C-word nine times, the F-word 17 times and s-h-i-t 16 times, but not banned anymore

New Zealand has flipped back into the 21st century by unbanning a banned book.  

Leaving the suitability of the book for young adults to one side, we should never ban books because that means someone gets to decide what is acceptable and what isn’t.  The ability to write anything at all, no matter how unsuitable, is something that needs to be protected.

Award-winning book Into the River will be back on shelves after an interim ban on it was lifted today; however, it was not a unanimous decision.

Library and bookshop shelves across the country were stripped of the teen novel after an interim ban was placed on it for explicit content.

The book, written by Ted Dawe, won the 2013 NZ Post Children’s Book Awards.

Last month, the coming-of-age novel was given the interim ban by the Film and Literature Board of Review following a request by Family First.

The book was initially released with stickers warning of explicit content, but without any age restriction. The board later changed it to R14, but last month the chief censor removed the restriction, as well as the requirement it carry a sticker warning.  

After receiving complaints from Family First, the board announced Into the River would be banned until a final decision could be made, saying the censor may have unlawfully removed the board’s restrictions.

But in a decision released today, the board says the book’s cover contained a warning of the explicit material in the book that was “appropriate and useful”.

“There is no doubt that there will be many parents who would prefer that their children were not exposed to such material and the warning is a helpful way of assisting them.”

The book was not deemed to promote or support the activities it describes, the board says, and actually portrays them in a negative light.

But the board’s president, Dr Don Mathieson, disagreed with the majority decision, saying an age restriction of R18 should be put on the book, or at least R14.

He said while he agreed with much of the decision, he sided with Family First when it said the issue of bullying could be dealt with without “gratuitous and offensive descriptions of sexual encounters involving children and adults, sexual grooming, rape, the normalisation of drug use”.

The author will be ecstatic that a warning label on the cover is still required…it will increase sales hugely now everyone knows it has naughty bits in it.

He will also probably send a limited edition to the fool Bob McCoskrie who has helped promote the book using the Streisand Effect. As an added bonus it has caused overseas interest and the book is now selling there.

– 3News


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  • Mark

    I can remember as a youngster learning a valuable lesson when “The Little Red School Book” became hot property around school.
    Banning works,for authors!

  • metalnwood

    Yes, not sure why a book would be banned. Perhaps stay on the shelves with a high age restriction until it is sorted but a complete ban?

  • Merv

    At least Bob McCroskie is a ‘fool on the hill’. The real fools are the ones in the gutter who will buy this book for the naughty bits, perhaps proving the old maxim – ‘garbage in, garbage out’.

  • Mark

    From another author who had his childrens books banned.

  • duve

    I don’t agree with ” The ability to write anything at all, no matter how unsuitable, is something that needs to be protected.” Would you support the right to freely publish instructions on suicide bobing, for instance?

    • stephen2d

      Having sex and suicide bombing is the same thing??

      • metalnwood

        Apparently there is a link, the bombing is first then the sex comes later.

    • TV and movies are full of stories that show you exactly how to murder someone,what poisons to use, where to stick a needle so the coroner is highly likely to miss it, and so on.

      I think I have a fairly good grasp on how to kill someone with a knife, or a gun, or even just driving into them with a car. I’ve been shown this for decades.

      Still to do one though.

      So the publishing isn’t the problem. Is it?

      • duve

        It is, if the aim of the publication goes beyond the things you mention, and the intention is to “radicalize” the individual. It is one thing to tell how to achieve murder and mayhem, another to present them as desirable, or sanctioned by a higher power. It is the latter that should be banned.

  • Nebman

    I’m confused. What’s a Christian, anti Gay rights Lay Anglican Lawyer doing as President of the Board of Review for Film and Lit?

    It’s difficult to see him doing anything different next time a similar decision comes up for review and banning yet more books. The reality is that he was not applying the law merely his own personal view based on his beliefs.

    Would not think he was well suited to this role.

    • Whitey

      Sadly, I can imagine he’s the sort of person who would be attracted to such a role.

      • LesleyNZ

        Why is it sad Whitey?

        • Whitey

          I find it sad because his background will give him a particular set of opinions, values, and beliefs that will most likely colour his professional decisions. While I support his right to have the opinions, values and beliefs he has, I don’t think it is appropriate for him to impose them on others. I should clarify that I think it’s inappropriate for anyone to impose their opinions and beliefs on others, regardless of what their opinion is. I am opposed to censorship in general, regardless of who is doing it.

    • LesleyNZ

      So do you think an anti-Christian, pro gay rights atheist lawyer would make a better President? Why is it that anyone who happens to think in a Christian manner is considered to be not well suited and always wrong? We all have our personal beliefs whether we like to admit it or not. Our personal beliefs do affect our views – whether we like it or not – Christian or otherwise. NZ may well be now in 21st Century but that does not mean to say that all is good.

      • Nebman

        Not at all – but I submit that his Anglican and by definition, Christian position colours his views as to what gets approved and what does not.

        In isolation that’s neither good or bad – ie, if he was a parent stopping his children from reading or viewing such material that would be his choice but in this case, his decision affects what every single person in this country can read or watch based on his personal bias and that I think is wrong.

        The Chief censor had already approved the book. Don Mathieson over-ruled the Censor based on his personal views and those views are heavily biased toward a Christian agenda. That’s not right in my view.

        I have no agenda pro or anti anyone who believes in any deity but please don’t use those beliefs to try to influence mine or my choices.

        The link below is an example of his views on Homosexual marriage and blessings within the Anglican Church. Again, I have no beef with his personal views. But I ask the question if his personal bias should in fact mean he is not the right person for this particular role.


        • Jonosbro

          Umm, liberals do it all the time. Imposing their worldview on the rest of us is what their entire ideology is built on. From preventing us from running businesses based on our own beliefs, to controlling and regulating our speech and sometimes criminalizing it, everything is based on what they think you should be hi bar like or believe. But now that a Christian does it, you’re up in harms.

          Double standard much?

  • LesleyNZ

    It is the teachers who teach the children and their standard of judgement that is the issue with me and I do not trust their judgement. One reason why my children never went to a state school up until secondary level and one reason why my grandchildren will never attend a state school until secondary school level.

  • Usaywot

    I don’t think banning books is wise. It just promotes them. But I think it is a sad indictment of modern society that a children’s, or at least, young persons, author feels the necessity to write books with this sort of language and content. Kids just have it coming at them from all directions nowadays, poor things.

  • johcar

    The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good.

    By the Christian definition then, I am a fool. But I vehemently disagree with the second part of that quote from Psalms and would challenge anyone to point to any “vile deeds” I have committed (despite the fact that I do not claim to be perfect). And I can point to many good deeds I have done in my life…

    Christians do not have the exclusive deal on good deeds and actions.

    The banning of a book invokes the Streisand Effect. Personal choice is the best way forward – and if you have had a good upbringing (irrespective of religious background), the choices you make for yourself and your family will be sound.

  • duve

    The judgement is normally that of the community in which we live. The same judgement which allows for certain information to be kept from the populace at large if there is good reason (i.e GCSB investigations, etc.)