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Granville Hicks 1 once said, A censor is a man who knows more than he thinks you ought to.2 What is censorship? In the best traditions of the legal profession the answer is, it depends. It depends on what it is that is being censored. Literature is one area where the law is not always helpful, as censorship can be an arbitrary solution usually imposed by the minority on the majority. There are four main topics that lead to censorship, these being religion, sex, politics (although for most childrens literature this is not so much of an issue) and unacceptable social behaviour. This essay will try to explain the protection the Law affords the children
Born in 1901 in Exeter, New Hampshire, Hicks was greatly influenced by the New England tradition of moral consciousness and political idealism. Found at : 2 Found at

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and the books, and the whole concept, apart from the legal aspect, of the censorship of books written for children.

In olden days a glimpse of stocking was looked on as something shocking, now heaven knows, anything goes!3 These words were written in the 1930s and demonstrated clearly that not only does life change, but also the way in which values are accepted or condoned. It would be difficult to believe that the glimpse of stocking would, in todays world make anyone look twice; or would it? Is life today so sophisticated a stocking is not something to be giggled about? If it raises even a small smile or smirk it indicates that there still may be something slightly risqu about the subject. How then can one judge as to what is and is not acceptable, and to whom, and even more importantly, when do those opinions change?

If it is difficult to be certain what is right and wrong, good or bad then it must be even more difficult to try to define what should or should not be censored. In England there is no such thing as censorship of the written word. There are common laws on blasphemy, obscenity and defamation and statutory laws on subjects as incitement to various hatreds, racial, for example.4 Then there are laws to educate children 5, protect them from general harm, 6 and harm from written sources; the Children and Young Persons (Harmful Publications) Act 7 having been passed in response to the importation of American horror comics.8 The Criminal Justice Act 2003 amends the Publications Act9 but it does not specifically cover books written for children and does not appear to have much usage10. The United Nations is of the opinion that
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Cole Porter song: Anything Goes Marshall, Jill and David; Censorship, morality and the law. 5 Education Reform Act 1988 (the National Curriculum), and the Education Act 1993: Found at 05.htm 6 Protection of Children Act 1978: Found on Westlaw. 7 Children and Young Persons (Harmful Publications) Act 1955. An Act to prevent the dissemination of certain pictorial publications harmful to children and young persons. Found at 8 Censorship: A World Encyclopaedia Edited by Derek Jones; Volume 1 A-D page 463 9 In section 2 of the Children and Young Persons (Harmful Publications) Act 1955 (penalty for publishing certain works etc.), in subsection (1), for "four months" there is substituted "51 weeks". Criminal Justice Act 2003. Found at 10 Prosecutions under this Act are rare. It is a summary only offence. A prosecution for one of the offences involving an indent photograph will often be more suitable. Attorney General's consent is required. Found at

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children have rights, including a right to participate fully in artistic life, hence its Convention to which member states are expected to conform. 11 Again, however the use of this convention as far as childrens literature is concerned, is of limited value. The laws that exist do so not in a manner in which they can stop books from being written but follow later to allow protest once the book has been published. To prove a book is obscene it is necessary to show it intended to deprave or corrupt 12 which is not an easy task. The Obscene Publications Act 13 originally was intended to apply to works written for the single purpose of corrupting the morals of youth.14 s1 of the 1959 Act provides that an article shall be deemed to be obscene if it tend[s] to deprave and corrupt persons who are likely, , to readit.15 There are two main problems with the execution of this section, firstly the ECHR 16 and secondly a point that was made by Lord Lyndhurst 17, chief opponent to the 1857 Act, but what is the interpretation which is to be put upon the word obscene? I can easily conceive that two men will come to entirely different conclusions as to its meaning. 18 Lyndhurst had spotted very early on a major problem that was going to persist well into the 21st Century. The law does not allow obscene publications but the European Court recognises freedom of expression in The Human Rights Act 1998.19 It seems that nothing is new20 as in a saying incorrectly attributed to Voltaire who lived in the early

