Frankly, I'm not much of a book lover, so it doesn't affect me a whole lot. I'm doing this for fun. And I don't like being painted as a cloistered, immature puritan out of expediency.
One thing noticeable (and predictable) about the list is that most of the titles have something to do with sex, religion and women, or a combination of two or more of those. It looks as if the censors took just one look at the title and BAM! Down came the rubber stamp. Maybe it's the exhilaration in the stamping, like a power trip. Or, maybe it's something else that's the real focus of the stamper's ire.
Anyway, with the help of Amazon.com, I took a closer look at some of the books not investigated by fellow watchdogs.
- The Beauty of Chinese Yixing Teapots
This ban is a mystery; all the book apparently talks about is tea and teapots. I see no reason for this, except that maybe it's the author that's banned, or if there are pictures of teapots that look remotely sexy. Or, maybe it was really, really late at night. They were sleepy and thought they were looking at The Beauty of Chinese Yixing Sexpots instead. So, down came the rubber stamp.
This book, by Annie Leibovitz and the late Susan Sontag, does have some provocative pictures: partial nudity, exposed innerwear, etc. Of course the chances that it could be abused are great, but better stroke materiel is available through the Internet, and from our legion of young, brilliantly-coiffed bootleggers. Big heavy deal.
- Company to Company Teacher's Book
"...for anyone studying or working in business, commerce or administration who needs to correspond in English," says the blurb. I don't know why this was banned either. Did the author use an unflattering scenario about Malaysia in a case study? Or maybe it's the emphasis on using English as a business medium that offends the officials?
- How to Talk to Your Child About Sex: It's Best to Start Early, But It's Never Too Late : a Step-by-Step Guide for Every Age
I still shudder with dread when I recall the New Straits Times report about our youth's ignorance on sexual matters ("You mean, sex is for making babies?"; "I can get AIDS through sex?"; "Sex makes me pregnant?"). They need to know, have to know. Don't deny them the knowledge.
- Taking Chances
Unfortunately, the ISBN given for this book was wrong, and a word search turned up multiple results. But I guess the title alone is threatening enough. Too many Malaysians are causing catastrophes by taking chances on roads, gaming machines and Magnum 3-D betting centres. What would happen if they started taking chances at general elections?
- Life on Earth: And Other Pieces (The New Cambridge English Course)
They banned an English course supplement? Can you blame me for thinking this is part of some covert nationalistic war on the perverse penetration of the English language in our society - which might actually be a good thing?
- Addicted to Love: The Kate Moss Story
What's worse than a book that "glorifies" an anorexic, neurotic supermodel, or a book that "glorifies" a drug addict? A book that "glorifies" an anorexic, neurotic supermodel who also happens to be a drug addict, with a topless but covered picture of said stick-figured substance-abuser splashed on the cover... Gah! My eyes!
- The Poor Bastard
An anonymous reviewer talks about this book, thus: "...Boy meets girl. Boy and girl fall in love. Boy feels trapped, treats girl like crap and takes her for granted. Girl breaks up with boy and moves on. Boy can't get over it, ...and falls into a hellish, self-conscious existence pondering his hang-ups, aging body, mortality, inability to meet women, obsession with porn..."
Hmm. Does this sound like people we know?
- The Missing Page and Ransom
These books by Singaporean Douglas Chua, set in an alternate reality where we are really at war with Singapore. Somebody has issues.
On the other hand, banning Spongebob Squarepants from the airwaves is a much better move. His bizarre laugh gets on my nerves.