This is an excellent and important post about our freedon of expression. We are much too quick to want to ban anything that might offend us personnally. The Inferno is one of the great books of all times.
I feel personally broadsided. As someone who assigns Dante’s Divine Comedy (in Allen Mandelbaum’s great translation) to college students at least once every year-and-a-half or so, the following news headline, from London’s Telegraph, is disconcerting (to say the least):
Dante’s Divine Comedy ‘offensive and should be banned’
The headline represents the serious position of a (self-described) human rights organization, based in Italy, which is calling for Dante’s Divine Comedy to no longer be taught in schools and universities. The “human rights organization” calls itself Gherush 92, and the Telegraph says it “acts as a consultant to UN bodies on racism and discrimination.”
I wonder how one actually gets a job consulting at the UN on racism and discrimination, but if I had such a job, here’s what I’d say about any proposal to ban a literary text like Dante’s Divine Comedy:
It is racist, discriminatory, and patronizing to assume…
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