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