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Saturday, 3 November 2007

From beauty to Orwellian Newspeak. Memories of Vietnam

Portrait of a young woman. Saigon, perhaps about 1960.
In 1960 of course the world was a hard place. Everything was forbidden to youth. There were right wing dictatorships, there were left wing dictatorships. There were also parental dictatorships where everything not forbidden by the state was not allowed by the family.
Nowadays we live in a free society where everything is permitted and nothing forbidden.
So I was a little surprised to have two articles rejected recently by publishers ( American?) because they contained forbidden words.
The articles were taken from earlier posts on this blog.
The first forbidden word was: cigarette
The extract was:

Driving on we were stopped two or three times in the rubber plantations by Regional Force soldiers who wanted to be recompensed for guarding the road for us! I always kept a carton or two of cigarettes for that and usually two or three packets would suffice. Reaching the Baria Saigon road PB wanted to go to Saigon, so I had to drive there and then back to Van Kiep. I think I must have driven a good eighteen hours during those two days. I could hardly move a muscle when I got back.
The second forbidden word was: Hash
The extract was:
I started to use Vietnamese restaurants. The sea food was beautiful in Vung
Tau. I would go in to the restaurant and then enter the kitchen and point at
certain food items. Unfortunately instead of giving me the lovely dishes
served up to the locals they made a hash of it trying to serve up some
western concoction. There were perfectly good French restaurants if I had
wanted western food.
I wonder at the level of education of some editors concerning the use of the word hash. Are all uses of a word to be forbidden because of some vulgar slang word?
There would also appear to be a form of politically correct Orwellian Newspeak creeping in on internet. The brushing out of the past that does not conform to modern conformity.
Why did the Americans kill tens of thousands of the Vietnamese and lose nearly sixty thousand GIs? . To save the world from what?
Better to have banned napalm, Agent orange and cluster bombs

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