Censorship via Correctness

More than two hundred writers, including Salman Rushdie, Zadie Smith, Monica Ali, and Hanif Kureishi have signed a letter addressed to the Home Office in Britain, asking Secretary Charles Clarke for a meeting. The letter originated from the English PEN Center and was aimed at preventing a dangerous slip into censorship.

Their concerns have been fuelled by the recent demonstrations over the play Bezhti, by a Sikh writer, which was cancelled at a Birmingham theatre after a riot by Sikh protesters. And by the demonstrations prompted by the showing of Jerry Springer the Opera on BBC2 at the weekend. Christian groups attacked the show as “blasphemous” and it drew around 50,000 complaints.

In the letter to Mr Clarke, the writers said that the legislation would “make it illegal to express what some might consider to be provocative views on religion”. It could, they say, serve as a “sanction for censorship of a kind which would constrain writers and impoverish cultural life”.

You can read more about English PEN’s efforts here.