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1 Censorship Anthology / 1 Anthology Studies in Censorship personal essays by Anne Davis Brooke Berndston Chris Odegard Chris Franz Doug Adams Evelyn Crawford Helen Hummel Marguerite Fields Rafael Hulme Renata Christen Ryan Richards Chris Kwiat 1

2 Censorship Anthology / 2 Anne Davis January 30 th, 2007 Studies in Censorship Personal Essay Revision Censorship: An Attack on Our Freedom Although I have been fortunate enough to have never had a personal experience with censorship, I still have very strong views about censorship. While I understand that censorship can be useful, I do not believe that censorship should exist. This does not mean that I believe that five year olds should be able to watch South Park, because I don t, but I also do not believe that it is the government s place to decide this. I think that if censorship is going to occur, it should not be done on an institutional level. A mother deciding which television programs are appropriate for her small child is one thing but the government deciding which books should be allowed in schools is completely different, it is a threat to our American ideals. I think we need to take a good look at just what it is we are censoring and why it is being done. How is it that images of Saddam Hussein being hanged are broadcast worldwide for all to see when great books, such as The Catcher in the Rye have been banned from numerous schools? It just does not make sense. A major problem I have with censorship is setting limits. How far is too far? We, as Americans, pride ourselves on our freedom of press, but exactly how free is that press? Apparently not very if young kids are being expelled from school due to their writings. I understand the argument that it is pre-emptive, that the schools are acting so as to not 2

3 Censorship Anthology / 3 have another Columbine. And yes, Columbine was horrific, but that does not mean we should live in fear that the next teenager who writes a violent story is going to massacre his fellow students. Why not enforce gun control rather than censorship? I am not suggesting changing the Fourth Amendment, but simply making it harder for a sixteen year old to have access to a gun. For many people writing is a form of expression, an outlet for all of their feelings. If children are taught that they cannot express those feelings in a healthy manner, then the feelings jut sit inside of them, building up. Without a healthy means of expression, there arises the potential for those feelings to build up and eventually be expressed in a much unhealthier manner, i.e. Columbine. By endorsing a doctrine of censorship we are in essence endorsing the creation of a society where no one expresses their feelings and without a healthy outlet, built up emotions can be a very dangerous thing. Like a ticking time bomb. Censorship is not only dangerous because it deprives children of a healthy outlet for their emotions, but it also runs the risk of being taken too far. Who is in charge of what is censored and what is not? What if one day the President decides that Mickey Mouse is bad for children and decides to censor everything with Mickey Mouse in it? What happens then? The problem with censorship is that there is a fine line between using it to protect people and using it to restrict people. If we are not careful one day we may wake up and realize that we are only reading papers that the government has sanctioned, only watching television shows that are government approved; only learning government approved topics in school. What will become of democracy? Censorship, in its very ideal, is a threat to democracy. 3

4 Censorship Anthology / 4 Not only is censorship a threat to democracy, but it is a constitutional violation as well. In the Bill of Rights the freedom of press is clearly stated, and censorship goes against that freedom. No matter how broadly or narrowly you interpret the Constitution; censorship is a clear cut violation. Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press (Bill of Rights, Amendment 1). While Congress may or may not have made laws directly allowing or forbidding censorship, it is impossible to not see censorship as a violation of the Constitution. I do not believe that someone should tell me what I can and cannot read, and I do not believe that they should be able to violate the constitution to do that. I fear that censorship, particularly in our schools, is the stepping stone to censorship in other aspects of our lives. It makes me wonder what s next. Today it is teens expressing violent thoughts, tomorrow it s what television we can watch, and after that, who knows? ### 4

5 Censorship Anthology / 5 Brooke Berndtson Seminar in Censorship Brian Mooney January 31, 2007 ALL IN THE TIMING I rattle my brain for a few minutes while I try to pinpoint a time in my life where I encountered censorship. It is a little more difficult than I had expected to find a moment in which I had personally been censored. I ve always been a bit of a brat when it comes to curbing my tongue or keeping myself within the other people s comfort zone. Occasionally I will find myself humorously leaving the vowels out of select swears for no particular reason. What the fuck? becomes what the f k? Sentences like this usually come about when I am rushed, like my rapid speaking prohibited the use of the vowels in between percussive consonants. Other than that the next experience I have with censorship is only applicable to me by association. I went to a performing arts high school and I was elated to have been chosen to direct any play of my choice. It was during this performance that I had my most memorable encounter with a form of censorship. Although I cannot claim to have suffered too greatly from my run-in with censorship, the real victim was David Ives. My junior year at the Chicago Academy for the Arts high school I was given the honor of directing the annual student directed show. The excitement was overwhelming as I had been working for this moment since I entered the school as a freshman. I spent the entire summer of my sophomore year reading through possible plays to direct. The theatre department at my school had a history of doing complicated and dramatic shows. I wanted to counter this tradition by doing something completely different. I chose four of David Ives one-acts from his script All in the Timing. This comedy was a mixture of 5

