Encyclopedia of Censorship

International Legal Research

Information about Encyclopedia of Censorship in free legal resources:

Treaties & Agreements

International Organizations

Jurisprudence $ Commentary

European Union

IP Law

Encyclopedia of Censorship

Encyclopedia of Censorship

Encyclopedia of Censorship List of Entries

ABC Trial, The
Abelard, Peter
Abrams v. United States
Académie des dames, L’
Achilles Statue, The
Acta Pauli
actual malice
Adult Film Association of
Adventures of Huckleberry
Finn, The
Age d’or, L’
Age of Reason, The
Agrippa, Henry Cornelius
Alabama Obscenity Laws
Aliens Registration Act
All Quiet on the Western
Amants, Les
American Civil Liberties
American Convention on
Human Rights
American Family
American Library
American Tragedy, An
America the Beautiful
Andrea de Nerciat, André-
Annie on My Mind
Anti-Justine, ou les Delices
de l’amour, L’
Apollinaire, Guillame
Aretino, Pietro
Arkansas Obscenity Law
Article 19
art: religious prohibitions
Asgill, John
Ashbee, Henry Spencer
Ashcroft v. Free Speech
Asturias, Miguel Angel
Attorney General’s
Commission on
Pornography, The
average person
Avery, Edward
Babeuf, François-Noël
Baby Doll
Bacon, Roger
Bastwick, John
Bauhaus, The
bawdy courts
Beardsley, Aubrey
Beaumarchais, Pierre-
Augustin Caron de
Becker, Regnier
Behind the Green Door
Being There
Belle et la bête, La
Benbow, William
Bible, The
Bibliographie des ouvrages
relatifs de l’amour, aux
femmes, au mariage et
des facetieux, pantagrueliques,
satryiques, etc.
Bibliographie du roman
érotique au XIXe siècle
Bibliotheca Arcana . . .
Bibliotheca Germanorum
Bijoux indiscrets, les
Bilderlexikon der Erotik
Birth Control
Birth of a Baby, The
Birth of a Nation, The
Black Like Me
Blue Movie/Fuck
Bluest Eye, The
Blume, Judy
Blyton, Enid
Board of Education v. Pico
Bodkin, Sir Archibald
book burning and the Jews
book burning in England
book burning in Nazi
Borri, Joseph Francis
Bowdler family, the
Brancart, Auguste
Brave New World
Breen, Joseph I.
British Board of Film
British Board of Film
British Library
Broadcasting Complaints
Commission (U.K.)
Broadcasting Standards
Council (U.K.)
Bruce, Lenny
Bruno, Giordano
Burton, Sir Richard
Cabell, James Branch
Cagliostro, Alessandro
Cain’s Book
Calder, John
Calvin, John
Campaign Against
Censorship (U.K.)
Campbell, James
Campillay Doctrine
Canterbury Tales, The
Caricature, La
Carnal Knowledge
Carranza, Bartolomeo
List of Entries

