Tweaking movies for China

Hollywood talks a lot about artistic freedom, but the prospect of reaching the vast market that is China trumps concerns like that.  To get past the still-Communist censors, movie-makers make all kinds of changes. [Read more...]

Banning Dante

One of the greatest works of literature ever written, Dante’s Divine Comedy, is attracting the attention of censors:

The classic work should be removed from school curricula, according to Gherush 92, a human rights organisation which acts as a consultant to UN bodies on racism and discrimination.

Dante’s epic is “offensive and discriminatory” and has no place in a modern classroom, said Valentina Sereni, the group’s president. . . .

It represents Islam as a heresy and Mohammed as a schismatic and refers to Jews as greedy, scheming moneylenders and traitors, Miss Sereni told the Adnkronos news agency.

“The Prophet Mohammed was subjected to a horrific punishment – his body was split from end to end so that his entrails dangled out, an image that offends Islamic culture,” she said.

Homosexuals are damned by the work as being “against nature” and condemned to an eternal rain of fire in Hell.

“We do not advocate censorship or the burning of books, but we would like it acknowledged, clearly and unambiguously, that in the Divine Comedy there is racist, Islamophobic and anti-Semitic content. Art cannot be above criticism,” Miss Sereni said.

Schoolchildren and university students who studied the work lacked “the filters” to appreciate its historical context and were being fed a poisonous diet of anti-Semitism and racism, the group said.

It called for the Divine Comedy to be removed from schools and universities or at least have its more offensive sections fully explained.

via Dante’s Divine Comedy ‘offensive and should be banned’ – Telegraph.

Dante has already disappeared from a number of college courses for these very reasons.  It’s odd that conservatives are often accused of censorship–for objecting to pornography and the like–but the ones who want to censor actual ideas and great works of literature are more often from the Left.  (See Gherush 92′s website.)  And, as Milton pointed out, the book that is most censored of them all–even today–is the Bible.

HT:  Shane Ayer

The internet strike may have worked

The Wikipedia blackout and other protests on the internet to the SOPA bill may have done some good.   Congressmen, including former sponsors in the House and the Senate, are now running away from the bill.  President Obama has also come out against the bill as it stands, provoking Hollywood moguls to threaten to withdraw their financial support of his campaign.

 

‘Huck Finn’ without the N-word

A new edition of Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn will leave out all of the N-words, which have caused some people to charge the novel with racism, even though the point of the book is to combat racism.  From a CNN report:

What is a word worth? According to Publishers Weekly, NewSouth Books’ upcoming edition of Mark Twain’s seminal novel “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” will remove all instances of the N-word — I’ll give you a hint, it’s not nonesuch — present in the text and replace it with slave.

The new book will also remove usage of the word Injun. The effort is spearheaded by Twain expert Alan Gribben, who says his PC-ified version is not an attempt to neuter the classic but rather to update it.

“Race matters in these books,” Gribben told PW. “It’s a matter of how you express that in the 21st century.”

Unsurprisingly, there are already those who are yelling “Censorship!” as well as others with thesauruses yelling “Bowdlerization!” and “Comstockery!”

Their position is understandable: Twain’s book has been one of the most often misunderstood novels of all time, continuously being accused of perpetuating the prejudiced attitudes it is criticizing, and it’s a little disheartening to see a cave-in to those who would ban a book simply because it requires context.

On the other hand, if this puts the book into the hands of kids who would not otherwise be allowed to read it due to forces beyond their control (overprotective parents and the school boards they frighten), then maybe we shouldn’t be so quick to judge.

via New edition of ‘Huckleberry Finn’ to lose the N-word – CNN.com.

So I wonder if those who support this bowdlerization would also support cutting out the profanity and the sex scenes from the modern novels taught in schools.  At any rate, what do you think about this?  Should a work of literary art be altered away from the author’s own words and intentions, if that work could thus be made palatable to more readers?

Google stops censoring itself for China

Google may have stopped being evil, deciding to stop kow-towing to  still-Communist China’s demands that it block searches on forbidden topics, such as “Tiananminh Square” and “Tibet.”  Why?  Google is responding to what appears to be a Chinese attempt to hack into its operations and steal its technology:

Google Inc., following through on a pledge to stop censoring search results in China, began serving mainland Chinese users via its unfiltered Hong Kong site, a move that could prompt the government to block the service.

The company began redirecting traffic from its Google.cn site to Hong Kong, a part of the country that isn’t subject to censorship laws. The move, which escalates a two- month dispute with the government over censorship, was “totally wrong,” the official Xinhua news agency said.

By relying on Hong Kong, Google is trying to find a way to fight censorship laws while still keeping a presence in mainland China. The approach may not work for long because the government will probably block the site, called Google.com.hk, just as it has before with the main Google.com page, said Ben Schachter, an analyst at Broadpoint AmTech Inc. in San Francisco.

“It’s very likely that Google.com.hk will be blocked at least as aggressively as Google.com was and, more likely, probably more aggressively,” he said.

The company challenged the government of the world’s most populous country in January by threatening to allow all search results to be shown on its China Web site, including references to Tibet and the Tiananmen Square crackdown. Google has about 600 employees in the country. Google.cn included the search engine, Google News and Google Images.

“The Chinese government has been crystal clear throughout our discussions that self-censorship is a non-negotiable legal requirement,” Google said in a blog post. “We believe this new approach of providing uncensored search in simplified Chinese from Google.com.hk is a sensible solution to the challenges we’ve faced — it’s entirely legal and will meaningfully increase access to information for people in China.”

Google fell $2.50 to $557.50 in Nasdaq Stock Market trading. The shares have declined 10 percent this year. . . .

Google, the world’s top search engine, threatened to stop censoring content after reporting that its computers had been hacked from within China. The company said its systems were targeted by “highly sophisticated” attacks aimed at obtaining proprietary information, as well as personal data belonging to human-rights activists who use the company’s Gmail e-mail service.

The Chinese government denied that it was involved in the attacks, Xinhua reported.

At least 20 other international companies in technology, finance and chemicals were similarly targeted, Google said at the time.

“We also made clear that these attacks and the surveillance they uncovered — combined with attempts over the last year to further limit free speech on the Web in China including the persistent blocking of Web sites such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google Docs and Blogger — had led us to conclude that we could no longer continue censoring our results on google.cn,” Google said on the blog.

via Google Stops Censorship, Making Block by China Likely (Update1) – BusinessWeek.


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