We avoid conversations about censorship. Not because fear of being censored is a real concern at Carleton, but because to put it bluntly, it just doesn’t apply to us. We can say whatever we want whenever we want to whomever we want. The thought that we wouldn’t be able to express these thoughts, or that these thoughts would be tempered by some big bureaucratic mafia is pretty unfathomable.
Imagine this scenario for a second: you’re in London, feeling creatively inspired to you know, just go ahead and write your fourth novel. You sit down and what comes to mind? A world full of satanic verses from the Quran of the three Pagan Meccan goddesses, Allat, Uzza and Manat, of course. So you write, in the bliss of the free world you are living in, and the thought that your thoughts are contributing to your death sentence doesn’t even enter your liberated little mind. You call it The Satanic Verses, and you publish it, and hey, you even become a Booker Prize Finalist. And then, suddenly you get a phone call and discover the entire country of Iran wants your head. Separated from your body. For money. $3.3 million, to be exact. And suddenly, overnight, you are chained to your house and you hire bodyguards and make it a habit of checking behind your back everywhere you go, likely for the rest of your life.
Salman Rushdie’s visit to Carleton should be a wakeup call. Well, not a wakeup call (let’s hope that for the time being, even if our government can’t pull itself together, our press will) so much as a reminder that we need to overindulge in the freedoms we take for granted on a daily basis. And by overindulge, I mean, overindulge.
Get creative, get quirky, get outspoken. Get angry, get passionate, get annoyed. It doesn’t matter which forum you choose (The Carletonian…), but be confident in the freedom you have that others don’t. Express your opinions, because complacency is a danger to us all. And censorship loves complacency.