The classic children's book, The Little Witch by Otfried Preussler, is an enchanting tale of a witch who flies and birds who talk.
But it has caused a PC kerfuffle in Germany. It uses the German word 'neger', describing a black boy. It is true
that it can mean negro in German, but it also means nigger . When the book was written, the former may have been true - but now it is more like the latter.
A black father, Mekonnen Mesghena, originally from Eritrea, found the word
It made me very angry. I know that people use that word to insult me or to give me the sense of not belonging.
He decided on a one-man campaign and wrote to the publisher.
It sparked a national debate.
One television presenter with the public broadcaster ARD blacked up, minstrel-style on screen, in protest at changing the text of classics. Denis Scheck made what he called a plea against politically correct speech
exorcism . He warned of a cowardly obedience to political correctness.
The German Family Minister Kristina Schroeder weighed in, leaning towards Mekonnen Mesghena's complaint.
Die Welt likened those who would change offensive language
to the Taliban, thundering:
Anyone who believes art should be changed in retrospect because it contradicts the prevailing morality must have been pleased in 2001 when the Taliban destroyed the Buddhas of Bamiyan.
In the end, the publisher, Thienemann Verlag, announced that it would revise the book and review all its other works of children's fiction to remove offensive terms and plot lines.
In the midst of the row, the author of the
children's book at the centre of the storm died. Otfried Preussler was 89 and, by all accounts, a genial spirit whose charm translated easily into the books which, in their turn, have charmed millions of children, not just in Germany but around the world
with more than 50m copies sold in 50 different languages. Just before he died, he sanctioned the changes.
Later this year, new editions are to be released as a birthday celebration. They will be full of charm - and without offending anyone.
Bloomberg Businessweek is taking a beating from the easily offended who claim the magazine's recent cover---featuring a cartoon illustration of what appears to be a black family rolling in cash from a housing rebound---is racist.
The cover depicts
the cash-grabbing family members as caricatures inside a two-story pink home above the headline: The Great American Housing Rebound.
Josh Tyrangiel, Bloomberg Businessweek's editor in chief, said in a statement to Yahoo News:
Our cover illustration got strong reactions, which we regret. If we had to do it over again, we'd do it differently.
Jacob Gaffney partly explained about the housing rebound on HousingWire.com:
The claim that minorities are creating a housing bubble through flipping, no-look bids, and 300% returns is simply not reality. Flipping is a form of fraud and not a typical transaction. No-look bids are not exclusive
to Hispanic and African-American investors. No one is making a 300% return.
Andres Guzman was commissioned by Bloomberg Businessweek for the illustration said:
I was asked to make an excited family
with large quantities of money. I simply drew the family like that because those are the kind of families I know.
A judge in France has rejected a lawsuit filed by Dominique Strauss-Kahn which sought to stop the publication of a book written by a former lover.
Belle et B ê te (Beauty And Beast) outlines Marcela Iacub's
fictionalised account of her affair with the former IMF chief. Iacub does not name Strauss-Kahn in her book, but has publicly stated that he is the protagonist, whom she describes as half man, half pig .
Although it can now be published,
the book will have to include an insert, and Iacub and her publisher must pay 50,000 euros ( £ 43,100) in damages.
Strauss-Kahn had complained that he was horrified by the book. He told the judge that the
book was a violation of the intimacy of private life .
His lawyers demanded that the book be banned or, failing that, an insert be added to each of the 40,000 copies of the first print-run, which had been due to go on sale on Wednesday.
They did not provide details on what they wanted the insert to say.
Egyptian Arabic Booker prize winner Youssef Zeidan, the author of Azazil , is facing charges of blasphemy and contempt of Islam, Christianity and Judaism for his 2010 book: Arab Theology and the Origins of Religious Violence.
In the non-fiction work, Zeidan tracks the relationship between man and God within the three monotheistic religions. Zeidan said the three religions sprang from one substance even though their differences are plain.
Zeidan was summoned to
appear in front of the High State Security Prosecutor last week.
