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22 December 2004

The play, the protest, the censorship and the backlash

All kinds of weird things are happening in the news here in Britain and I have not been blogging. I am very bad, and I deserve to have my page hits and my Google rating decline. (And so I have.) Darling Hubby wants me to blog about this. So I am. This is a convoluted story. The easy take on it is that it is the "Sikh version of Satanic Verses". The Sikh community, tellingly, protests that they did not ask for the play to be closed. Fair point - but! They asked for a rewrite, which, no matter how "sensitively" one tries to frame the request, is still censorship, and just as much an anathema to a free-speech advocate or an artist as dishonouring a temple is to the religious. The Sikhs complain they were not being heard, but fact is, they were not listening either. There is a lot of that going around, not just in political and artistic circles. Britons generally, whether they are Anglo-Saxon, Celtic or Asian sub-continentals, tend to think in cliches and reason through their spleens. If you don't believe me, just read the letters column in any "intellectual" daily newspaper. I just shake my head in disgust and wonder if I can live out the rest of my life in this country, many of whose so-called values I refuse to ever accept. There is still much good here, I suppose. But, to paraphrase dear old Prof. Higgins, why can't the British learn to speak? (And to listen and to use their own rules of grammar.)

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