United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. Member governments shall respect and promote the right of the child to participate fully in cultural and artistic life and shall encourage the provision of appropriate and equal opportunities for cultural, artistic, recreational and leisure activity. Censorship: A World Encyclopaedia Edited by Derek Jones; Volume 1 A-D page 454 12 Marshall, Jill and David; Censorship, morality and the law. 13 The Obscene Publications Act was first passed in 1857 and has since been amended, the last major time being in 1964. However in 1994 The Criminal Justice and Public Order Act added coverage of computer images to the Act. Found at 14 The obscene Publications Act 1857. Lord Campbell the Lord Chief Justice in 1857 who introduced the Act. Found at 15 The Obscene Publications Act 1959 s1. Found at 16 ECHR European Court of Human Rights 17 Roberts, Andrew. The Lunacy Commission, its origin, emergence and character. Sir John Singleton Copley (1772-1863) who became Lord Lyndhurst and remained Lord Chancellor. Found at : The Obscene Publications Act 1857. Found at Freedom of Expression is now protected by the Human Rights Act 1998 (ECHR art 10) s12(3) no relief to be granted to restrain publication pending trial unless the court is satisfied that the applicant is likely to establish that publication should not be allowed; and s12(4) Human Rights Act 1998 court must have particular regard to the importance of the Convention right to freedom of expression. 20 "What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done there is nothing new under the sun" (ECC 1:9 RSV). Found at
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1700s, freedom of expression was advocated; "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."21 Even before Voltaire, or his idolaters, a very old Act 22 showed that there was greate zeale and care that the lordes and comons of this present (Parliament) have for the mayntenaunce of good and godly literature and the vertuouse education of youth. The Act, which is still good law, although only applying to the two illustrious Universities, clearly illustrated an intention to teach young people with the help of good books. Some 200 years later King George IIIs Royal Proclamation intended, inter alia, suppression of all loose and licentious Prints, Books, and Publications, dispersing Poison to the minds of the Young and Unwary. 23 What sounds like an early vigilante group named The Proclamation Society who later became The Society for the Suppression of Vice 24 policed the publications hoping to keep the minds of the youth pure.

The main problem with censorship is not so much the legalities but, even more pernicious, the non-legal issues. Parents, teachers and librarians are mainly those who are responsible for the banning of books. Their eager and alert eyes scan the pages for one, or all, of the three Ss,25 sexuality, swearing and Satan. Satan has a lot to answer for one way and another. Every time religion, lack of religion or even worse, anti-religion, 26 is written about, Satan is the worry. In Northern Ireland in the late 1980s until 1994 there was censorship not only of the written word but also the spoken word. The representatives of the political groups Sinn Fein and the Ulster

The phrase "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it" is widely attributed to Voltaire, but cannot be found in his writings, with good reason. The phrase was invented by a later author as an epitome of his attitude. It appeared in The Friends of Voltaire (1906), written by Evelyn Beatrice Hall under the pseudonym S[tephen] G. Tallentyre. Found at: 22 Oxford and Cambridge Act 1571, Ch. 29 (Eng.) An Act for confirming the privileges of the two universities. Found at 23 King George IIIs 1787 Royal Proclamation. Found at 24 ibid 25 Popular Childrens author relates 3 Ss of book Censorship. By Jin Moon. Freedom Forum. Found at: 26 Anger over call to teach atheism in school. Nicola Woolcock. 28.4.04 "Atheism is not a religion. To change religious education into spiritual education would be quite wrong. We would deny children their Christian heritage. RE lessons should be about the teachings of Christianity, and possibly other religions, but not secular beliefs. Found at :