6 Censorship Anthology / 6 political, linguistic and sexual humor. I had all of the elements of the play cleared by Danielle (the head of the theatre department) and was given permission to start rehearsing. The first three one-acts were up on their heels in no time. It was the fourth and final act that was giving me trouble. Although the play wasn t vastly inappropriate or too crude it still dealt with sexual material, and that made some people nervous. The play was about golf as a metaphor for sex and it took place on a golf course. It also had six actors on stage at one time in a black box stage of miniature proportions. I was struggling with the blocking and keeping my actors from overlapping with each other. At the same time that I was having difficulty with the physical placement of my actors, my actors were having difficulty with the implied physical actions in the play. Two of my actors had to deal with the real sexual tension between them and so they reacted to one another on stage with stiff and awkward motions. One of my actors was as sexual as a lamp, and I had to coach him hour after hour on adding more sensuality to certain motions and sounds. In a moment of desperation I had asked him what the one thing was that gave him the ultimate feeling of pleasure. His reply? Ice Cream. Then picture yourself eating the most delicious ice cream you ve ever tasted, I told him. This (oddly enough) seemed to help him understand the specifics of what I wanted. I spent one grueling month prepping my actors, making them more comfortable with the sexuality of the play and also trying to find the humor. After that one month of rehearsal, my actors were as close to performance-ready as they were ever going to be. We set the stage up for our preview audience. The curtain came up and one hour later closed again. My actors and I were ecstatic over how well the 6

7 Censorship Anthology / 7 preview had gone. Everyone was buzzing about the play and mainly the last act. The cast as a whole was thrilled at our success. We had no idea that the performance had angered parents who were uncomfortable with watching their children in sexual roles. The sexuality in the play was mainly implied and so we had not foreseen that the play would be a problem. In fact the only overtly sexual line in the play was spoken at the end by an upperclassman who had no qualms with her sexuality and whose parents lived over five hours away. The bubbly actress addresses her golfing partner candidly as if asking for pen, So, you wanna fuck? I guess that this last line was the last straw for parents who had watched my show. Three hours before the next performance was to take place the head of my department came storming into the Green room demanding a private meeting with me. She told me that she was very disappointed that I had put my actors in a compromising position and forced them to play roles doused with sexual implications. My teacher wanted me to cut the final act and make my play a collection of three one acts instead of four. Unwilling to accept that my actors were being compromised enough to pull the last act out of my show I suggested that my teacher and I talk with the actors and see if we could produce a better option than eliminating the act. My actors were just as outraged as I was. Every one of them pleaded on behalf of the show. They wanted to show off the piece that they had all worked so hard on. When confronted with the idea that they were too young to be portrayed as sexual a couple of my female cast members became irate and were brought to tears. Danielle had no idea that the actors felt so strongly about the piece that they would be willing to fight tooth and nail to put it on stage that night. With the help of my actors I decided to come to a 7

8 Censorship Anthology / 8 compromise with Danielle and censor some of the more blunt dialogue. I made some minor changes but the last line would have to be fixed completely. Instead of wanna fuck Katherine chose to imitate the sound of old 1970 s porno music. Somehow this was deemed more appropriate than actually saying fuck. And, even though it is illegal to change the text of a play without checking with the company that owns the copyrights, I did not protest in fear that I would have to throw the performance out completely. In the end no one in the audience noticed a big difference and we as a cast did not receive any notices that people were offended. In fact the act that had caused the most controversy behind the scenes quickly became the obvious favorite of our audience. I still to this day get compliments about that show. I felt that censoring the sexuality in this show was a mistake. In the end having to choose between censoring my show or censoring a few words of David Ives s was a nobrainer. I don t feel that a huge injustice was done but rather a minor irritation because of the silliness a few people can cause because they are uncomfortable with something. There was not anything outright bad or vile about a seventeen year old saying fuck on stage (especially because the characters they are playing are much older). It is an actor s job to play roles of different ages, religious backgrounds, and political affiliations. I wonder if parent would have complained that it was unfair to make their Democratic son or daughter play a role as a Republican. Sometimes people confuse the illusions in theatre or literature as reality and become offended. Those few people can create such an outcry that everyone else has to make a sacrifice to keep them happy. Before this incident I can t remember ever thinking about censorship. ### 8