The case was brought by the Islamic Research Institute (IRI) and 11 Coptic organisations, claiming Zeidan had scorned Christianity and mocked the doctrine of the trinity, which is at
the core of Christian belief. The IRI also accused Zeidan of sparking sectarian strife and encouraging religious extremism.
Zeidan went to State Security Prosecution headquarters in New Cairo and was released shortly afterwards. He was granted one
month to respond to the complaints.
Following the news about the arrest of Singaporean photographer Leslie Kee, the fashionistas of Japan have begun to speak out against the charges of selling a book that contained obscene pictures.
The Tokyo-based artist, who has snapped pictures
of a number of Japanese pop stars, as well as international celebrities like Lady Gaga and Beyonce, is facing up to two years in jail and/or fines as high as 2.5 million yen (approx. $27,000) for selling seven copies of a book at his gallery that had
uncensored photos of male nudes.
Yamamuro Kazz, a Japanese magazine editor and fashion journalist, wrote on his website that he was surprised by Kee's arrest, questioning the police motivation as the books were only sold at the 41 year old's
gallery event, a place only really known by people who are familiar with the artist and his works. The books, which are a part of the Photographer's Super series, and have roughly 50 pages each of pictures with nude males, were only sold to two different
customers. In addition to Kee, two employees of the book's publisher were also arrested. Officials say the book was in violation of Japan's laws that require any pictures of male or female genitalia to be censored, which is most often done by
pixellation, and frequently seen in the country's pornography. The police apparently found out about Kee's gallery showing and plans to sell the books from posts on his Facebook page.
The ongoing police persecution of photographer Leslie Kee and his art book that contained uncensored images of male nudity has led to two arrests at the
Tokyo printing company that printed the books. The Tokyo Metropolitan Police revealed that they took Hakkou Art's president Koichi Kodama, along with his son Takeshi, a sales department chief, into custody for printing 4,000 copies of Kee's Super series,
where each book had roughly 50 pages of uncensored photos that supposedly violate Japan's repressive laws against nudity.
Hakkou Art is said to have received 17 million yen ($183,000) since December 2011 for printing 20,000 copies of the books.
Both Kodama and his son have admitted to the charges, with Takeshi stating that they didn't want to publish photographs with nudity, however since Kee is such a big name, he couldn't refuse, also believing it would be beneficial for the company's future.
Kee's arrest sparked protest from Japan's fashion industry and internet users alike, with many calling the charges unnecessary and unjust.
Update: Shop staff arrested in continuing police persecution
Tokyo's metropolitan police announced that it arrested staff of a gay store in the Shinjuku district for selling a book by photographer Leslie Kee that included images of full male nudity, which they ludicrously claimed to be obscene .
Policemen took into custody the 61-year-old manager of Lumiere, a shop located in Tokyo's gay quarter that sells DVDs and magazines, and one other employee.
The manager of Lumiere told officers that the editor of Japan's gay magazine Badi said that selling Kee's books is not illegal as they are considered artistic.
Article 175 of Japan's Penal Code prohibits the distribution, sale, or public
display of obscene writings, pictures, or other materials. The law, however, does not define what specifically constitutes as being obscene, which as a result, the definition of obscenity is open to interpretation.
For over half a century, the comic book industry has been dogged by the work of one man, the anti-comics crusader and psychologist Fredric Wertham. His bestselling 1954 book The Seduction of the Innocent convinced parents and politicians alike that
comics were a direct cause of violence, drug use, and homosexuality among young people. It led to the restrictive editorial code issued by the Comics Magazine Association of America, and a national movement to keep comics away from children and teens.
Though Wertham claimed his evidence came from thousands of case studies, it turns out that he was lying. A new investigation of Wertham's papers by University of Illinois information studies professor Carol Tilley has revealed
that the psychologist fabricated, exaggerated, and selectively edited his data to bolster his argument that comics caused antisocial behavior.
Irvine Welsh has told of his delight after a ban on the sale of his book Porno in Turkey was overturned.
The follow-up to his best-selling hit Trainspotting was banned a decade ago because of its supposedly obscene content.
Turkish company Studio Image Publishers was taken to court along with the book's translator in 2002 and charged under obscenity laws with publishing pornographic material . They were found guilty and fined more than
£ 1 million, but appealed against the verdict.
