Today’s Banned Books Week thoughts come from Cory Doctorow, Canadian-British journalist, author of Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom and Little Brother, and co-editor of the blog Boing Boing:
“There was a time when censorship was relatively simple: If you wanted to ban Joyce’s “Ulysses,” all you had to do was announce that bookstores caught selling “Ulysses” would be in deep trouble, conduct the odd spot-check and make examples of refuseniks by means of noisy, public trials. Censorship before the networked age was authoritarian, cowardly and undemocratic – but it was simple.” from the New York Times
Thank you, Cory!
To illustrate Mr. Doctorow’s point that book banning was once a simpler social matter, but that the issue remains relevant, today we would like to include a book recommendation (which you can check out from the LCOPL!): The Ten-Cent Plague: The Great Comic-Book Scare and How It Changed America by David Hajdu.
This book chronicles a little-remembered chapter in America’s history, when comic books became the focus of intense fear as a chief inducement to the supposed national scourge of “juvenile delinquency.” A number of popular crusades ensued throughout the 1940s and 1950s, in many locations resulting in actual mass comic book burnings. The hysteria and social pressure resulted in the loss of hundreds of jobs in the comic book trade and the folding of many publishers. Those publishers who survived had to adhere to the heavy-handed censorship of the self-imposed Comics Code Authority (which, despite gradual loosening, still existed until 2011). The influence of the comic book scare remains today, as comic books and graphic novels continue to be particularly frequent subjects of library challenges, such as the repeated public and college library challenges to Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home, and the recent controversial removal of Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis in Chicago public schools. And yes, the LCOPL has copies of these graphic novels for you to check out!