Famous authors attack Russian law on homosexuality

More than 200 prominent international authors, including Günter Grass, Salman Rushdie, Margaret Atwood and Jonathan Franzen, have joined forces to denounce the “chokehold” they say Russia’s anti-gay and blasphemy laws place on the freedom of expression, amid a growing swell of protest on the eve of the opening of the Sochi Winter Olympics.

See article in The Guardian (in which the letter appeared).

The letter is signed by several authors who appear in our courses. Whether or not you agree with the authors’ point, it is interesting that it’s perceived that they carry special moral weight. A famous organization called PEN International is for writers who wish to get involved in the defence of freedom of expression and it gets a good deal of publicity from its campaigns.

Wole Soyinka
Wole Soyinka, one of the signatories (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of the criticisms that has been levelled at the authors of this particular letter is that there are jurisdictions in which there are harsher laws against gay people (e.g. Nigeria, Saudi Arabia). Perhaps not all of the signatories are aware of worldwide legislation? Maybe some of them know little about Russian society? People who agree with the authors’ point of view and love their writing, might still find fault with combining the two. It is often said, for example, that sport and politics shouldn’t be mixed, and some feel the same about literature and politics. Against this general point it would be quickly pointed out by some of the best-known writers who signed the letter that they made their entire careers from political writing and that political issues are inextricable from their works.

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