However, the ban has now been lifted following a lengthy legal battle and the book is back on the shelves.
Book covers can have a Proustian effect, taking you back to the moment when you first opened the covers, or triumphantly turned the final page. Yes, it's what's inside that counts, but how much nice when the inner delights are matched by a
sympathetic showing on the outside?
No wonder there have been so many howls of outrage over two books in the last fortnight. First was the 50th anniversary edition of Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar , all powder compact and
perfect pout. Attractive, true, but it said nothing about the despair within. Then there's a new copy of Anne of Green Gables that has a dust jacket that's all wrong. A busty blonde teenager is plonked on the front, looking absolutely nothing like
how the flame-haired, freckle-faced heroine is described within.
Just the title of Lawrence Wright's Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood and the Prison of Belief tells you more than many books on the subject. Going Clear is a veritable book of revelations on L Ron Hubbard's sci-fi religion, exhaustively
detailing its history, its methods and the depth of its weirdness.
Or so we're told. While Going Clear goes on sale in the US and the rest of Europe this week, you can't buy it in Britain. Not because it threatens national security, or features
royal breasts, but because of our uniquely obliging libel laws.
Unlike in other countries, under English and Welsh law the burden of proof in defamation cases rests exclusively on the defendant, which means that if someone sues you, it's up to you
to prove that it's true. If that someone is, say, a pharmaceutical company, or a church that believes in space people, then you're in for a long, expensive time in court, even if you win (legal costs here are up to 140 times higher than international
norms). Hence Transworld's decision not to publish. The legal advice was that Going Clear's content was not robust enough for the UK market, they say.
Burma's new reformist government has backtracked on the freeing up the press and banned a magazine covering fashion.
The Information Ministry claimed on its website that the monthly magazine Nhyot deviated from its charter as a fashion magazine by
publishing sexually arousing photos and articles.
The December issue of the magazine carried several pictures of scantily clad Burmese women in provocative poses and articles that the editor said constituted sex education. The content appears tame
by the standards of similar publications in the West or in neighboring Thailand, but Burma's authorities have a string legacy of censorial attitudes.
Nhyot editor Ko Oo Swe told The Associated Press that whether the photos were sexually arousing
depended on the eyes of the beholder. He said other magazines have also published material that differs from their charter but have not been shut down.
Update: Another 6 publications put on the naughty step
Perhaps hiding behind the news that a
fashion magazine has been banned for being too sexy lurks news of continuing Burmese press censorship.
A further six publications: Media One, The Farmer, Ad World, Myanandar, High Speed Car, New Blood and Aesthetics, were told they would be
monitored for one month after publishing supposedly irrelevant content.
An interim press council, led by retired Supreme Court Judge Khin Maung Aye, was formed the following month with a mandate to promote media freedom. Press council
member, Zaw Thet Htway, told DVB he is hopeful that Burma's repressive media laws will gradually be abolished:
The draft [media law] will be presented to the media later this month -- after their feedback and legal
experts' opinion, a final, strong law will be presented to the parliament. We are optimistic that once the parliament approves the new law, all other oppressive media laws will gradually fade away.
The Publishers Union of Turkey has protested against a request by a national education ministry commission in Izmir province to censor John Steinbeck's masterpiece Of mice and man. The union said in a statement:
We are finding it hard to understand that actually ministry officials formed a commission to investigate the book for moral standards and then propose censorship on it. This is another embarrassing example of the censure mentality in
Turkey. And hopefully it will be the last one.
Steinbeck's masterpiece is actually listed among the 100 basic readings by the education ministry. It is also one of the most read novels in Turkey at all times.
The union urged the education minister Omer Dincer to implement of laws to prevent such absurd commissions, saying that such censure practices violated the freedom of expression.
Sel Publishing House, handling the Turkish translation, reiterated the union's protes complaining that universally acclaimed masterpieces could just be prosecuted in Turkey for subjective moral reasons. Sel said in a statement:
The commission already identified the passage needing censorship on a page by page and publisher house to publisher house manner. The identified passages have been submitted to ministry's support service unit.