Oddly enough the first item is about a cartoon that offended the
military!

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 "democracy" 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 and penalized. 

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 uncivilized. 

Can you imagine the reaction of the Israelis if a German culture institute were to be built in Tel Aviv named after "Richard 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  is "Bowdlerize". 
 
 
 

Ishinan 

COMSTOCKERY * (1)

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. Warren's Profession." 

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" materials. 

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.
 

BOWDLERIZE*(2)

Shakespeare's The 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 a family." 
 


Ishinan Copyright © 2006

 


 
 
 
 

 

The Egyptian Chronicles is a cooperative effort by a group of Egyptian authors pooling together their talents for the sake of Egypt's Future.  Articles contained in these pages are the personal views and/or work of the authors, who bear the sole responsibility of the content of their work. This Monthly Electronic Magazine is a non-profit, commercial free zone and is answerable to no one.