Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Censorship through corporate fear

The following is from the Globe & Mail, a Toronto newspaper, and was published last week:

“Daniel Loxton, an illustrator and writer, created a children’s book so outrageous, so outlandish, so controversial no American publisher dared touch it.

“It does not depict nudity. It does not contain curse words. It does not include blasphemy. The love scenes, such as they are, involve males with females.

“It does include a straightforward explanation for the complexity of the natural world through a simple scientific theory.

“‘So many of the publishing professionals I was talking to were leery,’ he said. ’When push came to shove they declined to publish the book. Several did indicate to me it was too hot a topic.’

“The book wound up being published by Canadian-owned Kids Can Press, which also expected objections from creationists.

“So far, the book, Evolution: How We and All Living Things Came to Be, an illustrated primer written for readers in Grades 3 to 7, has generated more prize nominations than controversy.

Evolution is one of three young-reader finalists in the Lane Anderson Award for Canadian science books...

“Mr. Loxton’s book is also a finalist in the Norma Fleck Award for Canadian children’s nonfiction. Earlier this year, Evolution was a finalist for the prestigious Silver Birch award.”

I was left with a slack-jawed, “Huh?” hanging from my lips. Someone has written a book that a small minority of people might object to? (The bolding above is mine.) It’s good enough to be nominated for some pretty prestigious awards but publishers in the US were afraid of stirring up these people and so refused to publish it? Even a week later, I’m still shaking my head.

You’d figure in the 21st Century we’d be more enlightened than that – or are we descending back into the Dark Ages? In this case, though, it’s not governments or the church that are doing the censoring, it’s corporations. I checked it out at a local bookstore and it is a lovely book, one any budding scientist would love to read through. There is nothing remotely objectionable in this book, nothing really that should be controversial, except that some people seem to think that the earth was created 6000 years ago, that dinosaurs roamed the earth at the same time that man did, and that all the scientific evidence that blows those beliefs out of the water is somehow bogus. And yet these loudmouths have scared the bejeebies out of people who should know better.

I hope these corporate lackies who rejected this book feel good about their decision. And I hope this book sells millions of copies. That would be the best revenge for their spinelessness.

6 comments:

Donna Simpson said...

I call it the Tea Party syndrome... if you're loud enough, obnoxious enough, and threatening enough, it scares corporations. The belief in evolution has become to some a hot button issue because creationists claim it denies a belief in God, when it does no such thing. If folks believe in God, why can't they believe he or she created a natural way for the world to take care of itself?

hannah dennison said...

Wow ... I hadn't heard about this ... but it only confirms my growing concern with censorship. Yes - let's hope it sells millions and a few heads roll!

Rick Blechta said...

I don't know about you, but if I'm writing something to sell, I find myself thinking about this sort of thing. Even self-censorship is not a good thing.

Jared said...

Thanks for posting about this, Rick. I'll buy one for my 2nd Grader.

Rick Blechta said...

It really is a lovely book, Jared, and the illustrations are excellent. There is no reason why this book shouldn't be on the shelf in any library, school or public.

Anonymous said...

Yes, we are descending into something, especially in Canada. Look at all the attacks on science, from the firing of scientists at Environment Canada to the elimination of the long-form census.