Friday, September 23, 2016

Is Literature Dead?

For John, BLUFWill it still be OK to read the literature of other people?  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From the pages of The Old Gray Lady we have an OpEd by Novelist Lionel Shriver.

We have Law Professor Ann Althouse examine some of the issues, including the ACLU defense of Neo-Nazis marching in Skokie, Illinois.

But, to the issue, Ms Shriver gave a talk in Australia, to the Brisbane Writers Festival.  In the audience was Ms Yassim Abdel-Magied, born in Sudan and now an engineer and memoirist in Australia.  Ms Abdel-Magied walked out, because she was offended by what she saw as cultural appropriation.  The ever cranky Guardian picked up the story and the rest is history.

So, apparently, we can only write about our own small circle of life, within our race, religion, gender and socio-economic milieu.  We can only write about those things that represent our own cultural background.  The rest is cultural appropriation.  To put it in terms Ms Abdel-Magiedmight understand, if she writes fiction she can talk about engineers, but she would be out of her element writing about chemists.

This, if adopted, would mean the end of literature.

Ms Shriver notes that…

Now the role of oppressor has passed to the left.  In Australia, where I spoke, Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act makes it unlawful to do or say anything likely to “offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate,” providing alarming latitude in the restriction of free speech.  It is Australia’s conservatives arguing for the amendment of this law.
And here is Ms Shriver's sad conclusion.
Protecting freedom of speech involves protecting the voices of people with whom you may violently disagree.  In my youth, liberals would defend the right of neo-Nazis to march down Main Street.  I cannot imagine anyone on the left making that case today.
This reminds me of Turkish President Erdogen and his statement that Democracy is like a street car.  When you get to your destination you get off.

Hat tip to the Althouse blog.

Regards  —  Cliff

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