David Bruce: The Funniest People in Books, Volume 2 — Censorship

Censorship

• Michael Moore’s book Stupid White Men almost did not become a bestseller. It was ready to hit the bookstores when the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001, occurred, and the publisher — Regan Books of HarperCollins — did not feel that a book that attacked President George W. Bush should be sold. The publisher demanded that Mr. Moore rewrite much of the book, which he refused to do. A librarian, Ann Sparanese, heard of the controversy during one of Mr. Moore’s lecture tours, and she sent a group email to many, many librarians, alerting them of the attempt at censorship. Librarians flooded Regan Books with complaints, and soon the book was published. If not for the librarians, the book would have been pulped, thus robbing Mr. Moore — and Regan Books — of major profits. (Mr. Moore dedicated his next book — Dude, Where’s My Country? — in part to Ms. Sparanese.)

• Paul Zindel’s books for young adults, including The Pigman, have often been censored or challenged by would-be censors. Mr. Zindel responded by keeping track of the ideas of the people he calls the CensorKooks. For example, one woman in Pennsylvania wanted to censor the word “green” in all school textbooks. Why? Green is the color of the Devil. In Cincinnati, a man wanted all vowels to be censored from all library books. Why? “If you can’t say it, you can’t do it.” Mr. Zindel once heard a would-be censor on a talk show scream, “And what are they teaching in our schools? They are teaching Catcher in the Rye! The Pigman! And Lord of the Flies! — three of the filthiest books ever written!” The would-be censor might have been better able to present his case if he had actually read these books — or he might have decided that these books didn’t need to be censored. (I have read these books, and they deserve to be read — and re-read.)

• Marvel Comics maven Stan Lee was once asked by the United States Office of Health, Education, and Welfare to put an anti-illegal drug message into some of the comic books he was creating. Happy to oblige, Mr. Lee wrote a three-part story in which Spider-Man saves the life of a friend who thinks that he can fly because of an illegal drug he took. Unfortunately, the censors at the Comics Code Authority rejected the storyline because it dealt with illegal drugs, even though the message was clearly anti-illegal drugs. Because he believed in the message (and because the United States government had asked him for his help), Mr. Lee had the comics printed without the seal of approval of the Comics Code Authority on the cover. The result: Lots of positive letters from lots of anti-illegal drug organizations.

• In Wichita, Texas, a man discovered the books Heather Has Two Mommies and Daddy’s Roommate — books about families in which both parents are homosexual — in the children’s section of his local public library. He checked them out, then he showed them to his pastor. The pastor wrote a check for the books and gave it to the library instead of having the man return the books. Fortunately, publicity about the censorship resulted in a great demand for those two books, and several defenders of the First Amendment donated copies of Heather Has Two Mommies and Daddy’s Roommate to the library so it could meet the demand.

• Judy Blume’s many books for young readers have often been censored or challenged by people who don’t want their — and your — children to be exposed to her ideas. Many of these censors or would-be censors have criticized her directly. For example, she once received a telephone call from a woman who asked if she had written Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret. Ms. Blume acknowledged that she had, and the woman called her a Communist, then hung up. Ms. Blume isn’t sure if the woman called her a Communist because she wrote about menstruation or about religion in the book.

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Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

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Bandcamp: Grrrl Gang — “Dream Grrrl”

BRUCE’S RECOMMENDATION OF BANDCAMP MUSIC

Music: “Dream Grrrl”

Artist: Grrrl Gang

Artist Location: Yogyakarta, Indonesia

Record Company: Kolibri Rekords

Record Company Location: Jakarta, Indonesia

Info: Written & performed by Grrrl Gang 
Lyrics by Angeeta Sentana 
Drums by Fakhriyan Ardyanto 
All tracks recorded, mixed, and mastered by Sasi Kirono 
Artwork by Ariel Kaspar 
Kolibri Rekords, 2018 

Price: Name Your Price (Includes FREE)

Genre: Pop

Links:

Grrrl Gang

https://grrrlgang.bandcamp.com

“Dream Grrrl”

https://grrrlgang.bandcamp.com/track/dream-grrrl

Kolibri Rekords

https://kolibrirekords.bandcamp.com