Religious nutballs’ call for censorship guarantees good sales

Philip Pullman has revealed he was delighted to discover his novel Northern Lights was one of the most “challenged” titles of the year in America, with numerous calls made to have it removed from libraries.

Pullman’s children’s novel, which is sold as The Golden Compass in the US, was the fourth most challenged book in 2007, according to the American Library Association, which received 420 formally submitted complaints to libraries or schools over “inappropriate content and subject matter” last year.

Pullman said his immediate response on hearing the latest figures from the ALA was “glee”.

“Firstly, I had obviously annoyed a lot of censorious people, and secondly, any ban would provoke interested readers to move from the library, where they couldn’t get hold of my novel, to the bookshops, where they could,” Pullman said, pointing to previous objections to the film of The Golden Compass, which he said resulted in soaring book sales.

Pullman said that banning a book on religious grounds was “the worst reason of the lot”.

“Religion grants its adherents malign, intoxicating and morally corrosive sensations. Destroying intellectual freedom is always evil, but only religion makes doing evil feel quite so good,” he said.

BTW, Borders is currently promoting a festival celebrating banned books.

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