Covering Up Our Culture to 'Avoid Giving Offense'


Salman Rushdie is still with us, but the murder in 2004 of Theo van Gogh for producing and directing a film, "Submission", about Islamic violence toward women; the death of so many Arab-Islamic intellectuals guilty of writing freely, the Danish cartoon riots and the many trials (for instance, here and here) and attempted murders (such as here and here), the slaughter at the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, the attacks after Pope's Benedict speech in Regensburg, the books and scripts cancelled, the depictions of Muhammad closeted in the warehouses of museums, and the increasing threats and punishments, including flogging, to countless journalists and writers such as Saudi Arabia's Raif Badawi, should alarm us -- not bring us to our knees.

"What we are talking about here is not a system of formal censorship, under which the state bans works deemed offensive. Rather, what has developed is a culture of self-censorship in which the giving of offence has come to be seen as morally unacceptable. In the 20 years since the publication of The Satanic Verses the fatwa has effectively become internalised".

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