Banned Books

A lot has been said about SL7B / Rosegate. A lot of fine ideas by a lot of thoughtful people have been expressed. Although I know this event was painful for a number of people on different sides of the debate, one silver lining to the event was that it got a lot of people thinking and talking about ideas. There were probably plenty of debates I didn’t witness, but I did personally see many, many people offer thoughts on the VB Friends and Odyssey group chats. It’s really remarkable, especially considering how passionate peeps were, that the vast majority of the conversation was remarkably civil, polite, and respectful… as well as passionate and forceful.

I don’t want to rehash what has by now been well hashed, and I certainly don’t want to stir up any finally healing wounds. But I do want to foreground one point that may have been lost in the large debate. Opensource Obscure and Ze Moo emphasized that while LL’s “Moderation” of Rose’ content may or may not have been appropriate… that we should be careful NOT to call it “Censorship.”

They felt that Censorship is too important a word, too devastating a global phenomena, to use that word lightly. They wanted to reserve the word “censorship” so that when we do use it, we know of the profound urgency of the situation. They argued that a company couldn’t really censor because your content could always go elsewhere… that it took an entity more like a nation to truly censor ideas.

Perhaps it’s not quite that simple either as I noted in my Flickr / Violet Blue post, but they do make a powerful point.

So… as the days grow warm here in the northern hemisphere… or crisp there in the Southern… I thought I might take this opportunity to encourage you to read a banned book this summer (winter)!

Here are a few excerpts from the Wikipedia entry:

On Wikipedia you can find more banned books, as well as the dates and details of these bans. You’ll also see links to many Wikipedia articles on censorship. And, you’ll also notice that many of these articles bear notes that they need work. I’ve blogged often about Openness and Free Culture, and for me Wikipedia is one of the crown jewels of both. If you’re able to contribute anything to these articles… even if you don’t have facts, you might be able to help clean up the formatting a bit or research a footnote… if you’re able to contribute, it’d be a great gift to the human race.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
Lewis Carroll
Banned: Hunan, China

All Quiet on the Western Front
Erich Maria Remarque
Banned: Nazi Germany

Animal Farm
George Orwell
Banned: WWII Allies, Kenya, United Arab Emirates

Brave New World
Aldous Huxley
Banned: Ireland

Banned: United States

The Da Vinci Code
Dan Brown
Banned: Lebanon

L. Ron Hubbard
Banned: Russia

The Diary of a Young Girl
Anne Frank
Banned: Lebanon

Doctor Zhivago
Boris Pasternak
Banned: Soviet Union

El Senor Presidente
Miguel Angel Asturias
Banned: Guatemala

The God of Small Things
Arundhati Roy
Banned: India

The Grapes of Wrath
John Steinbeck
Banned: United States

Vladmir Nabokov
Banned: France, United Kingdom, Argentina, New Zealand, South Africa

The Lottery
Shirley Jackson
Banned: South Africa

Mein Kampf
Adolf Hitler
Banned: Germany, Russia

Naked Lunch
William S. Burroughs
Banned: Boston, USA

Not Without My Daughter
Betty Mahmoody
Banned: Iran

One Day of Life
Manlio Argueta
Banned: El Salvador

One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich
Alexander Solzhenitsyn
Banned: Soviet Union

Rights of Man
Thomas Paine
Banned: United Kingdom, Russia

The Satanic Verses
Salman Rushdie
Banned: Bangladesh, Egypt, India, Iran, Kenya, Kuwait, Liberia, Papua New Guinea, Pakistan, Senegal, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Thailand

The Song of Red Ruby
Agnar Mykle
Banned: Norway

Tropic of Cancer
Henry Miller
Banned: United States, South Africa

James Joyce
Banned: United Kingdom, Australia, United States

Uncle Tom’s Cabin
Harriet Beecher Stowe
Banned: Southern United States, Russia

United States – Vietnam Relations: 1945-1967
aka: “The Pentagon Papers”
Robert McNamara & United States Department of Defense
Banned: United States / President Nixon

The Well of Loneliness
Radclyffe Hall
Banned: United Kingdom

Epilogue: let’s keep THE NET open while we’re at it! So Yes to Creative Commons! But also importantly, Yes to the Electronic Frontier Foundation!

As a virtual public artist my work invites avatar communities to express their identity, explore their culture, and demand their civil rights.

16 thoughts on “Banned Books

  1. An excellent idea to read banned books. I cannot fathom how anybody would want to ban something which is important. I realize that there are limits to tolerance, and some things are illegal, but most of the books people wish to ban, contain nothing more than ideas that some find too devastating to contemplate.

