From TIME Magazine:
Since 1982, the American Library Association has sponsored Banned Books Week to pay tribute to free speech and open libraries. The tradition began as a nod to how far society has come since 1557, when Pope Paul IV first established The Index of Prohibited Books to protect Catholics from controversial ideas. Pope Paul VI would abolish it 409 years later, although attempts at censorship still remain.
Here are some of the most challenged books of all time.
Below is an audio excerpt from President John F. Kennedy’s address to the American Newspaper Publishers on April 27, 1961.
Without debate, without criticism, no Administration and no country can succeed – and no republic can survive.
And so it is to the printing press – to the recorder of man’s deeds, the keeper of his conscience, the courier of his news — that we look for strength and assistance, confident that with your help man will be what he was born to be: free and independent.
-John F. Kennedy, 1961
If this nation is to be wise as well as strong, if we are to achieve our destiny, then we need more new ideas for more wise men reading more good books in more public libraries. These libraries should be open to all—except the censor. We must know all the facts and hear all the alternatives and listen to all the criticisms. Let us welcome controversial books and controversial authors.
-John F. Kennedy
Want to have your voice in TCI’s show for WGI Finals in Dayton?
Record a quote about censorship, and send it to TCIcensored@ymail.com. It can be anything found on this blog, or something else. We will be picking our favorites and placing them into certain parts of the show. We may manipulate them or bleep them, but listen close after the season to hear if yours made it, since not all of them can be used.
MP3 files are preferred, but WAV and AIFF files will work. Keep it short, record in silence, and the better quality it has, the better chance of being chosen.
Make it happen!
Michelangelo’s wall fresco The Last Judgment in the Sistine Chapel of Vatican City was commissioned 30 years after he completed the ceiling of the same building. However, the prevailing attitudes of the time and the artistic movement of the Renaissance did not always line up, as is the case in The Last Judgment.
The artist was accused of immorality and obscenity, having depicted naked figures inside this most important church. So a censorship campaign, known as the Fig-Leaf Campaign was organized to remove the frescoes. After Michelangelo’s death, the nudity was censored with robes and fig leaves painted onto the work by one of his own students, Daniele da Volterra. History remembers da Volterra by the derogatory nickname “Il Braghettone,” which translates “the breeches-painter.”
Portion of the altered fresco:
Similar covers have been applied to paintings and sculptures in many cases since, causing debates between art purists and advocates for modern applications of decency.
Today, the term “fig leaf” is used to mean a cover for anything that might be considered unsavory or shameful, with the implication that the censor is only a token gesture where the truth is obvious.
The only valid censorship of ideas is the right of people not to listen.
Welcome censorship to the 21st Century.
For decades, we have all seen manipulated and doctored photos whether we know it or not. And recently, software like Photoshop has made the revision of photographs and images easier and more difficult to detect. Harmless or malicious, they can alter our perception.
Now Auto-Tune, the computer correction of musical notes and melodies. For further description, here is an excerpt from an article in The New Yorker:
Auto-Tune locates the pitch of a recorded vocal, and moves that recorded information to the nearest “correct” note in a scale. Unnaturally rapid corrections eliminate portamento, the musical term for the slide between two pitches. Portamento is a natural aspect of speaking and singing, central to making people sound like people. Auto-Tune can turn the lolling curves of the human voice into a zigzag of right-angled steps.
So, censored are the flaws in talent found in some modern music. Is exceptional musicianship now less valuable? Are computer wizards the new musical virtuosos? Though true ability will not be taken from those who have it, the illusion of its possession is more available. This censorship of musical deficiency muddies the water between art and technology.
In 1941, FDR gave a State of the Union address commonly referred to as the Four Freedoms Speech. In it, he discussed his desire for a worldwide freedom of expression. Offered here is the ending clip of the original speech, Auto-Tuned. Enjoy.
If in other lands the press and books and literature of all kinds are censored, we must redouble our efforts here to keep them free.
-Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1941
Marcel Duchamp, Erik Satie, et James Joyce:
Ne pas voir, ne pas entendre, ne pas parler.