Defence Association were not allowed to he heard on television,27 instead an actor spoke their words. With the Northern Ireland problems being so prominent in the lives of those living there at the time the children living through this period would have been very confused as to what they thought. Firstly they would be influenced by their families as to which religion to follow, then probably because of that influence they were being taught how to regard the children around them and who to make friends with and who not. To counter such censorship in their every day lives perhaps they turned from the real world to fiction, storybooks, to take their minds off the grim realities? A childrens classic like The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe 28 might have been the choice of many a child. What could be more thrilling than a fantasy world accessed through the back of a wardrobe? However, on closer inspection apparently religion features strongly in the Chronicles of Narnia. When Edmund, one of the main characters arrives in Narnia for the first time he is tempted by the White Witch with a promise of a Princedom. All Edmund has to do is deliver up the other children.29 When Aslan, the powerful lion offers to exchange his life for Edmunds it is thought that Aslan may symbolise Jesus30 as Jesus died to save mankind. C.S. Lewis, although a well known Christian writer, was writing the stories for his Goddaughter and denies the Christian allegory 31 but readers beg to differ.32 Whoever is correct, must the book be read solely with Christian teachings ringing in the ears? The answer is no as many a child will not be looking for anything other than a good read. For those adults who believe Narnia preaches Christianity33 and disapprove, is it right that they should ban their children from reading the book? The publishers Harper Collins have denied discussions to alter the books to suit all readers tastes in a new printing but as one critic said, [h]ow ironic, that Aslan, who could not be destroyed by the Ice Queen, suddenly has a far more powerful enemy [a] profitCensorship in Britain; Written by C.S Lewis, part of the Narnia series. 29 Edmund betrays his brother and sisters to the White Witch, who has vowed to destroy them. What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you? so they counted out for him thirty silver coins. From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand Him over. (Matthew 26:14-16) Found at 30 In book one, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Aslan symbolises Christ the Saviour. Found at 31 Purging The Christian from the Chronicles of Narnia. Found at: 32 Jill@readingmatters; Deeper into the Land of Narnia.
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driven Political Correctness censorship body.34 It will be interesting to see how Disney copes since they have recently bought the rights to the stories,35 not that changes to stories are of great concern to the corporation.36 More recently a book37 aimed at 10 13 year olds focused on a 12 year old fictional character living in the West Bank of Ramallah. The British author wanted to portray the Palestinian side of the war torn area as against the relatively well-known Israeli opinions. Problems with selling the book were almost immediate. Macmillan one of the worlds biggest publishers was lobbied to withdraw the book from sale 38, the book being described as biased and the author as anti-Semitic39. This she denies strongly40 and somewhat surprisingly Macmillan seems to agree and have refused to withdraw the book. Their stance has been applauded and echoed by others 41 where the voice of reason against censorship stated about the book For perhaps the first time it give a 12 year old the possibility of experiencing life as a Palestinian. Who am I to say: This is an experience you cant have.42 This is where censorship becomes a problem. The law is being taken out of the hands of the masses and into hands of
33 The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe may have been banned because it's author was a Christian, and it "portrays" Biblical situations (ie. Aslan's death for Narnia). Found at: 34 Purging The Christian from the Chronicles of Narnia. Found at: 35 The Lion, The Witch and The Goldmine? Publishing News, March 2004. Found at: 36 Victor Hugos book was altered to give a happier ending and more acceptable characters, as was the Story of Oliver Twist for the film Oliver & Company. The Hunchback of Notre Dame. A review of the 1996 Disney animated film by Carrie Gorringe.. Found at: It took until 2002 for a UK Theatre group to change the title of The Hunchback of Notre Dame to The Bellringer of in deference to those with skeletal problems! USA Today. 28.6.02. Found at: 37 A Little Piece of Ground by Elizabeth Laird. Fiachra Gibbons, arts correspondent Saturday August 23, 2003. The Guardian. Found at,2763,1028075,00.html 38 Macmillan has received three demands for the book to be pulped, and many bookshops are worried about stocking it, lest it provoke further protests from Jewish groups. Found at: 39 Childrens Author faces Zionist Wrath Found at: 40 Elizabeth Laird is quoted as saying Again this highlights that the truth is expected to be suppressed and the freedom of expression, freedom of opinion and freedom of information is halted when it comes to reporting the truth about the Zionist occupation. Found at 41 Rosemary Stones, editor of the childrens book magazine Books for Keeps. 42 Johnstone, Anne and Miller, Phil. Ramallah novel in the firing line; Call to withdraw book on boy who dreams of killing Israeli soldiers. Words quoted from Ms Wilson, book publisher. The Herald (Glasgow) August 22 2003.Found at:

