Posts Tagged ‘censorship’
From my earlier blog it is now official that Adna Oktar has been responsible for the courts action blocking internet access to richarddawkins.net
“Istanbul’s Sisli 2nd Criminal Court of Peace has banned the site in Turkey on the grounds that Adnan Oktar’s personality was violated by this site. The court reached the decision to ban the site on September 3. A lawsuit is filed for the damages of mental anguish against Richard Dawkins in the amount of 8000 YTL (about 4000 Euro)”.
Irony is that Adnan Oktar is pro EU membership for Turkey. Freedom of speech restrictions and other concerns over human rights are a barrier to that goal. While most EU law emphasises libel, in Turkey the law has a focus on offense. The press officer for Adnan quoted above explained:
“We are not against freedom of speech or expression but you cannot insult people. We found the comments hurtful. It was not a scientific discussion. There was a line and the limit has been passed. We have used all the legal means to stop this site. We asked them to remove the comments but they did not.”
Because if on the site we removed every post that someone else found offensive, then we would not have much of a site for people to discuss science, religion and secularism. I remember being accused of being a communist (which given that I am an Adam Smith fan I found rather amusing). It did not occur to me that laughing it off was not the appropriate option.
Because the mental anguish motive could have been much more profitable. Perhaps enough for a kebab.
In any case, I wonder if the website will be adding countries to the banner of shame? In the meantime thank goodness for proxies!
Quote from New Humanist.
Some people in Turkey found that over the weekend their server did not allow them to access the official Dawkins website. This is one example of attempted censorship restricting people’s access to the web. WordPress itself is restricted in Turkey. However, with a proxy people have been able to get around the prohibitions.
Right now it is unclear whether this was by mandate of court order, or a decision by the server. Speculation is that this post on the front site resulted in the ban or that it is the product of Islamic creationist efforts like those of Harun Yahya who wrote such classics as Darwinism Refuted and Atlas of Creation – which are given to schools free – who tried to have The God Delusion banned. The thread on the forum part of the site discussing the issue is here.
While the usual official banning notice came up, there was no link to the court order and reference number (as would be expected). Into this void we are left with speculation as to why this happened, or whether this was simply an accident or someone jumping the gun.
Richard Dawkins has talked about the freedom that computers and the internet give (see earlier blog here). That freedom will be challenged, under the guise of security, protection of vulnerable citizens or even as a promotion of freedom by denying others liberty to express dissenting opinions. We should be concerned, because we have a right to listen to what other people would say to us if they could.
Knife crime – yes it is an issue. Poetry though usually inspires people to be romantic or at least mutilate the English language for the sake of rhyming schemes. Some teachers however fear the emotional imagery that Carol Ann Duffy invokes in her poem Education for Leisure to the point of ripping it out of text books. The themes are familiar to anyone who has wondered that the only power that counts is that over life and death, that there are times when genocidal tendencies are fantasised about. After teacher complaints, the AQA exam board in Britain has withdrawn her poem, that reads:
Today I am going to kill something. Anything.
I have had enough of being ignored and today
I am going to play God. It is an ordinary day,
a sort of grey with boredom stirring in the streets.
I squash a fly against the window with my thumb.
We did that at school. Shakespeare. It was in
another language and now the fly is in another language.
I breathe out talent on the glass to write my name.
I am a genius. I could be anything at all, with half
the chance. But today I am going to change the world.
Something’s world. The cat avoids me. The cat
knows I am a genius, and has hidden itself.
I pour the goldfish down the bog. I pull the chain.
I see that it is good. The budgie is panicking.
Once a fortnight, I walk the two miles into town
for signing on. They don’t appreciate my autograph.
There is nothing left to kill. I dial the radio
and tell the man he’s talking to a superstar.
He cuts me off. I get our bread-knife and go out.
The pavements glitter suddenly. I touch your arm.
Is this kill joys, who need to control the supposedly impressionable who think it may be cool to live like the person in the poem by preventing kids from ever knowing this well written poem? The poem is about education being the alternative to empowering you – rather than feeling like god killing a goldfish. That there is a false sense of celebrity in people thinking their being alive makes them worthy of the accolade.
For these reasons this poem is a popular one with children – because they can identify with the themes because they are so transparent, with the depth of the imagery inviting to be explored by eager minds. They identify with the rebel that finds the language of Shakespeare difficult, how the underclass are not appreciated, the desire to be noticed and recognized for who they are without needing to draw extra attention to get it.
What the teachers, and the exam board are not doing is protecting children. They are denying a poem that may connect to a child and inspire them to the beauty of the English language and poetry. To think that this poem will cause a child to enact violence, is to suggest that we should hide children from all art, all writing, all media and all human conversation. This poem could be the way to unlocking the frustrations and anger that children have.
Michael Rosen, the children’s laureate, said: “By this same logic we would be banning Romeo and Juliet. That’s about a group of sexually attractive males strutting round the streets, getting off with girls and stabbing each other.
“Carol Ann is an easy target because she’s a modern poet.” He added: “Of course we want children to be talking about knife crime and poems like these are a terrific way of helping that happen. Blanket condemnation and censorship of something never works.”
The AQA spokeswoman said: “The decision to withdraw the poem was not taken lightly and only after due consideration of the issues involved. We believe the decision underlines the often difficult balance that exists between encouraging and facilitating young people to think critically about difficult but important topics and the need to do this in a way which is sensitive to social issues and public concern.”
Sensitive to the charge that a kid in a class that has covered the poem may knife someone. Not that correlation means causation. Sometimes I really fear that there are people who want to improve things by killing our enjoyment of life, and the celebration of human talent. Parents – demand that fine works of literature are part of your child’s education and that they cover this issue. A frustrated education is something to be avoided.
A cynical person may think this is about preventing Carol Anne Duffy becoming the next Poet Laureate. Though her considerable talent may be enough to prevent that.
Quote taken from here.