x List of Entries
Carrington, Charles
Casanova, Giovanni Jacopo
de Seingault
Catcher in the Rye, The
Cato the Censor
Censor, The Roman
Center for Democracy and
Chant d’amour, Un
Chanting Cherubs, The
Chaplinsky v. New
Charivari, Le
Charter 77
Chicago film censorship
Children and Young
Persons (Harmful
Publications) Act (U.K.)
Chocolate War, The
Chorier, Nicolas
Christian Church
Christian Coalition
Christian Crusade, The
Chronicle of Current
Events, A
Cincinnati v. Karlan
Citizens for Decent
Citizens for Excellence in
Clark, Samuel
classification at birth
classification levels
Clean Up Television
Campaign (U.K.)
Clean Up Television
Campaign (U.S.)
clear and present danger
Cleland, John
Coalition for Better
“Coenae Domini”
Cohen v. California
Colman, George, the
Colorado obscenity statute
Color Purple, The
Committee on Public
Committee to Defend the
First Amendment
Committee to Protect
Commonwealth v.
Blanding (1825)
Commonwealth v.
Commonwealth v. Tarbox
Comstock, Anthony
Comstock Act, The
Concerned Women for
Congo, Democratic
Republic of
Congo, Republic of
Congregation of the Index
Connecticut’s obscenity
Connection, The
conspiracy to corrupt
public morals
conspiracy to outrage
public decency
Constitutional Association,
contemporary community
Coote, William A.
Cormier, Robert
Council of Trent, The
Criminal Law Act
criminal syndicalism
Crossman Diaries
Crusade for Decency
Curll, Edmund
Czech Republic
Daddy’s Roommate
Dahl, Roald
Daily Mirror
Daily Worker
Dante Alighieri
data protection
Day No Pigs Would Die, A
Debs, Eugene
Decameron, The
Decretum Gelasianum
De Dominis, Antonio
Deep Throat
defamation (U.K.)
defamation (U.S.)
Defence of Literature and
the Arts Society (U.K.)
Defoe, Daniel
Déjeuner sur l’herbe
Delaware’s obscenity
derivative classification
Descartes, René
Devil in Miss Jones, The
Diary of a Young Girl, The
Diderot, Denis
Dine, Jim
D Notices
Doctor Zhivago
dominant effect
Don Juan
Don Leon
Dondero, George A.
Don Juan
Don Leon
Douglas, James
Dreiser, Theodore
Dugdale, William
Duong Thu Huong
Dworkin-MacKinnon Bill
Eagle Forum
Earth’s Children, The
Electronic Frontier
Electronic Frontiers
Australia, Inc.
El Salvador
Enfer, L’
Enfer de la Bibliothèque
Nationale: icono-biobibliographie
. . .
Epperson v. Arkansas
Erasmus, Desiderius
Erotika Biblion Society
Escholle des filles, ou la
Philosophie des dames, L’
Espionage Act (U.S.) and
Sedition Act (U.S.)
Essay on Woman
European Convention on
Human Rights
examiner of plays (U.K.)
Fallen Angels
Family Shakespeare, The
Father of Candor
Federal Communications
Federal Communications
Commission Regulations
on Indecency and
Feminists for Free
Festival of Light
fighting words
“Filthy Words”
First Amendment
First Amendment Congress
First Amendment Project
Fiske v. State of Kansas
Flaubert, Gustave
Florida obscenity statutes
Flowers for Algernon
Forever Amber
Fortune Press, The
Foundation to Improve
Foxe’s Book of Martyrs
France, Anatole
Freedom to Read
Frohwerk v. United States
Fruits of Philosophy, The
Fry, John
Gabler, Mel and Norma
Galilei, Galileo
Gamiani, ou une nuit
Gao Xingjian
Gay, Jules
Gay News
Genet, Jean
German Democratic
List of Entries xi
Ginsberg v. New York
Ginzburg v. United States
Girodias, Maurice
Gitlow v. New York
Giver, The
Global Internet Liberty
Go Ask Alice
God’s Little Acre
Goldwater v. Ginzburg
grand blasphemy
Grapes of Wrath, The
Greene, Bette
Green Sheet, The
Greer v. Spock
Grimm v. United States
Grosz, George
Haig v. Agee
Hamling v. United States
Handmaid’s Tale, The
Hankey, Frederick
Harris, Frank
“Harris’s List of Covent
Garden Ladies”
Harry Potter
Hatch Act
hate speech/hate crime
Hays, Will H.
Heather Has Two
Hefner, Hugh M.
Heine, Heinrich
Hellenic Sun
Helsinki Final Act
Hemingway, Ernest
Herbert Committee, The
Hicklin Rule, The
Hoax of the Twentieth
Century, The
Holocaust revisionism/
Holocaust denial
Holyoake, George Jacob
Holywell Street
Hone, William
Hotten, John Camden
House Committee on
Un-American Activities
House Special Committee
on Un-American
hsiao tao hsaio hsi
Hugo, Victor
human sexuality education
Hundred Flowers
I Am Curious (Yellow)
I Am the Cheese
IBA: broadcasting
Idaho Statutes
If It Die
I Know Why the Caged
Bird Sings
Illinois Obscenity Statute
Incitement of Disaffection
Act (U.K.)
Indecent Displays Bill
Independent Broadcasting
Authority Act
Indexes, index of
Index Expurgatorius
Index Expurgatorius of
Index Generalis of Thomas
Index Librorum
Index Librorum
Prohibitorum (of Henry
Spencer Ashbee)
Index of Alexander VII
index of banned books
index of banned films
Index of Benedict XIV
Index of Brussels
Index of Casa
