Book News

 2011



31st December   

Updated: Respectful Bollox...


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Ambassador to India decries Russian prosecution of holy book on charges of extremism
Link Here  full story: Religious Book Censorship in Russia...Russia prosecutes holy books over supposed extremism

Bhagavad gita As It Is ebook Russia has expressed regret over a Siberian court trial considering a ban on a one Hindu holy book causing an 'uproar' in India.

State prosecutors in Tomsk seek to ban the Russian translation of the Bhagavad Gita , contending it is an extremist religious text that should be banned. They said the book spreads social discord, the IANS news agency reported.

Russian Ambassador to India Alexander Kadakin said:

I consider it categorically inadmissible when any holy scripture is taken to the courts. For all believers these texts are sacred.

He claimed that Russia was a secular and democratic country where all religions enjoyed equal respect.

The Siberian court is expected to deliver its verdict in the case on December 28.

Update: Not banned

31st December 2011. See  article from  en.wikinews.org

A judge in Tomsk, Russia drew a round of applause from the court room as she dismissed charges of extremism against the Bhagavad Gita As It Is , a Russian commented translation of the Bhagavad Gita published by the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. This decision put an end to the six-month-long trial of the book accused by the state prosecutors of fostering social discord and incitement to religious hatred .

The Indian Foreign Ministry, which had been urging Moscow to avert the possible ban they termed as absurd , welcomed the verdict calling it a sensible resolution of a sensitive issue which demonstrates yet again that the people of India and Russia have a deep understanding of each other's cultures and will always reject any attempt to belittle our common civilizational values and thanked the Russian government for their support.

The controversial court case on the Bhagavad Gita, an ancient text regarded sacred by millions of Hindus, had caused political and societal turmoil in India, with the Indian Parliament stalled over the proposed ban and Hindu activists burning Russian flags. The trial also evoked strong criticism from the international media.

 

4th December   

Brains that Could Pass Through the Eye of a Needle...


Nice 'n' Naughty

Spanish Customs ban rugby biography over the word 'needle' in the title
Link Here

Fred Needle Untold Story Allen A book about legendary All Black coach Sir Fred Allen has been seized by Spanish customs apparently due to the dumb assumption that the word 'needle' in the title is related to illicit drugs.

Les Watkins, who co-wrote the biography Fred The Needle , sent two copies of the book to Benidorm in Spain. He explained:

Apparently, the authorities there have clamped down on books believed to contain pornography or other undesirable material.

As far as we can work out, they pounced on the word 'needle' in the title, assuming it must be somehow linked to drugs being injected.

The books were first returned to New Zealand in early November with a bill for return postage.

On November 10 Watkins tried again, spending another $70 to resend the books.  By November 28 the books still had not arrived, but NZ Post had picked up the story and tracked the books to the Spanish customs department, where they had been impounded.

Pesumably hoping that press interest would make bring Spanish Customs to their senses, Watkins said: With any luck, he might get the books by Christmas.

 

3rd December   

Update: Banging On...

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Nutter MP presents a petition backing her call to appoint the BBFC as book censors for sex education material
Link Here

andrea leadsom Conservative MP Andrea Leadsom has presented a 45,000 signature petition to Schools Minister Nick Gibb.

Leadsom is campaigning against explicit sex education in primary schools and feels that the BBFC are ideally placed to provide their censorship expertise to sex education materials. She said:

The Department for Education is currently drafting new guidelines for schools on sex and relationship education (SRE) and I would like to see a form of independent classification of the material used. The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) has been rating films for 99 years and seems to be well placed to assess material, and I am sure that this would give worried parents some peace of mind in knowing what their children were seeing.

To see some of the images being shown to very young children in our primary schools was genuinely shocking.

After presenting the petition, Leadsom had a meeting with Gibb and a number of Northamptonshire parents. I know the Minister takes this matter very seriously and I hope he will take on board my idea of allowing the BBFC to age rate material , she said.

 

26th November   

Updated: Brief Respite Until the Next Lot...

Libya celebrates the unbanning of books after the demise of Gadhafi
Link Here

Sexuality Arab World Samir Khalaf Libya marked the end of the Gadhafi-era blacklist with a ceremonial unbanning of books in the former regime's public library.

Many of Libya's emerging political hopefuls joined militia leaders and returning expat exiles at the Italianate Royal Palace for a sunset event..

With a fanfare of Libyan bagpipers in full ceremonial flourish, the VIP crowd made its way to the top for of the palace, heaped with table upon table of books deemed unreadable during Moammar Gadhafi's 42-year rule.

There, Arabic titles including The Secret Life of Saddam Hussein and The CIA Files of Arab Rulers sat alongside censored troves of Islamic literature, theology and philosophy. Books about Israel, Hezbollah, books by Salmon Rushdie. One slim volume was titled Sex In The Arab World.

Among the attendees was journalist and human rights activist Hassan al-Amin, one of the Gadhafi regime's sharpest critics during his years of exile in London, who shared a bittersweet swirl of emotions as the books were revealed.

This is a major moment for us because this is where we reclaim our intellectual freedom. We say goodbye to an era where free thinking was forbidden, where ideas were dangerous, Amin told the Star.

 

25th November   

Updated: Policing by the Book...

New Zealand book police ludicrously seize Bloody Mama, an innocuous book banned 40 years ago
Link Here  full story: Book Censorship in New Zealand...Embarassing book bans

Bloody Mama Robert Thom An old book declared indecent and banned way back in 1971 has been seized from a Wellington bookstore by government officials.

Bloody Mama by Robert Thom has been listed for sale on Book Haven's website for $8.50 since February, store owner Don Hollander said: It got seized today. A very nice chap from the DIA [Department of Internal Affairs] with a fancy badge came by.

The book is based on a true story about Kate Ma Barker who raised her sons to be criminals in the 1930s. A film was also made about Ma Barker starring Shelley Winters and a young Robert de Niro.

I had a quick look through for the dirty bits or the nasty bits and it didn't see any, Hollander said.

The book was deemed indecent and banned by the now defunct Indecent Publications Tribunal 40 years ago, however the ruling still stands. The tribunal was replaced by the Office of Film and Literature Classification in 1993.

Update: Book Burners

25th November 2011. See article from stuff.co.nz

A New Zealand book censor has been given the task of reading a banned book seized this week, to see if it can be cleared for sale. The title, Bloody Mama , was seized by government officials from a Wellington book store.

The bo0ok was banned in 1971 by the now-defunct Indecent Publications Tribunal due to its indecency . Commentators have said that the book possibly suggests an incestuous relationship between Barker and her sons.

The book would be read by a censor and a decision was likely in two months, adviser Michelle Baker said.

It has also been revealed that instead of cataloguing banned books in a forbidden library, the classification office destroys them (presumably by the traditional means of burning).

 

23rd November   

Update: End of a Chapter...

German church has decided to sell book publisher Weltbild after fracas about erotic novels
Link Here  full story: Religious Erotica...German publisher of erotica owned by church

weltbild logoThe Catholic church in Germany is to sell Weltbild, its bookselling arm, after the unit admitted last month to publishing erotic novels.

