Monday, March 20, 2006

Pamuk - A Footnote

Orhan Pamuk's story 'A Religious Conversation', published in Granta 85, is an excellent example of the way in which so-called 'liberal' censorship can backfire on account of adverse reactions from fundamentalists. In the story, a liberal professor is killed by a religious fanatic as he had supported the ban on headscarves imposed in France. The dialogue between these two people is what makes up the story, which makes use of a chillingly matter-of-fact manner to underline the irrationality of the fanatic's argument (or so it seems). What the story does, however, is to make the reader conscious of the problems that any form of censorship can take.
While the French government is bound by Article 1 of its Constitution which declares France a secular state (the word used is "laïcité"), the right to freedom of expression of one's religion is also valid. therefore, some kind of balance has to be found between these two.
'Balance', therefore, becomes the key word as far as censorship is concerned. Total freedom of expression, though an enviable concept, remains utopian as long as all sections of humanity are unable to articulate themselves. Excessive censorship does not need to be categorized afresh as an evil.

However, what can be censored, and who decides what can be censored? Where will this omnipotent Platonic figure come from who can decide for the so-called 'good' of society?


FuNkYcHuNkY said...

ekhaneo porashona

Soumik said...

this is certainly one of the best posts on this blog - condensed and succint.

Brazen Head said...

Perhaps I not jaded yet about the "ideal"- a world where no one is silenced and no expression is muted. However, just because a certain point of view does not find its agency with the core does not mean that other views have to be equally muted to create a common good.

Censorship, in all forms, is bad and it is always worse than the evils it aims to keep away. If proponents of ideas cannot tolerate other (however repugnent to them these ideas might be) ideas, then we end up with the most intolerant dictating the limits of free expression.

What is the common good in silencing ANY point of view?

zanjabil said...

"as he had supported the ban on headscarves imposed in France"

What? This story is about the ban on headscarves in TURKEY! Where does France come into it?

The professor in the story didn't just support the ban; he implemented it.

Why bother commenting on a story if you haven't even read it properly?