Index of Clement VIII
Index of Information Not
to Be Published in the
Open Press, The
Index of Leo XIII
Index of Louvain
Index of Lucca
Index of Paul IV
Index of Prague
Index of Quiroga
Index of Sandoval
Index of Sotomayor
Index of Valladolid
Index of Zapata
Index on Censorship
Index Prohibitus et
Index Ultimo
Indiana Code
Inside Linda Lovelace
Institute for Historical
“Inter Multiplices”
International Agreement
of the Suppression of
Obscene Publications
International Convention
for the Suppression of
the Circulation of and
Traffic in Obscene
International Covenant on
Civil and Political Rights
International Freedom of
Expression Exchange
International Freedom to
Publish Committee
International P.E.N.
International Press
International Style, The
Internet legislation (U.S.)
Internet litigation (U.K.
and U.S.)
“Inter Solicitudes”
In the Night Kitchen
In the Spirit of Crazy
Iowa Obscenity Code
Italy Obscenity Laws
IT trial
Jacobellis v. Ohio
James Boys in Missouri,
Joint Select Committee on
Joint Select Committee on
Lotteries and Indecent
Joynson-Hicks, William
Judicial Proceedings
(Regulations on Reports)
Justine, or the Misfortunes
of Virtue
Kahane, Jack
Kant, Immanuel
Katzev v. County of Los
Kentucky’s obscenity
King, Stephen
Ladies’ Directory, The
Lady Chatterley’s Lover
La Fontaine, Jean de
Land of the Free
Last Exit to Brooklyn
Last Judgment, The
Last Temptation of Christ,
Lawrence, D. H.
Legion of Decency
Leighton, Alexander
Lennon, John
Lewis, Sinclair
Liberty Leading the People
library destruction
Licensing Act
Literature at Nurse
Little Black Sambo
Little Red Schoolbook
Locke, John
Longford Report, The
lord chamberlain
Lord of the Flies
Los Angeles-possession
of obscene matter
Louis XIV’s anti-Protestant
Louisiana obscenity statutes
Louys, Pierre
Love Without Fear
xii List of Entries
Luros v. United States
Lustful Turk, The
Luther, Martin
Machiavelli, Niccolò
Mademoiselle de Maupin
Magic Mirror
Magister Sacri Palatii
Manwaring, Roger
Man with the Golden Arm,
Married Love
Martin, Herbert Henry
Martin, Marprelate
Marx, Karl
Massachusetts’s obscenity
Masses, The
master of the revels
McCarthy, Joseph
McGehee v. Casey
Media Alliance
Mediawatch (U.K.)
Media Watch (U.S.)
Memoirs of a Woman of
Pleasure, The
Memoirs of Hecate County
Merry Muses of Caledonia,
messenger of the press
Michigan obscenity
Miller, Henry
Miller Standard, The
Miller v. California
Minarcini v. Strongsville
City School District
Minnesota obscenity
Mirabeau, comte de
Miracle, The
Mishkin v. New York
Mississippi obscenity
Missouri pornography
Molinos, Miguel
Monk, The
Montagu, Richard
Moon Is Blue, The
Morality in Media
Moral Majority
Morrison, Toni
Motion Picture Association
of America
Motion Picture Producers
and Distributors
Motion Picture Production
Mouth and Oral Sex, The
Muggleton, Lodowicke
Mutual Film Corporation
v. Industrial
Commission of Ohio
My Brother Sam Is Dead
My Life and Loves
My Secret Life
Naked Amazon
Naked Lunch, The
Nasty Tales
National Association of
the Motion Picture
National Board of Review
of Motion Pictures
National Campaign for
Freedom of Expression
National Catholic Office
for Motion Pictures
National Coalition Against
National Coalition for the
Protection of Children
and Families
National Committee for
Sexual Civil Liberties
National Federation of
National Gay and Lesbian
Task Force
National Organization for
Decent Literature
National Viewers and
Listeners Association
National Vigilance
Native Son
Near v. Minnesota ex. rel.
Nebraska Criminal Code
Nevada obscenity statutes
New Hampshire obscenity
New Jersey
New World Information
New York
New York Times Company
v. Sullivan
New York v. Ferber
New Zealand
Nicaea, Second Council of
Nichols, H. Sidney
North Briton, the
North Carolina
North Dakota obscenity
Northern Ireland
North Korea
obscene libel
Obscene Publications Act
Obscene Publications Act
Obscene Publications Act
obscene publications law:
U.S. Mail
obscenity law
Official Secrets Acts
Of Mice and Men
Oklahoma obscenity statute
Olympia Press, The
One for the Road
One Hundred and Twenty
Days of Sodom, The
One Hundred Years Rule
Oratory of Divine Love,
Outlaw, The
OZ trial
Paine, Thomas
Parents’ Alliance to Protect
Our Children
Parsons, Robert
Pascal, Blaise
patent offensiveness
Paterson, Katherine
Paul, Saint
Pentagon Papers, The
People For the American
People of the State of New
York v. August Muller
People on Complaint of
Arcuri v. Finkelstein
People v. Birch
Perceau, Louis
? (Greek letter phi)
Philanderer, The
Philipon, Charles
Philosophie dans le
Boudoir, La
Pierce v. United States
Plumptre, Rev. James
