Books Magazine

Salman Rushdie: “Everyone is Upset All the Time.”

By Robert Bruce @robertbruce76

If you’re easily offended, and if you’ve never read Salman Rushdie’s work, then you might want to stay away from it.

Rushdie has a dark sense of humor and doesn’t mind poking at different aspects of culture and religion. After publishing Satanic Verses in 1988, Rushdie routinely received death threats. In 1989, Ayatolla Khomeini–Iran’s spiritual leader at the time–pronounced a fatwa calling for Rushdie’s execution. I’m guessing Rushdie doesn’t vacation in Iran. He’s still on the hit list of Islamic extremists, like Al Qaeda, to this day.

I’ll talk more about this next week…but, for now, let’s just say Rushdie probably doesn’t have a lot of tolerance for easily offended people.

NPR interviewed Rushdie about his latest novel, Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights, and I thought this bit was insightful:

It’s Rushdie’s first novel for adults in seven years, and the book might ruffle some feathers, but Rushdie’s not concerned. “Everything I write upsets somebody …” he tells NPR’s Scott Simon. “It’s an age in which everyone is upset all the time. All you have to do is look at the Internet. It’s full of people screaming at other people for saying things they don’t like.”

The best-selling author was the subject of death threats — and a fatwa calling for his assassination — after the publication of his 1988 Satanic Verses. He was knighted in 2007, and, at this point, doesn’t have a lot of time or patience for Internet outrage.

“I think we have to just turn that sound off and turn away from that unpleasant noise and just get on with doing what we do,” he says. “I think this is a funny book. A sense of humor is a useful tool when reading my work.”

The internet is an easy offended place. Even I’m shocked at how the most light-hearted of comments I make on this blog can completely set someone off. The Christian guy on the internet goes off about something an atheist said. The atheist guy on the internet goes off about something the Christian guy said. It’s just so much noise.

Do you agree with Rushdie? Why are we so easily offended these days?

Image: Wikimedia Commons

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