About a year ago I did a post on Verso’s refusal to publish Does God Hate Women? by Ophelia Benson and Jeremy Stangroom, a book about various religions’ attitude towards women. Verso (mission statement:- “Books with a critical edge” ) brought Jeremy Stangroom in for a discussion. They had no problems about any of the religions mentioned and their attitudes towards women except for Islam. The reason? Well, Verso has a soft spot for Islam, which, they think, is a buttress against American imperialism. All part of the creepy regard some sections of the left have towards theocracy. Let’s hope that the recent revelations about how theocracy works against the most helpless in society – Ireland in this instance – might get them to reconsider this peculiar stance.
The church and the state in cahoots
The children lie under their boots.
For entertainment the comments thread under that post is worth reading. People are desperate to prove that Ophelia Benson is a liar rather than that a famous left-wing publisher should be such a craven clerical arse-licker.
Ophelia Benson and Jeremy Stangroom found another publisher, Continuum. Now a week before publication date Continuum are getting cold feet. Read it over here:-
About this non-ecumenical book that Jeremy and I wrote, that is due out at the end of this week. Yes, what about it, you’re thinking, all agog. For reasons which I will explain another day, the publisher became nervous about it last Friday. The publisher phoned us on Friday, and talked of changes, or delays, or would we like to drop a chapters. We would not like to drop a chapter, and if we had liked to drop a chapter, the time to discuss that would have been several months ago, not now, a week before the book is supposed to appear. The publisher sent the can-we-drop-it chapter to an ecumenicist to get his opinion.
The publisher sent the chapter to an ecumenicist to get his opinion.
The ecumenicist will not like it. The ecumenicist will hate it. The ecumenicist specializes in Muslim-Christian relations. This book is not about Muslim-Christian relations, and it did not set out to improve Muslim-Christian relations, and it was not shaped in such a way as to improve Muslim-Christian relations. That means the ecumenicist is the wrong kind of person to be vetting our chapter.
It look like the publisher is doing what Random House did about the Jewel of Medina. They send the manuscript to someone to vet in case of offence to Islam, which they would not care much about except that they fear that some of the offended will turn violent. What Kenan Malik calls the “internalisation of censorship” comes into action.
Inayat Bungawala has said that when he was a lad in Bradford protesting about Rushdie’s Satanic Verses he thought that books should be read by a board of clerics before they were published. He has since recanted from that opinion. Nowadays publishers don’t send the books to clerics but to people who can do some second guessing about offensiveness and the effects on community cohesion etc, and more crudely, whether they could suffer the same kind of violence that murdered translators and distributors of The Satanic Verses and firebombed the publisher of The Jewel of Medina.
So books critical towards Islam will not be published. Censorship by governments (Lady Chatterley, for instance) has been faced down in courts in this country. We have censorship by our appalling libel laws. We also have censorship by freelance censors with petrol bombs in their pockets. The angry mini-cab driver becomes the publisher’s reader.
This will hid hardest not writers like Ophelia Benson and Jeremy Stangroom, who view Islam from the outside, but those who write from within – the liberalisers, the reformers, the feminists, the novelists, the historians. They will write and no-one will dare to publish them.
If you want to put some put pressure on Continuum to publish and damn all the offended, you could pre-order the book from Amazon.