different masses, or is it? What may be even worse is that it is not the masses who are censoring but a very small minority. No longer is there a fully constituted democratic body making decisions for the people, but individuals that not only decide for themselves what is right but seek to impose their views on others.

The ongoing trend, first started in the last century, is for children to read less and increasingly watch television more and play electronic games. Many youngsters consider reading a chore that can be neatly side-stepped by waiting for the animated version to appear. However, the silver lining in the cloud of gloom has manifested itself in the guise of Harry Potter, boy wizard, a character written about by Ms J.K.Rowling. So far Harry Potter had taken up many an idle hour of the modern child, a small miracle in itself, exacerbated by the fact that one of the books is over 700 pages long. 43 Not satisfied with mere miracles however, the censors got to work proclaiming Harry Potter books to be evil and should be banned. This attitude has succeeded in a number of states in America 44 and in the U.K.45as the books have been withdrawn from classrooms and libraries, including school libraries. But, it doesnt end there. The enlightened censors have seen fit to take matters one step further and not just ban the Potter books, but burn them. In 200146 a Church in New Mexico held a book burning ceremony to rid the world of the evil. Apparently, not only did Harry Potter encourage study of the occult but during his adventures he encountered violence and portrayed an anti-family bias, 47 obviously, not at all the kind of thing to which children should be exposed. Book burning, apart from being an extremely old ritual known to have happened originally at least 200 years B.C.48 is not an unknown act for a Church.49 Obviously happy with the cleansing abilities of fire the burning of
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling. Kennedy, Elizabeth; Harry Potter: The Censorship Battles 45 School bans Harry Potter. Found at: 46 December 31st 2001 Found at
44 47 Censorship: Wielding the Red Pen through the eyes of a child. Found at 48 Following the advice of Li Si, Qun Shi Huang Di ordered all philosophy books and history books from the states other than Qin except copies in the imperial library for official use to be burned. 121 B.C. Encyclopedia Home Page 49 Burning at the stake was a popular form of execution in Europe during the Middle Ages. It was particularly used to punish women who were found guilty of practising witchcraft or being a heretic. Found at Under British law, the basis for Massachusetts Bay Colony legal structure in the 17th century, those who were accused of consorting with the devil were considered felons, having committed a crime 43

women accused of being witches in the Middle Ages was the recommended torture for heretics.50 Does this show that civilisation has remained static or is progressing backwards at an alarming rate? Censorship appears to arise through fear, lack of understanding, or over zealousness. So keen are people to be seen to be doing the right thing they often do exactly the opposite. Some however, take a more pragmatic approach. If, as has been suggested by some, Harry Potter is clearly good and Voldemort, his arch rival, Satan reincarnate, then should this lead to the books being banned? Surely, the analogy goes back, yet again to the Bible51 from which all children can learn the difference between good and evil, right and wrong?

