jump to navigation

Ulysses and Mo February 4, 2014

Posted by Ezra Resnick in Freedom.
trackback

In 1921, the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice issued obscenity allegations against Margaret Caroline Anderson and Jane Heap, editors of a literary magazine that had been serializing James Joyce’s Ulysses.

During the trial, the assistant district attorney announced that he would read the offending passage aloud to the court, a proposition to which one judge objected. The judge believed such indecent material “should not be read in the presence of a young woman such as Anderson”… When it was pointed out to the judge that Anderson was the publisher, he declared that he was sure “she didn’t know the significance of what she was publishing”.

NewYorkSocietyForTheSuppressionOfViceThe passage was eventually read in court; but the editors were ultimately found guilty, and the publication of Ulysses was banned in the United States for the next twelve years.

The law may have changed, but there are still those who seek to force their narrow-minded sensibilities on everyone else — and those who would preemptively censor any potential source of “offense”.

[British] Muslim politician Maajid Nawaz tweeted a picture of a t-shirt with a crudely-drawn cartoon entitled ‘Jesus and Mo’ which he describes as an “innocuous” and inoffensive.

However the image has caused fury among some members of the Islamic community who believe images of the prophet Muhammed are forbidden.

More than 7,000 people have now signed a petition calling for the Liberal Democrats to suspend Mr Nawaz. Some have even suggested a fatwa should be placed on him while others have threatened they would be “glad to cut your neck off”.

This is what Nawaz posted:

maajidtweetViewers learning about the story from Channel 4 News, however, would not have seen that image; they were shown this instead:

channel4censorship

In response to complaints, Channel 4 News defended its decision:

As we are sure you can appreciate, this is a very sensitive subject for many viewers. Channel 4 News editorial staff gave great consideration to the issues involved and believe that they reached a fair and balanced judgement, weighing up the potential for offence to some viewers by showing the depiction of the Prophet Mohammed and the necessity of showing the cartoon in full.

The senior editorial team decided that the showing of the entire illustration, whilst likely to cause offence, was not integral to the story, and therefore took the decision to pixelate. Whilst we acknowledge your views, we believe that on balance this was the correct decision and as a rule, where we consider the likelihood of significant offence to our audience, we will attempt to mitigate against that. As to not pixelating the image of Jesus, it was not felt that the same level of offence was likely to be provoked as the image is commonly depicted in cartoon form.

You know what else some people are offended by? The sight of a woman’s uncovered hair. Or uncovered face. Will Channel 4 News also be blacking out all female faces on its programs?

And can you believe they claimed that showing the relevant cartoon in a segment entitled ‘Cartoon controversy’ was “not integral to the story”!?

Journalists should be the first to defend freedom of expression against its enemies. When we censor ourselves so as not to offend the bullies, the bullies win; and we are all less free. In their cowardly attempt to not choose a side, Channel 4 News placed themselves squarely on the wrong one. Respecting unreasonable demands doesn’t make you “fair and balanced” — it makes you part of the problem.

(via Butterflies & Wheels)

Advertisements

Comments»

No comments yet — be the first.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s