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You may, or may not, have heard about the ongoing censorship row in Britain at the moment. Carol Ann Duffy (who is the awesome) is a very well-regarded poet, whose poems have been in exam anthologies for years. I studied her for G.C.S.E last year (not sure what the American equivalent exam is, but I was 16 at the time), and thought she was excellent. One of her poems, Education for Leisure, after being on the syllabus for three years – during which time it was studied by many for exams – has just been removed from the syllabus following complaints from three schools. Three! Never mind that the reason for those complaints is so ridiculous as to defy language (we’ll come to those complaints in a moment), but only three bloody complaints!

Furthermore, it was suggested by the exam board that the syllabuses (or syllabi) be destroyed, that’s how dangerous this particular poem is perceived to be! (That statement by the exam board conjured up easy images of Nazi censorship and book-burning, and was quickly qualified to mean something different).

Again, an example of an offended minority pushing their way of doing things – their way of thinking – onto a majority.

The main person behind the complaints is Pat Schofield, an external examiner at Lutterworth College, Leicestershire, who complained about the poem and who welcomed the decision to ban a poem she described as “absolutely horrendous”. She described the poem as “a bit weird. But having read her other poems I found they were all a little bit weird. But that’s me”. Well, yes, that is you, and it shows that you really are a Grade A pillock (Duffy in-joke!).

Duffy writes rhyming reposte

However, the real people to blame are the exam board, AQA, who caved in. A minority of pillocks, in apposition with an organisation afraid of – God forbid – offending people, is a dangerous thing at all times. In this case, pillock refers to three people who didn’t understand that a poem they thought was glorifying knife crime was in fact doing the opposite, and had been acclaimed for doing the opposite, for years.

Yet, it’s the same thing. Censorship. Restriction of freedom. Why? For the reason that she thought it was “a bit weird”. For the reason that she – and a minority consisting of two others – didn’t like it, and thus didn’t think anyone else should read it either. And the exam board gave in.

In other cases, “pillock” refers to the museums in my England who have covered up signs next to exhibits that offended a Christian fundamentalist minority. These signs in museums – hallowed (if that’s the right word to use) centres of learning and knowledge and wonder at the sheer sublime beauty of nature and history – were covered up because they dared to say that Darwin’s Theory of evolution by natural selection actually helps scientists know about the origins of life. Apparently, this isn’t a view shared by creationists…? 😛

We need to stop being afraid of the pillocks. I would fight for their right to be allowed to say such silly things – but there is no need to actually do what the idiots say. Their tactics are tactics of fear, and – quite often – we who are so afraid of causing offence to anyone, censor ourselves. We must not let such flagrant abuses of free speech and liberty persist.

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