9 Censorship Anthology / 9 Chris Odegard January 31, 2007 Studies in Censorship My Concise Opinion of Censorship I always balk at the idea of censorship, even though I myself have never really had to face it. On only a scant few occasions have I been prevented from publishing a creative work of mine specifically because someone else objected to its content, and not because it was unfit to print (which has also happened). On those occasions, I was much displeased: I oppose censorship due to ethical concerns, and becoming the recipient thereof offended my sensibilities. Much like cough syrup, the consequences of its misuse can be grave. Nevertheless, I think censorship has a place in society, one fraught with stipulations and carefully devised rules, a point which I will discuss in the last paragraph. Before that, however, I will describe for the reader my experience being an editor and writer for my high school newspaper. Ours was a rather poor operation: the majority of the staff was made up of apathetic teenagers whose ability with English was severely limited but from whom most of the articles came. Those of us with some motivation and writing competence, including myself, ran the show but still had to deal with our apathetic teacher, who used threats to the paper from completely falling apart but also prevented it from attaining some level of greatness. He did this by censoring our work: on many occasions he edited or removed articles written by myself and others without our prior consent. An act of censorship, I believe, requires that an intermediary, the censor, to edit creative work after it has left the hands and influence of the creator, with the specific intention of removing parts that he finds objectionable, which is what my teacher did. Conversely, it was not censorship when he forbade me from making reference to sex, 9

10 Censorship Anthology / 10 drugs, violence, or the differences between men and women in my articles. Then, at least, I was still in complete control of the content of my writing and in keeping my language in check only abiding by a reasonable rule. But despite my obedience in terms of vocabulary, I still was censored and rapidly became disillusioned with the journalistic process. Another incident in which I was disallowed from having my work published was the time I submitted a short and ridiculous story to "Cicada," a literary magazine for teenagers. The process of editing culled my story; they did not publish it because it did not meet their standards for quality. They sent me a letter explaining as much. This news disappointed me, but I recognized even then that they were right to refuse me: my story was terrible. Besides lacking a plot, it demonstrated a pronounced lack of talent for writing and a dearth of skill with English. I accepted defeat and moved on. Importantly, this incident was not an act of censorship. There was no intermediary altering my work to lessen its impact; rather, they simply decided not to print it, which they have complete license to do. My distaste for censorship stems from its immensely arbitrary nature. It operates on an unspecific, subjectively determined standard of decency, which gives far too much leeway to censors. Obviously, what any given person considers obscene is not so to someone else. As well, material unfit for consumption by minors may be just fine for adults, yet censorship has tended to ban such things simply because they might fall into the hands of minors and might corrupt them. To elaborate, censorship assumes too much: first that the public needs protection from acts of creative expression; second, that those acts will necessarily affect children if allowed to exist; and third, that children would be 10

11 Censorship Anthology / 11 harmed if exposed to those acts. These things are not universally true, so censors have nothing to go on when deciding whether a work is acceptable or not except pure whim. I cannot support that; either they should work out a well-reasoned, logical system to use or simply not censor anything. Fortunately, the latter is the case, more or less, in modern America. Broadcasts on television and radio are limited in what they can legally portray, but only slightly. Otherwise, one may legally buy and consume a large number of grotesquely violent, sexual, and crude books, magazines, and movies, a fact that pleases me. In contrast to what I've just written, I believe that censorship- on a personal level rather than an official one- is good and necessary. In an effort to keep society functioning at a certain level of propriety, I advocate abstinence from excessive vulgarity and violence in creative works. I do this arbitrarily; it does not serve any great purpose except the practical one of placating me. I just prefer to experience as little of those things as possible in my daily life, but I do not expect anyone necessarily to share this preference. In any case, I reaffirm my disliking for censorship for ethical reasons. More than that, I have never known censorship to benefit anyone. As far as I can tell, it is a pure waste of time. ### 11

12 Censorship Anthology / 12 Chris Franz It is difficult to discern what qualifies as censorship in the strictest sense, but I believe that I have encountered a relatively pure form of censorship on at least one occasion in my life. In my senior year of high school, the principal attempted to prevent my friend and I from speaking our opinions about our school to a group of academic advisors. My friend and I, among several other students, felt that our school was rife with corruption. Academic dishonesty, blatant favoritism, and generally unfair and irresponsible behavior had all become common place, especially during our senior year. We were both on bad terms with the principal on a personal level, even more so that year because he was also teaching our psychology class, which had not been going well for either us and the other students, or for him, as he had almost stopped showing up for it altogether at this point and would usually assign another teacher to watch over us while we read through the text book. I m sure he did not want us talking to the advisors about our low opinions of him. We had also come to develop a low opinion of the school over all, particularly over the course of the preceding semester, which we had every intention of sharing with the advisors. It seemed that the principal was privy to this knowledge, and he seemed quite determined to prevent us from allowing anyone else to be. The Middle States Commission on Higher Education was reviewing my high school for membership and accreditation, and part of this process involved the advisors interviewing randomly selected students to find out how we felt about the school. This review process was supposed to be completely neutral, with no interference from the faculty or administrators. The intention of the Middle States Commission was to find out 12