Pocklington, John
Poems on Several
poison shelf
political correctness
Ponting, Clive
Porteusian Index
Potocki de Montalk,
Count Geoffrey
Wladislas Vaile
Poulet-Malassis, Auguste
Pramoedya Ananta Toer
preferred position
Presentation, The
List of Entries xiii
President’s Commission on
Obscenity and
Pornography, The
President’s Council v.
Community School
prior restraint (U.K.)
prior restraint (U.S.)
Private Case, The
Proclamation Society, The
Professor Mamlock
Protection of Children Act
prurient interest
“Prurient Prude, The”
Prynne, William
public figure
Public Morality Council,
public official
public place
Puritan Censorship (the
Puttana Errante, La
Pynchon, William
Qin Shi Huangdi
Quesnel, Pasquier
Rabbit’s Wedding, The
Rabelais, François
Radeau de la Méduse, Le
Rainbow, The
Ramsey, Allan
Ratchford, President,
University of Missouri v.
Gay Lib
Redrup v. New York
Regina v. Cameron
Regina v. Hicklin (U.K.)
Remarque, Erich Maria
Reporters Committee for
Freedom of the Press
Restif de la Bretonne,
retroactive classification
Return from the Meeting
Revenge at Daybreak
Rhode Island
Rights of Man, The
Rivera, Diego
Rochester, John Wilmot,
second earl of
Roman Indexes
Roman Inquisition, The
Romans in Britain, The
Rose, Alfred
Rosen v. United States
Rosset, Barney
Roth, Samuel
Roth v. United States
Rousseau, Jean-Jacques
Rowan v. United States
Post Office Department
Rubbish and Smut Bill,
Sacheverell, Dr. Henry
Sacra Conversazione, The
Sade, Donatien-Alphonse-
François, marquis de
Salo-120 Days of Sodom
Satanic Verses, The
Saudi Arabia
Savonarola, Fra Girolamo
Schad v. Borough of
Mount Ephraim
Schaeffer v. United States
Schenck v. United States
Schnitzler, Arthur
Scholars and Citizens for
Freedom of Information
Schultze-Naumberg, Prof.
Schwartz, Alvin
Scopes v. State
Scot, Reginald
Scotland-Freedom of
Information Act
Scotland’s obscenity laws
secular humanism
Sedition Act (U.S., 1798)
seditious libel
Sedley, Sir Charles
Sellon, Edward
September in Quinze
September Laws, The
September Morn
Servetus, Michael
“Sex Side of Life”
Sexual Impulse, The
Sexual Inversion
Shakespeare, William
Sierra Leone
significant proportion
Sinclair, Upton
Sinyavsky and Daniel trial
Sleeveless Errand, The
Smith Act
Smith v. California
Smith v. Collin
Smithers, Leonard
Snepp v. United States
socialist realism
Societies for the
Reformation of
Manners, The
Society for the Suppression
of Vice (U.K.)
Society for the
Suppression of Vice
Sodom: or, The
Quintessence of
Sod’s Opera, The
Solzhenitsyn, Aleksandr I.
South Africa
South Carolina obscenity
South Dakota
South Korea
Soyinka, Wole
Spanish Inquisition
Spirit of ’76, The
Stage Licensing Act
Stamp Acts, The
Stanley v. Georgia
Star v. Preller
State of New Jersey v.
Hudson County News
state of siege
Stationers’ Company
Steinbeck, John
Strange Fruit
Stranger Knocks, A
Stern, Howard
Stubbs, Sir John
student publications
Studs Lonigan: A Trilogy
Stzygowski, Josef
Sumner, John Saxton
Sunshine and Health
Sweezy v. New Hampshire
symbolic speech
tableaux vivants
Terminello v. Chicago
Texas obscenity statute
Texas State Textbook
Theatre Regulation Act
Theatres Act (U.K.)
Thirty Year Rule
Thomas, William
Thomas Jefferson Center
for the Protection of
Free Expression, The
Tisdall, Sarah
Titicut Follies
To Kill A Mockingbird
Toland, John
Tomorrow’s Children
Trevelyan, John
Tridentine Index
Tropic of Cancer
Trumbo, Dalton
Tyndale, William
Ulysses Standard
Union of Soviet Socialist
United Kingdom-
contemporary censorship
United Kingdom-Stuart
United Kingdom-Tudor
United States
United States v. Gray
United States v. Kennerley
United States v. Levine
United States v.
United States v. Morison
United States v. Reidel
United States v. Thirty-
Seven (37) Photographs
United States v. Three
Cases of Toys
Universal Declaration of
Human Rights
unofficial classification
unprotected speech
Utah Code
Vagrancy Act
Venus dans le cloître, ou,
la religieuse en chemise
Venus de Milo
Victory in the West
“Vigilanti Cura”
Virginia obscenity code
Viva Maria
Vizetelly, Henry
Vonnegut, Kurt, Jr.
Washington obscenity code
Well of Loneliness, The
Wesley, John
Whitehouse, Mary
Whitney v. California
W. H. Smith & Son, Ltd.
Wild Weed
Willard-Johnson boxing
Williams, Roger
Williams Committee,
Winters v. New York
Wisconsin obscenity
Wodehouse, P. G.
Women Against
Women Against Violence
Against Women
Women Against Violence
in Pornography and
Wood, Robert
World Press Freedom
Worthington, In Re
Wright, Peter
Wright, Richard
Wrinkle in Time, A
Wunderlich, Paul
Wyclif, John
Wyoming obscenity
Yates v. United States
Zenger, John Peter
Zola, Émile

