We’ve remarked several times over the last couple of years on here about the Belgian court case alleging racism in Tintin in the Congo and demanding a ban on the book (the case was dismissed just recently as judges felt given the time it was created there was no intention to offend or incite racism, but an appeal may take it further). However award-winning SF novelist Lauren Beukes points us to this fascinating and well written article by one of our most innovative authors, China Mieville, who considers freedom of speech and how being legally free to say what you want doesn’t necessarily mean you are divorced from the responsibility for what you say. He uses the Tintin in the Congo case several times as an example:
“Stand down: literature has defeated the Thought Police. Belgium’s supreme court has defeated the mischief-making of the whining PC brigade. Tintin is not banned. Huzzah!
The badness of the bad faith involved in the commentariat’s discussion of this issue, the relentlessness of their categoric elisions, the unpleasantness of their crowing over the victory, should come as no surprise. This was never, at root, about banning. Yes, Bienvenue Mbutu Mondondo was applying to the court to have Tintin in the Congo declared unacceptable under the Belgian race relations law. However, he had made clear for years that he would be satisfied if, as in Britain, the book was published with a visible warning, a reminder of the context in which it was written (maybe even of the toxic ideology enshrined within). What Mondondo wanted was an official recognition that this text was a spitting in his face. That it came down to what was always clearly a nuclear option was due to the steadfast refusal of the publishers to countenance this – and thereby take responsibility for what they publish. The Belgian establishment went to cultural war, & it did so not for free speech, but for their right not to apologise for racist slander.“