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Saturday, April 1, 2023

Sif says complicity is appalling – ‘Censorship, outrage and silence are a real threat’


One of the country’s best-known columnists, writer Sigmarsdóttir, says the complicity that seems to prevail today is appalling. She says censorship, outrage and silence are real threats to liberal democratic societies.

She writes in a column that appears at The newspaper Today:

“My friend teaches literature at a university in England. Recently a student came to see her and complained about a short story she had read to the class. The story was by Margreti Atwood and was about the disappearance of a girl at a summer camp. The student thought the content of the story was inappropriate because it was shocking. My friend was alarmed. However, the incident should not have been a surprise .”

Sif points out that last month it was learned that the University of Greenwich in London had added a trigger warning to Jane Austin’s book Northanger Abbey, warning students about “gender stereotypes” and “unhealthy relationships”.

Shortly before, the aforementioned school where her friend works had added such a warning to Mark Twain’s Gooseberry Finn to warn of inappropriate language and a scary storyline.

The Times newspaper has demonstrated how UK universities are removing books from reading lists and their shelves which have caused some outcry, and content warnings are now widespread in the books of many of history’s most famous authors of literature.

Cambridge University has introduced a free speech course to teach students to tolerate views they disagree with following a record number of events canceled due to opposition students arising from the opinions that were to be expressed at the event.

Sif reports on a recent case in Iceland, the discussion of Gunnlaug Blöndal’s works, which depict nude women, which were removed from the walls of the Central Bank a few years ago following complaints. It was called censorship. The Central Bank questions whether this is a true example of the current censorship trend.

“Actress Cate Blanchett plays a controversial conductor in the film Tár. In a recent interview, she warned that an eraser was being applied to the history of literature and art. “If we don’t read no old books in historical context because they shock us, we will never understand the way of thinking of the past and are doomed to repeat it.” Blanchett also criticized the requirement that artists have a clean criminal record.” Look at Picasso. One can only imagine what was going on around his studio. But do we look at Guernica and say that the work is one of the most amazing ever painted? Yes.”

Censorship, outrage and silence are real threats to liberal democratic societies. The complicity with such totalitarian events is so appalling that surely someone would deem it fitting that coverage of this one be accompanied by a “trigger warning”. The thoughtless outcry over the book burnings and teasing at the Central Bank, however, distracts attention from the heart of the matter.

Censorship is one thing. The context of things is different. Picasso’s Guernica shows a mutilated corpse and a dead child. Would we hang the painting in a nursery? Would we fill the shelves of the Refuge des femmes with the pornographic fiction of Michel Houellebecq? Why is it taken for granted that naked women adorn the walls of a male empire where women are now trying to gain ground and show that they are more than sex symbols?

It would be better if those who today cry out loud against teapism show courage and oppose real censorship. Because it hides in many places.”

Copyright © 2023 The Eastern Herald.

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The Eastern Herald’s Editorial Board validates, writes, and publishes the stories under this byline. That includes editorials, news stories, letters to the editor, and multimedia features on


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