      1. Being banned from a virtual online aniversary festival is what i call ‘moderation’, yes. I could call it ‘curation’ if SLB wasn’t such a mediocre arts event. What SL7B did to Rose was very rude, ignorant and prudish. But in no way that was ‘censorship’. Neither were SL7B staff’s actions an infringement on ‘free speech’ or ‘freedom of expression’, nope. Even if Rose and her art would have been banned from Second Life all together by Linden Lab, it is not ‘censorship’, it would just be ‘moderation’. (But fortunately this never happened)

        REAL Censorship is when people can’t publish or express themselves anywhere whithout getting big fines or other punishment like jail sentences, tortured, death penalties, or worse…

        [This reply suffered almost 4 years of lag…] ,)

  2. Usually only Governments can truly censor, allthough that’s not been easy yet with the presence of the global Internet so far. But with assitance of companies it will be easier to do for authorities in the future I am afraid… :/

    And when we fight real censorship, please don’t only point at China or Iran for instance… But also in ‘modern western democracies’ like Germany: Not only some (imho harmless) porn sites are blocked there, (like the ‘Restricted’ part of can not be visited via German ISP’s…), even some political blogs are illegal in Germany! There is also reports the Australian goverment will make any online Adult content illegal, including SL… More westeren countries seem to be going this road, that’s very worrying for the basics of democracy and real freedom.

    What’s even more worrying, since some global corporations seem to become more powerfull then nations, (Google? Facebook? Microsoft?), company ‘moderation’ then also becomes a form of censorship. And, as we all know, companies are usually not at all true democratic structured organisations, aren’t they are more like communist countries in its hierarchy?

    (Linden Lab is far from becoming more mighty then any country, fortunately…) πŸ˜‰

    1. Wow, almost 4 years later, some details have changed and other cases of censorship appeared (the Piratebay was banned in NL for instance), but i stil agree with my younger self here! .)

      1. Yes! Your younger self was wise! I miss him! πŸ˜›

        I do think it’s important how much cultural power the Virtual Nation States or if you prefer Virtual Feudal Lords have today. From convenience issues like when Google feuds with Apple you don’t get maps on your iPhone… to, of course, Vic Gundotra and the Nymwars.

        The Lessig idea that Code is Law continues to be important. The platforms where we increasingly “live” and express our identity tend to have the affordances that make sense to young, affluent, male, silicon valley engineers. They may not be “bad guys,” but their lifestyle and values don’t necessarily represent me.

        As Tim Wu so elegantly detailed in The Master Switch, we’re at a moment where the young, expanding, Open Web is transitioning to a mature, more closed platform, just as every communications media before it did. It does seem however that the Internet / Web will never be as fully tamed as previous media. I think the truth is many users really want the simplicity, safety, and determinacy of silos like “Apple World.” Still, I don’t see the Net / Web ever being as closed and anemic as Public Access TV.

        Thanks for visiting – again! – Moo-Man. xoxo

          1. Let’s see if my older 2018-self still agrees with the 2014-me…

            And let’s hope the global corporations of 2022 will allow governments to give me permission to agree with my 2014-me and my 2010-me… ,(

            1. hahaha, good luck with that! I already think the stuff I said earlier in 2014 is kind of dodgy! I’m quite certain by 2018 I’ll think the crap I’m writing now can only be the musings of some monumental dweeb!

              aww… MooMan & VanVix… like!!

  3. What about banned movies?
    “Clockwork Orange” was banned in the UK for a long time.
    The BBC banned “God Save the Queen” among other luny tunes.
    And Obama wants to ban anything and everything that forces him off the golf course to do some real work.
    BTW while it may only be my perverse personal experience, I have NEVER viewed the tech world (although I never worked in Silicon Valley) as dominated by affluent white males. While I have seen both male and female dominated situations, things are so fluid these days and those situations are generally not static.

    1. Good points Mac! I guess what I’m trying to say about Silicon Valley Engineers is… k… when Vic Gundotra launched the Nymwars… well, obviously he had a cultural / financial agenda… for me it was a very bad, harmful, hurtful agenda.

      I suspect more often that Engineers don’t exactly have an agenda, but they do have a world view ./ lifestyle. What makes sense to their experience of life and the world is what they code. If you want to afford other identities and ways of being, that’s going to take extra effort. That’s just human nature.

      1. The attempted obliteration of RSS has failed and actually undermined the hold of the Valley Beasts on us.
        I don’t see Apple as a silo conspirator. It was only when they ported iTunes to Windows that the $$ started to roll in. I understand why they want to wall the iPhone in to protect the large scale user experience. But I see them loosening up some of the IOS controls over time. On the Mac I am free to run OSX, Windows and Unix. That is about as open as one can get.
        In fact you should be looking into the MacPro for your rendering needs.

  4. ‘Mein Kampf’ (Mijn Strijd) by Adolf Hitler is also banned/censored in The Netherlands. It made headlines again recently when an Amsterdam antique dealer argued for his right tot sell those old books.

    By the way, Hitlers notorious book is legal in Turkey and apparently a bestseller over there!

    1. Turkey is heading for an explosion on the level of what happened in Egypt. For both of these societies there is a limit to how far religious control can go. With nothing left in the “persuasion toolbox” the mullahs have to rollout the demonising texts to turn their supporters into a nemesis. The fact that Obama fell for the Muslim Brotherhood routine shows his real [lack of] depth.

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