I have only one Salman Rushdie story, so I’ll tell it quick then point you to something you’ve GOT to see.


I had a friend and office mate in graduate school who came in one day all gloating and stuff because she had copped tickets to at Susan Sontag talk to be held in few days at MIT. These were hard to get tickets but she had a friend who couldn’t go or something. She gloated on and off for the next few days and finally there was the talk, and then there was the morning after the talk.

So that morning she comes into the lab and starts making her coffee.

“How was the talk,” I inquired.

She turned towards me, her eyes wide like dinner plates putting her still empty coffee mug on the counter a little harder than usual and exclaimed, “Holy fuck, Greg!”

Obviously the talk was interesting.

“There was no Susan Sontag talk, exactly.”

“Huh?”

“Yeah. I got there and the first thing that was strange was all the security. I got searched, pretty thoroughly, at two different check points. Then, when I got in the auditorium, I saw actual armed guards with freakin’ machine guns. ‘You damn Americans,’ I thought.”

She was Canadian. We could never do anything right.

“So then it’s time for the talk and out comes Susan Sontag. And she gets up to the podium and says ‘I apologize for the deception, but I will not be speaking tonight,’ and everybody was like, ‘what the hell, I paid to see Susan Sontag,” and then she says ….”

Pause for effect.

“What? What did she say?”

“She said ‘I’d like to introduce toning’s actual speaker: Salman Rushdie!'”

I should mention at this point that this was at the height of the Fatwa or whatever it was against Rushdie so he was not making public public tolerances. Only secret public appearances with machine guns.

So, anyway, guess what? Facebook canceled Salman Rushdie’s account because they thought he was faking … himself.

But that’s not all. It get much, much better than that. CLICK HERE to read about “Facebook’s little jeu d’esprit”

Comments

  1. #1 Chris Winter
    November 15, 2011

    As if, in those days, anyone who wasn’t Salman Rushdie would pick the screen name “Salman Rushdie” and not expect tons of hostile messages.

    It’s not really similar, but back in the day AOL sought to protect its members by blocking third-party posts which mentioned their names. Participants in a coin-collecting group had some trouble when trying to discuss dimes stamped with the image of FDR. It seems the football player Roosevelt Dime was an AOL member.

    They got it straightened out fairly quickly.

    BTW: Guards for a public lecture with machine guns? Sounds like a recipe for lots of collateral damage if anything serious goes down.

  2. #2 Daniel J. Andrews
    November 18, 2011

    Machine guns? I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, “WTF is wrong with you people?” (yeah, I’m Canadian :) ). More seriously though, if people did show up with Kalishnikov’s I suppose you would want the guards ready for a response–would that response result in more casualties in the audience or not?????? Not a decision I’d want to second guess.

  3. #3 Greg Laden
    November 18, 2011

    I was not there and I’m not certain that my colleague was using the term ‘machine gun’ correctly. Let’s assume at least big-ass highly visible firearms of some kind.