If Harry Potter is so terrible, corrupting young children and comparing witchcraft with devil worship then why are television programmes such as Sabrina the Teenage Witch52, and The Worst Witch 53 allowed? Perhaps because children of all ages adore the antics of people disappearing and reappearing, being turned into frogs and goats to teach them a lesson? The worry that such stories teach sorcery and Satanism is akin to the stories themselves, fantasy. As Harry Potter and The Worst Witch are very similar in story line54 it seems extraordinary that The Worst Witch books have

against their government. The punishment for such a crime was hanging. Found at: 50 In 1184, the Synod of Verona legislated that burning was to be the official punishment for heresy. This decree was later reaffirmed by the Fourth Council of the Lateran in 1215, the Synod of Toulouse in 1229, and numerous spiritual and secular leaders up through the 17th century. Found at Heresy can de defined thus: The right Christian faith consists in giving one's voluntary assent to Christ in all that truly belongs to His teaching. There are, therefore, two ways of deviating from Christianity: the one by refusing to believe in Christ Himself, which is the way of infidelity, common to Pagans and Jews; the other by restricting belief to certain points of Christ's doctrine selected and fashioned at pleasure, which is the way of heretics. Found at: 51 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: Part Four: Good and Evil. Throughout the Harry Potter books there is a clear distinction between good and evil. Although some characters who appear to be good turn out to be evil: Ephesians 5:8-14. How can we discern good and evil? Found at: 52 This American TV series was adapted from a comic book (Archies Madhouse # 22 in October 1962. Found at ) and was only later written into book format by various authors recounting the TV programmes. Found at : 53 The Worst Witch television series is an adaptation of the books by the well-known and respected author Jill Murphy. The beleaguered heroin, Mildred Hubble is all a child could want from a character, not very good at what she does, always getting into trouble, has loyal friends but, always wins in the end. Of course, the fact that she is not able to fly on her broomstick too well must make her a danger, as children everywhere will not only be believing in witchcraft but pursuing dangerous outdoor sports to try to emulate her. 54 Interesting Parallels between the Harry Potter books and the book The Worst Witch . Vincent MacCann. Found at:

never received adverse publicity or notoriety. The books of Tolkien55 are still not acceptable to many people as they tell tales of wizards and dark doings.56 However, censorship apart, the Lord of the Rings stories and Harry Potter tales have netted publishers producers and cinemas many millions of pounds over the past few years.57 Ms Rowling has managed to earn herself a place in The Sunday Times Rich List58 which is an astounding feat for an impoverished, censored, struggling, single mother who never wanted to be famous.59

Over the years censorship of books for children has taken on some interesting guises, not always apparent to the reader. One of the harshest censors can be the author. This seems unlikely and somewhat inane, but there are many mitigating factors. If an author writes a book hoping for it to be a commercial success then it is only sensible to stay within the rules of what is, and what is not, acceptable. Writing something controversial is a gamble; the risks being the possibility of having your text changed or deleted, a publisher refusing to publish the book or even the books shops not stocking the book. Bearing all those factors in mind it seems obvious that selfcensorship is an easy way to ensure the book remains as it was written and is sold to the public without problems. However, at least one author believes that selfcensorship is a dangerous route to take in that you are not being true to yourself as a writer if you leave out the words or phrases that make your characters realistic.60 Of

When J.R. Tolkien first published his books, "The Hobbit" and "Lord of the Rings", there was a similar discussion among Christians. These books contain wizards like Gandalf, the evil Dark Riders, the Orcs and many other paranormal creatures. The Harry Potter books and Christians. Peter McCarthy and Doug Harris. Found at : 56 Lord of the Rings, written in the early 1900's by J.R.R. Tolkien, is one that is still challenged. Communities across America are banning books in the genre of Lord of the Rings, for their "fantasy ideas" and "sacrilegious" beliefs. Censorship: The banned on Lord of the Rings. A Review and information on the banning of Tolkien throughout the U.S. October 12, 2003. Steve J. Meyers Found at: 57 Harry casts a 16m spell. Metro March 24th 2004 pg 47. Pre-tax profit of Bloomsbury the publishers rose by 38% to 15.4 million in the year ended 31.12.03 with help form Harry Potter Books. 58 JK Rowling has earned a whopping 125 million in 2003 thanks to the release of Order Of The Phoenix and profits from The Chamber Of Secrets film. Found at: 59 The fame thing is interesting because I never wanted to be famous, and I never dreamt I would be famous. JK Rowling interview in full. The full transcript of Jeremy Paxman's exclusive Newsnight interview with Harry Potter creator JK Rowling, broadcast on BBC Two on Thursday 19 June. 2003. Found at: 60 Author Judy Blume, whose stories about awkward adolescence are cherished by thousands of children and adults : "I've been asked on several occasions to take something out of a book." Her editor told her that if she omitted the "F" word, she wouldn't lose all the sales from book clubs. [Judys] grown son said, You are Judy Blume. You stand for honesty and truth. How can you even consider


