Friday, October 26, 2007

Censor Me, Censor You

Will there ever be a time when the arts won't be under fire from "concerned" citizens who think they are the arbitrators of what people should and should not see, review and read? A school in Guilford, Connecticut has forced an English teacher to resign after he gave one of his students a copy of Daniel Clowes's excellent Eightball. The book was consider obscene for its depiction of graphic sex and violence - none of which actually appears on the page. The teacher also faced possible criminal charges as the Guilford Police Department investigated the matter, but the Connecticut state's attorney's office refused to prosecute. What the fuck?

Why is it that the only conversation in this country regarding literature concerns people trying to get certain books banned? With fewer people actually reading (that includes these "guardians of good taste" actually reading the books they are trying to ban) and society in general becoming more and more ignorant of arts and culture, shouldn't the national conversation turn toward the glories of books and reading rather than the "evils" with which the written word is trying to corrupt the world? Shouldn't these righteous idiots who trash Harry Potter for its "satanic" messages be happy that their children are showing an interest in reading? Besides, doesn't Harry celebrate Christmas in the books? The parents in the middle of this Guildford controversy should have encouraged their child when she showed some interest in a book. The reason the teacher gave her Clowes's book in the first place was he thought a graphic novel would help get her excited about (or at least mildly aware of) the joy of reading after she failed to read any of the books assigned to her over the summer. Again, what the fuck? I guess ignorance is preferable to the possibility of corrupting our children's souls. Give me a break.

By the way, If you don't know Clowes's work, he is arguably one of the best graphic novelists of our time, having written the classic Ghost World, required reading for any serious graphic novel reader. Hell, any serious reader should check out Clowes's work.

A similar controversy erupted here in Maine last year when "concerned" citizens wanted Susanna Kaysen's Girl, Interrupted removed from a local high school's curriculum. Thankfully there were enough sensible parents and school committee members who defended the educational merits of the book and made sure it remained in the school.


Sandra Ruttan said...

Steve, we were on the same wavelength but I think you were a bit nicer about it.

Unbelievable. And yet, not surprising at all.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Doesn't it seem like these are the people we should be scared of because they imagine so much more than what's actually there-- aside from their impact on us through the banning. I bet these people are the most frequent visitors to porn sites. It's themselves they want stopped. Or maybe I've watched one too many Law and Order SVUs