Friday, October 24, 2008
updates on the case of Islam Samhan
I have been informed that he has been released - until his trial next Thursday in Amman. If convicted, he could spend two years in prison..... for writing verses "against the Koran". I am hoping to get a copy of this collection of poems myself and will let you know what I learn of his "offense".
This is not to say that America has a clean record when it comes to censorship and the press, because we suffer ourselves from swings to the extreme right and left. The extreme right most offended by comments like those of William Burroughs when he wrote that "everything is permitted". The extreme right does not believe that, nor do they want to allow others to practice that. Censorship is as old as the first told tales and is unfortunately still very much with us. In the West and in the "developing world."
The Press is never free. It is never without obstacles or roadblocks. Death threats and government suppression. This has been part of what authors and printers, and publishers have dealt with since Gutenberg's first press. It is necessary, therefore, that publishers rally around the cause of others and that authors likewise speak up for those targeted for violence and confinement. Or death. It is not unheard of - in ANY country - that writers are marked for death. Salmon Rushdie is not even the most recent case of this. Fortunately, he lives. But others have not fared as well. Men are killed for what comes off their pens. Men kill to cease the words from flowing. Fear drives this, and fear prevails far too often to count.
We must continue to speak and continue to allow thoughts to be revealed, if we agree with the speaker or not. In fact, moreso if we disagree. As a race we will not move forward toward an enlightened state as long as we destroy men and books we oppose. The freedom of expression needs to be dear to all of us. Everywhere. All the time.