Thursday, April 19, 2007

Sheddings and Beheadings

One of the National Short Story Prize finalists, Hanif Kureishi, is reportedly very angry with the BBC which has cancelled the radio broadcast of his shortlisted story.

Weddings and Beheadings
describes the work of a cameraman who has been forced to take on work filming the executions that have become a feature of recent kidnaps in the Middle East. BBC officials felt that broadcasting it "would not be right" as concern grows for BBC Gaza correspondent Alan Johnson.

Kureishi says:
There are journalists and newspapers in peril all the time around the world. We support them by supporting freedom of speech rather than by censoring ourselves.
I agree.

Incidentally, you can read Kureishi's story on the Prospect Magazine website.

Postscript:

Maureen Freely on the Guardian blog makes the very important point that even nice censorship is censorship and therefore cannot be condoned.
... and the more we condone it, the more we wrap it up in sheepish clothing, the more we convince ourselves that it is the only way to fend off the wolves, the more of it we'll see.
(Photo nicked from the BBC website.)

4 comments:

Kenny Mah said...

Boo! Hiss! I wonder if they really felt it would not be right, or if they were just afraid to do it...

The Great Swifty said...

Hm, the short story's pretty all right, I guess. Find it kinda amusing that the protagonist made reference to, well, David Lynch. Good way to humanize them, I tend to imagine these cameramen as bloodthirsty, uneducated barbarians like the subjects of their video.

animah said...

I would think the BBC should have the right to decide what they can and cannot broadcast - that is a kind of freedom, right?
Bear in mind BBC may be acting in their capacity as an employer, in which case they are acting out of humane reasons.
Kureishi should get someone else to broadcast, or do it on his blog (if he has one) - he can generate publicity by the fact that BBC have rejected it. He should stop whining for God's sake.
Don't get me wrong - I'm against censorship. Yet at the same time, publishers/broadcasters have rights too.

bibliobibuli said...

animah - i don't think kureishi is whining. he is standing up for a principle. (and good for him!) if all the other stories are being broadcast why not his?

yes, the bbc has a right not to broadcast ... but at the beginning they accepted all the stories, including his and made a commitment to the project

this kind of "nice censorship" is the kind practiced all the time here too, isn't it? ("we might upset people's sensitivities")