On the stupidity of censors

May 3, 2012

An article in the Guardian about the Teheran Book Fair includes a description of how Iranian censors render books harmless by excising anything that might be disturbing to the sensibility of a mullah:

Among words changed are cigarette (when used for a female character in a novel), laughing (again for female characters), swear, tattoo, cage and makeup (regardless of the character’s gender).

“Kiss”, “beloved”, “wine” (in a non-fiction book about Charles Darwin, where it was mentioned that he got sick after drinking sour “wine” – the censor advised them to substitute the “wine” to a more appropriate word such as “juice”), “drunk”, “pork”, “dance”, “rape”, “dog” and “meditation” are among others frequently asked to be substituted. Male and female fictional characters are permitted to walk “hand-in-hand” in the story only if they are married couples. Censors will advise against any human touch between those fictional characters who are not married. Implicit gay touch can survive if the censor does not figure out that there is a homosexuality theme.

On the other hand, we are told that

In reviewing a poetry book, one censor commented that it lacked appropriate rhythm.

On second thoughts… Maybe we could do with someone like that here.


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