Saturday, 6 September 2008

aren't we brave

Muhammad novel set for UK release (BBC News, Thursday, 4 September 2008)

American publishers were too chicken to release this novel, and also a Serbian publisher was forced to pull the title (US Book Stirs Debate in Europe on Self-Censorship and Islam, Deutsche Welle, 19-08-2008). The British were called in to restore freedom of expression. Hurrah!

Well, not so fast. It seems the only thing that scared Random House into scrapping the novel was a review from an 'expert' on Islam who had never even been to the Middle East. Recall:

Prophet Muhammad novel scrapped (BBC News, Saturday, 9 August 2008)

It takes an American reviewer to assume that what is offensive to the Western mind (a 52 year old man having sex with a 9 year old girl) must be offensive to the entire Muslim world. Statements by the author herself (e.g. "Anyone who reads the book will see that it honours the prophet and his favourite wife") do not exclude the possibility the book is meant as glorification of part of the history of Islam. Until the novel is released, we can only guess.

See also the column:

The Wages of Fear kill The Jewel of Medina
(New Europe, 1 September 2008)

The Danish (three cheers for them!) are perhaps the only people in the world at the moment who wouldn't let their freedom of expression be compromised by Islamophobia:

Danish publisher hopes to publish 'inflammatory' Islam novel (Guardian, Tuesday August 26 2008)

Now from pulp literature to something that actually matters: our health. If it weren't for Quackometer, the UK-skeptics, and several other blogs, we would never have known about the latest assault by charlatans on the freedom of speech, in this case chiroquacks, who try to silence author Dr. Simon Singh by suing him for libel over his article 'Beware the spinal trap' in The Guardian on April 19th 2008, in which he exposes chiropractic for the laughable sham it is. Moreover, The Guardian has pulled the article. (But thanks to Svetlana Pertsovich, there is an internet-cached copy.)

That chirofascists go after anyone who dares criticise their fraudulent practices is nothing new. By their own admission (pp. 6-7 of News from General Chiropractic Council, issue 23, March 08), they have in the past bullied several newspapers (The Guardian, The Daily Mail and The Daily Telegraph) into either watering down their critical comments to insignificance or into removing a critical article altogether, replacing it by chiropractic propaganda. They have resorted to similar legal intimidation in Canada and New Zealand.

But what is truly shocking is that news about this censorship is in turn being (self-)censored. That a newspaper is forced to pull an article because of a legal threat should be headline news, but somehow it isn't, not in Britain. It is perhaps not surprising that the Guardian itself hasn't provided any justification for removing the article, as their legal department may have advised against making any further comments. But how many other newspapers have reported this story? The Times? No! The Independent? Nope! BBC News? Only in your dreams would these weasels stick their necks out over a controversial issue! Daily Mail, Daily Express, Mirror, Sun? You must be kidding! I've found only one mention in the 'old media', and that reads as a pro-chiropractic piece, devoid of any critical thinking:

Doctors take Simon Singh to court (Telegraph, 16 Aug 2008)

The British press sucks.

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