13 Censorship Anthology / 13 our thoughts on the school in a confidential environment, completely free of faculty and administrative influence. My friend and I, along with several other students, were asked to meet with the advisors and discuss our opinions on the school, in a room where no faculty or administrators were to be allowed for the duration of the meeting. We were both rather eager to vent some of our frustrations about the conduct of certain faculty and administration members, which we thought the advisors would be interested in hearing. As we sat awaiting the arrival of the advisors however, the principal just happened to walk by the classroom door and noticed us sitting there. He demanded that we leave the room and not participate in the meeting. We told him that we had been asked to attend, and even showed him our invitations that had been handed out to us earlier that day. Leave was all he said, not even acknowledging our complaint, acting as if we had said nothing at all. We both returned to our regular class room, which was just across the hallway, somewhat disappointed, but not particularly surprised. This sort of behavior was pretty much what we had come to expect, and was part of what we had hoped to discuss with the Middle States advisors. It was not at all surprising that the principal would interfere in such a way, or that he would prevent two students whom he personally did not like from partaking in the meeting. This meeting was supposed to be conducted by the Middle States advisors, with absolutely no interference from school administrators, but our principal of course paid no mind to this. He seemed to care only about his reputation and the damage that might be done to it if we were to speak against him. He would often treat students in such an unfair manner, dependent upon his personal feelings towards them. Some were allowed special privileges, while others were not even allowed to share their 13

14 Censorship Anthology / 14 opinions when asked for them. But, luckily for us, that was not the case on this occasion. Fortunately, one of the Middle States advisors happened to notice us leaving the room. She followed us into our regular classroom after the principal had left and asked why we were not attending the meeting. We told her that we had simply been asked to leave. When she asked us why, we had no additional response, only that we had been asked to leave. She invited us back into the meeting, which we were now more eager than ever to partake in, but also somewhat reluctant because we did not want to be suspended for skipping our class. She assured us that this would not happen and that the advisors had gotten permission from the principal himself to select which ever students they wanted to meet with for however long they wanted to meet with us. We agreed and followed her back to the meeting room, where the other students and advisors were already waiting. After a short introduction by the advisors, each student was asked individually to tell the group what we thought of the school. Most students seemed to respond with indifference, not praising the school, but not condemning it either. When my friend and I were asked what we thought of the school, we started by relating the story of how we were almost kept from even partaking in the meeting at all. We told them that such unfair treatment and favoritism was quite common, and several other students spoke up in agreement. The advisors seemed somewhat interested, but remained expressionless, as they had throughout the entire meeting. It was hard to tell just what they thought of what we were saying, but at least we knew that they were listening. The important part of this experience wasn t so much that they agreed with us, or even that they acted on what we said, just that they were listening, and we were speaking, which was all that we wanted to 14

15 Censorship Anthology / 15 do. We had been asked to share our opinions by the Middle States Commission, which we were more than happy to do, but our principal, the primary authority figure of the school, had attempted to prevent us from doing that. The meeting we were asked to participate in was designed to be free of any outside interference from our school. The faculty and the administration were both supposed to be barred from interfering with the review process in any way. That is why I think this experience qualifies as an encounter with a relatively pure form of censorship. Someone with a significant amount of authority and power over me attempted to prevent me from speaking my opinion, even when I had been asked for it. To me, that is essentially what censorship is, an attempt by the powerful to silence the powerless. What makes it even worse is that he attempted to essentially undermine the entire review process by interfering with a private meeting, which he was specifically barred from interfering with (on a side note, my high school s application for accreditation was rejected that year, and as far as I know, it has yet to be accredited by the Middle States Commission). I am glad that this particular attempt at censorship did not succeed, and I look back on the experience as a small, little triumph for freedom of expression. ### 15

16 Censorship Anthology / 16 Douglas Adams January 31 st, 2007 Studies in Censorship Brian Mooney Personal Essay Liberal Censorship of Thought Censorship is a rejection of thought. My first year of college began by students informing me about the issues that affect members of minorities but ended with an observation of suffocating censorship of language and thought. The students scrutinized me for the words I said and how I said them. The school, Antioch, has a history of rigorous academics intense social atmosphere. The students censor each other in the name of equality but only results in homogeny. They changed how I thought through their censorship in policies and attitude. The school has two policies that prevent free speech with respect to racial discrimination and sexual offense. Both are necessary and effective but stricter than healthful with regards to what can be said. Through these policies Antioch made it formally illegal to voice sexually and racially offensive opinions. Students are free to stifle any opinion not in keeping with the intensely accommodating atmosphere that they pride themselves on. Challenging people s opinions may be admirable but, in this case, leads to uniform standards, some quite radical, to which everyone must agree or be socially isolated. 16

