Moral Panic 2.0: the era of progressive censorship

A typical result obtaining by searching for ‘protest against “innocence of Muslims”.’ There is an endless of supply of such photos, some including flag-burnings and “rage boys” who are not shy about expressing their feelings.

Moral panics used to afflict those of a conservative disposition. They would typically protest displays of modern art, music and literature deemed offensive to religious feelings and traditional moral values.

nytimesThere may have been some written protest over the James Joyce’s book but you will search in vain to find any crowd protests such as present-day Muslims can summon in a flash.

When James Joyce’s Ulysses was published in 1922, an article in the Quarterly Review stated: ‘From any Christian point of view this book must be proclaimed anathema, simply because it tries to pour ridicule on the most sacred themes and characters in what has been the religion of Europe for nearly two thousand years. And this is the book which ignorant French critics hail as the proof of Ireland’s re-entry into European literature!’

But over the past couple of decades, the nature of moral panics has changed. We are now in the era of Moral Panic 2.0. It’s no longer concerned social conservatives doing the moral panicking — it’s progressive liberals…

In July 2014, Swedish police raided an art gallery, seized several offensive artworks and arrested the artist — notorious provocateur Dan Park — as well as the gallery owner, and charged them with defamation and violating Sweden’s hate-speech laws. On 19 August, Park was sentenced to six months in prison, while the gallery owner received a suspended prison sentence. Just for good measure, the court also ordered the offending artworks to be destroyed. The court said that Park ‘had an obligation to avoid being gratuitously offensive to others’. Clearly thinking Park’s incarceration was insufficiently punitive, on New Year’s Day a group of masked men, alleged to be ‘anti-fascists’, beat him up. The attack on Park shows that, all too often, today’s insistence on ‘tolerance’ is really a rallying cry for intolerance.


It seems that Moral Panic 1.0 (against books like Ulysses) was nowhere near what Muslims and other grievance-mongers are arranging now. The book was published in the 1920’s, true, but I could not find a single crowd photo of a protest.  

I suspect that even then the “panickers” were very tame compared to what are seeing today.  Was his life ever at threat?  The Wiki entry on the book says nothing about protests by the general public at all.

Share
  • Pete_Brewster

    Of course it wasn’t. Even the IRA were too busy with other things in 1922 to waste time on emigré writers of unreadable novels taking the piss out of the Poor Old Woman. And they weren’t known for giving quarter to enemies of the nation, real or imagined.