Archive for the 'Censorship' Category

I am a joke…

January 23, 2015

So what are we allowed to laugh at?

Here’s a poem sent to Snakeskin by Conor Kelly:

Je Suis Charlie

I am a joke.
I am a joke about men.
I am a joke about women.
I am a joke about sick children.
I am a joke about mothers-in-law.
I am a joke about doting grandfathers.
I am a joke about skinny-dipping hippies.
I am a joke about twerking female pop-singers.
I am a joke about lettuce-chewing Hollywood stars.
I am a joke about topless sun-bathers in Saint-Tropez.

Je suis Charlie.

I am a joke.
I am a joke about boobs.
I am a joke about sexting.
I am a joke about revenge porn.
I am a joke about tinder, grindr.
I am a joke about “50 Shades of Grey.”
I am a joke about naked selfies on-line.
I am a joke about lesbian films on Netflix.
I am a joke about girlfriends, housewives, milfs and cougars.
I am a joke about Patricia Lockwood’s poem, “Rape Joke.”

Je suis Charlie.

I am a joke.
I am a joke about God.
I am a joke about Buddha.
I am a joke about Muhammad.
I am a joke about Hare Krishna.
I am a joke about the Virgin Mary.
I am a joke about “The Satanic Verses.”
I am a joke about crossing the River Lethe.
I am a joke about Dante’s poetic view of Hell.
I am a joke about the banning of the burqa in France.

Je suis Charlie.

I am a joke.
I am a joke about guns.
I am a joke about soldiers.
I am a joke about World War 1.
I am a joke about the 6 day war.
I am a joke about the 100 years’ war.
I am a joke about “The Diary of Anne Frank.”
I am a joke about weapons of mass destruction.
I am a joke about shooting Osama bin Laden.
I am a joke about Kalashnikovs on a Paris street.

Je suis Charlie.

You may now laugh.

Je Suis Charlie

January 7, 2015


“Religion, a mediaeval form of unreason, when combined with modern weaponry becomes a real threat to our freedoms. This religious totalitarianism has caused a deadly mutation in the heart of Islam and we see the tragic consequences in Paris today. I stand with Charlie Hebdo, as we all must, to defend the art of satire, which has always been a force for liberty and against tyranny, dishonesty and stupidity. ‘Respect for religion’ has become a code phrase meaning ‘fear of religion.’ Religions, like all other ideas, deserve criticism, satire, and, yes, our fearless disrespect.”  –Salman Rushdie Read the rest of this entry »

Should we forget?

November 19, 2014

Snakeskin has recently received an email from someone whose verse we published several years ago.
The poems are light and witty, and slightly naughty. The poet has now moved on, and now has ‘a position which doesn’t benefit from having this poetry come up’ in Google searches. She has asked us to remove the poems.
I’d like readers’ opinions on this.
On the one hand, we hardly want to cause the poor lady distress if her early work is causing her embarrassment.
On the other hand, it might make matters worse if we replaced the poems in their Snakeskin editions with a notice saying that they had been removed because of inappropriate content. I’m sure people would imagine the poems to be far more outlandish than they are.
Or we could, I suppose, cut not only the poems, but also all references to them in the index pages of the issues in which they appear. But this seems to me a bit like falsifying the historical record. And it will not, of course, affect copies that are archived in various places.
This is one instance of what seems to be a growing problem. When poems were printed only on paper, the author could suppress them fairly easily by not allowing reprints. But what appears on the Internet stays on the Internet. Even when the editor and sole proprietor of Snakeskin passes on to a better world and his site disappears, those archived copies (at the British library and elsewhere) will remain.
The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that we have a right for our past to be forgotten by Google (though most of those availing themselves of this right seem to be petty criminals.)
So in this case, what should we do?

Blogging in danger

March 19, 2013

The cobbled-together plans for British press regulation stray far beyond Leveson’s recommendations, to include blogs and other websites.
As Index on Censorship says:

“Bloggers could find themselves subject to exemplary damages in court, due to the fact that they were not part of a regulator that was not intended for them in the first place. This mess of legislation has been thrown together with alarming haste: there’s little doubt we’ll repent for a while to come.”


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.

On Blasphemy and Identity

January 31, 2012

There is a very good article by Keenan Malik, on the subject of blasphemy, identity politics, and the threat to free speech, at
And, as might be expected, Jesus and Mo have something to say on the subject: