A renowned Canadian author of books that delve deep into themes of power and authority on Friday found herself questioning whether she had herself been censored – over a column light as hair.
Margaret Atwood, the author of serious-minded fiction including The Handmaid’s Tale and Oryx and Crake, recently wrote an opinion piece that turned more to fluff, particularly as it exists in the form of the hairstyles and follicular proclivities of the three male candidates in the federal election.
The column appeared briefly on the National Post website before being removed. An edited version of the column reappeared on the site later Friday evening.
Ms. Atwood's piece noted that hair “is in the election-season air” as a result of advertisements by the Conservative Party that observe that Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau has “nice hair” and that keeping one’s hair hippity-do can be a costly business.
“Of the three national male leaders, which one travels with a personal grooming assistant - lavishly paid for in whole or in part by you, gentle taxpayer,” Ms. Atwood wrote. “Hint: Initials are S.H.”
The re-posted article, however, included several changes.
Ms. Atwood’s original column suggested Mr. Harper had been “coyly hiding the two-million-dollar donors to his party leadership race,” but the reference to leadership donors is entirely deleted from the reposted version.
In a subsequent passage in the original version, Ms. Atwood accuses Mr. Harper of hiding what he knows about the Mike Duffy spending scandal. The re-posted column makes the same point, but missing is the following passage: “ He’s given four mutually exclusive answers so far. Is there a hidden real answer?”
The column's removal had prompted inquiries from Ms. Atwood and a host of others as to why it had been, apparently, cut.
“Hmm, @nationalpost: please tell T-pals where the column went, and why. Should I re-post it on my website?” Ms. Atwood posted on Twitter.
“Um, did I just get censored?,” she wrote in a later post. “For my flighty little caper on hair?”
"I'm very confused," said Ms. Atwood when reached by The Globe on Friday evening.
She said after posting a tweet earlier this summer, in which she expressed interest in writing a column, she was approached by several publications, including the Globe. She ended up agreeing to write three columns for the Post.
"They're quite lively and I thought they had a sense of fun," she said.
Ms. Atwood said she submitted the column nine days ago and that no concerns about it were relayed to her before publication.
Ms. Atwood described an e-mail she received later Friday evening that said a senior editor posted the piece "before the people upstairs had a chance to review it."
“I just thought if you’re going to get your knickers in a twist, why do it over what’s, quite frankly, a really silly piece. It’s about hair!"
National Post editors did not immediately reply to requests for comment.
With a report from Mark MedleyReport Typo/Error