Thursday, October 26, 2006

Burning of the Books

Regardless of what we all think of books - whether we actually read them or use them as incidental bedside props - just the simple term burning of the books already gives rise to all sorts of raised protests. Could there be anything more controversial than the reputed paper bonfire started by Shih Huang Ti to wipe out all prior existence of Chinese culture before his imminent rise to power?

Albeit a little less drastic than the draconian measures taken by the Chinese Emperor, the Home Ministry has taken it upon themselves to arbitrarily ban several printed works. Makes me wonder whether any of them actually sat through a thorough book reading before vetting it - or do they just, cliched as it sounds, judge a book by its cover? Book censorship isn't raised as much in the media since let's face it, only a small ( but significantly growing! ) number of Malaysians actually read.

My thoughts on mindless censorship remain but honestly, is there ever a case for actually banning books? Although I might not personally agree with some of the topics mentioned - and I'd probably never read them even if they were shoved in my face, I certainly wouldn't disallow some other obscure reader from perusing such esoteric titles. Come on, does anyone actually read those books? Thought it would please the government that at least someone's actually picking up a book - no matter how latently subversive the content - rather than only purchase ( read? ) two books a year as the purported average Malaysian does.

Rather than taking the pains to educate the majority to choose what's right, quite obviously the powers above wish to remove that choice altogether since we all know Malaysians are guileless jejunes easily led like mindless sheep into immorality. Talk about simplistic notions.

If they know so much about Malaysians, don't they also know that Malaysians are also prone to going all ga-ga over something right after it's been summarily banned? Prior to that, the banned books are probably sitting on pseudo-intellectual shelves gradually gathering dust but just say no and immediately it becomes that irresistibly sought-after paperback. Hell, even God must have learnt His lesson about the apple embargo especially after Eve went ape-crazy over that first temptation.

Who knows! One day they might even ban Men's Health for all the suggestive poses - to Big Bicep Barry's dismay!

Unsurprisingly, the majority of the works seem to revolve heavily around sex and religion, two controversial issues that seem to provide much illicit fodder for the Malaysian media to titillate the ever-voyeuristic though highly conservative mores of the society at large. Just put those two words on a major publication and it sells, trust me. Not exactly sure how such books could possibly contribute to immorality - and a possibly rapid descent into hedonistic debauchery and mindless chaos - but obviously the generally naive, tractable Malaysian reader would find it easy enough to be influenced by such mind-bending Svengali works such as the eloquent Eminem : Taking and The Big Bang. And we all know that reading about contented lesbian couples leads to buying that sturdy CRV, moving into a farming / quilting co-op with six other butch dykes on bikes and indulging in ... muffins.

Seriously. If turning people gay were that simple, I'd be handing free gay sex manuals to every sculpted hunk in sight. It'd be Sodom and Gomorrah all over again.

Just go read what the fabulous Bibliobibuli has to say about censorship. Is it me or all the Sharons hot tamales? :)
Index : On Censorship

UPDATE : Some bloggers got together and even wrote a blog about it! Go check out...
Manuscripts Don't Burn


Anonymous said...

Hey Dr., HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU~~ Had emailed you birthday wishes but don't know u got it or not! hehe..

All the best and Happy Birthday yar!! :P

Anonymous said...

WHAT!? As if banning movies weren't enough now they're banning books too!? O_O

This one is definitely making the media guy (aka me =P) mad: we're already getting less than we should. I can't believe they're banning things just because it looks suggestive or "feels" suggestive. That's just HORRIBLE.

And saying that gay themes or sexual themes can sway people's minds... shallow.

I can't believe how crappy the government has become.

P/S: On a side note, it's your birthday eh Paul? Probably will mail you something later. =) I don't know how old you are, or when exactly is your birthday date, but I'll take a wild swing anyway. =)

ec said...

happy birthday paul.

quicksilverlining said...

ahh!!! the doctor's turned ancient!

in other notes, it must be said that the most time efficient way to judge a book is by looking at the cover and skimming through the glossary. apparently, these dudes didn't like the glossary at all. too many big words.

William said...

Even a certain religious script's national language version was controlled for fear of propagation among a certain sector of society. As though, people can't read English...

Anonymous said...

is there a future?

ikanbilis said...

its your birthday? Happy Birthday!!

and why on bloody earth would they want to ban off books when no one is reading it? except for few of us.. geez' talk about some dumb goverment!

Spot said...

When is your birthday? Today, 27th? Cos it's Sharon Bakar's birthday too!

Happy Birthday! Tai kor tchai lor!

Dave said...

Once saw an American magazine on sale in HMV S'pore, where the following label were pasted on the cover of the mag:

'Certain pages has been removed under MDA (Media Development Authority of S'pore)'s guidelines.'

If that's not all, some cheap B-Korean porn are allowed to be released on home videos in S'pore, while quality gay films such as Brokeback Mountain, My Summer of Love and Lan Yu, has unfortunately, axed under the home video rating system. But they are allowed in cinemas for run though. =(

nyonyapenang said...

your birthday? HAPPY, HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

it's very simple really - IF YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH IT, JUST BAN IT!

Stephen said...

Is it your birthday? I didn't see any mention of it but possibly I got distracted by the pictures. If so, happy birthday!