In the wake of far-right Mi Hazánk deputy leader Dóra Dúró’s move to publicly shred one of the copies of a recently-published book, the Hungarian Publishers and Booksellers’ Association (MKKE) firmly condemned the action. While Dúró pointed to ‘homosexual propaganda,’ her move only generated publicity for the book, resulting in higher sales.
The book, titled Storyland is for everyone, published by Labrisz Lesbian Association, contains well-known tales reframed in a way in which the hero(es) belong(s) to a stigmatized or minority group such as the elderly, homosexuals, Roma, or people with disabilities, while adoption, extreme poverty, and children from abusive families are also featured in the book. As a result, Polly Anna is Roma, Cinderella is a lesbian, and there is also a transgender dragonslayer in one of the stories. An overwhelming majority of the rewritten tales, however, don’t deal with LGBTQ topics. According to the authors, their purpose is to teach tolerance and acceptance of otherness.
The book raised awareness from not only far-right circles but certain pro-family organizations as well before the publication. Right-wing-conservative signature-drive portal CitizenGO collected 67,000 signatures demanding bookshops to take the book off the shelves. “Ensuring children’s healthy development is more important than the propagation of now fashionable but soon-dissapearing political-sexual ideologies.” Following the announcement, the activist behind the signature drive, Eszter Schittl-Zaymus and one of her colleagues received threats of physical harm should they continue their initiative, according to ruling KDNP-linked vasarnap.hu.
At a press conference held on Friday, Mi Hazánk MP Dóra Dúró tore apart the book’s pages one-by-one, then shredded it publicly. She argued that “Mi Hazánk does not tolerate children’s exposal to homosexual propaganda not even by sneaking abnormal ways of life into storybooks, which are a lie, as homosexual princes were not part of the Hungarian culture.”
Dúró’s action instantly made headlines, generating criticism towards the radical party. According to one of the authors,
“…fairytales are not harmful to children. It is rather lack of love, neglect, and any form of violence in particular. And to destroy a book is violence.”
A statement from the Hungarian Publishers and Booksellers’ Association (MKKE) similarly condemned Dúró’s move. They expressed shock that “a Member of the Hungarian Parliament publicly destroyed a book – simply because she didn’t agree with its content. All books can be criticized, and a politician can do so at any time in front of the widest public. Destruction of books to serve political purposes is, however, one of the most shameful historical memories in Hungary and Europe. It isn’t a simple expression of opinion, but a communion with the legacy of Nazi bookburners and Communist book shreds. Get your hands off the books!” they concluded.
Children’s bookshop Pagony, one of the major vendors of the book, also took a stance. “We believe that all people are equal and everyone deserves equal treatment. We stand by this principle at all times and reject all inciting, hateful content and manifestations (…) We do not enforce worldview, ideological considerations when deciding what book to sell. We believe that our customers are able to make responsible decisions about what they consider important, desirable, and affordable for their children when they choose from the offerings of our stores,” they wrote in a statement.
Dúró’s controversial action apparently resulted in a positive effect on the book’s publicity and sales, as it is now reportedly sold out in most of the shops and is at the top of Book24.hu’s bestseller list.
featured image via Labrisz Association- Facebook