17 Censorship Anthology / 17 I felt censored in all areas of controversial opinion. For example, I advocate the capitalist system and with a few adjustments to the system see it as a solution to many of the world s problems. At Antioch I found no one in agreement with this opinion. My peers all insisted that I was crazy, ignorant or stupid. They made me to defend my views. The first several times we had lengthy conversations but I realized that while I listened to their contentions they hardly acknowledged mine. On the small campus word traveled fast that I promoted the free market. I learned not to disagree unless prepared for bothersome, lengthy and often unsupported scrutiny. In this small community my social faux pas affected the opinions of everyone, even people I had never met. The mindset among the students makes the primary goal in dealing with new students to teach them the Antioch Ropes. The students want to get everyone to agree with the opinions of the campus. Even worse, the demonstrations of censorship based on race and gender affected every discussion. Members of the Antioch community told me, and other white males, that we could not understand being a person of racial minority or female persuasion. That may be true, but does not automatically exclude our opinions from the discussion. The fact that we are white and male does not mean that we have not observed discrimination based on race or gender. Over the course of my stay at Antioch I reached the worst possible conclusion: That the liberal minded student body promoted the correct context for discussion; that I should not be allowed to voice my opinion in certain discussions, that people should be legally limited in making racist and sexist statements, and that I should be sure anything I say will not offend anyone before I say it. Only after I removed myself from that intense 17

18 Censorship Anthology / 18 social atmosphere and re-entered normal society did I begin to realize all of the problems that arise with such stringent guidelines for communication. A homogenized community results, intentionally, from Antioch student s radical and forceful propositions about how to view contemporary society. This kind of forced thought detracts from the experience of interacting with diverse people and in such an isolated community will quickly lead to a false sense of reality. Going to Antioch gave me a greater understanding of the need for truly free speech. Without the ability to speak freely, communities risk diluting reality to popular opinion instead of reasoned conclusion. ### 18

19 Censorship Anthology / 19 Once On This I----d By: Evelyn Crawford In my sophomore year in high school, the faculty directors of the annual musical performance decided to edit the script of the musical Once on This Island in order to make it more appropriate for its audience. The storyline of Once on This Island is a simple modern fable set on the French Antilles following a peasant girl, Ti Moune, who falls in love with a rich upper class man, Daniel, when she saves him in a storm. After Daniel returns to the upper class Ti Moune feels that she is destined to be with him and sets off on a journey to find where he lives. Eventually she finds him but because of their class difference they are forbidden to be together and Daniel s family arranges for him to be married to an upper class woman. Although Daniel loves Ti Moune in return, he marries the woman that his family approves of and Ti Moune is left all alone. Although the story has little in it that seems inappropriate for a family audience, it is clear that much of the class division is based on race and because of this the script is very descriptive of racial lines. In order the make the people on the island in the musical less racist the directors decided to change specific words in the script. These changes edited out a significant portion of the original picture depicted of life on the island. In this situation the censorship cuts off large part of the bigger picture and having a school, an institution with the express purpose to educate, censor so the intent of the work becomes to mold rather then to educate, makes censorship seem unhealthy. Along with knowing the possible affects of the artwork, the artist, like the one who wrote Once on This Island, usually has an intended effect that the artwork is meant to evoke from the audience. In the case of Once on This Island the island people s racism is a large 19

20 Censorship Anthology / 20 part of the story s background. The story line is a tragic one, not just because it does not have a happy ending, but because of the picture of the life and division on the island. Racism is another part of the division and so it adds to the sadness. The issue of racism is not directly addressed in the musical and so the show does not clearly make a statement to approve or disapprove of racism. The purpose of the editing was to keep the audience from feeling uncomfortable, but in doing so shelters the audience from something that very much exists in the world and in that way cuts out an opportunity to learn. Instead editing out racism that could make the audience uncomfortable, why not address what the musical does not outside of the theater? Addressing what exactly makes the audience uncomfortable about presenting this story setting outside the theater gives the members of the audience the choice of whether or not to see the play and critique it for themselves. In order to offer the audience the choice of addressing the racism in the musical for themselves the school should offer a warning of content and present the possible problems with the show to the parents. Instead of changing the musical itself, why not change how the issues in it are address with outside of the theater. The situation in the school is different then presenting the musical to just any audience, the performance is put on and viewed by minors and, in our country minors do not have the right to decide what they can and cannot see. Minors are in the care of their parents and even then the government places rating, like NC-17, which defies a parents rule on whether or not the minor can see a film. Parents, as the providers for their children, have a certain amount of authority over them. They may choose to censor their children from certain works. 20