Introduction to the 2nd Edition

Threats to freedom of expression are evident throughout the nations of the world,
induced by governments and individuals. The intensity varies from country to
country, as do the nature and purposes of the acts of censorship. The decade of the
1990s, the central focus of this revised edition (although updating of entries
encompasses from about 1988 to 2004), has been politically turbulent: the insurgency
in South Africa against apartheid, collapsing the Afrikaner government;
the dismantling of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) and the
Communist regime of Yugoslavia; the toppling of dictatorships in Africa, Asia, and
South America-Abacha in Nigeria, Marcos in the Philippines, Suharto in
Indonesia, and Pinochet in Chile, among others; and the military coup d’état of an
elected government in Pakistan. Jonathon Green’s perspicacious comment toward
the end of his “Introduction” to the first edition-“I can survey a world as much
in turmoil as ever” -continues to be appropriate. In contrast, democratic institutions
have emerged or are more practiced in such nations as Brazil, Czech
Republic, Hungary, South Africa, South Korea, and Turkey. However, a censoring
mentality and its concomitant stifling effects negate efforts to achieve full
freedom of expression in many of these nations.

The operational issue is power-establishing and maintaining control includes
limiting and denying information; barring debate and criticism; hedging-even
thwarting-freedom of expression through constitutional exceptions; and empowering
police and security agencies to impede individuals and media organizations
from exercising these freedoms. Turkey, for example, acknowledging readiness to
establish more democratic institutions, in its 2001 amended constitution, persists
in the potential abridgement of freedom of expression on the grounds of “protecting
national security, public order and public safety,” the concept of “public order”
harking back to 17th-century English law’s basing prosecutions on a “breach of the
peace.” Media articles and oral commentary have been perceived as threatening
to the public order. In Syria only a year after his inaugural address that emphasized
the principle of “media transparency,” the young president withdrew that
position, asserting that openness in the few independent media would be tolerated
as long as it “does not threaten the stability of the homeland and its development.”
Ukraine’s newly established democracy in its 1996 constitution declares
restrictions on “freedom of expression” in the interests of national security, territorial
indivisibility, or public order, with the purposes of preventing disturbances or
crimes. . . .” A nation’s self-identification as a democracy does not preclude the
muzzling of civil freedoms; constitutional intentions do not self-generate democratic
practices. Additionally, such intentions are subverted by criminal and civil
defamation laws, often used by officials to protect themselves against revelations of
corruption. Long-standing democracies also betray their principles. The United
Kingdom has achieved its Freedom of Information Act (2000) that, however,
exempts security agencies’ information and further empowers the government to
refuse to disclose other “exempt” information if the public interest in maintaining
the exemption outweighs the public interest in its disclosure. In the United States
the so-called USA PATRIOT Act (2001) is perceived as significantly infringing on
civil liberties and freedom of expression. At this time litigations in this regard are
being processed in federal courts. Plus c’est la même chose, plus ça change.
For the most part, I have adhered in the second edition to the first edition’s
template in representing countries’ freedom of expression guarantees, laws, and
practices. A dozen countries have been added, including Afghanistan, Cuba,
Japan, Ukraine, and Zimbabwe. The more than 75 national entries in the first
edition have been revised and updated. The revisions add historical data of the
nation, sometimes extensively as in Argentina, Indonesia, and Pakistan, to provide
a compelling backdrop against which recent government political and civil values
and practices may be projected; the revisions also affect existing text, Chile and
the Soviet Union being prime examples. In most instances, updating data of the
countries was extensive; beyond detailing current laws, constitutional changes, and
the like, I incorporated practices as they have affected the media and journalists,
as well as the climate of freedom.

With regard to censored literature, the definition in practice has been
expanded to identify and discuss those works that have been “challenged” as being
unsuitable for either classroom or library holdings, or both. It is evident in the
United States that “citizen censors” challenging a literary work intend to cause it
to be banned, such requests often but not always being a precursor to barring the
inclusion of the text in curricular programs. Further, even should the censorship
attempt fail, the challenge has a chilling effect on the school life of a book, especially
if controversy is ignited, encouraging additional challenges and censorship-
and, all too often, self-censorship to avoid such controversy. Thus, I have added
discussions of 37 literary works and their censorship histories, as well as representations
of 15 frequently censored authors and their works. Altogether, eight
Nobel laureates in literature are included.

Just as Jonathon Green noted, I, too, acknowledge a sense of incompleteness-
of court cases pending judicial decisions, or laws in mid-passage, of nations
in a state of political and social flux. Since I approached this updating project
alphabetically, the entries at the top of the alphabet are less current than those at
the end, an inescapable factor. The nature of an encyclopedia reference work is
that its contents continue to evolve.

Several individuals deserve considerable credit for their work on behalf of the
encyclopedia project. A pair of researchers, Joseph K. Fischer, primarily, and James
MacTavish, were immensely valuable for their Internet expertise and dedication. The
librarians of the Chalmer Davee Library, University of Wisconsin-River Falls, can
always be counted on to solve obscure research questions; for this volume I am particularly
indebted to Michelle T. McKnelly, government documents reference librarian,
and Brad Gee, both of whom merit accolades. I extend my appreciation to
Gretchen Toman and Cecilia Bustamante for their translation, respectively, of
German and Spanish documents, and to my colleagues in the UW-River Falls
English Department-Marshall Toman, Ruth Wood, and David Beard-for their
insights and for accessing pertinent materials. I also acknowledge with gratitude the
effective work and perseverance of Sharon Fowler, who typed the manuscript from
my hand script. Always, my deep respect to Inga Karolides for her keen sense of language
nuance, and my thanks for her encouragement.
-Nicholas J. Karolides

Introduction to the 1st Edition

There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written or
badly written. That is all.
-Oscar Wilde, Preface to The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891)
The “what should be” never did exist, but people keep trying to live up to it. There
is no “what should be,” there is only what is.
-Lenny Bruce (ca. 1963)

