Monday, 29 September 2008

An eventful weekend

I was awoken by Ann in the early hours of Saturday morning, who informed me that our usually quiet square was full of fire engines & police. I asked if our own house was actually currently on fire and being told “no”, went back to sleep, thus missing the most exciting event in our neighbourhood’s recent history.

A neighbour of ours is a publisher who had recently taken on a novel entitled “the Jewel of Medina” by Sherry Jones – a novel that has been seen (wrongly in the view of most) as anti-Islamic. A group of terrorists had decided to fire-bomb his residence. The armed police had been staking out the house, which was empty at the time, and arrested the men concerned, but not before they had started a small fire. Fire engines were called and I was briefly woken up to be informed of the fact.

When I decided to post something on the subject, I thought that the interesting point was that a crime writer had slept through the only crime to be committed on his doorstep for some time. Which of course is true.

But actually the real point is this. We have spent hundreds of years winning the right to freedom of speech. All censorship is bad. Censorship by terror has to be resisted at all costs. It’s fine to sleep through a police raid; we can’t sleep through the loss of free speech.

9 comments:

Doug Worgul said...

Wonderful wise and witty post, Len.

drw

Matt Curran said...

Hi, Len

Wow. Mixed up in current events, and you slept through it! I read about this on the Bookseller site. It looks like part of the problem is that a US academic called the book "soft-porn". As it's also about Islam, you can see there will be a few 'passionate' people out there getting quite 'passionate' it. (I leave it up to others out there to read 'passionate' as 'bonkers'. I couldn't possibly comment...)

Eliza Graham said...

Worrying times we live in, indeed.

Faye L. Booth said...

You can imagine me pointing to Matt's comment here and saying "What he said".

maxine said...

Well posted, Len.

Len Tyler said...

Thanks, everyone.

Just to say that the post has been picked up by The Bookseller - see:
http://www.thebookseller.com/blogs/67932-an-eventful-weekend.html

where it may (or may not) attract further discussion.

David Isaak said...

The oddest thing is that people who get bent out of shape by a book have seldom read it.

We seem to have a vice-preseidential candidate like that over here.

Alis said...

Whoever said that the pen is mightier than the sword had it right (who was it, by the way, I feel I should know)- swords may frighten people into terrified compliance but they will never affect thinking, change minds, in the way that books can.
Well posted, Len.

Frances said...

I enjoyed your lovely post, Len. And it reminds me of the Curious Incident of the Fish in the Chimney. We thought we could detect a smell of fish coming down the chimney, and phoned the fire brigade for advice, expecting, at most, one little man on a bike. Instead, we got 6 huge men in a fire engine, all of whom had colds and were therfore unable to smell fish (or anything else, come to that). This has nothing at all to do with writing/books etc, and as far as I know, the fish weren't even herrings. but it just reminded me...