We are not afraid to entrust the American people with unpleasant facts, foreign ideas, alien philosophies, and competitive values. For a nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is afraid of its people.
-John F. Kennedy
In January 2009, the US Vice President’s house once again became viewable on popular map and satellite image websites. Previously, VP Cheney made sure his residence looked like this:
Now it again looks like this:
The first condition of progress is the removal of censorship.
-George Bernard Shaw
The press is easier to strangle than to look in the eyes.
So listen up ’cause you can’t say nothin’. You shut me down with a push of your button.
‘Cause what you see you might not get.
-Beastie Boys, Sabotage, 1994
The United States Office of Censorship operated from December 19, 1941 through August 15, 1945 to censor international wartime communications.
When President Roosevelt created the office, he wrote:
All Americans abhor censorship, just as they abhor war. But the experience of this and of all other Nations has demonstrated that some degree of censorship is essential in wartime, and we are at war.
Byron Price, the executive editor of the Associated Press was appointed the first and only Director of Censorship. Price’s biggest task during the war was to keep secret information about development of the atomic bomb. Price’s office developed the “Code of Wartime Practices” which, although voluntary for American radio and press outlets, made clear that certain pieces of information were not to be published.
The office operated under the motto Silentium Victoriam Accelerat, which from Latin translates Silence Speeds Victory.
I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.
-Voltaire (Evelyn Beatrice Hall, 1906)
Google v. Chinese Censors
BEIJING — Google’s declaration that it would stop cooperating with Chinese Internet censorship and consider shutting down its operations in China ricocheted around the world on Wednesday. But in China itself, the news was heavily censored.
Some big Chinese news portals initially carried a short dispatch on Google’s announcement, but that account soon tumbled from the headlines, and later reports omitted Google’s references to “free speech” and “surveillance.”
From New York Times article by Andrew Jacobs. Full article here.
“Burn this Book is a powerful collection of essays that explore the meaning of censorship, and the power of literature to inform the way we see the world, and ourselves.”
Two quotes from an article The Press: Censorship, Pros & Cons published in TIME magazine December 31, 1945, 64 years ago today:
No one who does not dislike censorship should ever be permitted to exercise censorship.
-Director of U.S. Office of Censorship, Byron Price
Censorship is a necessary shield, “in democratic countries, including Russia,” against “all kinds of poisonous slander harmful to the cause of peace,” and is justified “as long as influential newspapers or private owners” commit slander.
-Quoting Russian writer N. Baltisky
We’re talking about words. And I don’t believe there is any word that needs to be suppressed.
-Frank Zappa, 1986
Imagine books and music and movies being filtered and homogenized. Certified. Approved for consumption. People will be happy to give up most of their culture for the assurance that the tiny bit that comes through is safe and clean. White noise.
Imagine a world of silence where any sound loud enough or long enough to harbor a deadly poem would be banned. A world where people are afraid to listen, afraid they’ll hear something behind the din of traffic. Some toxic words buried in the loud music playing next door. Imagine a higher and higher resistance to language. No one talks because no one dares to listen. The deaf shall inherit the earth.
And the illiterate.
-Chuck Palahniuk, Lullaby, 2003
Ideas won’t go to jail. In the long run of history, the censor and the inquisitor have always lost. The only weapon against bad ideas is better ideas.
-Alfred Whitney Griswold, New York Times, 1959
We have a natural right to make use of our pens as of our tongue, at our peril, risk and hazard.
-Voltaire, Dictionnaire Philosophique, 1764
Astronomer F.A. Oom’s drawing of the total solar eclipse, 1860.
Chinese total eclipse, 2008.
Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.
-Aldous Huxley, Proper Studies, 1927
This blog is an online companion to TCI’s 2010 production, Censored. Members, fans, and anyone can follow along throughout the season with articles, videos, and other media associated with TCI’s vision for the show.
The content on this or any page, however, does not constitute official endorsements of views or opinions on any subject by TCI’s staff, members, endorsers, or its parent company. It is intended for purposes of entertainment, thought-provoking, and exposure to media that may craft the way TCI’s membership performs the show, and the way viewers interpret it.
Also check out the companion blog to the 2009 production Videotape at www.onyourvideotape.com.