Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Both Boobs and Books Get Censored by IHT

Huh? Now here's something I don't understand and would love one of you more clued up guys to explain to me.

Why have the titles of Islamic books in a Paris bookshop been blacked out by censors (in an article about the banning of the burqa) in my Malaysian edition of The International Herald Tribune?

Here is the original pic from The New York Times :


And here is my photo of the hardcopy page - not terribly good quality, but you get the picture :


Does anyone have any idea what the title of the blanked out books are, and why some censorship has been carried out? What arcane knowledge is being hidden from out eyes least it pollute our minds? Of course NYT/Trib readers are so naive and impressionable!

The censorship of IHT pictures is quite commonplace, but usually it is the cleavage which is attacked. We aren't supposed to know about women's boobs, of course. (It was vaudeville queen Sophie Tucker's bosom that got expunged today - you can feast your eyes on it here.) Now it seems we aren't supposed to know about books either!

Presumably this censorship is carried out with the collusion of the NYT/Trib which I think is more than a tad shameful. Malaysian readers deserve the content they pay for. (If anyone from the paper passes this way, could we have a statement please?)

But let's be thankful for small mercies. At least the offending parts these days are blanked digitally and no longer by a chap with a black felt pen that penetrates the page. That, I suppose is progress.

11 comments:

Sharon Saw said...

i think it's a typo... the censorship guy read 'books' instead of 'boobs'. My best censorship gripe was when i first arrived 'home' after 17 years in the UK.I was pregnant then and bought a motherhood magazine. I was astonished that the pictures accompanying an article on breast feeding was censored (with a black felt tip). Do people not know what breasts are for?? They are NOT playthings. Jeez.

Stefania said...

Well, if the titles of the books behind the woman in a burqa read "Erotism in traditional Islam" or "Discover the sexuality of Muslim women" the picture is absolute genius... :-D

Anonymous said...

Caption of the photo: "I'm actually naked underneath but was blacked out by Malaysian censors."

Zed Adam said...

If you notice, I think they are only blacking out the Arabic scripts, for what reason I have no idea.

Rob Spence said...

I remember being a bit taken aback when we were at your at your house and I was looking at the sports page of the IHT. There was a picture of Michael Phelps with a s strategic black line over his nipple...

Damyanti said...

Very fascinating.

Like I was telling a few friends yesterday, the more I get to know Malaysia, the less I'm beginning to like it :(.

I want to go back to my former ignorant, but blissful state!

glenda larke said...

In a country where you can't go hear music because the sponsors make beer, anything can happen??

It amuses me that if the censors actually read all the books in English on sale here, they'd be appalled. They should start with the romance section, then when they are sufficiently titillated, they could move over to paranormal romance with vampires, then they could...

No, by that time they'd decide reading is a sin.

Jordan said...

On a similar note, I've noticed the words 'Islam', 'Islamic' and 'Muslim' etc. are sometimes bleeped out on Astro programmes. Very, very strange.

animah said...

Maybe cos they think you can't take Arabic words to the loo?

Or you can't wrap up your rubbish in newspaper with Arabic words on them?

It could stem from the fact that you can't treat Quranic verses in that manner, so they've gone a step further and felt that photos of which might have Quranic verses can't go to the loo either.

Peter said...

Imaginative, Animah. Best thing to find an Arab or someone who knows Arabic and ask him/her what the inscriptions in the original photo mean. If they are simply titles of sections, then probably Animah's suggestion is correct

Marie said...

Today's IHT has a picture of Monty Python taken in 1967 in which Graham Chapman is smoking a pipe.

The pipe has been blacked out!

Stranger and stranger...