Weltbild is one of Germany's major  book publishers. Catholic leaders were outraged that the profitable company's book range included steamy pulp novels with titles like Boarding School for Sluts and The Lawyer's Whore and advice on how to practise esoteric superstitions.

Germany's 27 bishops met this week to press the 12 bishops who co-owned Weltbild to end the investment after Weltbild defended its commercial policy of publishing whatever books met market demand.

Weltbild said it welcomed the decision to seek new ownership without delay .

 

10th November   

Can Religious Nonsense be Proved...

No, but the nonsense of British libel law can
Link Here

Attempted Murder God Hidden Science A man is set to appear in the High Court to defend himself against libel allegations over a book review he wrote on Amazon's website last year.

Vaughan Jones cannot afford representation and is having to defend himself alongside barristers acting on behalf of internet giant Amazon and Richard Dawkins who are also named as co-defendants. The Richard Dawkins Foundation had also published an article by Jones on its website.

The case is being brought by Chris McGrath who wrote and self-published a little known book entitled The Attempted Murder of God: Hidden Science You Really Need to Know .

Libel reform campaigners have expressed concern that the hearing is another example of how Britain's defamation laws disproportionately favour claimants, closing down debate particularly among individuals and organisations who cannot afford costly legal battles.

John Kampfner, the Chief Executive of Index on Censorship, one of the founding partners of the Libel Reform Campaign, said:

That a family man from Nuneaton can face a potentially ruinous libel action for a book review on Amazon shows how archaic and expensive our libel law is. We're pushing the government to commit to a bill in the next Queen's speech so that these chilling laws are reformed to protect freedom of expression.

 

10th November   

Update: Suggested Reading: Exodus...

Azerbaijan to introduce extreme penalties for sidestepping the country's religious book censor
Link Here

Azerbaijan flagPrison terms of up to five years, or maximum fines of nearly nine years' worth of official minimum wage, are set to be adopted by Azerbaijan's parliament in mid-November. The extreme penalties will be applicable for groups of people who produce or distribute religious literature without going through Azerbaijan's compulsory prior state censorship of all religious literature.

Also due are new punishments for those who lead Muslim worship if they have gained their religious education abroad, Forum 18 News Service has learnt.

The punishments are included in proposed amendments to the Criminal and Administrative Codes approved by two parliamentary committees on 28 October.

 

9th November   

Update: Pope Raps German Church Found to be Publisher of Erotica...

Pope says prostitution, pornography threaten the human dignity of women (whereas a religious ban on sex threatens the human dignity of children)
Link Here  full story: Religious Erotica...German publisher of erotica owned by church

Pope BenedictThe pope has called for an end to prostitution and pornography, saying the practices denigrate women and represent a serious lack of humanity.

The pope made the remarks as he welcomed Reinhard Schweppe as Germany's ambassador to the Holy See Nov. 7. The pope's talk focused on the church's role in defending human dignity... and no doubt the issue that the catholic church owned publisher, Weltbild, has been spotted publishing erotica.

The pope said:

A relationship that does not take into account the fact that a man and a woman have the same dignity represents a serious lack of humanity.

With the materialistic and hedonistic tendencies that seem to be gaining space in the West, there is a growing form of discrimination against women.

The moment has come to energetically halt prostitution as well as the widespread distribution of material with an erotic and pornographic content, including through the Internet in particular.

The pope said the Holy See would encourage and assist the Catholic Church in Germany so efforts against these types of abuse would be more decisive and clearer.

 

7th November   

Obediently Banned...

Malaysia's religious books censor bans reprehensibly titled sex guide
Link Here  full story: Gay Rights in Malaysia...Campaigning for gay rights

seks islamMalaysia's Home Ministry has banned the Obedient Wives Club's (OWC) controversial sex guide book with immediate effect. The book was written by Hatijan Aam, who is also the founder of the OWC.

Those found in possession of the reprehensibly titled, Seks Islam, Perangi Yahudi Untuk Kembalikan Seks Islam Kepada Dunia ( Islamic Sex, Fighting Jews to Return Islamic Sex to the World ) could be fined up to RM5,000 (S$2,000). Those found reproducing the book for the purpose of offering it for sale could be jailed up to three years or fined not exceeding RM20,000, or both.

The Home Ministry's religious book censor, grandiosely titled, Al-Quran Text and Publishing Control Division Secretary, Abdul Aziz Md Nor, said the book had been banned to the public.

Aziz said the first reason was the book was released by an organisation that had clear links with the banned al-Arqam. As the movement has been banned, anything related to it, such as the club and the book, are also banned. He said the contents of the book also violated Jakim's Islamic publication material censorship guideline. Based on our investigation and Jakim's findings, we must ban the book, he said.

See more about the book from freethinker.co.uk

 

4th November   

Update: TinTin JuJu Warning...

Publishers of TinTin in the Congo cover it with a protective band warning of historic racist content
Link Here  full story: TinTin Book Censorship...TinTin au Congo and the overly sensitive

Tintin Au Congo Aventures The Campaign for Real Education has condemned his publishers as over the top for deciding to package one of his early adventures, Tintin in the Congo , in shrink-wrap and with a warning about its content.

George Remi, the Belgian artist better known as Herge, first published his tale of derring-do in Africa in 1930. When he re-worked it in 1946 he removed several references to the Congo being a Belgian colony.

But the book still contained a number of images that were perceived as racist. One of these showed a black woman bowing to Tintin and saying White man very great...White mister is big juju man .

The book's publisher, Egmont UK, said it recognised that some readers may be offended by the content. A spokesman said:

This is why we took the unusual step of placing a protective band around the book with a warning about the content and also included an introduction inside the book by the original translators explaining the historical context.

Whilst being frequently requested by fans and collectors who had seen it available in other languages, the work contains scenes which some readers may find offensive.

The warning reads:

In his portrayal of the Belgian Congo, the young Herge' reflects the colonial attitudes of the time...

He depicted the African people according to the bourgeois, paternalistic stereotypes of the period -- an interpretation that some of today's readers may find offensive.

 

3rd November   

Update: It's Not Porn, It's Softcore!...

German church owned book store gets defensive about its erotica section
Link Here  full story: Religious Erotica...German publisher of erotica owned by church

Ich will dich noch mehr In a press release, the major German publishing company Weltbild owned by the Catholic Bishops of Germany says the company is considering suing the slanderers who have accused it of profiting from porn, because the erotica sold on its website does not meet the legal definition of pornography.

Last week media in Germany reported that the company Weltbild, owned by German dioceses and the bishops conference, carries 2,500 porn titles. The press also reported that the bishops had ignored the pleas of Catholics who had tried to halt sales of erotic book.

Following the publication in the German media, LifeSiteNews verified that there were hundreds of erotic images, mostly book-covers, on the Weltbild site. Some of the covers featured full frontal nudity and explicit photos typical of the covers of pornographic magazines like Playboy.

Weltbild was also found to be carrying softcore DVD's that would be deemed pornographic by Christian standards, but do not meet the legal definition of hard-core pornography in Germany.

