NZ Christian group forces book ban

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.

23 responses to “NZ Christian group forces book ban”

  1. barriejohn says:

    I have come across an image of a New Zealand Christian facing up to the challenges of living in the 21st Century:

  2. Broga says:

    This ban will boost its sales. I doubt if it can match the bible e.g. Song of Solomon, for prurience.

  3. Brian Jordan says:

    They have their heads in the sand.They may not want their servants to rea it, but maybe their servants don’t have mobile phones. It will be only days before pirate ebook copies are available free online. The only person to suffer from this ban will be the poor author.

  4. Newspaniard says:

    Book ordered through

  5. Har Davids says:

    How many New Zealanders do these Family First people represent, that makes it possible they can demand on ban on book? And even if it’s a sizable majority, why should this Board give in? I’ve only been as far as Old Zeeland in Holland, and even there it’s 2015.

  6. jay says:

    Every year in April, the American Library Association has a ‘banned books’ week.

    I get annoyed, however at the ‘brave’ individuals and their trendy ‘I Read Banned Books’ T-shirts when the closest they come to a banned book are things pulled from school libraries or banned in some locations a century ago.

    Hey wannabes, don’t go patting yourself on the back for reading banned books unless you are actually putting something on the line and openly reading something that is actually banned.

    He’res you chance, NZ folks.

  7. AgentCormac says:

    I find the gratuitous violence, incest, murder, genocide, wizardry and general carrying on with prostitutes that appears in the bible to be highly objectionable. I demand that it is banned.

  8. L.Long says:

    Banning a book is the same thing as screaming READ ME!!!!
    xtians and other religious groups cannot be called stupid, not because it is insulting but because they should not be complimented on their level of intelligence.

  9. pwatch says:

    Dear Agent — your free NOT to read it, you know.

  10. Ban the Bible. says:

    The books that really should be banned are the koran and the bible.

    Whenver I stay in a hotel that has a bible in the room I aways toss the bible into the trash bin. I have not yet come across a koran in a hotel in which I have stayed. Nor will I ever stay in a hotel that puts korans in its rooms.

    Is there some law that demands bibles be put in hotel rooms? Could be a good marketing ploy in the uk for hotels to have a policy of NOT inflicting bibles upon their customers.

  11. Stephen Mynett says:

    It is a pity they do not leave the book of Mormon in hotel rooms, in places it is one of the funniest books I have read.

  12. AgentCormac says:

    Erm… it was actually meant as an ironic response intended to highlight the double standards being displayed by those who have successfully banned a book the contents of which are, compared to the horrors described in their own ‘holy book’, reatively mild. Sorry if that went over your head. And yes, I am totally aware that I am free NOT to read the bible, you know. (Although unlike most christians I have actually read that book of fantasy and lies.)

  13. zombiehunter says:

    I hope there is going to be an appeal against this appalling decision, I’m disappointed that this can happen in a country like New Zealand, this is the sort of behaviour I would expect from Singapore or china.

  14. Cali Ron says:

    Off topic, but thanks to Freethinker for the link to the “do your fucking job”video. I posted the link on Media Matters and got a lot of positive responses. Last I checked it had over 37,000 views.

    Didn’t realize that New Zealand had reverted back to the dark ages. Christians there, like those in America are just not happy unless they can impose their beliefs on everybody else. Actually getting a book banned must seem quite the coup to them.

  15. AgentCormac says:

    @Cali Ron
    Agreed. The ‘Do your fucking job’ video is outstanding.

  16. Broga says:

    @pwatch / AgentCormac: There are good reasons for atheists to read and know the bible. As I have experienced many times the devout Christians will selectively use the “good” bits of the bible to push their message. The BBC does this daily and for hours every Sunday. Knowing the bible allows us to protect ourselves against the relentless propaganda.

    Another reason for me is that I enjoy knowing the bible better than many Christians as this allows me to have a bit of fun quoting the “bad” bits back at them. Listening to a devout religious relative trying to explain away some absurdity in the bible e.g. the nonsense about all the animals being on the Ark or where Cain and Abel found women to breed with is entertaining. Her main ambition in life seems to be to persuade me to “open your heart to Jesus” and be saved is not succeeding.

  17. Robster says:

    There was a story a while back reporting that over 50% of the Kiwi population identify as non-religious, those afflicted with the Christian nonsense were way down the list. It was a positive thing, now there’s a bigoted, hate filled minority once again imposing its stone-age beliefs on everybody else. If they don’t want to read it, don’t, it really is that simple. How dare these god besotted idiots decide what I can and can’t read.

  18. Laura Roberts says:

    @jay: I don’t have a problem with the “I read banned books” t-shirts. I think it’s a gentle and humorous way to stick it to these goofy conservatives. Honestly I don’t think reading banned books is “brave” at any level in a developed nation such as the U.S., where the worst consequence would be sanctimonious Christians glaring at you. On the other hand, openly reading even an older banned book like “The Satanic Letters” in, say, Bangledesh would be exceptionally brave (if not suicidal).

  19. Bob says:

    There are fucking militant atheists who ban the Gideons from placing Bibles in Universities.

  20. Cali Ron says:

    @Bob: They are not militant, they are vigilant, merely trying to maintain separation of church and state as the founding fathers intended. Kudos to those atheist. “Gideon checked out and he left it no doubt to help with poor Rocky’s revival.” Although Gideons bible won’t really save your soul the pages make passable rolling papers in a pinch and are better than the Sears catalog when you run out of TP.

    @Broga: My extensive indoctrination to the bible has proven to be quite helpful in debating the deluded christians. At least all that time in bible studies, reading the bible and related christian propaganda wasn’t all a total waste of time. The preying on the other hand has had no redeeming value. Still waiting on that winning lottery ticket god!

  21. dennis says:

    Bob it does not deserve to be thrown around willie nellie. how would you feel if I brought science books and placed it next to every bible in the back of the bench at your church. the bible belongs as a reference book in universities but not for proselytizing in reference halls or hotels on public property (even church property, ups now I am being militant.) your stones of ten commandments do not belong at a court house or other public property under the same logic.

    Broga I was reading the bible and read some silly little part and busted out laughing about some scripture. next thing I knew my mom hit me saying “you don’t laugh when reading the word of the lord.” never read again till I was out of the reach of my moms slaps, still laughing

  22. barriejohn says:

    Dennis: What a brilliant idea! We should set up an organization that “places” copies of The God Delusion in churches throughout the land. How come no one thought of that before?