It is hardly possible that a society for the suppression of vice can ever be kept within
the bounds of good sense and moderation . . . Beginning with the best intentions
in the world, such societies must, in all probability, degenerate into a
receptacle for every species of tittle-tattle, impertinence and malice. Men whose
trade is rat-catching love to catch rats; the bug destroyer seizes upon the bug
with delight; and the vice suppressor is gratified by finding his vice.
-Sydney Smith, quoted in Anthony Comstock: Roundsman for the Lord by
Heywood Broun and Margaret Leech (1927)
And always keep a-hold of nurse, for fear of finding something worse.
-Hilaire Belloc (1908)

The word censor, both as verb and noun, as well as in its various derivatives-
censorship, censorious, censure-comes from the Latin censere (itself based in
the Sanskrit word for “recite” or “announce” ), which meant to “declare formally,”
to “describe officially,” to “evaluate” or to “assess.” The Roman Censor’s original
task was to declare the census; quite simply, to count the city’s population.
From this responsibility there developed a further charge: the administration
of the regimen morum, the moral conduct of the Roman people. The word, the
office, and the prime concern of both have lived on, evolving as required by time
and geography, but essentially immutable and pervasive.

Censorship represents the downside of power: proscriptive, rather than
prescriptive; the embodiment of the status quo, the world of “don’t rock the
boat,” of “what you don’t know can’t hurt you,” of pas devant les enfants; the
“nanny state” incarnate, whether administered by the Renaissance Church, the
“vice societies” of 19th-century Europe and America, or the security sections of
the contemporary Third World. The dates may differ, the ideologies may quite
confound each other, but the world’s censors form an international congregation,
worshipping in unison at the same altar and taking as their eternal text
Jehovah’s “Thou shalt not.” Censorship takes the least flattering view of humanity.
Underpinning its rules and regulations is the assumption that people are
stupid, gullible, weak and corrupt. They need, so the censor intones, protection
from themselves. Censorship thrives in the land of euphemism and doublethink,
taking color from its own operations, lying keenly the better to tell “the truth.”
It is not, of course, a monolith, but just as one can talk, however broadly, of communication,
so too can one consider its symbiotic rival, censorship.

Communication has always been subjected to control. The two phenomena
are linked in mutual adversity and as communication has proliferated, so has censorship.
Today’s institutionalized systems, aimed primarily at the mass media,
are rooted in the laws that emerged to challenge and limit the spread of the first
of such media. All across Europe the invention of movable-type printing was paralleled
by the elaboration of the means of its suppression-first by the church,
militant against heresy and new faiths; then by governments, fearing sedition
within and treason without; and, in their wake, by the successive campaigns of
self-appointed moralists, dedicated to an imposed purity. As new media developed
they too were subjected to restrictions. The history of communication is
also a history of the censor’s toll on the free exchange of ideas and information,
on unrestricted entertainment and on the individual’s right to choose.
All censorship, whether governmental or cultural, can be seen to spring
from a single origin-fear. The belief that if the speech, book, play, film, state
secret or whatever is permitted free exposure, then the authorities will find
themselves threatened to an extent that they cannot tolerate. Throughout history
governments have sought to, and succeeded, in banning material that they
consider injurious. Initially there was no thought of obscenity or pornography;
the first censorship was purely political. Treason, the betrayal of the state and its
secrets, has always been rewarded with harsh punishments; sedition, which
might be termed internal treason, has been suppressed with equal rigor, even if
the sedition of one regime might later become the orthodoxy of the next. The
status quo, whatever its current basis, must be fiercely maintained. State censorship
continues to thrive today. The old monoliths persist, and the fledgling
governments of newly independent nations follow suit.

The first cultural censor was the Roman Catholic Church, which dominated
all Europe until the Reformation, although its determination to suppress heresy
derived as much from a desire to maintain its political power as to propagate true
belief. The early Indexes of Prohibited Books dealt in ideology, not obscenity, but
the very nature of the church as the arbiter of public morality meant that these
lists soon expanded to encompass the sins of the flesh as well as those of the
cerebrum. Like the censorship of the state courts that later usurped its powers,
clerical censorship was capricious, variable and sensitive to the power struggles
among numerous warring interest groups. Fortunately, it was no more capable
of completely suppressing what it disliked than any other apparatus of suppression,
however dedicated.

As clerical power waned, the secular authorities took over censorship as they
did a multitude of other powers. Church courts gave way to civil justice, even if
the earliest prosecutions for obscenity seemed to tax the legal imagination. Faced
with offenses of this sort, 17th-century English civil courts simply had no powers
with which to punish offenders, and such powers evolved relatively slowly.
Obscene libel, the original charge under which prosecutions were brought, was
based less on the pornographic content of such works as by Aretino or James
Reade, than on the idea that this material would provoke a breach of the peace.
As the original indictment under English law pointed out, the “divers wicked
lewd impure scandalous and obscene libels” contained in such works were in
“violation of common decency, morality, and good order, and against the peace of
our said Lord the King . . .” When, in 1663, the rakehell Sir Charles Sedley
“excrementiz’d” from a Covent Garden balcony and harangued the crowds
below, thus initiating the interference of the state courts in obscenity offenses,
the essence of the charge was concerned not with his language, foul though it
may have been, but with the fact that the bespattered onlookers might riot.

