The freedom to read is essential to the democratic way of life. But today, that
freedom is under attack. Private groups and public authorities everywhere are
working to remove both books and periodicals from sale, to exclude certain books
from public schools, to censor and silence magazines and newspapers, and to
limit “controversial” books and periodicals to the general public. The
suppression of reading materials is suppression of creative thought. Books and
periodicals are not the only ones being suppressed by pressures to the political
and social systems. They are also being brought against the educational system,
films, radio, television, and against the graphic and theatre arts. However or
whenever these attacks occur, they usually fall at least one of the following
War & Peace (Violence)
Sociology & Race
Inappropriate Adolescent Behaviour
What is Obscenity? Clearly something hard to talk about constructively.
“Obscenity” is difficult to discuss honestly. After all, what makes a thing
obscene? It is Something too vague perhaps to be defined. It’s an elusive term
we use, but can’t explain. Different people often see things differently. Some
see obscenity in nude pictures, statues, paintings, etc. While others find less
obscenity in these things. All the same, “obscene” isn’t the same as “wrong” or
“bad”. Clearly obscenity is not identical with evil. It only covers a single
segment of it. But what is that segment? A look at the words “obscenity” and
“pornography” suggests that it is a segment that didn’t worry people very much
till relatively recently.
Though censorship was known in english law quite early on, it wasn’t for
obscenity but for heresy and sedition.”Undue” exploitation of sex” is what
criminal law in Canada prohibits. This is how criminal law defines obscenity.
But it is rather vague. It doesn’t differentiate between “ordinary obscenity”
and “hard-core pornography.” The first denoting the ordinary run of “girlie
magazines and the second denoting pictures , literature and so on that deal with
rape, sadism, masochism, bestiality, necrophilia and other perversions. People
tend to object far more to “hard-core pornography.” Another distinction
unfortunately overlooked by our criminal law is the distinction between isolated
instances of obscenity and the products of vast commercial enterprise.
There has been an increasing trend towards children’s literature that reflects a
more realistic approach to the life both fiction and non-fiction, with subjects
that include sex, homosexuality, divorce, child abuse, drugs, violence, etc. And
they are these realistic books that have people outraged. In school libraries,
the most frequent complaints come from parents about the school’s selections.
And in public libraries, parents were once again the single greatest source of
challenges to materials.
The world is filled with “obscene” things. And it would seem that those parents
are just trying to protect their children from the outside world. But does it
really help? These day, an average elementary school student knows many things.
They are influenced by a wide range of sources, from television and other forms
of media, their environment at home and school, their personality and their
background. Why they read does not necessarily mean that they will follow.
Literature is a valued source of knowledge for these children, and should not be
held back. So rather than applying full censorship, it should be made an age-
related censorship. Many of the complaints that were issued were of the
immaturity of the readers. And younger children should be prevented from
borrowing material intended for an older age group. Controversial materials
should still be held either in reserve stock, available on request, or under a
section for parents and teachers who can decide for themselves whether the
material is suitable or not.
Our would is not perfect. We are a world filled with violence, sex, racism, etc.
Certain literature like “hard-core pornography” should be censored to the
general public. These types of “explicit sex” truly have no meaning. They
degrade the human race by increasing physical, mental and sexual abuse against
women, animals, and sometimes against men. These inhuman treatments should not
be shown to prevent other potential people from “experimenting” these acts of
disgust. “Ordinary obscenity” should be censored closely, but with an objective
view. They may also cause an increase in the violence against women, so they
must be reduced and kept out of reach of the immature readers. To make a tree
grow correctly, you must start caring from the very beginning. You must not
block its nutrients, water nor sunlight, but allow it to move around a bit. We
have a governing social system that mainly frowns upon the violence against
women. There should indeed be access to most types of literature, but in varying
degrees of freedom, determined not by censorship, but by controlled access.
Parents are trying to protect their children from the harsh realities of life,
but are they really helping, or hindering?
The Censorship Iceberg: The results of a survey of challenges in school and
public libraries. By Dr. David Jenkins. School Libraries in Canada. Fall, 1985.
v.6 n.1 p19-22
Sanitized textbooks reflect a pious paradise that never was. By June Callwood.
The Globe and Mail. March 18, 1987. pA2-A3
Suffer the little children. By Janet Collins. Books in Canada. October 1991.
v.20 n.7 p25-27
Court bans ‘humanist’ books from Alabama public schools. By Robin Toner. The
Globe and Mail. March 5, 1987. pA10
Censorship in the children’s library. By Rupert Colley. The Junior Bookshelf.
June 1990. v.54 n.3 p121-123
Censorship News. Spring 1985. n20
Limits of criminal law – obscenity: a test case. By The Law Reform Commission:
working paper no. 10. p7-9
Censorship: stopping the book banners. By the book and periodical development
council. August 1988. p1-17