Since the story broke in the German media, the publishing company has been removing supposedly 'offensive' pages from its website and disabling search engine functions for searches on its website using words such as erotic.

The bishops' company press release states that less than 0.02% of its annual turnover comes from the erotic offerings of the company and thus headlines such as Catholic Church makes a fortune with porn are simply untrue and defamatory.

It should be noted, said Weltbild in its press release, that: 'pornography' is a clearly defined legal term. They add that according to that definition, Weltbild offers no pornography and has never done so before.

 

1st November   

Publishers Descended into Savage Censorship...

Lord of Flies publisher demanded that William Goldring write out allusions to christianity
Link Here

Lord Flies William Golding The author of a classic novel which charts the descent into savagery of a group of marooned schoolboys was ordered to remove a Christian theme from the book before it was published.

The surprising insistence of publishers editing William Golding's seminal work Lord of the Flies has emerged in correspondence released on the centenary of the author's birth. As well as telling Golding to steer clear of Christianity, his publishers also ordered details of nuclear holocaust to be struck from the pages.

In 1954, Golding was an author struggling to find a publisher for his first book, Lord of the Flies, an allegorical tale of civilisation crashing into barbarism. It had been rejected 10 times, including by Faber and Faber, who then relented and finally put the book into print.

Correspondence with publishers, which have not been made public until now, forms a central part of new display at Oxford's Bodleian library. Also on display for the first time is the rejection note from Faber which called the novel an absurd and uninteresting fantasy. Rubbish and dull .

Eventually the book was championed by a publishing executive, Charles Montieth. The letters reveal Montieth objected to what Golding called the theophany of the novel, the appearance of God to man, and the obvious Christianity of Simon, another of the boys marooned on the island after the plane crash.

 

31st October   

Good Books...

German catholic church owns erotic book publisher
Link Here  full story: Religious Erotica...German publisher of erotica owned by church

Ich will dich noch mehr Weltbild , Germany's largest media company, sells books, DVDs, music and more. It also happens to belong 100% to the Catholic Church. Few people knew about this connection until this month when Buchreport, a German industry newsletter, reported that the Catholic company also sells erotica.

A Church spokesman responded to the report by claiming: Weltbild tries to prevent the distribution of possibly pornographic content. Presumably erotic novels aren't seen as pornographic.

For more than 10 years, a group of Catholics has been trying to point out what is going on to Church authorities, and they are 'outraged' at the hypocrisy of the spokesman's statement. In 2008, the group sent a 70-page document to all the bishops whose dioceses have shared ownership of Weltbild for 30 years, detailing evidence of the sale of erotic books.

Weltbild employs 6,400 people, has an annual turnover of 1.7 billion euros, and an online business in Germany second only to Amazon. Weltbild is also Germany's leading book seller. The 2,500 erotic books in their online catalogue, including those from Blue Panther Books, an erotic book publisher owned by Weltbild, are one example. Their titles include: Anwaltshure (Lawyer's Whore), Vo gelbar ( Fuckable ) and Schlampen-Internat (Sluts' Boarding School).

The Church also owns a 50% share in publishing company Droemer Knaur which also produces pornographic books

 

26th October   

Update: Educationally Challenged...

Nutter MP repeats her call to appoint the BBFC as book censors for sex education material
Link Here

andrea leadsom Conservative MP Andrea Leadsom has repeated her call for sex education books to be classified by the BBFC.

Leadsom claims some of the material being taught to children as young as five is extraordinarily inappropriate . She wants books and videos used for sex education to be given a rating by the British Board of Film Classification before they are used in schools.

During a Westminster Hall debate, Leadsom said many adults were horrified when they found out what children were being taught about sex. She said:

 I've seen cartoons of two people engaged in sexual activities with the caption 'Here are some ways mummies and daddies fit together', others depicting two cartoon characters locked in an intimate embrace, accompanied by a vivid explanation, using sexual terminology of the act of intercourse.

As well as cartoons I've been shown a video of two people engaged in intercourse, with a child's voice over the top, saying, 'it looks like they're having fun'.

She also wants the law changed so that parents actively have to opt in to sex lessons, rather than opt out , as is currently the case if they have objections.

Schools minister, Nick Gibb, said all sex education material used in state schools was scrutinised to ensure it set the right tone . The education secretary had set out statutory guidelines for schools and councils to follow, he added, which would ensure that inappropriate content would not be used.

Comment: Parental Guidance

Perhaps a Sex Ed Parental Guidance certificate would read:

Suitable for children of all ages. Children are advised to consider whether the material may upset sensitive parents before showing it to them.

 

26th October   

Holy Terror...

The latest Frank Miller graphic novel rattles a few cages
Link Here

Holy Terror Frank Miller There is nothing subtle about Frank Miller's newest graphic novel, Holy Terror . The book opens with the quote: If you meet the infidel, kill the infidel , which Miller attributes to the islamic prophet Mohammed.

Miller is no stranger to controversy. His stories, which include the film inspiring 300 and Sin City , regularly explore the darker corners of society amid shades of moral grey.

His latest work was originally envisioned as a Batman tale after September 11 attacks on the US, the comic features heroes The Fixer, and thief-come-love interest, Natalie, as they join forces to stop an Al Qaeda plot on Empire City, a thinly veiled New York City.

For some, this underlines a worrying shift in American entertainment. We are witnessing a growing industry of information and fear-mongering, and this work fits in the centre said Nihad Awad, the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. He described the work as shameful .

In a post on his website dated September 23, Miller unapologetically defended Holy Terror as a piece of naked propaganda , but propaganda in a virtuous sense. Holy Terror is his contribution to the fight against terrorism.

Despite wary reviews, Holy Terror was the best-selling graphic novel in September, according to Diamond Comic Distributors.

 

20th October   

Extremist Book Censors...

Russian prosecutor seeks to ban Hare Krishna holy book on the grounds that it is extremist for belittling people of other faiths
Link Here  full story: Religious Book Censorship in Russia...Russia prosecutes holy books over supposed extremism

Bhagavad gita As It Is ebook Prosecutors in Tomsk are seeking through the courts to have the Russian translation of the most important work for Hare Krishna devotees, the Bhagavad-Gita As it Is , declared "extremist" and placed on the Federal List of Extremist Materials.

An 'expert' analysis completed in October 2010 by three academics at Tomsk State University, Sergei Avanesov, Valeri Svistunov and Valeri Naumov, found that the book contains signs of incitement of religious hatred and humiliation of an individual based on gender, race, ethnicity, language, origin or attitude to religion .

The analysis claimed the book humiliated those who did not believe in or even know about Krishna or follow Krishna's teachings. It claimed that the author propagated the exclusivity and superiority of his faith and was hostile, insulting and humiliating about other faiths [Just like any other supposedly holy book then] . It also claimed that the author called for hostile or violent acts against women and non-Hare Krishna devotees.

This case is more than important for us - it is vital, Hare Krishna lawyer Mikhail Frolov told Forum 18: This is the most important development in the whole history of our movement in Russia. They are trying not just to declare our book extremist, but our religious teaching also. If they succeed, our community throughout Russia could be declared extremist.

