Sunday, 29 May 2011

Writing Freedom

The writers' organisation PEN are fighting for the freedom to write. I went to an event in the Brighton Festival where a bunch of writers told the history of the right to express yourself in writing, and what consequences it might have.

An example that was brought up was Salman Rushdie's Satanic Verses. This novel has caused great debate, and Rushdie had to be put under police protection as Muslim leaders wanted him killed. In places the book was banned and burned. A translator was stabbed to death because of it, and several other attacks on people related to the novel have taken place.

I find it fascinating that something that someone writes can cause so much trouble. I've always believed that everybody should have the right to express themselves and their opinions, but after listening to the stories told in the talk I realise that things are more complicated ...

What if someone writes something that is racist? I've read novels that I've found very disturbing, and I've felt angry at the publisher for publishing such shit, but I still find it more dangerous to ban books. It's not like the thoughts of the writer don't exist just because they are not in print. And if something provokes you you have the choice of stop reading and start writing yourself.

However I don't think that I would be able to sleep tight if someone had been killed because of something I'd written ... The only thing that happened when my novel, "Punk industrial hard rocker with attitude" was published in Sweden was that I had to take some verbal abuse from my grandma for writing such filthy stuff ...

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