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2012 Olympic Censorship - Hackney picks up the baton

The poison of Olympic lies and delusions is steadily spreading through the Olympic Boroughs. Earlier in the year Hackney Mayor Jules Pipe denounced Michael Rosen, the Children's Laureate, for criticising the development in Dalston as 'degeneration' saying Rosen wanted to 'keep Hackney crap'. Now this argument between Hackney's authors and its Council has plumbed new depths with the banning of Iain Sinclair, author of 'The Olympic Scam' (see attachment), from launching his new book, 'Hackney, That Rose-Red Empire', on Council premises.

The Council justified its ban with the following absurd reasoning: "Ian Sinclair is well known as an author who has expressed controversial opinions on local issues, such as regeneration and the 2012 Olympic legacy. A decision was taken that it would be inappropriate to launch this book about Hackney in a Council owned facility, as we do not wish it to appear that the Council condones or shares opinions expressed within the book. The same decision would be taken about launching any book expressing controversial or political opinions from a Council owned facility. The Council is happy to advise Mr Sinclair's publishers on more suitable venues in the borough, such as independent bookstores."

Why anyone would think that because Iain Sinclair was using Council premises this might suggest Council approval of his opinions is a mystery. Even stranger is the implication that it is necessary for the Council to distance itself from the opinions expressed in his book when it has no idea of what he has written. Sinclair is not renowned for inciting hatred or violence, which would seem to be the only legitimate and legal grounds for barring someone from using Council premises. In their ban Hackney highlight the fact that his controversial opinions relate to ‘local issues’. It is an indication of the Council's intellectual bankruptcy that it seems to regard this as further justification for banning him from local facilities.

For some reason Hackney is particularly concerned about ‘book launches’ saying this decision would apply to ‘any book’. So what about books already launched and possibly berthed on its library shelves, assuming they haven’t already been removed to make way for stored ideas, ‘expressing controversial or political opinions’? The idea that ‘expressing controversial or political opinions’ is an adequate reason for banning Mr Sinclair would suggest all debate, including political argument, should be banished from Hackney’s hallowed halls. Mr Pipe, himself, should be prevented from making assertions about ‘crap’ on Council-owned premises.

It is disturbing when visions of farce start to become reality. The fact that Hackney highlights Mr Sinclair’s views on the Olympic Legacy and regeneration reveals the real reason for the ban. For Iain Sinclair to question the holy grail of East End Olympic regeneration requires Hackney’s knights to ride to its rescue! The tools of media manipulation and misinformation are close at hand when it comes to the Olympics. London 2012 tries to keep a tight rein on what can be said on its blog, see Higgins bl*gs again, and the infection spreads to other organisations like Art on the Underground, see Inclusive Censorship: Art on the Underground TriFLes with our lives.

The hallowed Olympic park itself is protected with the drawn sword of Anti-Terrorism legislation. The obsession with control and security descends into dangerous farce. Recently an artist taking a photograph of a child pictured on the blue fence was told by a security guard he had to hand over the film or have it taken off him! Because of the alignment of the fence the artist wasn’t even facing the park when taking the photograph, deemed on other occasions to be an offence. He had thought it quaint that the child was also taking a photo.

Hackney Council's equally farcical venture into literary criticism plainly rests on its belief that its premises ‘belong’ to the Council, that is its staff and politicians, rather than to the people, like Iain Sinclair, who live in the Borough and pay for their upkeep along with the salaries of these same staff and politicians. These guardians of propriety present themselves as being above the din of ill-informed popular controversy, determined to prevent the pollution of Council-owned facilities by vulgar opinion.

The language of the ban is impersonal. We aren’t told who took the ‘decision’, only that ‘a decision was taken’. What arcane mystery does this conceal? How did this come about? It’s as if the ban is a kind of collective spiritual response from deep within the bowels of Hackney’s Council-owned facilities transmitted through the medium of a Council spokesperson! The Council has a vague unease. It is not entirely sure of what it is objecting to. It does not clearly assert wrongdoing. Only that something ‘inappropriate’ is about to happen! It seems to fear something ‘Sinclair’ is threatening the noble, Olympian ideals of Hackney - trying to keep it ‘crap’.

But, of course, being a Council it is ‘happy’ to advise on ‘more suitable’ venues. So they really are the good guys.


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The Olympics Scam by Iain Sinclair.doc80 KB

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