Meanwhile, an appeal court in Dagestan, while upholding a three-year suspended prison term on Ziyavdin Dapayev, has ruled that works by the late Muslim theologian Said Nursi should be handed to the Dagestan Muslim Board for a decision on the question of the destruction of the banned books and pamphlets.

 

14th October   

Inciteful Books?...

Book publisher on trial for extremist material
Link Here

maktabah logo Ahmed Faraz  distributed extremist books and DVDs with the aim of priming people for terrorism , a court has heard.

He is charged with 10 counts of disseminating terrorist publications, nine counts of having terrorist publications in his possession, with a view to distributing them, and a further 11 counts relating to the possession of information that is likely to be useful to someone committing or preparing an act of terrorism.

He was not connected to any specific terrorist plot, a jury at Kingston Crown Court, south west London, was told.

Max Hill QC, prosecuting, said:

This case is about the distribution of books and DVDs and other material which we say represent steps along the road to radicalisation of Muslims to engage in violent terrorist attacks around the world, including the UK. This case is also about the ways and means by which to solidify that radicalisation and provide practical assistance for those who have been radicalised.

Several of the publications distributed by this defendant did end up in the hands of individuals, many of them now notorious - or infamous - terrorists who have stood trial in English courtrooms such as this in the last five years and are now serving long prison sentences, having been found guilty of plotting to terrorise the British public.

Faraz denies all charges. The trial is scheduled to finish in January 2012.

 

4th October   

Comic Defense...

Historic comic book censorship seal taken over for fund raising purposes
Link Here

cca logo The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund has announced that it has received the intellectual property rights to the Comics Code Authority Seal of Approval in an assignment from the now-defunct Comic Magazine Association of America, which administrated the Code since the 1950s.

CBLDF Executive Director Charles Brownstein says, As we reflect upon the challenges facing intellectual freedom during Banned Books Week, the Comics Code Seal is a reminder that it's possible for an entire creative field to have those rights curtailed because of government, public, and market pressures. Fortunately, today comics are no longer constrained as they were in the days of the Code, but that's not something we can take for granted.

The CBLDF will take over licensing of products bearing the Comics Code Seal, including t-shirts, providing a modest source of income for the organization's First Amendment legal work. Graphitti Designs is currently offering t-shirts with the Code Seal to benefit CBLDF.

Brownstein adds It's a progressive change that the Comics Code seal, which is yesterday's symbol of comics censorship, will now be used to raise money to protect the First Amendment challenges comics face in the future. That goal probably would have been unimaginable to the Code's founders, who were part of a generation of comics professionals that were fleeing a witch-hunt that nearly trampled comics and any notion that they deserved any First Amendment protection.

 

3rd October   

Morally Unhappy Church...

Russian church spokesman rails at books that 'romanticise perverted passions'
Link Here

Hundred Solitude Gabriel Garcia Marquez Russian orthodox church spokesman Vsevolod Chaplin, spokesman for the Moscow patriarchate, called for novels by Nabokov and Garcia Marquez to be banned.

Chaplin's demand that Russia's government investigate and limit the use of the books was his church's latest attempt to impose religious norms on the Russian people.

Chaplin discussed Nabokov's Lolita and Gabriel Garcia Marquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude on Ekho Moskvy radio, accusing both of justifying paedophilia .

The priest later elaborated in comments carried by Interfax, saying the authors' works should not be included in high school curriculums as they romanticise perverted passions that make people unhappy . Obviously, the popularisation of these novels in schools will not make our society more morally happy.

Mikhail Shvydkoi, a Kremlin envoy for international cultural co-operation, disagreed, saying such action by authorities would badly hurt Russia's image.

Nabokov published Lolita in English in 1955. The book, which describes a relationship of a middle-aged intellectual with his 12-year-old stepdaughter, was briefly banned in several European countries. The Colombian novelist Garcia Marquez was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature in 1982. One Hundred Years of Solitude is a complex historical cum adult fairy tale acclaimed as a masterpiece.

 

1st October   

Update: PC Superiority...

Court hears case to ban a 1931 TinTin book
Link Here  full story: TinTin Book Censorship...TinTin au Congo and the overly sensitive

Tintin Au Congo Aventures A Congolese-born campaigner has finally stated his case in court in a 4-year bid to ban a Tintin book. He is claiming that its cartoon depections of Africans are racist.

Mbutu Mondondo Bienvenu launched a legal case in 2007 against the book Tintin in the Congo .  The book was published in 1931 and he is taking action against a modern version of the original. Openly racist language was removed in subsequent editions.

What poses a problem today is not Herge, it's the commercialisation of a cartoon book which manifestly diffuses ideas based on racial superiority, his lawyer Ahmed L'Hedim told the court.

The English language version carries a warning to readers that its contents could be offensive and that it should be seen in the context of its time. If the court decides against an outright ban, the complainant wants a similar warning placed on the editions in French and Dutch sold in Belgium.

Moulinsart, the foundation which holds the Tintin copyright, has refused to attach a warning. It says many works could be accused of discrimination.

Mbutu Mondondo initially brought criminal charges over the book created by Belgian author and illustrator Georges Remi, better known as Herge'. However, after lengthy delays, his legal team started a civil case last year.

Publisher Casterman and Moulinsart will present their counter-arguments at a hearing in Brussels on 14 October, with a ruling expected in about two months.

 

26th September   

Update: Child Beating...

Religious book on the subject of chastising children cleared by New Zealand censor
Link Here
Train Up Child Michael Pearl A book teaching parents how to smack, thump and pull their children's hair has been submitted to the New Zealand book censor.

The Censorship Compliance Unit assessed the book, written by fundamentalist Christians Michael and Debi Pearl, and decided not to ban or restrict it.

A spokesman for the Department of Internal Affairs, which the office and unit belong to, said while the book was contrary to section 59 of the Crimes Act, which stated a parent or guardian could not use any force on a child for the purpose of correction , that wasn't sufficient reason to justify restricting or banning the 20-year-old book.

The complainant could, however, ask that the Office of Film and Literature Classification also investigate the book's content.

To Train Up A Child courted controversy worldwide after a California couple who followed its instructions were convicted of murdering their seven-year-old adopted daughter.

 

26th September   

Book Censorship in New Zealand...

A whole library of 1319 banned books
Link Here
Inside Linda Lovelace Star Throat A total of 1319 books are banned in New Zealand and a further 728 are age restricted in some way.  About one third of these have been listed since 1987.

Many are of a sexual nature, deal with violence, horror and crime and might have only been fully read by one book censor in New Zealand who decided they shouldn't be available to the rest of us.

Some of the titles belonging to 'objectionable' or restricted books included Confessions of a Pimp , Horny Housewife , Inside Linda Lovelace and A Lesbian Happening.

It was up to the Office of Film and Literature Classification and the Censorship Compliance Unit to assess books, films, DVDs and even T-shirts and determine whether they should be banned or restricted.

