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The Forum > Article Comments > Banning Dante's Divine Comedy is a human tragedy > Comments

Banning Dante's Divine Comedy is a human tragedy : Comments

By Ben Coleridge, published 21/3/2012

You cannot ban the past without poisoning the present and the future.

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Surely the idea of comedy is to laugh at one's self, regardless of religion, sexual preference or ethnic background. This is something we accused the Americans of, pre-Simpsons. The work also reflects cultural history and if it were to be banned from school and university curriculums we would be guilty of doing what the Japanese did to post war students, deny access to the truth. If we ban this, should we also ban Sheakespear, or Tolstoy? The humanities suffer enough from cut backs in funding and a total disregard, within society. Unlike earlier civilisations, we fail to see the value in past observations and cultural expression and lest we should forgetů It is only humour. Compare it with little Britain or the League of Gentlemen and view it in context.
Posted by David Leigh, Wednesday, 21 March 2012 10:19:32 AM
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I agree it's preposterous Dante or any texts should be banned, expurgated or even slighted for their offences against modern sensibilities. Apart from the fact these texts offer us insights into defunct societies and ideologies, they often do hold insights into the human condition that are as relevant as ever. There's even the much discredited idea of aesthetics that such texts seek to embody that may one day be relevant again. The most important reason though to go on reading and studying our classic texts is not for the sake of their canonicity--or chauvinist/ostensibly civilising effects--but in the face of a rapidly homogenising, demystifying and depoliticising world culture, wherein we're all increasingly policed by the puerilities of political correctness. Those who are incited by what is now acknowledged by most as racist or offensive content, are in all likelihood predisposed to be so and take texts from antiquity as confirmation of their modern prejudices.
The great texts of the past are often full of horrors, but when studied thoughtfully they also reveal to us how much we've lost, and how impoverished the age of reason is.
Posted by Squeers, Wednesday, 21 March 2012 11:36:42 AM
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Gherush92 is a very nutty oganisation, yet is an advisor to the UN. That tells us all something about both organisations.

http://www.gherush92.com/news.asp?id=2885
Posted by Atman, Wednesday, 21 March 2012 1:09:57 PM
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Excellent question, Mr Coleridge.

"So how do we answer Gherush 92?"

My opinion? We don't.

Not a single word.

For a start, it would be utterly pointless.

Any organization that comes up with such an infantile, spiteful idea does not deserve a response. Nor, given its background and the logic that it clearly employs, would they take the slightest interest in your opinion anyway.

There is a particular type of organization that has forfeit any right to sensible, dispassionate debate, and I'm pretty sure that Gherush 92 is one of those.

By tacitly ascribing to them some ability to think the issue through, you are giving them a respect that they clearly have not earned. Furthermore, by engaging in discussions with them in this manner, you are providing their views with the oxygen of publicity that they patently do not deserve.
Posted by Pericles, Wednesday, 21 March 2012 2:31:29 PM
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It's a bit of a trend, this banning Classics thing. Recently in the US state of Arizona, the Tea Party types managed to have Shakespeare thrown off secondary school curricula because he was seen to be "too liberal (eg freethinker)".
And, of course, we know what has happened with poor old Darwin and other more recent thinkers.
"Once they start burning books, etc..".
What's also troubling is how often this trend is being driven by conservative religious or ideological types.
Posted by paul walter, Wednesday, 21 March 2012 7:42:19 PM
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Odd really, it was only in 2004 that the City of Florence officially lifted the death sentence on poor old Dante.

Curious creatures we humans?
Posted by spindoc, Friday, 23 March 2012 8:09:22 AM
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