“Writers don’t like to talk about censorship,” said Salman Rushdie, as he gave the closing lecture at the PEN World Voices in Literature Festival. “If writing is the act of creation, then censorship is the act of non-creation.” It is, to put it simply, the very opposite of what original writing strives to be—a revolution in thought and expression.
Rushdie emphasized that original art is never made “in the middle.” It is created on the edge, which by definition means it is both dangerous and as many media outlets like to proclaim, “controversial.” It challenges the status quo, which a growing number of political regimes across the globe, are fearful of and disdainful towards. They—often far from democratic in governance—believe the silencing of words, of art, of ideas is the only means to maintain their reign of power. And so they engage in the act of non-creation, their censorial lie replacing the artist’s truth.