It has to include sex, horror, crime, cruelty or violence in some way for us to ban or restrict it, the office's advisor Michelle Baker said. Items that include offensive language and self harm, risk taking and suicide issues can't be banned, but could be restricted.

Baker said the office hardly reviewed its decisions, unless someone requested it to do so. Books published about homosexuality before it was made legal in 1986 could have been banned at that time and remain so, unless someone had requested they were reviewed.

Books are usually brought to the office's attention by police, customs or the public. The author, publisher, complainant and interested parties are given 14 days to make a submission, while one of the office's 15 censors started reading the book.

Book Censorship Penalties

  • A person found possessing an 'objectionable' book can be sentenced to up to five years in prison, or fined up to $50,000.
  • A person who exhibited or displayed a banned book can be sentenced to up to 10 years in jail.
  • Someone who made a restricted book available to people under the age of restriction can be fined $10,000 or sentenced to three months' jail, and an organisation could be fined up to $200,000.

 

22nd September   

The Art of Censorship...

Kidscape call for major retailers to drop art photography books featuring children
Link Here

kidscape logoChild protection campaigners at Kidscape have suggested that retailers should stop selling art photography books featuring children. In particular, they are are targeting David Hamilton's The Age of Innocence .

Such books are widely available through major booksellers such as Waterstone's and Amazon.

But now Michele Elliott, founder of Kidscape, would rather see these books banned, not by the usual British justice/political process, but by retailers banning them off their own initiative.

Elliott said: If you get to the publishers and the people who are retailing it then you stop it going out to thousands and we send a clear message.

Elliott was referring to a case where a child porn prosecution rightly failed because the only items he had were from widely available books such as David Hamilton's. In February this year the judge questioned why a man was prosecuted for possessing the indecent images of children when they were available in mainstream bookshops. Lord Justice Richards said it was very unfair that he was taken to court. He overturned the conviction and cleared the manl's name.

The Crown Prosecution Service's application for a retrial was refused after the judge concluded that re-prosecuting Neal was not in the public interest .

Surely it part of a civilised society, that citizens know where legal lines are drawn. It is fair and just for someone to assume that widely available books are legal to possess. If the authorities or campaigners have issues with these books, they should take it up with major players, not persecute the little people living within, what they perceive as the law.

 

22nd September   

Children's Books Only?...

Algiers Book Fair is missing 400 banned books
Link Here

sila logoAlgeria's censorship minister says 400 books were banned from the country's international book fair which has just opened.

Khalida Toumi said at a news conference that the law on importing books banned those supported colonialism, terrorism and racism. Books attacking the national liberation struggle against France were also not allowed in.

 

21st September   

Review: A South African Censor's Tale...

By Kobus van Rooyen
Link Here

South African Censors Tale Writer Andre P Brink, in his preface to this book, says that he had the dubious distinction of seeing his novel Kennis Van Die Aand ( Looking on Darkness ) pounced on as the first Afrikaans work of fiction to be banned , and then followed the censorship from the inside. He notes that as the machinations of censorship became pernicious and destructive , literature suffered. During the Seventies the Jacobsen's Index of banned publications was expanded to well more than 20 000 titles, including hundreds of the greatest titles of world literature.

Kobus Van Rooyen takes the reader through the South African censorship history in 14 chapters. He starts with the moral clampdown (1963 to 1975) to where we are today.

Personally, I have no excuse for those pre-1980 times -- I cannot deny that I was involved in the decisions made, and I must confess that I was pondering whether we were not far too strict, Van Rooyen says about his initial days as the youngest (then 33) member among older colleagues.

His endeavours in the Eighties of freeing South Africa from despotic censorship laws were diametrically opposed to conservative doctrine.

By 1985, he (as deputy dean of the law faculty of the University of Pretoria moon-lighting as chairman of the Appeal Board) became aware of the daunting task that lay ahead of me, to free South Africa from the slavery of censorship .

However strongly autobiographical the book is, it makes for interesting and often amusing reading about a dark period and the battle that had to be waged.

l Van Rooyen was chairman of the Publications Appeal Board from 1980 to 1990. He then served as chairman of the Press Council and Broadcasting Complaints Commission (a position he still holds) and chaired the ministerial task group which drafted the new Films and Publications Act from 1994 to 1996.

 

4th September   

Offsite: Black Banners...

Recent book censorship by US security services
Link Here  full story: Book Censorship by US Security...Book censorship over military operations

Black Banners Inside Against al Qaeda News that the CIA has demanded extensive cuts from a forthcoming book by former FBI agent Ali H Soufan made the front page of the New York Times. But Soufan's isn't the only recent memoir to earn the intelligence agency's wrath by, in part, criticizing its use of brutal interrogation techniques in the decade since 9/11. There's also The Interrogator , by Glenn Carle, a CIA veteran who was given the task of questioning a purported al-Qaida kingpin in 2002. Carle's book was published earlier this summer with many passages, and occasionally entire pages, blocked out with black bars to show where the agency had insisted on redactions.

Soufan has called many of the CIA's excisions from his own book ridiculous, pointing out that some of the classified information is a matter of public record and appears in the 9/11 report and even in a memoir by former CIA director George Tenet.

...Read the full article

 

25th August   

Update: Child Beating...

Religious book on the subject of how to bring up kids to be examined by the New Zealand censor
Link Here
Train Up Child Michael Pearl A book teaching parents how to smack, thump and pull their children's hair could soon be banned in New Zealand following a complaint.

To Train Up a Child has been removed from Whitcoulls' online store but other leading book sites are still selling it.

The book, by fundamentalist United States Christians Michael and Debi Pearl, promotes using a rod, such as a branch or belt, several times on a child as a way of disciplining and training them to obey.

It has courted controversy worldwide after a California couple who followed the book's instructions were convicted of murdering their seven-year-old adopted daughter.

The New Zealand Internal Affairs Department's Censorship Compliance Unit confirmed it was investigating the book after a complaint was made last week.

An American child abuse victim, now living in New Zealand, complained to Whitcoulls, which agreed to remove the book from its website. The victim said he was shocked to find out the book was being sold in New Zealand, despite the country's anti-smacking law. He said: I'm not one to prevent books from being sold, ...BUT... I think an instruction manual on how to enact violence on your child is a completely different story.

Sue Bradford, who campaigned as a Green Party MP to remove the defence of reasonable force when disciplining a child, said she was concerned parents would buy the book and follow its instructions.

Censorship Compliance Unit manager Stephen OBrien said the book's content would be investigated and, if it was found to be objectionable, it could be either banned, restricted or referred to the human rights or children's commissioners.

There are 1309 books already banned in New Zealand.

 

25th July   

Update: Well Pissed...

Pernod fail in an attempt to censor French book describing a culture of drinking at the company
Link Here
Dealer legal Eric Coder A French court has rejected an attempt by the drinks company Pernod Ricard to censor a book that claimed potential sales staff were expected to prove they could hold their drink by knocking back glasses of pernod.

Some job applicants said they were subject to a crash test in which they had to drink up to 20 shots before they were given the job.

The allegations are contained in the book Dealer Legal by the French journalist Max Coder, who spoke to several company employees.

