08/08/2004: "Salman Rushdie: man with a death wish"
The author of The Satanic Verses, who is still under a death sentence from the mullahs of Iran, has gone and made them mad all over again:
The writer Salman Rushdie, who was put under a death sentence for insulting the prophet Muhammad, has raised the stakes with an essay in praise of pornography.
Rushdie argues that a free and civilised society should be judged by its willingness to accept pornography.
His views, to be published alongside images of American porn stars in a book called XXX:30 Porn Star, are likely to infuriate Christians and Muslims alike. Iranian hardliners recently renewed a death sentence on him after the original fatwah was lifted.
In an extract from his essay, "The East is Blue," to be published this autumn, Rushdie implies that Muslims are avid consumers of pornography because of the segregation of the sexes.
He writes: "Pornography exists everywhere, of course, but when it comes into societies in which itís difficult for young men and women to get together and do what young men and women often like doing, it satisfies a more general need."
He adds: "While doing so, it sometimes becomes a kind of standard-bearer for freedom, even civilisation...."
Of course the mullahs are barbarians to threaten Rushdie's life. But it's hard to say what Rushdie is trying to prove with this, other than that he is willing to live the rest of his life surrounded by bodyguards. Pornography coursens relationships between men and women, and causes men to think of women as objects to be used for self-gratification rather than people. While guarantees of freedom of speech and press may mean that a society has to tolerate the presence of porn, no healthy society ever accepts it, much less celebrates it. It is a sign of the degradation of civilization, rather than its standard-bearer.
(Thanks to Kendall Harmon for the story.)