In case you missed the show this week, the Brookings School Board met and had an hour or so of public comment largely roasting the efforts of those who who have a list of 200 or books they want to be the gatekeeper on, including the Diary of Anne Frank, and To Kill a Mockingbird.
There were comments from the school board early on in the meeting on how they have received no parental requests keeping reading material from their kids, according to the existing processes. Interesting that this has Additionally, you also see the public comment which begins at about 1:07:00 in the meeting.
In case you want to listen what the community had to say:
The censors appearing at the Brookings School Board meeting found themselves getting resounding pushback from the community. As they should when they come to the school board with a censorship list.
The whole controversy reminds me about previous efforts at censorship by other self-appointed overlords of public morality, and how that’s gone for them.
Way back during the time of our parents and grandparents, we had Dr. Fredric Wertham in 1954 claiming that comic books were a serious cause of juvenile delinquency with it’s negative influences. Aside from the horror comics of the time, the efforts at censorship extended to fairly benign super hero comics.
The Superman type of comic books tends to force and super-force. Dr. Paul A. Witty, professor of education at Northwestern University, has well described these comics when he said that they “present our world in a kind of Fascist setting of violence and hate and destruction. I think it is bad for children,” he goes on, “to get that kind of recurring diet … [they] place too much emphasis on a Fascist society. Therefore the democratic ideals that we should seek are likely to be overlooked.”
The Batman type of story may stimulate children to homosexual fantasies, of the nature of which they may be unconscious.
The Lesbian counterpart of Batman may be found in the stories of Wonder Woman and Black Cat. The homosexual connotation of the Wonder Woman type of story is psychologically unmistakable.
Nevermind the fact that Wertham did his study with juvenile delinquents exclusively, and not children as a whole. In the mind of Wertham, Superman was an anti-democratic fascist, and Batman & Wonder Woman were subconsciously turning children into homosexuals. And yes, they had Congressional hearings on it.
As the country got whipped up on the topic, what came from those hearings were publishers agreeing to create a code of self-censorship which required:
- “No comics shall explicitly present the unique details and methods of a crime.”
- “Policemen, judges, Government officials and respected institutions shall never be presented in such a way as to create disrespect for established authority.”
- “All scenes of horror, excessive bloodshed, gory or gruesome crimes, depravity, lust, sadism, masochism shall not be permitted.”
- “All characters shall be depicted in dress reasonably acceptable to society.”
Because our youth would have been irretrievably corrupted if someone “created disrespect for established authority.” By the turn of the century, 45-50 years later nobody cared anymore, and the “comics code authority” became defunct.
In my younger days, our country were under siege by Al Gore’s wife, Tipper Gore, railing on TV about music with naughty lyrics, as she challenged Ozzy Osbourne and Twisted Sister. And we soon had hearings that Congress held in 1985 regarding the content on pop music. Unfortunately for Congress, they got it with both barrels by that promoter of smutty music, John Denver:
I am here to address the issue of a possible rating system in the Recording Industry, labeling records where excesses of explicit sex or graphic violence have occurred and, furthermore, references to drugs and alcohol or the occult are included in the lyrics. These hearings have been called to determine whether or not the Government should intervene to enforce this practice.
Mr. Chairman, this would approach censorship. May I be very clear that I am strongly opposed to censorship of any kind in our society, or anywhere else in the world.
Discipline and self-restraint, when practiced by an individual, a family, or a company is an effective way to deal with this issue. The same thing when forced on a people by their government or, worse, by a self-appointed watchdog of public morals, is suppression and will not be tolerated in a democratic society.
Mr. Chairman, the suppression of the people of a society begins, in my mind, with the censorship of the written or spoken word. It was so in Nazi Germany. It is so in many places today where those in power are afraid of the consequences of an informed and educated people.
What resulted from that was more self-regulation which brought warning labels on records, which is up to the labels themselves whether or not to include.
The point in all of this is that every so often, our country has a bit of a history where “saviors” are concerned as they seek publicity under the guise that they are out there to save our youth, and they can only do so by censoring material as they try to whip up public sentiment for government to do something. Which leaves a person to ask whether we want government or the self-anointed in the business of deciding what we can read or listen to?
Because it rarely works out. And we end up with appeasement from the industry, just to tamp down the controversy for the time being. Which leaves me with the sentiment that we can do so much better.
If anyone is to decide what is or is not appropriate for our kids, it should be the parents of those same children getting involved, and being the arbiter of what mass media their kids should and should not consume. Period.
Not government. Not politicians. And not groups who claim they’re going to save us all.
A little less government and a lot more parenting would do all of us a world of good.