Censorship, death-threats and virtual weddings
By Hans Olav Arnesen
Cencorship has become quite a recurring theme in India of late. And like in much of the rest of the World it is religious sensibilites that are to be protected from offensive expressions. The first artistic expression that felt the heavy hand of cencorship was the Bollywood movie “Ghost”. Like the title implies it is a horror movie, supposedly one of the most violent movies ever made in India. That however is not the reason why Indian authorities have demanded that some of the most essential parts of the movie are cut out of the film. According to The Guardian it is rather one particular scene, where a female spirit is crucified that has to be removed because it is deemed offensive to Christians.
Christians are not the only ones to be offended by blasphemous art, and compared to certain Muslims they might even be considered thick-skinned. The famous, or in some circles infamous, Indian author, Salman Rushdie, was meant to speak at the Indian Literature Festival at Jaipur. According to The Telegraph the visit was cancelled due to intelligence reports about plans to assassinate the author, but luckily we live in the 21st century. Technology became the answer as so many times before, and it was decided that Rushdie would speak at the festival through a video link. What a victory for modern communication technology over barbarous zealotism! But no. The organizers cancelled the video link as well after the police predicted riots at the festival if Rushdie was allowed to speak.
Professor Helen Farley – her Second Life avatar and the real life scholar
A defeat for the freedom of speech for sure, but we choose to call it a victory for technology nonetheless. Video links are not the only way of overcoming the challenges of distance however, and maybe not that of terrorists either. We have written about professor Helen Farley at the University of Queensland before, and how she uses Second Life to lecture for students in far off places in Australia without ever having to leave Brisbane. She is not the only one using Second Life in this way. The link below shows how Second Life can be used to hold a conference on religion.
Second Life is not only for scholars however. One phenomenon we have yet to explore on this site is the increasing number of virtual weddings taking place online, and especially in Second Life. This is not a new thing and people started tying their knots soon after Second Life opened its “doors” in 2003. One of the earliest weddings to take place in Second Life was the beautiful between the two British wedding-pioneers, Amy Taylor and David Pollard. The two met in an online-chatroom and got married in Second Life, but both their marriage and life together was very much real, and they lived together in the real world.
Unfortunately it didn´t last. According to CNN Amy started getting suspicious of her husband. He didn´t do anything wrong in the real world, but she caught him having sex with a virtual prostitute, according to The Guardian. Well their real life love survived this first crisis, but their online relationship ended. After staging a honey trap where David was tempted by voluptuous virtual temptress, but proved himself faithful, they resumed their virtual relationship and got married online, as well as in real life. Some time later however Amy once again caught David in the virtual act, chatting with another virtual woman on the internet. This time their relationship and marriage ended both worlds.
Videos of virtual wedding ceremonies from different religions are included below.
- Religious Science in Second Life
- The Guardian (Bollywood)
- YouTube (Ghost)
- The Telegraph (Rushdie)
- The Guardian (Virtual wedding – real divorce)