Thursday, September 22, 2011

Topic: "Censorship In Literature; should it be imposed upon us, or self imposed?" My guest, Author Dan Holloway.

Please join in the discussion with my guest, Author Dan Holloway

Banned Books

Banned Books Week is a fabulous movement (this year, coinciding with this series, it runs 24 September – 1 October) and website ( that, among other things, contains a truly scary map ( of schools and libraries that have withdrawn books in response to protest.

The thing is though. Um, what is the thing? Well, the thing is this, to be frank. Most times I see censorship discussed by writers I see a whole hoopla of hypocrisy. Censorship is bad. It’s Satan’s spawn… “but of course…” after which there’s the whole thing about responsibility and self-censorship and duties and how sex should never be censored “only I’m of course not including xyz.”

And I genuinely think a lot of people don’t see the hypocrisy, and think that they really are being open-minded. But this is way scarier than overt censorship. Most explicit censorship decides on a line it wants to draw, draws it, and enforces it. “But of course” censorship genuinely thinks it’s not drawing meaningful lines because the lines it draws are “obvious”. Am I the only one who thinks stating that something is “obvious” is *way* more dangerous than whatever that something may be?

The fact is the most fucked-up paraphilia is only “obvious”ly beyond the pale to those who consider it fucked-up and paraphiliac.

I’m not calling for an end to censorship. I *do* think we are most likely to win people over to the same revulsion at what we revile if we expose those things to scrutiny – if we really revile them, why be afraid? Is it that we don’t trust our fellow humans? Or do we not trust our own judgement? And if we say something is beyond scrutiny surely the message that sends is that it’s not up to scrutiny?

But that’s by the by. Like I say, I’m not calling for an end to censorship. I’ve yet to meet someone who called for an end to censorship who actually had a coherent position. What I’m calling for is an end to hypocrisy. There are things that truly repel me. Racism and homophobia, stereotyping of mental illness. Some of them I’d happily remove from the shelves. But on the grounds that what they depict is wrong? Well, no. On the grounds that they repel me. That I hate them. That *is* the reason.

What I’m saying is simple. Write about something I find repugnant, shame on you. Pretend I find it repugnant because it’s “wrong”, shame on me. So come on. Let’s quit pretending there’s a moral high ground, and acknowledge the central, perfectly natural, and actually essential place of hate.

Take a look at what Dan has on his agenda for October.

October 18th 7pm, Blackwell’s
for one night only, introducing you to the finest poetry, prose and punk commentary in Oxford. Bringing you:
Lucy Ayrton, Hammer and Tongue finalist
Joe A Briggs, Oxford’s voice of punk
Anna Hobson, Oxford International Women’s Festival and Oxford Pride poetry MC (author of Tales of Unrequited Love)
Dan Holloway, Literary Death Match Champion (author of (life:) razorblades included)
Clarissa Pabi, 2010-11 president of the Oxford University Poetry Society
with special guests
Neil Anderson, Oxford Arts Group
and introducing the winner of the 2010 Tower Poetry Prize
Emily Harrison (author of Typewriter on the Bed)
with music from Grey Children
tickets £2 from Blackwell’s shop, customer service (01865 333623) or on the door

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