April 27, 2015

Who knew that writers would kill free speech?

Brian LilleyRebel Blogger

Well that didn't last long did it?

Forget Je Suis Charlie, today's best writers are more likely to say Je Suis Musselman.

We learn via the State Broadcaster (AKA the CBC) that celebrated CBC hero Michael Ondaatje is one of several writers boycotting the PEN America gala in Manhattan because the group, dedicated to free speech, is daring to honour Charlie Hebdo.

PEN announced Sunday that the writers were upset by Charlie Hebdo's portrayals of Muslims and "the disenfranchised generally." The Paris-based magazine, where 12 people were killed in a January attack at its offices, is to receive a Freedom of Expression Courage Award at the May 5 event in Manhattan. Much of the literary community rallied behind Charlie Hebdo after the shootings, but some have expressed unhappiness with its scathing cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad and other Muslims.

A couple of points here.

1. Why does the story, which is actually copy from Associated Press, use the term, "the Prophet Muhammad?"

I don't think AP is in the habit of writing, "the Lord Jesus Christ." Maybe I'm wrong but I doubt it.

2. Aren't writers supposed to be about free speech?

You don't have to agree with what Charlie Hebdo wrote in order to support their right to free speech or them receiving the award.

There's lots to be uncomfortable with when it comes to Charlie Hebdo's depictions of all kinds of people, it is a satirical magazine that pushes the envelope constantly. But I'm more concerned with the reaction of the terrorists that burst through the doors and shot editors, writers and cartoonists for daring the say something they didn't like about their religion.

Just another case of our elites having more concern for terrorists and their sympathies than with the fundamental rights and freedoms that built western civilization.

In addition to Ondaatje other writers boycotting the event include Francine Prose, Teju Cole, Rachel Kushner, Taiye Selasi and Peter Carey.

Your reaction to those names is likely the correct one: Who are they?


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commented 2015-04-30 16:07:22 -0400
The argument that regardless of their intensions the Charlie Hebdo magazine can be used to promote hatred just doesn’t wash. If an individual or group isn’t sophisticated or educated enough to understand satire, the fault is not the magazine’s. There is a similarity between the lunatic Sunni who wishes to kill all infidels and the evangelical Christian who believes the earth is six thousand years old and dinosaurs walked with man. They are both uneducated and lack a good amount of sophistication. But, the similarities end there. An evangelical Christian whom I may view as an unconscious comedian, may be neurotic in his or her view of their religion. But, the radical Muslim is dangerous. Killing someone over religion which is most assuredly murder is a psychosis which today only belongs to those who follow Islam.
commented 2015-04-29 21:32:34 -0400
Sad but true Denyse.
commented 2015-04-28 21:43:47 -0400
Any progressive is only kidding himself when he says he supports free speech. No progressive supports free speech. And being a writer doesn’t matter. The progressive writes propaganda because he THINKS propaganda. Charlie Hebdo staff were writing the wrong propaganda. They should have been attacking nuns, or something. So, whle their deaths were regrettable, correct writers can learn from their fate:Write correct progressive propaganda.
commented 2015-04-28 18:07:42 -0400
It is interesting to read in the comments that many do not recognize the names of the protesting authors. Perhaps one way to become known to a newer audience would be to protest as they have done—too cynical a thought, do you suppose? Recall that in the film The English Patient, the scene in which great anger is expressed because the “first atomic bomb” was dropped on Asians! (I don’t remember that as a scene in the book.) It is difficult to speak in any sort of favourable terms of writers who dismiss the deaths at Charlie Hebdo. Of course, they have the right to their opinions, but are they placing themselves on the side of the murderers for self-protection (question mark—for some reason my keyboard won`t allow me to type the mark!)
commented 2015-04-28 10:05:29 -0400
Time for me to pick up some Salman Rushdie… any Muslim who writes a book that the Muslims decry, and then put a bounty on his head, can’t be all bad…
commented 2015-04-28 06:35:51 -0400
Well, I don’t think it has much to do with these writers having concern for terrorists. It’s nothing but plain old yellowness.
commented 2015-04-28 03:12:56 -0400
An easy theory without bothering to do any fact finding would posit that these “writers” are likely a self absorbed clique of pro Muslim, pro totalitarian Marxists. Probably considered ideal “exotics” by those who throw the “best parties”.
commented 2015-04-27 20:58:39 -0400
Repeating a previous comment:
“The stations of uncensored expression are closing down; the lights are going out; but there is still time for those to whom freedom and parliamentary government mean something, to consult together. Let me, then, speak in truth and earnestness while time remains.”
Winston Churchill, in “The Defence of Freedom and Peace”
October 16, 1938
As for the boycotting writers; Who are they? Who knows? Who cares?
commented 2015-04-27 20:02:27 -0400
Wouldn’t want Allah to think you were dissing him. After all, those bad infidels who were blown away had no respect. Those author’s who ever they are, are duplicitous cowards. Not going to the Freedom of Expression and Courage Awards, to honour Charlie Hebdo, was cowardly. I’ll probably boycott their books.
commented 2015-04-27 16:19:53 -0400
I recall back in the early sixties there was…if I remember correctly..a “Mercury living presence”… set of recordings of great 20th century poetry readings by the original authors. Apparently T.S Eliot was invited to do the “Wasteland” but declined saying that he no longer recognized the piece after the Ezra Pound editing that finally got published.

In the words of Joyce Carey ,if you are a really great English artist the best you can hope for is to have your work in the collection of the Tate Gallery …. stored in the basement and there it will remain until the next time the Thames floods it’s banks.

Much of my younger life I was fascinated by the history of things that were banned and censored throughout history…music..visual art…writing….even apocryphal scripture.

I asked one of my philosophy professors…who had once been a librarian at the Vatican….what did he count as his greatest life achievement…he said he persuaded the Pope to abandon the Index of Prohibited Books.

I do not recognize any of the names listed in this thread….if they are censors history will soon forget them and much longer remember what they wasted their effort trying to censor.
commented 2015-04-27 14:27:24 -0400
Well, I certainly know who Ondaatje is. Absolutely love his book, Anil’s Ghost.

Ondaatje’s latest novel, the Cat’s Table, gives us insight into how some writers get their positions as resident writers at Canadian universities, the deals they make with power brokers in exchange for their work being promoted. The same way Margaret Atwood got ahead.

Silence about crimes observed in exchange for fame, fortune, and excellent ghost editing.

Don’t get me wrong. Ondaatje is a good writer. It’s just that for some really quite irrational reason, we seem to think writers are honest or ethical or politically righteous when, in fact, especially given the compromises and gags they accept on their voices and art in order to get ahead, we should not be at all surprised when they express the views of their long-time patron conspirators.