course, it is not only the author who is in danger of being unfulfilled but the young people for whom the book would have been written. If it remains unwritten then the knowledge, feelings and thought-provoking incidents remain locked away in the authors mind, destined not to be shared. It is the youngsters who are the losers.61

Judy Blume is an author of 20 books written for young people and is no stranger to censorship as her books deal with issues such as puberty and sex. Despite the outcries, sales of the books have reached over 75 million and a series of her stories are to feature as Disney movies.62 Ms Blume appears to be a very practical person and is not afraid of writing about things that happen. She realises that something will be offensive to someone in every book 63and that to many parents, banning a child from reading a book, appears to mean they have control of that childs life. If the child does not read about the event then it doesnt take place. That sounds as sensible as the ostrich burying its head in the sand. Things do happen and children are not stupid. They talk to their friends and find out about life, so not allowing them to read about reality may, in fact, be counterproductive, as books are more likely to have been well researched and have the correct facts. By reading about situations of which they have no personal experience, a child may well decide that it is something they have no wish to undergo. The novel Go Ask Alice is about a girls struggle with drug abuse. One reviewer of the book wrote, This book has changed my life and outlook on the world, now let it change yours.64 The author of Be Ready for the Censorship Challenge, Linda Mixon Clary writes of the book, if it positively influences just one student to stay away from drugs, isn't it worthwhile for adolescents to read?"65 The book has been banned from many schools because of objections as to its language and subject matter.66 It is natural that parents want control of their childrens lives to a certain
changing it?'" she recalled. "And so I didn't." Found at : 61 Judy Blume talks about censorship. Found at: 62 Judy Blume books turned into Disney films. Found at: 63 January Interview. Judy Blume on Censorship, Enjoying Life and Staying in the Spotlight for 25 years. Found at : 64 This book has changed my life and outlook on the world. An extract from a review of the book by Chris Pedley. Found at: 65 Opposing Censorship in High School Curriculum. Fresh Writing Spring Issue 1999. Found at: 66 NCAC(National Coalition Against Censorship) Found at: and


extent, especially when the child is very young, but as the child grows it should be allowed to mature in its own way. In parenting there has to be a balance of control and freedom. Knowing when to loosen and when to tighten the reins requires a great deal of wisdom.67

