NZ Christian group forces book ban
A prurient bunch of Christian prodnoses, Family First, has succeeded in getting an award-winning book for young adults banned in New Zealand.
The Film and Literature Board of Review, according to this report, has placed an interim restriction order on Into The River, by Auckland author Ted Dawe, above, meaning it cannot be sold, lent or displayed by anyone. It is the first ban imposed on a book in New Zealand in 22 years.
Dawe says he is appalled.
The idea that some Christian group can bring about the banning of a book seems to me a hideously unfair situation and something of a miscarriage of justice.
Dawe, 64, the head of studies at Taylors College for international students in Auckland, was quoted here as saying:
It’s extraordinary. I’ve had quite a few emails from people who share that sense of outrage. Do we live in a country where books get banned? I’ll get burnt next.
The NZ Booksellers Association has placed a notice on its website saying that they face fines of up to $3,000 for an individual or $10,000 for a business if they supply the book.
However, the book is still on sale on Amazon at $US24.99 in paperback or $US9.99 on Kindle.
Into the River won Book of the Year at the 2013 New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards, but has had a turbulent history.
The board of review initially restricted it to people aged 14 or over, but that was lifted last month.
The board then banned the book after Family First asked for a review, objecting to the book’s sex scenes, “offensive” language and references to drug-taking.
Dawe, his publisher Penguin and school libraries were all discussing what they could do next, he said.
Librarians have thrown their support behind the novel.
Regional collections manager at Auckland Libraries Louise LaHatte said she hoped there would be a chance to support the book through the review process. She said the freedom to read on a range of issues and topics was a really important one.
LaHatte added that the sex in the novel was not gratuitous.
An Internal Affairs spokeperson said the board of review now had to discuss what final restriction should be placed on Into the River.
The three options they would consider were an R18 restriction, an R14 restriction and no restriction, the spokesperson said.
No meeting date has been set yet.
Editor’s note: Readers may be interested in an article I wrote about censorship for the autumn issue of The Pink Humanist magazine.