July 10, 2003


The Guardian reports:

Some of the great works of English literature could be scrapped from the syllabus of one of Pakistan's leading universities because of what professors fear is a rising tide of Muslim fundamentalism.

A review of books studied in the English courses at Punjab University in Lahore singled out several texts, including Alexander Pope's The Rape of the Lock, Ernest Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises, and Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels as containing offensive sexual connotations which were deemed "vulgar".

The review appears to have been triggered by complaints made about the syllabus by the wife of a retired army general. She criticised the inclusion of two poems, including one by WH Auden, which she said promoted Jews, and a poem by Vikram Seth, who she said was too pro-Indian. She also said the poems of Adrienne Rich were unsuitable for study because she is a lesbian. "We have been tolerant for too long," the general's wife said.

The review was conducted by Dr Shahbaz Arif, and he isnít messing around:

Perhaps the most bizarre criticism is of a Sean O'Casey play, The End of the Beginning. Dr Arif makes no specific comment on the text but quotes several passages in which the apparently objectionable phrases are underlined. They include the phrase: "When the song ended, Darry cocks his ear and listens." Dr Arif has underlined the word "cocks".

Let's not jump to conclusions. Maybe Dr Arif really likes that word.

Posted by Tim Blair at July 10, 2003 07:54 PM

"When the song ended, Darry cocks his ear and listens."

The really evil thing about that sentence is that it begins in the past tense and ends in the present tense.

Under my Fundamentalist Grammarian regime, people who write like that will be quilled to death!

Posted by: Indole Ring at July 10, 2003 at 08:58 PM

How the hell could 'The Sun also Rises' offend anyone, except maybe PETA? That is the most banal piece of literature ever. I liked it, though.

Posted by: Rick Squane at July 10, 2003 at 10:14 PM

Right Arm!

After Darry cocks his ear, does he ever FIRE it?

Certainly a little Pakistani ignorance goes a LONG way.

Posted by: Straight_Talk at July 10, 2003 at 10:26 PM

Of course I've had it in the ear before. I've got a lust for life. Such a pity muslimes don't.

Posted by: Clem Snide at July 10, 2003 at 10:46 PM

Blimey, Rick, we have the same IP address! Are you me?

Posted by: Indole Ring at July 10, 2003 at 11:10 PM

Aha! I knew this new spy technology would pay off. You are exposed at last, Indole-Squane!

Posted by: tim at July 10, 2003 at 11:47 PM

Good detective work, Tim! The Vatican Bank will be sending a bonus this month.

Posted by: Pope John Paul II at July 10, 2003 at 11:53 PM

I don;t have any comment to make I just want to find out what my IP address is. Thanks.

Posted by: Yobbo at July 11, 2003 at 12:34 AM

Now I know why Auden renounced his poem, "September 1st, 1939". "We must all love another or die." Really? I think we can afford not to love Dr. Arif, and still live.

Posted by: Eric Jablow at July 11, 2003 at 02:28 AM

Save me me big fat allah bum, I'm reading Chaucer's tale, you know the one about the two young scholars shagging mother and daughter more times than a rabbit.Gad, it's dirty, I tell you, filth, pure filth. Save me, save me. Well, fatah allah, do soemthing.

Fat bum Allah: `Terribly sorry, can't right now.I just can't put down Canterbury Tales. Ho Ho ha ha. Oh, stop bitchin you whore.Alright, you're a good towel head, listen to those delinquents imams, and you read with devotion that bit of tripe the Koran. Now go away, never annoy me again, or else I'll puke all over you. Goodbye.'

Posted by: d at July 11, 2003 at 10:19 AM

TO: Tim
RE: Looks Like...

...another issue relating to what books should a school library admit.

I have no problem with whatever school having whatever books it wants in it's library. It's their money, neh?

Likewise, I have no problem with anyone posting complaints, in an open and honest venue, relating to such governance.

The points being:

(1) The people paying for the books have the right to determine what they pay for.

Thomas Jefferson once wrote that to force a people to pay their money to support something that is abhorant to them is the height of tyranny.

(2) In a truly 'free' society, places, such as this, afford people to attack and/or defend such decisions on the part of people cited in item 1 (above).

Jefferson also said that without such free discussion of decision making society was a farce on the brink of becoming a tragedy....or words to that affect.

The two points provide for rational evaluation of policies and where people would want to go to get a better 'education'.

And let the devil take the hindermost....



Posted by: Chuck Pelto at July 11, 2003 at 10:41 AM

I agree - we HAVE been tolerant for far too long.

Posted by: dee at July 11, 2003 at 10:56 AM

Whatever you do, don't introduce Doc Arif to the tales of "Dick and Jane"- he would have a brain embolism.

Posted by: paul bickford at July 11, 2003 at 11:16 AM

Has anyone translated the 5 Harry Potter books into Urdu yet? If we can get them while they're still young…

Posted by: Eric Jablow at July 11, 2003 at 12:22 PM

Bloody heck, Jablow, so many twats blaming western civilisation and assuring it is the just reason for blowing westerners up and you want to create more victims, strewth.

Posted by: d at July 11, 2003 at 12:40 PM

Doc Arif may in fact be better informed than the rest of us- Darryl may be exceptionally well equipped, and can in fact impersonate a petrol pump with his plonker, thus "Darryl cocks his ear". I find the prospect of someone with an auto-erotic aural fetish disturbing as well- I'm with the Doc on this one.

Posted by: paul bickford at July 11, 2003 at 12:52 PM

Dr. Arif may in fact have been aroused by this passage, causing him to pitch a tent in his Pashtun Pantaloons, thus bringing forward thoughts of that representation of western cultural imperialism, Bugs Bunny (What's Up, Doc?)
No wonder he is so disturbed by these publications.

Posted by: paul bickford at July 11, 2003 at 12:55 PM

Well, it seems Dr. Bowdler has converted to Islam.

Posted by: Michael Lonie at July 11, 2003 at 02:09 PM

Maybe Dr Arif would like to switch to the teachings of Ayatollah Khomeini, such as:-

"A man can have sex with animals such as sheep, cows, camels and so on. However he should kill the animal after he has his orgasm. He should not
sell the meat to the people in his own village, however selling the meat to the next door village should be fine.
From Khomeini's book, "Tahrirolvasyleh", fourth volume, Darol Elm, Gom, Iran, 1990"


Posted by: Paul Johnson at July 11, 2003 at 02:20 PM

Paul - are you sure the Ayatollah wasn't demanding that a man (which man, for Christ's sake??) should kill an animal WITH his orgasm?

I mean, it was an 'inspirational tract', after all....

Salutory lesson - "when in Persia, never trust the mutton casserole from the village next door."

Posted by: Brendan at July 11, 2003 at 02:30 PM

Especially if served with lots of yoghurt

Posted by: Paul Bickford at July 11, 2003 at 02:35 PM

Awww, duuuuuude.....

Posted by: Brendan at July 11, 2003 at 03:26 PM

I wonder if the point was to promote a Vegan lifestyle?

Posted by: Jake D at July 11, 2003 at 04:39 PM