The court of appeal upheld an earlier judgment that declared Coder had acted in good faith when he described how potential employees were expected to show they could hold their drink. Pernod Ricard had claimed defamation and sought Euro 500,000 in damages.

In its defence, the company said it had published a memo to its sales staff stipulating that the excessive consumption of alcohol is not and should not be, here at Ricard, an attitude that leads to professional success .

The court of appeal said this advice did not go far enough in outlining the alcohol limits and said those sued in the complaint should be given the benefit of [having acted in] good faith .

Pernod Ricard was ordered to pay EUR2,000 legal costs to the author and co-author of Dealer Legal, the editor and a company salesperson quoted in the book.

 

25th July   

Update: Harmful Books...

Iran's supreme leader has a whinge at 'harmful' books
Link Here
Iran flag Iran's former culture minister, Ataollah Mohajerani, has criticised the country's supreme leader for restricting access to literature after Ayatollah Ali Khamenei publicly attacked harmful books and likened them to poisonous drugs.

In a meeting with librarians and officials from Iran's book industry, Khamenei spoke out against books with a cultural appearance but with specific political hidden motives. Not all books are necessarily good and not all of them are unharmful, some books are harmful.

Mohajerani who was culture minister until 2000 under the reformist president Mohammad Khatami, said the ayatollah was worried about literary, philosophical and social books that might raise questions about his legitimacy as the supreme leader. I think that he is very much concerned about books that can either implicitly or explicitly target his position as the supreme leader and also his legitimacy.

In his speech, Khamenei, whose pronouncements are often interpreted as official guidelines, refused to give more details on which books he deemed harmful . However, titles ranging from uncensored version of Plato's Symposium to Louis-Ferdinand Celine's Journey to the End of the Night and works by James Joyce, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Kurt Vonnegut and Paulo Coelho have been banned in recent years by Iran's ministry of culture and Islamic guidance which vets all books before publication:

Those responsible in the book industry should not let harmful books enter our book market on the basis that we let them [readers] choose [what they want to read].

Like poisonous, dangerous and addictive drugs which are not available for everyone without restrictions ... as a publisher, librarian or an official in the book industry, we don't have the right to make [such books] available to those without knowledge, he said. We should provide them with healthy and good books.

Mohajerani said:

His comments stem from a traditional clerical mentality that clerics guide people as shepherds guide their sheep, this is a viewpoint that doesn't have any place in today's life.

 

24th June   

Burning Issues...

Book burning protests against Lawrence Hill's The Book of Negroes
Link Here

Book Negroes Lawrence Hill The Dutch group Federation for Honour and Reparation of Slavery in Surinam has made a book burning protest against Toronto author Lawrence Hill's award-winning novel The Book of Negroes . However, instead of burning the entire book, the group has only burned its cover.

CBC News reported that the group chose to only burn the cover because their protest regards the title of the novel, and specifically its use of the word negro, which they deem offensive.

Greg Hollingshead, chair of The Writers' Union of Canada, said in a press release:

The burning of books represents censorship at its worst. While we recognize the sensitivity over the use of the word 'Negro' in the book's title, The Book of Negroes is a real document and Mr. Hill uses it deliberately to underscore the plight of African Americans being shipped from New York to Nova Scotia in 1783.

When the novel was published in the United States the title was changed to Somebody Knows My Name .

 

14th June   

Taliban Ban...

Pakistan apparently bans book about Al Qaeda and the Taliban
Link Here

Inside Al Qaeda Taliban Beyond Laden Pakistan's government has imposed an unannounced ban on a book written by slain journalist Syed Saleem Shahzad.

The book, Inside Al-Qaida and the Taliban, Beyond Bin Laden and 9/11 , is unavailable at all leading book stores, with the shop owners saying its sales had been banned by the government.

Pakistan Today contacted the publishers, Pluto Press of London, to inquire about the ban. Pluto Press' Sales Director Simon Liebesny said via e-mail that they could not deliver any statement in the current situation as their shipment for Pakistan was under process with the UK Customs.

Pluto Press said the book was launched on May 20, 2011. It wrote in the description of the book that:

President Obama has delivered on his campaign promise to kill Osama bin Laden, but as an al Qaeda strategist, bin Laden has been dead for years. This book introduces the new generation of al Qaeda leaders who have been behind the most recent attacks. Shahzad, an investigative reporter, had a level of access to al Qaeda and the Taliban that Western journalists could only dream of. He had interviewed many top-level strategists and fighters in both movements on multiple occasions in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Jordan. In Inside Al-Qaeda and the Taliban he uses first-hand accounts and his own local knowledge to build up a convincing and compelling picture of the aims and motivation of the leaders and fighters in radical movements. This is a version of the war on terror that has never been told. It will fascinate anyone concerned with the strategy and tactics of the most controversial Islamic movements.

 

5th May   

Update: Animated to Censor...

Anime ebooks banned from Amazon
Link Here

selfish demon kingRecently Amazon has become more strict in enforcing their content requirements for ebooks.

Several Digital Manga books that have been available online since 2009 are getting the axe, beginning with our 801 Media titles like Weekend Lovers and King of Debt . However, in the last few days the issue has spread to the June imprint by Amazon's refusal of The Selfish Demon King , and the removal of The Color of Love from the Kindle store.

We fear that Amazon may target more of our books for removal so we're warning all Amazon Kindle store users that providing you with our content may become more difficult in the future.

 

28th April   

The Uncensored Picture of Dorian Gray...

Censored texts restored to Oscar Wilde's novel
Link Here

Picture Dorian Gray Annotated Uncensored An uncensored version of Oscar Wilde's only novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray , has finally been published.

JM Stoddart, Wilde's editor, made a number of alterations to downplay the overt homoeroticism in the novel before it appeared in Lippincott's Monthly Magazine in June 1890.

He also removed references to the protagonist's female lovers as mistresses , and withdrew other sections that smacked of decadence , according to Nicholas Frankel, the editor of the new, original edition.

But his efforts did not go far enough, and following its publication more passages were removed, The Guardian reported.

One section reading It is quite true I have worshipped you with far more romance of feeling than a man should ever give to a friend was changed to: From the moment I met you, your personality had the most extraordinary influence on me .

Frankel said it was time to published the uncensored text, claiming he hoped to bring it out of the closet for a 21st century audience.

 

7th April   

Eternity Extended...

Censored scenes restored to the novel From Here to Eternity
Link Here

Here Eternity Restored An original version of 1951 novel From Here to Eternity is to be reissued digitally, with previously censored references to homosexuality restored.

The heirs of author James Jones have struck a deal with an ebook firm to put out a new edition that includes two scenes with gay content.

The uncensored version will be released online from 10 May.

It will include a scene in which Private Angelo Maggio reveals he is paid to have oral sex with another man.

Another scene referring to a military investigation into possible homosexual activity will also feature in the text.

The restored version will also include profanity that was considered too extreme for Eternity's original publisher Scribner.

 

1st April   

Update: Gandhi Beyond Reproach...

