As the UK degenerates into an orgy of sensationalist pro-censorship hysteria, one immediate neighbor that has long labored under what was described by British poet Robert Graves as “the fiercest literary censorship this side of the Iron Curtain” seems to be moving in the opposite direction. Irish parliamentary party Fianna Fáil has tabled the Censorship of Publications Board Repeal Bill, seeking to wind up the Republic’s notoriously … ahem … censorious Censorship of Publications Board, in business and banning great literature since 1929.
“The Censorship of Publications Board is an archaic, redundant body which has not had any use from 2008,” said the party’s justice spokesperson, Niall Collins to Ireland’s Sunday Independent. “The fact that no new board members have been appointed since 2011 is a testament to the fact that the board has outlived its use, as the internet completely by-passes it.”
“Any person may make a complaint to the c,” notes the Board’s website. The Register of Prohibited Publications (Books) carries the list of books banned in the Republic. However – wait for it, English readers – “On 31st December, 2012 there were no books prohibited on the grounds that they were indecent or obscene.” Yes, no publications banned for obscenity in a country notorious for its strict anti-obscenity laws. Even there, they recognize how wrong and senseless it is.
That said, eight books are listed under the thoroughly Catholic section dealing with “Books prohibited on the grounds that they were indecent or obscene and/or that they advocate the procurement of abortion or miscarriage or the use of any method, treatment or appliance for the purpose of such procurement” – including Graham Masterson’s How to Drive your Man Wild in Bed and Jane Cousins’s Make It Happy. These apparently are banned under the same enlightened precepts that led the Board to ban the Irish Family Planning Association’s own family planning booklet in 1976, according to The Guardian.
For Americans and others who find it hard to understand the peculiar intensity and venom of the backlash in Britain, it’s worth remembering that the country has recently had to digest a series of sex scandals where prominent celebrities, BBC presenters, and so on, were found to have practised regular sexual abuse of children and vulnerable subordinates, in some cases over decades. Added to that, you have a tabloid press facing new curbs due to its own illicit practices of phone tapping that’s anxious to divert attention elsewhere, and a Conservative-led administration desperate to buff up its reactionary credentials to stop hemorraging to the right as its more … conservative members jump ship into the jolly bumboat UK Independence Party. All this helps fuel the current wave of censorious hysteria in the UK.
And to draw on the Irish parallel once more, Eire had the kind of stringent censorship that the UK jackals are baying for, for decades. And the result was the string of molestation and sex abuse cases in the Republic implicating the Catholic clergy, which have now brought the local hierarchy’s standing to its lowest level ever. Censorship didn’t help prevent this at all. A rigidly moral and highly censored state equals disgusting abuse behind closed doors. That should be straightforward enough for even a Daily Mail leader writer to understand.
“The Board is essentially defunct; it is as dead as the parrot in Monty Python,” Collins concluded. If only mortality would catch up with the squawking dead parrots in the UK.