Censorship Bad. Culture Good. Therefore, Censorship Good
Richard Dawkins on the most recent censorship of Salman Rushdie, the courageous response of his literary comrades and the increasing threat to free speech:
At the Jaipur festival, in defiance of intimidation from the civil government, three courageous Indian writers began their literary presentations by publicly reading from The Satanic Verses. I chose to support Rushdie in a different way, by reading from my own ‘Words for Rushdie’, published in New Statesman at the time of the original fatwa – for that magazine was an honourable exception to the widespread fashion to blame the victim rather than the Muslim perpetrators of the outrage.
The organizers of the festival were placed in an impossibly difficult position. Let down as they were by the spineless Rajasthan government, who had eyes only for the Muslim vote in the current elections, they did their best. They were personally threatened by a baying mob of bearded youths who invaded the festival compound promising murder and mayhem if Rushdie was allowed so much as a video link (as Germaine Greer said at the time of the Danish cartoons row, “What these people really love and do best is pandemonium”).