Indian state considers a law against supposed insult against Gandhi
Link Here

Great Soul Mahatma Gandhi Struggle Even as the Gujarat government banned the book on Mahatma Gandhi by Joseph Lelyveld that has run into controversy for references suggesting he was a bisexual and a racist, the Centre is now mulling a law that would make showing any disrespect to the Father of the Nation an offence punishable with a jail term.

Sources in the Law Ministry said the ministry had been asked to suggest amendment to the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971, so as to make any action or gesture that shows disrespect to Gandhi an offence at par with an offence against the National Flag or the Constitution.

 

31st March   

Struggle with India...

Indian state bans book suggesting that Gandhi had a gay tryst
Link Here

Great Soul Mahatma Gandhi Struggle A book on Mahatma Gandhi has been banned by the government in his native state of Gujarat.

The book by Joseph Lelyveld contains evidence that India's independence hero had a homosexual relationship. Early reviews in the US and UK suggest that Gandhi was depicted as sometimes racist and that he had an intimate relationship with a German man named Hermann Kallenbach.

Chief Minister Narendra Modi said that its contents were perverse and defamed the icon of non-violence . Modi accused the author of displaying a perverted mentality in writing the book, which he said had hurt the sentiments of masses of people: This publication defames the Mahatma and there is rising anger not only in Gujarat but in the entire country.

Gujarat's state assembly voted unanimously  to ban Great Soul: Mahatma Gandhi and His Struggle With India , even though it has not yet been released in India.

Lelyveld has denied writing that Gandhi was a bisexual, saying his work had been taken out of context.

 

31st March   

Update: Quick! Before the Next Lot Take Over...

Banned author takes window of opportunity to publish his Metro graphic novel in Egypt
Link Here  full story: Metro Censors...Egypt's first graphic novel gets censored

metro cover After years of waiting, arrests and a court case against Magdy el-Shafie, his Metro graphic novel will finally see widespread publishing in his country after the ousting of former President Hosni Mubarak and the regime that cracked down on the cartoonist.

Shafie's Metro was originally written in 2008, but was quickly banned by the regime and the author was convicted of offending public decency after a lengthy trial.

The controversy started in April 2008, when police broke into the publishing house and confiscated all copies of the book. They then went to all bookstores and took the novel from the shelves, without warrant.

The novel deals with politically sensitive issues and what may have sparked government interest is the limited sexual content of the book. For many, it came as no surprise that the government was using this as a scapegoat to keep politics from reaching a wider audience.

 

31st March   

Update: The Army of the Imam...

Turkish authorities seize author and his unpublished book
Link Here  full story: Book Censorship in Turkey...Freedom of speech under duress

Turkey flag Reporters Without Borders is deeply shocked by the seizure and destruction of all known copies of the last unpublished draft copy of a book by Ahmet Sik. This work, which explores the relationship between the police and the influential Islamic Gu len Movement, is said to contain revelations about the Ergenekon antiterrorist trial, which has tainted Turkish political life for years.

Not content with preventing its publication and throwing the author into jail, the Turkish judicial authorities searched the three locations where it was thought the draft copy might be found and ordered anyone who might still be in possession of it to hand it over to the authorities or face criminal charges.

Sik's lawyer had said the journalist planned to name the book The Army of the Imam , after influential Islamic preacher, Fethullah Gulen, who is believed to have millions of followers in Turkey.

Sik was jailed earlier this month along with six other journalists, accused of links to an alleged hardline secularist plot to topple Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government in 2003.

Update: Book seizure noted by the EU

16th April 2011. See  article from  hurriyetdailynews.com

The European Union is expected to convey a series of warnings to Turkey during the next meeting of the EU-Turkey Association Council, which will be held in Brussels on April 19.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu is scheduled to attend the meeting of the council, which is reportedly getting ready to draw attention to a host of issues, ranging from press freedom to energy security, mentioned in a draft document of the EU Common Implementation Strategy.

On the issue of press freedom, the EU report maintained a critical stance, calling on Turkey to enact further legislation in order to better harmonize its laws with the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights, while expressing concern over the recent arrests of journalists, bans on certain Internet sites and the seizure of a draft manuscript.

 

22nd March   

Update: Bible Guilty...

Man claims to have been inspired by the Bible to stone gay man to death
Link Here  full story: Death by Stoning...International condemnation of barbaric execution

The Holy Bible on Stoning A 28-year-old Pennsylvania man has been charged with murder after telling police he stoned to death a 70-year-old man after the senior citizen allegedly made unwanted sexual advances toward him.

John Joe Thomas told police he beat Murray Seidman using a sock that was stuffed with rocks because he read in the Old Testament that homosexuals should be stoned to death. The elderly man was hit in the head about 10 times, police said.

The relationship between the two is not known, but police said Thomas was the sole beneficiary of Seidman's will.

Thomas said he received a message in his prayers that he must kill Seidman.

And indeed The Bible does seems to back up Thomas and his resort to violence:

"If a man lies with a male as with a women, both of them shall be put to death for their abominable deed; they have forfeited their lives."   (Leviticus 20:13 New American Bible)

 

14th March   

A Banquet For Seaweed...

Gaza bans books for immoral content and newspapers for opposing Hamas
Link Here

Chicago Alaa al Aswany Hamas police recently confiscated copies of novels from bookstores on the basis of their allegedly immoral content, and Hamas officials bar newspapers from being brought into the Gaza Strip that support the rival Fatah movement, which leads the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank.

At a time when people around the Middle East demand more freedom, Hamas has decided to restrict the freedom of Gaza residents to choose what they read, said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch: Hamas authorities should stop banning books and newspapers now.

Human Rights Watch has also criticized bans by the Palestinian Authority (PA) against pro-Hamas publications in the West Bank, as well as other violations against journalists by its security services.

Dr. Talaat al-Safadi, the owner of the Ibn Khaldun bookstore, told Human Rights Watch that two police officers in street clothes and another in uniform came to his bookstore and confiscated seven copies of A Banquet for Seaweed , a novel by Haidar Haidar, and one copy of Chicago , a novel by Alaa' al-Aswany.

Members of the General Investigation Bureau also confiscated copies of Chicago and A Banquet for Seaweed from the al-Shurouq bookstore in Gaza City, and Internal Security Service officers ordered employees at the Samir Mansour bookstore, near Gaza City's Islamic University, not to sell any copies of the novels.

Hamas security officers also searched for copies of a novel titled Forbidden Pleasure but did not locate any, the rights group reported. The police officers claimed the novels violated Sharia, or Islamic law, bookstore employees said.

Human Rights Watch also urged Hamas authorities to lift an ongoing ban on importing into Gaza three newspapers printed in the West Bank - Al-Ayyam, Al-Quds , and Al-Hayat al-Jadida . Israel had previously barred the newspapers from being taken into Gaza but had lifted the restriction in June 2010 as part of an announced easing of its closure of Gaza's borders. Hamas then barred their entry. A Hamas spokesperson acknowledged that the newspaper bans had been imposed without any basis in Palestinian law.