21 Censorship Anthology / 21 Some of this I believe to be acceptable because what can cause serious emotional damage is not always clear. There is a long period of time during which children may make a bad decision that will affect them for the rest of their lives. The reason that censoring is acceptable in this situation is that children often cannot predict the consequences of their choices. When the children grow to be adults then they will be able to fully make their own choices based on the warning system. The only instance in which censorship is appropriate is within the relationship between a parent and child. This makes the censorship decided by the directors in the school and the governments NC-17 rating inappropriate. Artists (and marketing counts as art as well) presenting controversial material (by the American standard) should always come with a disclosure because it can be damaging to those who do not know the content and thus predict the consequences of their choices. ### 21

22 Censorship Anthology / 22 Self Censored Helen Hummel Three years ago, my parents asked me to perform a few of my songs for a small gathering of about twenty people who they had invited over to our house. This gathering took place towards the end of summer. Over this particular summer, I had discovered my feelings about war and politics and had begun moving into a political and war driven song-writing style. I wrote one song in particular that portrayed my feelings about the war. The song is about a five-year-old girl experiencing the war first hand in Iraq. I titled this song Frozen in Time. Over the course of the song, I describe the girl s first impressions of the US invasion and her resulting death in somewhat graphic detail. I had performed the song only a few times for no more than three people and I had received mixed reactions. I am very critical of my songs so I had been surprised to find that many people hearing Frozen in Time for the first time were openly crying by the end. At the same time, other people I had played the song for were appalled. Both because of my own self-consciousness and because of the previous reactions to the song, I was apprehensive about performing it for a large group of people. Everyone gathered on the lawn and I sat in the grass in front of them. As I adjusted the capo on my guitar I secretly surveyed the people seated around me and noticed something new. About three of the woman present had a child resting in their laps. The children were between the ages of three and seven. I panicked. These mothers could potentially be my most receptive audience members and they may be moved by my 22

23 Censorship Anthology / 23 lyrics or they may be appalled by my lyrics. I was tuned up and out of time so I had no choice but to take the risk and perform the song. Terrified, I began to play. With the verse about the little girl s death fast approaching, I was playing a silent game of tug-ofwar in my mind. I was too stubborn to cut out lines completely so I mumbled words like bombs, death, and spilling blood to such an extent that they were incomprehensible. I garbled my way through the two most powerful verses before I gave up completely and ended the song short. Some of the lines I mumbled and cut were Her life won t extend past the afternoon/the bombs and the soldiers are coming soon/and she sees her life flash before her eyes She is five years old/bleeding in the dirt outside/she is five years old/laying in her blood outside/she is frozen in time in the dirt outside/forever five years old. The crowd had no idea that these were the lyrics. Uninterested and unmoved, the audience clapped out of courtesy. I was ashamed. I played a few other songs but I was preoccupied by my feelings of regret and embarrassment. I do not remember what other songs I played. Everyone seemed pleased enough. My parents where glad that I played but they knew what I had done. I do not know if they cared but I did not bring it up and neither did they. Censoring myself may have been the polite thing to do but it directly contradicted my song-writing principles. The reason I wrote Frozen in Time was to affect people and failing that, I at least wanted to share my feelings and opinions. I had accomplished none of these. I had censored myself because I was afraid the audience would be troubled, disgusted or angered by some of the lyrics and, consequently, I had not moved them at all. The worst part was that my goal audience was parents of young children and if I was just going to cop out every time I was confronted with this situation, there was no point in 23

24 Censorship Anthology / 24 writing the song. After this experience, I decided to either play my songs, uncensored and uncut or not play any of my songs at all. I stand by that decision. I play this song a lot now and I play it the way I wrote it. Usually, the audience reaction is well worth the paralyzing fear I feel before I sit down in front of the crowd, especially since I stopped playing for republicans. These days, I frequent the open mics on campus where people have actually requested Frozen in Time, and for that reason, I am grateful for my experience. Although I still cringe when I think back to that summer day, I am glad I censored myself because it was a lesson I had to learn. ### 24

25 Censorship Anthology / 25 Take it Back Marguerite Fields Coming over the bridge from Brooklyn to Manhattan was a big deal. Manhattan was more developed. It was more glamorous. The people were more beautiful; even the graffiti was better. Brooklyn had the El trains that were decorated in bright colors, but Manhattan had the real works of art. Street artists from all over the world were featured all over the buildings of the lower east side. The bowery was a place for kids riding the last wave of punk rock, for haggard old men and women to sleep, and for artists to make art, free of agent and gallery. Number Eleven Spring Street is right in the middle of Manhattan s downtown neighborhood Nolita. There was never any activity in the building that anyone observed except for artists pasting and painting along the exterior s brick. As far as anyone could see, it was not a residence, a storefront, or a restaurant. The only sign that there was anyone in the building were the candles that were lit every night in every window. The place had become an icon of public art, sponsored by no one, for everyone. The building was a part of every street artist s vocabulary, and was also known by many as an eyesore. But many works of art were disregarded as trash before people saw them as great. In a place such as New York, where every subculture is eventually exploited for profit, graffiti seemed to be the last to go. First of all, it is illegal. And most old people don t like it. It is accessible to everyone; no one has to have a degree in art to appreciate it, no one has to pay an entrance fee to view it. 25

