Things might be bad in the USA but they are terrible and frightening in the UK. Here at the NER is an article by Mary about FIRE which is most apposite. Obviously, I am not going to name names for that would compromise my personal security, but my alma mater has recently banned from its libraries two recently published books on plant (as in green growing things) genetics for fear that the contents of those books would offend "those of different beliefs". One was by George Acquaah (Principles of plant genetics and breeding) and the other was by Messrs. Doran & Helliwell (RNA Interference: Methods for plants and animals [Principles and Protocols Series]) All three of those authors are perfectly reputable scientists and the books are perfectly reputable scientific tomes.
Naturally, I have read the books in question and I completely fail to see how anyone with slightest intelligence could take offence at the contents - to the grammar, spelling, style and use of English, of course, any half-way literate person could take offence, but these are books by scientists for scientists (or the scientifically knowledgeable public) and should not be judged in the same way that we judge literature.
As you would expect of me I joined the protest about the banning of those volumes and joined those who demanded answers from the administration of my University. It turns out that the first book, the one by George Acquaah, was banned from the libraries because it had the word 'breeding' in the title which is, so we were informed, a racist and 'classist' term which "has no place in a modern University". The other was banned from the college and departmental libraries simply because it had the initials RNA in the title and they, seemingly, stand for the Royal Naval Association which is an organisation “that glorifies militarism and colonialism” (completely untrue, by the way, see here
) and talks about ‘protocols’ and “that is an anti-semitic word” (I presume that these ignoramuses were thinking of that notorious forgery and fake, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion
, which has bedevilled any serious study of Jew-hatred in Europe for more years than I care to remember, when they invented this excuse).
Obviously, we are pleased to see that the ‘censorship’ (so to speak) department of our ancient University is vigilant in its policing of potentially anti-semitic texts (although such limitations on free-speech are dangerous in themselves), but that they are so illiterate and so stupid so as not to recognise a perfectly reasonable use of English words in the titles of these two works just beggars belief. It seems to me, and to many other quite reasonable English men and women, that these are people who go out of their way in order to find offence in the slightest, and most innocent, of things!
However, what is much more worrying for me is the idea that books can be ‘banned’, can be excluded from libraries simply because some petty official deems the contents of such books to be offensive to someone or insulting to some idea or belief. This is doubly worrying when it happens, as it did and does, at one of England’s oldest and most prestigious Universities. What is this place I find myself living in? Nazi Britain? Communist Britain? Sharia Britain? Look, no thought is unthinkable and no thought should be allowed to go unexpressed once that thought, no matter how vile it might be for its opponents, has been thought of, for that is democracy and free speech and no man has a right to tell me, or anyone else, how I, or they, must think and believe. Most especially, no man, no corporate body or out of control department of a University, has a right to tell me that there are certain documents which I may not read by using some sort of morality as justification for so doing. I am my own moral guardian! I neither need nor require others to protect my morality or to guide my moral sense into some sort of ‘right’ path as perceived by those others, those spurious guardians of freedom, who, in reality, are nothing more than politically correct, sub-standard moralists who, in their careers, have left many a village short of an idiot.
It seems to me that we are beginning to accept, in Britain, the disgusting Islamic argument that there are some things that we must not question or criticise, some things that are, a priori, beyond human ken or wit and that simply must be accepted and revered as (unexamined) fact. So, let me state, once and for all, my view – there is no aspect of being human on this planet which is not open to question and challenge. No matter what you state, or say, I will challenge it and demand objective proof. I demand, violently if necessary, but, and for many reasons, I do hope that violence will not be necessary, freedom of speech and thought in every aspect and respect.
Every time that the idiots try to ban a book – well, buy it! Stuff them! It seems to me that if they don’t want you to read it then it is precisely and exactly what you ought to be reading. Freedom, and let’s say that word again, freedom, is absolute and indivisible, no matter how much you might disagree with the outcomes. I have a right to publish and to read whatever I see fit to do so – Islam is wrong and evil because it denies that freedom and asserts that there are limitations on the analysis of being – that some things must not be thought about lest they disprove Islam! Well, most philosophy disproves Islam, of course, but Islam is alone amongst mankind’s beliefs in recognising the weakness of its philosophical position and strenuously denying the human right, and ability, to question. Hmmmn! Surely that gives the game away?
When any belief structure – Islam, Voodoo, Fundamentalist Christianity or whatever – says that questioning the structure and nature of that belief is forbidden if you want to be considered a ‘true’ and ‘saved’ believer then the very first thing that you should do is question the structure and nature of the belief system that is attempting to tempt you in. Never believe what you are told – and, certainly, don’t believe what I tell you!