Monday, October 28, 2013

What Century Is This?

According to the calendar, it is 2013. And nearly the end of the year, to be exact.

So why would Ireland still maintain a board for the purpose of censoring published materials? Do we still need to be protected from the filth that is James Joyce's Ulysses? Or the licentiousness of F. Scott Fitzgerald?

The board that was established in 1929 was fiercely protective of Irish morality, but back in the early years of the Free State, that was what the people (egged on by the Catholic Church) wanted from their government. Almost ninety years late, that same board exists, and a member of the public has recently filed a complaint.

It's ludicrous, in this day and age, to have a group of appointed officials determine what is suited to delicate Irish eyes, especially when the Internet reaches into every corner of the nation and the idea of censorship is laughable. That is probably why there are no board members, not since 2008. Anyone daring to accept such a post would rightly be accused of greed, taking the position for the sake of the salary. There is no great upwelling in favor of censorship like that in 1929. If anything, people want more freedom, not less, and not limited by the bishops or bureaucrats in Dublin.

The board was largely forgotten until Alan Shatter's novel was reprinted after it was resurrected from a backlist. Someone found it offensive and voiced a complaint to the Censorship of Publications Board, claiming that the book was filthy. Characters in the book were having sex. Sex! God help us.

The complaint went nowhere because there was no one to field the question, and no one particularly interested in pursuing it.

Banning the book would only encourage people to buy it, after all, and we don't want to encourage the minister to give novel-writing another go.

Now that would be borderline obscene.

At any rate, there is talk of doing away with the non-functioning board, to take its existence off the books and leave it in the dust of history, when Ireland was notorious for being the most virulently censorious place on earth---while locking up children and women for perceived crimes against morality.

Was there anything more obscene?

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