Friday, January 11, 2008

Censorship and servility 1

Three Percent, Conversational Reading, Bookninja and The Literary Saloon. All these top literary blogs have recently linked to reports of literary censorship in Iran. I'm sure many more have too. Of course, it demonstrates the concern literary bloggers have for the necessity of freedom of speech for a thriving literary culture. And no doubt the flurry was prompted by The Observer's report. But why Iran? You won't struggle to find stories of censorship and worse in another Islamic country over which we have a greater responsibility and influence, but it has nothing like the same media profile. Again, why?

Medialens' latest alert following the exemplary career of journalist David Aaronovitch helps to answer. It reveals in painful detail the drip-drip impact of mainstream journalism on the consensus. Prior to major acts of aggression, Aaronovitch has been there to raise concerns about what is happening in Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq. It's done wonders for his career. Since then, along with Nick Cohen, he's attacked, among others, Hugo Chávez of Venezuela. He's now concerned about what is happening in Iran. While I'm sure not one literary blogger I've mentioned backs the threats of violence made by the US administration, the willingness to promote this story uncritically has unwelcome consequences. It has already become a discussion point: "Should we bomb Iran?" etc. And if the answer is yes, no doubt those who find the moderate course in whatever society they belong will be able to mitigate their anxiety with the hope that Iranians will be free at last to read The Da Vinci Code.

1 comment:

  1. Exactly why I didn't link the Observer report.. though I was not only tempted...I began to write... and then thought: qui bono...



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