The Hamas government press office spokesman, Dr. Hassan Abu Hasheesh, told Human Rights Watch that Hamas authorities had long objected to Al-Ayyam because of the paper's harsh criticisms of Hamas, including its use of terms like collaborators to describe Hamas. Abu Hasheesh said that Hamas authorities had corresponded with the editors in 2007 before banning Al-Ayyam in February 2008 for three months because it had published a caricature of the Palestinian parliament.

 

28th February   

Update: Books Unbound...

Book censorship relaxed in post revolution Tunisia
Link Here  full story: Jasmine Revolution...Popular uprising to dipose President Ben Ali

la regente de carthage Tunisian bookshops changed dramatically after the January 14th revolution swept former President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali from power. Books that were once banned and covertly brought into the country are now being displayed freely.

I couldn't find a copy of La Régente de Carthage which exposes the corruption and influence of Leila Ben Ali on Tunisian political and economic life, student Suha Bin Mustapha told Magharebia at the El-Kitab bookstore in Tunis: I am now making a request to reserve a copy that the owner said would be available by the end of the month.

Tunisia's interim government on January 22nd lifted licensing restrictions on the importation of books, publications and films, opening the floodgates to foreign media. The constraints were imposed by the Ben Ali regime to control the flow of information.

Lifting restrictions on importing books is a key demand that has been called on by voices of enlightenment, modernity and the democracy of culture and knowledge in Tunisia, said Moktar Kalfaoui, a writer for the website Alawan.

In the past, possessing these books meant persecution, losing a job, or even imprisonment, according to bookstore customer Nora.

In previous years, the Tunisian International Book Fair earned a poor reputation because of strict censorship imposed on imported works, forcing exhibitors to focus on cookbooks and fiction.

The Tunisian culture ministry used to claim that it only prohibited books that promoted religious extremism and terrorism. But there were several complaints from Arab and foreign publishers regarding the ban on political themes. In the end, many just didn't bother to attend the fair.

 

22nd January   

Comic Book Morality...

DC comics opts out of a historic morality code in favour of its own self rating scheme
Link Here

cca logo After nearly sixty years, DC Comics has decided that none of its publications need carry the Seal of Approval of the Comics Code Authority.

The announcement was made in a communique to direct market retailers, which also included the news that DC will employ a new ratings system of its own design. Deployment of DC's new ratings system will begin in April.

The new self rating scheme is described as follows:

E: EVERYONE

Appropriate for readers of all ages. May contain cartoon violence and/or some comic mischief.

T: TEEN

Appropriate for readers age 12 and older. May contain mild violence, language and/or suggestive themes.

T+: TEEN PLUS

Appropriate for readers age 16 and older. May contain moderate violence, mild profanity, graphic imagery and/or suggestive themes.

M: MATURE

Appropriate for readers age 18 and older. May contain intense violence, extensive profanity, nudity, sexual themes and other content suitable only for older readers.

The Comics Code Authority

See comicscodeauthority.com

The previous moralistic code was established in 1954 after moral panics of the era.

General Standards Part A

  1. Crimes shall never be presented in such a way as to create sympathy for the criminal, to promote distrust of the forces of law and justice, or to inspire others with a desire to imitate criminals.
  2. No comics shall explicitly present the unique details and methods of a crime.
  3. Policemen, judges, government officials, and respected institutions shall never be presented in such a way as to create disrespect for established authority.
  4. If crime is depicted it shall be as a sordid and unpleasant activity.
  5. Criminals shall not be presented so as to be rendered glamorous or to occupy a position which creates the desire for emulation.
  6. In every instance good shall triumph over evil and the criminal punished for his misdeeds.
  7. Scenes of excessive violence shall be prohibited. Scenes of brutal torture, excessive and unnecessary knife and gun play, physical agony, gory and gruesome crime shall be eliminated.
  8. No unique or unusual methods of concealing weapons shall be shown.
  9. Instances of law enforcement officers dying as a result of a criminal's activities should be discouraged.
  10. The crime of kidnapping shall never be portrayed in any detail, nor shall any profit accrue to the abductor or kidnapper. The criminal or the kidnapper must be punished in every case.
  11. The letter of the word crime on a comics magazine shall never be appreciably greater than the other words contained in the title. The word crime shall never appear alone on a cover.
  12. Restraint in the use of the word crime in titles or sub-titles shall be exercised.

General Standards Part B

  1. No comics magazine shall use the word horror or terror in its title.
  2. All scenes of horror, excessive bloodshed, gory or gruesome crimes, depravity, lust, sadism, masochism shall not be permitted.
  3. All lurid, unsavory, gruesome illustrations shall be eliminated.
  4. Inclusion of stories dealing with evil shall be used or shall be published only where the intent is to illustrate a moral issue and in no case shall evil be presented alluringly nor as to injure the sensibilities of the reader.
  5. Scenes dealing with, or instruments associated with walking dead, torture, vampires and vampirism, ghouls, cannibalism and werewolfism are prohibited.

General Standards Part C

Dialogue:

  1. 1Profanity, obscenity, smut, vulgarity, or words or symbols which have acquired undesirable meanings are forbidden.
  2.  Special precautions to avoid references to physical afflictions of deformities shall be taken.
  3. Although slang and colloquialisms are acceptable, excessive use should be discouraged and wherever possible good grammar shall be employed.

Religion:

Ridicule or attack on any religious or racial group is never permissible.

Costume:

  1. Nudity in any form is prohibited, as is indecent or undue exposure.
  2. Suggestive and salacious illustration or suggestive posture is unacceptable.
  3. All characters shall be depicted in dress reasonably acceptable to society.
  4. Females shall be drawn realistically without exaggeration of any physical qualities.

Marriage and Sex:

  1. Divorce shall not be treated humorously nor represented as desirable.
  2. Illicit sex relations are neither to be hinted at or portrayed. Violent love scenes as well as sexual abnormalities are unacceptable.
  3. Respect for parents, the moral code, and for honorable behavior shall be fostered. A sympathetic understanding of the problems of love is not a license for moral distortion.
  4. The treatment of love-romance stories shall emphasize the value of the home and the sanctity of marriage.
  5. Passion or romantic interest shall never be treated in such a way as to stimulate the lower and baser emotions.
  6. Seduction and rape shall never be shown or suggested. Sex perversion or any inference to same is strictly forbidden.

The code was updated over the years to allow for the depiction of werewolves, vampires, the corruption of elected officials, and gays of which the taboo itself became taboo.

 

4th January   

Classic Censorship...

Huckleberry Finn published with the word 'nigger' replaced by 'slave'
Link Here

Mark Twains Adventures Sawyer Huckleberry Mark Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is a classic . Yet, for decades, it has been disappearing from grade school curricula across the country, relegated to optional reading lists, or banned outright, appearing again and again on lists of the nation's most challenged books, and all for its repeated use of a single word: nigger.

Twain scholar Alan Gribben and NewSouth Books now plan to release a version of Huckleberry Finn , in a single volume with The Adventures of Tom Sawyer , that does away with the word 'nigger' by replacing it with the word slave. It also replaces the word Injun .

This is not an effort to render Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn colorblind, said Gribben: Race matters in these books. It's a matter of how you express that in the 21st century.