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The Quaker Way of Censorship.
see also: Quaker Index



Ivor Catt. 30dec98

The Quaker Way of Censorship.

As I have said before, the Quakers make an important contribution to the analysis of contemporary censorship. Whereas other institutions or groups have one or more overt objectives, like making money or artistic achievement, the Quakers have virtually no overt objectives. Bereft of creed, they are perhaps the most pristine group of all.

Also, they are very well meaning. Thus, the fact that they have evolved effective modes of censorship is significant for a student of the Politics of Knowledge. Many years ago I tried to deliver one page of information to the Children's Committee in Friends House. I was prevented by their chairman Hosking, who insisted that I was promoting a personal problem, which I was not. She told me to take the information through the procedure for airing a Concern, which it was not. I tried to get Drewery, Chairman of the Friends House HIV Committee, to circulate one page of information on AIDS to her committee. She refused to do so. Again, she wanted me to send the information off on what I began to call The Quaker Steeplechase, which is the prescribed way of promoting a Concern.

Recently I advised the Chief Executive in Friends House that a Rowntree Report was in fact polemic masquerading as scholarship, and it had also been reported in the main Quaker journal, The Friend. I suggested a meeting where those responsible for the report and also members of the Lords and Commons Family and Child Protection Group, should speak. (The Parliamentary Committee has opposite conclusions based on valid research.) After much skirmishing, Smith, the chairman of the allegedly relevant committee, told me to treat the information as a Concern and take it through the Quaker Steeplechase. She referred me to the 1995 Quaker "Bible", Quaker Faith and Practice, sections 13.12 and 13.13. In all cases, I was trying to deliver information, not to develop a "Concern", as is obvious when one reads Section 13, where a Concern is discussed.

The present essay is an attempt to understand why information relevant to a subject of Quaker interest has to be rejected, or ignored, or suppressed, consistently, leaving Friends House woefully ill informed on subjects they involve themselves in. A clue is gained from the fact that two of the suppressers have said something to the effect that it is no good doing good "if the spirit is not right". Interpreted, they mean that in order to contribute usefully, one must first be the Quaker equivalent of an "Okay chap". I shall call such a "Quaker Okay Chap", or QOC.

Now we come to the heart of the matter. Those worthies who have sat on committees and lobbied enough to rise to high places, amateur or salaried, in the Quaker hierarchy, know that to do so is noble. Thus, it is easy to see why Quaker-kosher information can only come from one of their own. An incestuous, ignorant result is inevitable.  


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