People often assume that because I study censorship at university, and write a blog on censorship, I am opposed to it. If I did not want to take a stand, I’d say that whether one is for or against censorship is irrelevant: It exists, and is worthy of attention to gain understanding of how it works and what it does. But I can go further, and say that censorship can be appropriate and beneficial. Unfortunately there are no shortage of examples of silly censorship.
The Toronto Public library has a review committee that considers requests to withdraw materials from library holdings. To their credit, they recently dismissed seven requests, including a request to withdraw the Dr. Seuss book Hop on Pop. According to the request, the book is violent and encourages children to be violent with their fathers.
Fathers have some legitimate beefs when it comes to their portrayals in the media. We are stereotypically distant, and when it comes to children we vary from weak or useless in fairy tales to weak or useless in commercials. Hop on Pop normalizes children playing with their father, albeit in a stereotypically masculine manner, but it was written in 1963. Besides, dad is rescued (weakness again) and social order restored with the line “Stop! You must not hop on Pop!”
There might be gender problems in some Seuss works, but nothing on the level of the Dick and Jane readers, and nothing that encourages violence against fathers. Small children do enjoy hopping on pop, at least in my experience and according to Laura Bush, but it’s play, and that’s a good thing. Fortunately and appropriately the library rejected the request to ban the book.
Meanwhile, at Acadia University in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, the student newspaper has to find a new printer for their current issue. The usual printer refused the job due to the nudity on the cover. It is of course the right of the printer to refuse the job. Just because you are allowed to say something does not mean others have to listen. However, the printing company claims they are scared of litigation. The legal right to free speech is useless if fear prevents it. The full issue, including the beautiful cover art, is available online.
The x-rated comic book Omaha almost ran into printing problems. According to artist Reed Waller, when he took the first copies to local printers:
One blanched when he saw the material. “I don’t know if I can do this,” he said grimly.
“What is it, all the sex?”
“No,” he answered, “all the black.”
Hopefully Acadia can find a printer with neither technical nor topical fears.