26 Censorship Anthology / 26 It was announced recently that New York Post publisher, Lachlan Murdoch, purchased Number Eleven Spring Street for 5.25 million dollars. The new owner plans to turn the building into condominiums. After the initial announcement, there was a small public outcry. The new owner decided to organize an event to settle the fury. He approved an installation of artwork to go inside the building. Street artists from near and far were contacted and asked to participate in the goodbye show for Number Eleven. Many accepted the invite. They were allowed to make anything they wanted inside. Many artists decided to take a shot at the man, as it were, by creating artworks that shyly attacked the owner. For example, there was a painting of a Che Guevara, with a skull for a face. But what kind of shot could they really be taking when they are allowing a millionaire to fence in their art? The artists set up their show, it ran for four days, then the art was sealed into the building by sheetrock. The curators of the show said that it was a symbolic thing; that although the building was changing, by sealing the art into the building itself, the art would remain in it forever. What is most troubling about this is that the art will not remain in it forever: the art will remain behind a layer of sheetrock, while wealthy people enjoy luxury living in a constantly changing-for-the-better Manhattan. The question arises, then, what will happen to art when it is constantly being pushed into spaces that are determined as fit? Where will the new forum of radical art be, if not the street? The immediate answer seems to be, behind a barrier, just out of the sight of the passerby, under the control of a millionaire. By determining who can create what and where they can create it, these people are determining who gets to experience creativity and art. 26

27 Censorship Anthology / 27 Eliminating clutter and dirt is a part of the growth of a big city. Most people do not want to see spray paint on their buildings. But for those who do, there is a diminishing space for them. Along with mass gentrification of once scary neighborhoods, there is the commercialization of art. The problem is not one that has to do with Manhattan alone; it is a problem that affects every artist and every art appreciator. The owner of Number Eleven was not making a kind gesture to these artists by giving them his newly acquired space to have a final hurrah; he was controlling their art, and deciding what was to be done with it. ### 27

28 Censorship Anthology / 28 Rafael Hulme Censorship Mooney January 25, 2007 Growing up: a guided and carefully timed tour You never let me do anything! I m not a baby anymore! I slammed the door to my bedroom and fumed. What were my stupid overly protective parents thinking? I could not understand what possible reason there was for me to see a movie of all things. I was eight at the time and I have forgotten the name of the movie, and my parents have forgotten the experience all together. It has been lost to them as just another difficult section in the guided path to adulthood for one of their three children. Despite what I may have thought my parents were not evil and mean merely trying to make my life miserable. They were doing exactly what I will do in this situation when I have kids of my own. This is a case where a degree of censorship is good. My parents were doing their best to provide me with a childhood. A time in which to be a kid and to look at the world without all of the jaded reality of it ruining primary experience. Hopefully as a child grows up he is exposed to the harsh realities of life in a gradual manner. The gradual introduction of subversive media is important because it allows us to understand what the implications of actions in this world are. It is also important that we develop a set of filters that allow us to understand deviant behavior as an artistic tool. I am not making the case for violence on tv being responsible for the shootings at columbine for example. The gradual introduction to the ideas of drugs, sex and violence 28

29 Censorship Anthology / 29 coupled with explanation by someone older and wiser allows for them to be understood as having repercussions. This real world introduction is much more likely to produce a cathartic response than a child who is left home with a television and all the ideas presented there. This child is able to view what a director intends as an expressive or artistic act without first understanding the way the world works. These acts are meant to illustrate a point and one must first understand what reality is and how these acts fit or don't fit into it. There are three major categories of things deemed inappropriate for children: sex, drugs and violence. In most cases the first type of subversive material a child will encounter is violence. It is commonly first seen in either cartoon or video game format. Sex is introduced gradually by romance and gradually children begin to understand the connections there. Finally drug use is introduced and hopefully by this time a child has had some education on the dangers there. The key to an accurate understanding of these themes is their gradual introduction, coupled with conversation and education. With this education in place a child has developed filters. These filters allow a person to watch or read about characters saying and doing things that do not fit into polite society with a critical eye. If a person does not have these filters he may see these behaviors as acceptable and at best may not understand the directors vision, at worst may even emulate. As a child of eight I did not have these filters. I was not ready to understand the characters in the film. I was becoming aware of subversive behavior but did not have the understanding of the real world and how it worked well enough to be exposed to ideas that did not fit into it. It can be compared to attempting to learn algebra without first 29

