‘censorship’

Trusting Artists To Tell The Truth

Last night I spent $100 on a theatre ticket in New York. I saw “Sleep No More” off-Broadway, a site-specific, avant-garde show. Just for the record, I didn’t love it. But its use of sexuality and nudity did make me think about the artist’s responsibility to the audience, which is primarily to tell the truth. Well, some truth. For in every story, there are many truths. When Macbeth kills King Duncan, is he being selfish, a weakling caving in to an ambitious wife, or simply playing out the destiny that a witch has foretold? When Oedipus kills his father and…

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Those Wonderful Librarians

I’m recently back from Austin, where I spoke at the annual meeting of the Texas Library Association. My topic was America’s War On Sex, Libraries, & Librarians. I’m pleased to say I was warmly received. And I sure learned plenty from them—some of it heartening, some of it scary. And some of what they said was sadly familiar. Just a few notes: * A small number of people can cause a lot of trouble. In almost every community, some people feel terrified that people—young or otherwise—are being exposed to immoral, inappropriate, unpatriotic, or dangerous material in the library. One might…

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Mona Lisa Censored From TV?

Say a deranged woman attacked the Mona Lisa as it hung in the Louvre last week. It would be big news worldwide, including in the U.S.. Your favorite TV station would of course show the painting and discuss its historical and economic value. Now what if instead of the Louvre it was America’s National Gallery in Washington, and instead of DaVinci’s Mona Lisa it was Gaugin’s Two Tahitian Women. Same deal, right? Some perky anchorwoman would read the teleprompter: “…masterpiece done for the upcoming Exposition Universelle of 1900, similar to Gaugin’s famous works now hanging in London’s Tate and Moscow’s…

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America’s War On Sex: Second Edition?

You may have read my most recent book, America’s War On Sex. It’s won a couple of awards, and I’ve lectured on the subject in dozens of cities. I’m pretty proud of it. The publisher (Praeger) has asked me about doing a second edition—updating it and perhaps adding other material. In some ways, it would be more complicated than just writing a whole new book. So I’ve been thinking about how to do it. How’s the War on Sex been going since the book was published? My initial answer is: “mixed.” Here’s the initial scorecard for the four years since…

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States Use “Sex” & “Children” To Create & Damn Criminals

Two states show just how far legislators and police will go to use categories like “sex offender” and “obscene” to ruin someone’s life. Of course, throw in “protecting the children” for maximum effect. WISCONSIN James Smith—a minor—forced, through physical threats, another minor X to ride with him to collect a drug debt from X’s friend. There is no allegation that the coercion involved anything sexual. Smith was arrested and convicted. But despite the fact that no sexual activity took place, Smith must now register as a sex offender because he committed a crime “comparable to a sex offense” (“false imprisonment…

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Giving Thanks for Sex…With a Bit of Melancholy

It’s Thanksgiving, so let’s give thanks for sex. Not just the huffing and puffing, the in-ing and out-ing, the sloshing around and drying off. Let’s give thanks for all the sexual rights we enjoy here in the U.S.—which billions of people in Russia, the Arab world, and many parts of Asia and Africa will never enjoy in their lifetimes. Most of these rights have to do with privacy and autonomy. These always look dangerous to repressive or religiously-driven regimes. Science and technology look pretty frightening to such regimes when they can be applied for sexual purposes—which they inevitably are, throughout…

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