Media

What happens next in the censorship saga?

BY Allan Massie   /  11 January 2018

This article may be a bit vague, partly because I’m uncertain of some of the facts – if facts they be – and partly because it enters into the murky realm of speculation. Nevertheless bear with me if you can.

It concerns a transport company called – if I’ve got this right – Mary, and a newspaper entitled the “Daily Man”, incorporating, though this may not be relevant, the once much-loved “Suburban Gazette”. Mary is a transport company owning airlines, trains and buses. It is very high-minded and a fine example of what used to be called “Political Correctness”, though I believe this expression is – like the “Daily Man” more than somewhat out-of-date.

Like many transport operators, Mary provides other services to its customers (or passengers, as we used to say). It offers newspapers for their enjoyment and enlightenment. Some are given away free, others sold at kiosks. The customers are happy. Yet a dark cloud obscures the sun. Some passengers, not being as high-minded as Mary’s chiefs, read the Daily Man. Some are even prepared to pay for it.

Naturally the good people of Mary have become very uneasy about this. They have realized that the tone of the Daily Man is often offensive. It expresses views and strikes attitudes which might have been acceptable in the dark days of the past, the time before Enlightenment broke. It may be – though I am not sure about this – that Mary has received anguished complaints from customers who have been disturbed by the sight of men in suits reading the Daily Man and even nodding appreciatively. It may be that some have had to receive counselling as a consequence. And it is even possible that some of these good people are talking of bringing an action against Mary for causing them emotional, even – dare I say it? – traumatic stress by exposing them to this terrible sight.

Naturally the caring men and women who run Mary have responded in exemplary fashion. They have decided that copies of the Daily Man will no longer be made available on their aeroplanes, trains buses and, for all I know, rickshaws. The news has been met with a murmur of heart-felt relief. For a moment all is joy.

And yet doubts will, I speculate, soon begin to surface, and, having surfaced, to fester. Questions will then be asked. Has Mary gone far enough? Isn’t it possible – dread thought – that some unregenerate passengers may brazenly bring their own copy of the Daily Man onto plane, train, or bus, and sit there openly reading it to the profound distress of tender-minded folk?

What next? My sources suggest that the matter is already under discussion in Mary HQ. For some the solution is the establishment of a checkpoint at the barrier, at which copies of the Daily Man would have to be surrendered before the ticket-holder was permitted to board plane, train or bus. A step in the right direction evidently; yet some ask whether it is too small a step.

After all, a sensitive high-minded soul might still find herself sitting next to someone who had just been reading the Daily Man, and indeed did so habitually. How this is to be prevented remains a subject for discussion. So we may expect the story to run for some time yet, with who knows what tightening of security measures