30 Censorship Anthology / 30 knowing the rules of addition and subtraction. To understand artistic vision one must first understand how it relates to our world. I badly wanted to be a grown up and treated as one, but now looking back. I wish I could experience the world in that naive way again. Sadly however once the filters are in place you can never look at anything the same way. I thank my parents for allowing me to experience that for as long as they did, and for guiding me into this world of unpleasant realities as gently as they did. ### 30

31 Censorship Anthology / 31 Renata Christen 1/31/07 Professor Mooney Writing Seminar Astrology and its Adversaries Astrology is a touchy subject to discuss with any proponent of higher learning. Although I don t know enough about Astrology to rigorously defend it, I do know more about Astrology than most people and have respect for Astrology as a spiritual practice. Throughout my academic career, I ve been censored and belittled by professors and students when I try to express my appreciation for this ancient method of human understanding. Before I continue, let me explain a few technical details of Astrology that are often misunderstood. A person s Sun sign is what, as eloquently stated by acclaimed astrologer Stephen Arroyo, feeds one s basic sense of purpose and feeling of wellbeing. 1 In high school, whenever my peers would joke about not getting along because he s a Virgo and she s an Aries, I would try to explain how the Sun-sign is only one aspect of an individual s chart. My peers focused solely on the scientific studies that researched only Sun signs in justifying their claims that Astrology is magic. The problem with conducting a scientific study on people s Sun signs alone is that an individual s chart aside from being complicated needs to be examined as a whole (degrees, houses, symbols and all). 1 Arroyo, Stephen. Astrology, Psychology, and the Four Elements, p

32 Censorship Anthology / 32 The American media has simplified Astrology, and in doing so, created a cult following of Sun-signs found in newspapers, magazines, websites, and s. Sunsign Astrology is not a means to the end of defining individuality. Every human being s chart is completely his or her own. No Sun-sign publication can ever explain the intricacies of having your chart examined and explained by a professional astrologer (with, hopefully, a background in counseling). Thus, the American media has created a negative image for Astrology, depicting it as a silly activity on-par with machine-card fortune tellers or Magic Eight balls. My high school classmates made fun of me for even considering that Astrology might reveal certain truths to them, I was legitimately trying to defend a bogus methodology. By college, I assumed the atmosphere of understanding would have changed. Instead, I found myself traumatized in a Critical Thinking class where the teacher literally screamed at me. The teacher couldn t recall the particulars of one study on which he based all of his Astrological disgust, and his only base argument was that Astrology doesn t incorporate the Earth s wobble into its equations. I later found out that Astrology does in fact take into account the Earth s wobble, and that all of the facts my Critical Thinking teacher angrily presented were misguided and inaccurate. This experience, aside from traumatizing me and urging me to learn more about Astrology, instilled an intense skepticism of the superiority held by professors in an academic setting. I no longer felt like an ignorant peon, sitting quietly and being spoon-fed information. I thereafter (and probably before, anyway) questioned many subsequent lecturers. I ve even had issues with my dad, an astrologer, when trying to understand Astrology s checkered past. My dad takes everything he views in someone s chart 32

33 Censorship Anthology / 33 literally and not as a means to counsel. He once told me, as we were driving down Slough Road in Cape Cod, on a beautiful summer day, that I d marry either an alcoholic or drug addict. At that point, I exclaimed, What the fuck are you talking about? and, like a demented teenager, he immediately became defensive, angry, and moody. In trying to counsel me regarding my birth chart, my dad has been vague and unhelpful (two qualities you want to avoid in your astrologer). This relationship has led me astray, time and time again, and yet I hold on to the belief that I will one day gain deeper insight into this tabooed science, often associated with the occult. My mom has been an understanding and inspiring individual with my interest in Astrology. Although she only knows enough about Astrology to wing her way through birth charts, I ve learned a lot from her n the past. She s exposed me to a lot of esoteric idea in my life as well, having once single-handedly run an organization which housed lecturers palmists, astrologers, Indian holy men, secular humanists of all kinds. Even though my mom no longer runs her business, Isis Institute, I m still very proud of her commitment to truth in all shapes and sizes (Astrology was no exception). We both hold the belief that censorship stifles growth in every way even censorship of the gruesome, which is entirely necessary in order to understand human nature and open up a dialogue for understanding. I m gradually gaining more insight into Astrology. Partly, my determination has to due with the censorship I ve experienced. However, I m also fascinated by the relationship between human being, and the vast universe that encircles and bombards us with invisible energies. Astrology is a constant reminder that for a world constructed on the shaky foundations of chance and its inhabitants ghost-like compared to the stars in 33

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