New age nonsense seeks to censor writers’ imagination, by Caroline Overington. From the Brisbane Writers Festival:
How ridiculous that we are debating in an even remotely serious way whether white writers can include black characters in their books. That sensible people would ever countenance the idea that the great American novelist Harper Lee should, for example, refrain from writing To Kill a Mockingbird — it’s about a black man facing trial for the rape of a white woman in the age of southern lynchings — until all the black writers have had their go.
How self-important has the Left become? Does it really now seek to censor literature? ….
The new PC theme is you cannot write about someone if you are not their gender and race and all the rest — that’s the sin of “cultural appropriation”. Should make for some pretty boring books if all the characters have to be the same as the author.
What was the world coming to, [Lionel Shriver] wondered, when “we have people questioning whether it’s appropriate for white people to eat pad thai”?
And Thai people cannot drive cars because they were invested by whites? And women cannot drive cars because they were invented by men? Surely a little cultural appropriation is ok?
In her current book, Shriver has a rich, white character who dumps his longstanding wife for a younger woman. The adult kids are appalled — except when they find out the new wife is black, at which point they fall over themselves to make her feel welcome in their privileged home.
Shriver noted the paralysing fear of being called a racist, yet she kept going, developing her black character, because should this trend continue “all that’s left is memoir”.
Oh, the upset! People got up and walked out, notably Yassmin Abdel-Magied, an Australian of Egyptian and Sudanese descent, …
How was it that Shriver was being allowed to speak? Was Abdel-Magied suggesting she be silenced? Booed and hissed until she could not continue?
The PC festival organizers then tied themselves in knots over their inconsistencies, and dare I say, racism?
Then came the chilling aftermath. The festival organisers — director Julie Beveridge and her team — were shaken to the core, not by Shriver’s speech but by the idea that people were offended. There were meetings behind closed doors and in the writers’ green room where I sat watching as they grappled with what to do.
No question, they were under tremendous pressure. They moved swiftly to organise a “right of reply” for Abdel-Magied. This was necessary, they said, because Shiver “did not speak to her brief”. This was not, she said, “the conversation we intended to have”.
Does anyone else feel the chill?
Yes, it has come to this. Censorship at a literary festival. Thought control at a celebration of letters in a Western democracy.
hat-tip Barry Corke