The wider moral censorship that was to come as a product of the 18th and
19th centuries abandoned any connection with a breach of the peace but instead
saw its purpose as simply to maintain control of “dirty books” (and, later, films,
television and other media)-ushering in the modern concept of “obscene publications.”
It was also to a great extent-if one excludes the increasingly isolated
role of the Catholic Church, which continued to issue its Indexes to the world’s
faithful until 1966-a phenomenon restricted to the English-speakers of Britain
and America. Here one finds the private moralists, each setting him or herself
up as a regulator of mass behavior, both by pressuring the government and by
running a personal and often vociferously supported campaign. This new style
of censorship, designed to protect not the power of those at the top, but the
alleged weakness of those at the bottom, was the creation of a rapidly changing
society, a response by the emergent (and still insecure) middle class to the new,
mass literacy of the era. It has continued ever since. Philanthropy might ordain
that the masses should be educated; self-interest still dictates the curriculum.
Hitherto the idea of one man or woman volunteering for the task of imposing
his or her own standards on their fellow citizens had been generally
unknown. Now there arose legions of the decent, maintaining their own moral
status quo by emasculating plays, poetry, and prose that until scant years before
had been considered the flower of English literature. Their influence ran
unabated, touching even on the Bible itself, for at least a century, and, while
much diminished, has yet to vanish completely. Today’s generally illiberal social
drift, in both America and Britain, confers more rather than less power on
groups that might, 20 years ago, have been dismissed as cranks. Their style, of
course, spread throughout the world, an inevitable adjunct of cultural colonialism,
but if such censorship seems to have been originally an Anglo-Saxon phenomenon,
the apparatchiks of the Soviet Union have shown themselves equally
assiduous in spreading, through suppression, their own cultural norms.
Presumably they would feel some kinship with the Western mainstream:
Anthony Comstock, the vice societies of the 1880s, today’s citizen censors, all are
self-appointed moralists, asserting their own beliefs in order to control those of
others, and challenging wider public mores with their own narrow ideology. The
Puritan sensibility, whatever its doctrinal basis, dies hard.
Today’s censor works essentially from one of two premises, which stem from
a common, fearful root. The first premise can be loosely classified as security
and the second as the castration (a word blithely employed, without the slightest
irony, by the censors of the 18th and 19th centuries) of the culture. In practice
security, a concept popular among most governments, says, in effect, “what
you (the public) don’t know won’t hurt you.” This is ratified on the documents
concerned as “need-to-know” or “eyes only” and varies in its severity as to the
actual democracy of the given government. While even the most dedicated libertarian
reluctantly accepts a degree of governmental secrecy, the problem,
even in the most liberal of democracies, lies in the gulf between theory and
practice. Despite the evolution of Freedom of Information Acts, painfully
extracted from unwilling governments (and never, it seems, to be permitted by
the Mother of Parliaments, in London), the bureaucracies hang as tight as they
can, their filing cabinets and computer data bases bulging with obsessively
restricted trivia.

The second premise, castration, stems from the belief, held both in government
departments and as commonly among self-appointed arbiters of standards,
that certain individuals have the right to dictate the reading, viewing or
listening matter of the rest. To many people it is this encroachment on culture
and morals that represents what they see as censorship, but in the end cultural
control is inextricable from the political variety. The same fear of a “breach of
the peace” that informed the earliest obscenity prosecutions underlies the modern
system. If one is to accept the theories of the clean-up campaigners, reading
or viewing pornography undermines the family and since the family supports
the state, in the subversion of one lies the destruction of the other.
Governments, as self-interested as any other power-holders, duly take the point
in framing their obscenity laws.

Censorship is international, continuous and pervasive, but it is not a seamless
monolith. Concerns that seem paramount to one nation are meaningless to
another. But political and moral/cultural censorship can be seen as falling into a
recognizable, even predictable geographical pattern. The sort of cultural censorship
that pervades America, Britain, and to a lesser extent Europe and other
Western nations such as Australia, is often irrelevant elsewhere. For the poorest
nations the whole concept is meaningless: The population are unlikely to call
for the dubious delights of X-rated videocassettes. Here the obscenity is child
starvation, not kiddie porn. The basis of Third World censorship is political,
rooted in the desire of a ruling party to preserve its privileged status. The censorship
trials that reach the headlines concern the rebellious, not the rude.
Closed societies-whether religious, such as those of Libya or Iran, or secular,
as in the Soviet Union or China-undoubtedly proscribe pornography, but only
as part of a wider imposition of political and cultural norms. Once again, the
censors, and those who defy them, are playing a rougher game than those who
can indulge the niceties of “secular humanism” or “fighting words.”
Conversely in some of those countries loosely allied as “The West,” political
controls are less stringent; the governments, backed by their voluntary
cohorts, have a greater inclination to indulge in the prosecution of allegedly titillating
material. For governments who persist in believing that cultural license
runs hand-in-glove with social license-and as such subverts the state-this
form of censorship is not trivial, however petty it seems in the face of the battles
fought out in more repressive countries. But the ability of certain countries, notably France and Holland, and the Scandinavians to abandon all such
legislation, other than where they affect the young, calls into question the necessity
for such controls.

