|Oddly enough the first
item is about a cartoon that offended the
The Bush Administration
has had a bad history of trying to silence those it disagrees with and
there are some cases there that are truly troubling. Sami Fadali
Actually, double standard runs much deeper than
a "censorship" issue. It permeates the essence of many "principles"
encompassing fields of law, government, ethics, and above all, a misguided
that is shoved down our throats.
Freedom of speech is only an excuse to bully others
in complying with one's rules. These are applied selectively, if they are
favorable in advancing the enforcer's hegemony. They are also conveniently
overlooked when they are not.
It is perfectly okay to defame your opponent's
culture and religion. God forbid if by any chance the tables were reversed.
It becomes then, an outrageous affront and a blemish to be promptly censored
I often thought of the many times our culture has
had to endure insults and swallow endless humiliation in the name of modernism
and norms of so-called civilized behavior.
Ironically, this behavior has had an unwelcome
outcome. Take a stroll in Garden city on the Korniysh toward
Qasr al`Ayni/ Al-Maniyal. There lies the prestigious Italian
culture center dubbed Dante Alighieri. In Dante's "Divine
Comedy", Dante was not kind (to put it mildly) to our Prophet
(SAws). He actually piled upon him insult after insult. So
when Italy, in the name of promoting culture understanding, created
an institute named after the very same person who offended us, we just
looked the other way and swallowed our pride, less we would be labeled
Can you imagine the reaction of the Israelis if
a German culture institute were to be built in Tel Aviv named after
Wagner" (1813-1883) who is often viewed by them as proto-fascist ,
ultra nationalist, and an anti-Semite...
The result was that we forgot that reciprocity
in culture sensitivity is the cornerstone to any fruitful dialogue between
different cultures. But we let others dictate what is proper and what is
not, and this only led to more disrespect upon our culture.
Unfortunately, efforts to bridge the great divide
are now failing miserably. The chasm has grown to the size of "a
respectable geological fault", and therefore one should not be surprised
about the recent seismic upheavals. They are a natural build up of compressed
steam which has been simmering for decades.
Incidentally, outlined below are two forms of censorship
guaranteed to make you wonder about the very essence of censorship
in America. One is "Comstockery" and the other
The Comstock Law
as its full title implies, the Comstock Law was meant to stop trade
in "obscene literature" and "immoral articles." Passed
in the United States in 1873, was part of a campaign for legislating
public morality in the United States. Named after Anthony
Comstock (1844-1915), founder of New York Society for the Suppression
of Vice (1873) and self-appointed crusader against immorality. Coined
by George Bernard Shaw after Comstock objected to "Mrs.
The Comstock Law was
widely used to prosecute those who distributed information against the
Church and its teaching especially in sexual issues such as birth control
devices and abortion etc.
One of the first casualties
of this law was " the Arabian Nights" which were all banned
for decades from the U.S. mails under the Comstock Law of 1873.
Officially known as the Federal Anti-Obscenity Act, this law banned the
mailing of "lewd", "indecent", "filthy", or "obscene"
The Comstock laws,
while now unenforced, remain for the most part on the books today; the
Telecommunications Reform Bill of 1996 even specifically applied
some of them to computer networks.
Merchant of Venice was banned from classrooms in Midland, Michigan in 1980,
due to its portrayal of the Jewish character Shylock. It has been similarly
banned in the 1930s in schools in Buffalo and Manchester, NY. Shakespeare's
plays have also often been "cleansed" of crude words and phrases.
Thomas Bowdler's efforts in his 1818 "Family Shakespeare" gave rise
to the word "bowdlerize" .
* (1) "Comstockery"
is the world's standing joke at the expense of the United States"
[Shaw, "New York Times," Sept. 26, 1905].
* 2) "Bowdlerize".
From Thomas Bowdler (1754-1825), English editor who in 1818
published a notorious expurgated Shakespeare, "in which those words
and expressions are omitted which cannot with propriety be read aloud in
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