exceptional company:

Amis, Kingsley
Angelou, Maya
Auel, Jean
Baldwin, James
Balzac, Honore de
Bamford, James
Bannerman, Helen
Benchley, Peter
Bennett, D.M.
Bett, Doris
Beveridge, J
Blume, Judy
Boccacio, Giovanni
Bonner, Raymond
Bradbury, Ray
Bryant, John
Burgess, Anthony
Burroughs, Edgar Rice
Cabell, James Branch
Carrol, Lewis
Calhoun, Mary
Chandler, David
Chomsky, Naom
Coleman, Benjamin
Cormier, Robert
Davis, Deborah
Debray, Regis
Defoe, Daniel
De Sade, Marquis
Dos Passos, John
Dreiser, Theodore
Duesberg, Peter
Ellison, Harlan
Ernst, Morris L.
Farrell, James T.
Faulkner, William
Favel, J.
Feuchtwanger, Lion
Fitzgerald, F. Scott
Flaubert, Gustav
For, Dario
Foucault, Michel
Frank, Anne
Franklin, Benjamin
Friedan, Betty
Fuentes, Carlos
Gautier, Theophile
Goethe, Johann Wolfgang
Golding, William
Green, Graham
Guest, Judith
Hawthorne, Nathaniel
Heller, Joseph
Helper, Hinton
Hemingway, Ernest
Holmes, Peter
Huxley, Aldous
Jackson, Gordon
Jones, James
Joyce, James
Kauffann, Stanley
Keyes, Daniel
Khair-Eddine, Mohammed
King, Stephen
Klein, Norma
L'Engle, Madaleine
Lawrence, D.H.
Leary, Timothy
Lewis, Sinclair
Myra Cohn
Luise, Reuban L.
Lurie, Reuben
MacElroy, Wendy
Machiavelli, Niccolo
March, J.M.
Marchetti, Victor
Marks, John D.
Marks, Percy
Marquez, Gabriel Garcia
Mather, Increase
McGeehee, Ralph
Mencken, H.L.
Miller, Arthur
Miller, Henry
Milosz, Czeslaw
Moore, Carol
Moravia, Alberto
Morse, Ann Christensen
Murdock, Iris
Nin, Anais
Orwell, George
Paine, Thomas
Parsons, Jonathan
Plath, Sylvia
Pound, Ezra
Pullman, Phillip
Pynchon, William
Rabelais, Francois
Reich, Wilhelm
Remarque, Erich Maria
Rice, Anne
Rouseau, Jean-Jacques
Rushdie, Salman
Salinger, J.D.
Sanger, Margaret
Sartre, Jean-Paul
Sewall, Joseph
Shakespeare, William
Shaw, George Bernard
Snepp, Frank W., III
Solzhenitsyn, Aleksandr
Stein, Gertrude
Steinbeck, John
Stern, Howard
Stopes, Marie
Swift, Jonathan
Thompson, Linda
Tolkien, J.R.R.
Tolstoy, Lev
Twain, Mark
Velikovsky, Immanuel
Vidal, Gore
Von Mises, Ludwig
Vonnegut, Kurt
Whitman, Walt