Censorship is an enormous, wide-ranging topic, far more complex than simply
cutting the “naughty bits” out of the movies, shutting down adult bookshops,
or muzzling civil service whistle-blowers. It affects the quality of every life-aesthetically,
emotionally, socially, and politically. The petty freedoms of the fourletter
word are allied (as much in governmental as in moral eyes) to the greater
freedoms, of speech, of the press, of opinion-indeed, of freedom itself. Those
who burn books today will burn people tomorrow, remarked a witness of the
bonfires on which the Nazis burned Jewish, communist, and other ideologically
impure publications. This is the essentially libertarian view, and one that has
traditionally informed the great mass of anti-censorship, pro-freedom-of-speech
campaigning. It is, broadly, the view that underlies the compilation of this book.
Yet to intensify the complexity there have emerged new strands of opinion,
ostensibly unallied to those of the moral censor, but stemming from the complaints
of feminists, blacks, male and female homosexuals, the aged, and similar
activist groups. Their fight against “isms” -sexism, racism, ageism-has led to
calls for a new version of ideological censorship. It claims, admirably, to target
only negative stereotyping, but seeks, inevitably, to secure its own position by
denying that of its opponents. Thus it is possible to applaud these groups’ aims
but to deplore their actions.

I have tried to tabulate as comprehensively as possible in this encyclopedia
the history, development, and present-day state of the censor’s art. I have taken
as a model the essential catholicity of the Oxford Companions to English and to
American Literature. I have concentrated, inevitably, on America and Britain,
followed closely by other Western nations (including South Africa), Europe
and the communist bloc, China and the Third World. As far as the latter is concerned,
there is relatively little historical material. I am further constrained by
the inescapable fact that countries in which censorship is most successful offer
the fewest details on their system, other than those available from its victims. I
have not included every single instance of censorship, even in those areas with
which I have dealt under many entries. While, in the West at least, the largescale
censorship of books is sufficiently rare as to deserve individual consideration,
that of films is so continual, if only by cuts that run to a few frames, that
there simply is insufficient space to catalog them all. I have, however, included
some general lists of books or films that have suffered censorship, a number of
which I have treated individually, to help give some perspective on the vast
breadth of worldwide censorship as well as illustrating the way in which one
country’s high school textbook is another’s seditious tract.

I have generally ignored wartime military censorship. The fine points of
national security under fire defeat simple analysis. Prior to the 19th century the
concept was irrelevant and the level of communications that might worry the
generals was nonexistent. Since then the military who fight the war and the
media who cover it have fought a parallel battle all their own. The increasing
independence of those media, and the evolving sophistication of its techniques
and technology (rivaling those of the battlefield weaponry itself), have intensified
the argument. The nature of military strategy must involve secrecy; the
nature of the media requires quite a contrary concept. According to the current
military posture, as far as the press is concerned, less is definitely more. One
point might be noted: If the war is popular, e.g. World War II, the media, and
the public whom they serve, are far more willing to accept whatever strictures
are established.

The topic of censorship, of course, remains perennially fascinating. As communication’s
doppelganger it will not go away, only bend, perhaps, in the prevailing
political and social winds. No one has so far managed to write about
censorship without inferring at least some slight, personal opinion. The archivist,
even (or perhaps especially) of so contentious a subject, must strive for the disinterested
stance. However, as must be clear from this introduction as well as
from what follows, I am no supporter of censorship. Indeed, with very few exceptions,
I have found in my researches very little material published by those who
are-although their complaints remain well publicized. I also note that for all the
superficial confidence of their public pronouncements, there is an undeniable
strain of defensiveness underlying every statement. I do not pretend that this
book, therefore, can be so disinterested as to ignore my own position. On the
other hand, I hope to have avoided sacrificing accuracy for mere polemic.
Aside from any other failings endemic to an undertaking such as this, and
for which I take full blame, the simple march of historical events stands in the
way of achieving absolute accuracy in the encyclopedia’s every entry. The world
is in continual flux, and the chronicler of any aspect of international events can
do his or her best to keep up. Immediately before the massacre in Tiananmen
Square, it might have seemed that a substantial new section would have to be
added to what I had already written about China. The events of June 4, 1989,
rendered that unnecessary. China’s censors go on as ever. Today, I can survey a
world as much in turmoil as ever. For instance, what appears at the moment as
the imminent collapse of the postwar Soviet empire renders events there particularly
unpredictable, although glasnost will presumably give observers a better
view of what is happening than was made available during the cold war.
Thus, here and elsewhere the simple necessities of publication schedules
will guarantee, unfortunately, that some entries will still stop short of immediacy.
The Solidarity-led government in Poland may be assumed to have relaxed
controls there, while Hungary is already a quasi-Western state. What will happen
in the Baltic states, in Armenia and Azerbaijan, even in Soviet Russia itself
remains to be seen. In these and other parts of the world, events defy prediction.
I trust that the reader will make allowance for my inadequacy as a seer.
If a number of figures, particularly today’s self-appointed censors, appear to
have been treated with greater respect than some others may feel they deserve,
suffice it to say that it is due to the impartiality that a reference work demands.
-Jonathon Green

Leave a Comment