Censorship that happens after the book is published is more difficult to control as far as the author is concerned. It seems to be an arbitrary matter as to how a book is taken off the shelves. Enid Blyton wrote her famous stories about Noddy and Big Ears, the first one being published in 1949. Noddy has, in fact, survived more than most characters 68 as by 1950 librarians decided that the books were not literary enough. In the 1970s and 80s enthusiasm for criticism had increased and Blyton was variously accused of sexism, racism and xenophobia.69 In the 1990s the characters of the golliwogs were considered persona non grata 70 and genetically modified into gremlins. Of course, it goes without need of further explanation that Noddy and his friend were no longer allowed to have gay times in the woods.71 As times and tastes change Noddy is not alone; even Shakespeare, who is considered to be the very backbone of English literature, has been Bowlerised. 72 Although nearly every school in the U.K. has studied the various works of Shakespeare for very many years apparently the children were being exposed to double entendre, racism and alternative lifestyle instruction.73 Apparently Shakespeare was used to being censored even in his own time according to the whims and fancies of the reigning King or Queen. 74
67 Five Maxims for Parents, Peter Leithart. Found at : 68 The characters in the Noddy series were cast into political exile. Passages in the Noddy books describing viscious attacks on Toy Land at the hands of the black skinned, curly haired golliwogs were cut from the text. Big Ears was renamed "Whitebeard", to cause him less offence. And Tessie Bear was given a lesson in feminism [and] rewritten to stand up for herself and take credit for her good ideas. Noddy survived all these troubles. Now, over than fifty years later, more than 200 million books have been printed in 27 languages and Found at : 69 ibid 70 A person who for some reason is not wanted or welcome. Found at: 71 Abridged too far July 1 2002. Found at 72 Thomas and Henrietta Bowdlers surname was given to the practice of cutting out the naughty bits. Ibid. 73 In 1996, a New Hampshire school banned Twelfth Night because the school board prohibited "alternative lifestyle instruction". Translation of this term into English would be something like crossdressing! Ibid 74 The best-known case of political censorship is that of Richard II. The play's first edition had a scene that showed the deposition of Richard II, which "so infuriated Queen Elizabeth that she ordered it


Writing for young children can be difficult because the readers have a limited attention span. This means they will not need a complex story line to follow but prefer short witty tales. The subject matter for such stories must be relevant to the age of the reader. This is where parents and children often differ tremendously in what they find funny and acceptable. It is well known that many children love such activities as nose picking, farting and throwing up75 and so to read about characters performing these unspeakable deeds is wonderful fun. Unfortunately there are many parents unable to cope with such humour as their embarrassment threshold is well below that of their children. Given that all the activities are normal bodily functions, any taboo about them seems to be going back to the ostrich argument. (See page 10) Embarrassment is a strange sensation that affects us all at some time in our lives and it is virtually impossible to control. It seems the younger the child, the less the embarrassment, probably because they have not yet learnt to be embarrassed. There is an odd dichotomy with groups of parents when, during their childrens early years, they are grateful to authors who can explain the basics of the functions and parts of the human body. Then, a few years later, this happy band of child rearers turn against authors who have the audacity to write about the bodily functions in the context of stories, as if they were real!

Bad language has never been acceptable in childrens books. Roald Dahl, very successful author of many childrens books, used the word slut in his Revolting Rhymes. One mother thought herself lucky that she had pre-read the book before giving it to her daughter as she decided her daughter was not yet old enough to know of the word.76 Another reaction to the same word by a father when asked if Dahl was allowed to say that in a story was yes! he can do that! that's what makes his books so wonderful, see? He doesn't distinguish between adult and child. He simply writes

eliminated from all copies" Then, in 1601, the Earl of Essex used Richard II, including the excised scene, to arouse resentment against the Queen. The excised scene was restored in 1608, under the reign of King James, who had "an affectionate remembrance of Essex.". Found at : 75 Kids Stuff, Terry Adlam. British Society of Comedy Writers, Edition 020, 1st May 2001.Found at: ON%20A%20SCRIPT... 76 Fortunately, her teacher and I read it first because we came across the word "slut." Name of Snorkleberry given as reviewer! Found at:


marvellous stories! 77 Another of Dahls books found displeasure in Florida in 1991 and was banned from a school for its use of the word ass and because it contains crude language and encourages children to disobey their parents and other adults78. Roald Dahl is a writer who has written books that children adore, adults, in the majority adore and they have translated well to small screen and films. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory tells of a good, but very poor child, who eventually inherits Willie Wonkas magical sweet factory. The characters of Mr Wonkas helpers, the Oompa-Loompas, enraged the censors in 1964 as they were portrayed as pigmy like people with brown skin. In the 1973 reprint of the book79 they had been transformed into orange skinned little men with green hair; cunning disguise, but it worked as the censors rested happy. Hugh Loftings 1922 The Story of Doctor Dolittle suffered a similar fate when the appropriateness of Bumpo of the Jolliginki tribe wishing to become white was challenged in the 1970s.80 Bumpo was unceremoniously removed from the story. Not only colour, but lack of clothes has bothered people in the past. Back in 1903 Beatrix Potter must have seem well before her time when she refused to change all the rest of Toms clothes fell off to nearly all.81 Given the date the prudishness may be forgiven but worst still, in 1964 Mary Whitehouse complained about Bugs Bunny because he didnt wear any trousers.82

