Award-winning writer Patrick Ness, author of children’s books ‘Chaos Walking’ and ‘A Monster Calls’, has questioned the value of instant feedback on social media and blogs and said it has created a culture of self-censorship that threatens to stifle future literary works.
Speaking at the Edinburgh world writers’ conference he said that “instead of bringing us all together in an omnipresent, multi-faceted discussion, the internet instead has made sectarianism an almost default position”.
Ness talked about the fear of having words “misappropriated, misquoted or badly paraphrased” on Twitter.
According to a report by the Guardian he questioned whether Salman Rushdie’s controversial 1988 novel ‘The Satanic Verses’, which was inspired in part by the life of Muhammad, would have been written today.
The Satanic Verses sparked a major controversy when conservative Muslims accused it of blasphemy and mocking their faith. The outrage resulted in a fatwa calling for Rushdie’s death issued by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the Supreme Leader of Iran, on 14 February 1989, and sent Rushdie into hiding.
“Ask yourself, truthfully, would you sit down tomorrow morning and start writing a novel with Muhammad as your central character? A Muhammad treated as a fallible man rather than a prophet? A Muhammad perhaps even criticised?
“Though no one really wants to say so out loud, most of us seem to accept these days that the comments on Guardian articles … while occasionally containing interesting replies, are far more often the domain of outraged point-missers, incandescently furious pedants, and trolls who don’t bother reading past the sub-headline,” the Guardian reports.