Censorship of childrens books is a problem as those who call for it are motivated by deep feelings, these being as strong as those against the censorship. It is a disagreement worthy of the High Courts. Who should be allowed to decide if the story of Little Red Riding Hood83 should be banned? It is a bit late for many adults as they grew up being told the tale time and time again. The strange thing is that those who took it from school shelves cite its propensity to teach children to drink.84 What
A world of pure imagination (a tribute)2002-07-10. Found at: 78 James and the Giant Peach, Roald Dahl. Profanity. Found at: 79 Mrs Ellen Chamberlain, Librarian, Waylee Elementary School, Portage, Michigan Horn Book Magazine June 1973. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Found at: 80 Censorship: A World Encyclopaedia Edited by Derek Jones; Volume 1 A-D page 462 81 ibid 82 Abridged too far July 1 2002. Found at 83 Little Red Riding Hood, Grimms Fairy Tales. 84 The Online Books Page, Banned Books Online, John Mark Ockerbloom. Found at:


may described as a pregnant pause is suitable here as the reader tries to assimilate the information and make sense of it. So, the fact that the big bad wolf gobbles up Red Riding Hoods dear old grandmother is of little worry, nor even that the wolf is then split apart to reveal an unharmed old lady, but taking a bottle of wine in the picnic basket is inciting alcoholism! As Captain Kirk of the Star Ship Enterprise would have said, Beam me up Scotty! The futuristic show must have been correct, there are parallel universes out there. There seems to be no other explanation for some of the censorship issues that have happened over the years. They ..boldly go where no man has gone before85

So what can be concluded about censorship of childrens books? One thing seems to be very clear and that is that the law has very little influence. Even if authors wish to rely on their Freedom of Expression they do not take their fight to the courtrooms. The establishment has outgrown the law. It was once thought that if an adult book is banned everyone wants to read it. But if there is a trace of controversy attached to a childrens book, its the kiss of death.86 With the overwhelming popularity of Harry Potter despite the concerns of the religious sects, it looks like that particular theory is not so true any more. Censorship appears to be about political correctness, fear of the unknown, fear of the known and not wishing to allow children to find out, and sheer unexpurgated nonsense. As Pink Floyd once said, Hey Teacher! Leave those kids alone!87

Both quotations taken from the television series of Star Trek. What is interesting is that even the catch phrase to boldly go where no man has gone before was changed to pacify the ongoing need to be seen to be politically correct. The split infinitives were not deemed a problem, but the word one was substituted for the word man. World Wide Books, Michael Quinion, Beam me up Scotty. Found at: 86 US Publisher Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Censorship: A World Encyclopaedia Edited by Derek Jones; Volume 1 A-D page 462 87 Pink Floyd, Another Brick in the Wall. Full verses: We don't need no education. We don't need no thought control. No dark sarcasm in the classroom. Teacher, leave those kids alone. Hey, Teacher, leave those kids alone! All in all it's just another brick in the wall. All in all you're just another brick in the wall. We don't need no education. We don't need no thought control. No dark sarcasm in the classroom. Teachers, leave those kids alone. Hey, Teacher, leave those kids alone!


As Mr Hicks started this essay, then let him finish, [t]he sooner we all learn to make a distinction between disapproval and censorship, the better off society will be. . . Censorship cannot get at the real evil, and it is an evil in itself.88

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All in all you're just another brick in the wall. All in all you're just another brick in the wall. Found at: 88


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