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A Banned Book is a READ Book, So Go Ahead...

Make my day.

Ban my books.

Because if you ban my books, everyone will wonder why you want to ban them, and then they will want to buy them, or, at the very least, want to read them.

Simple reverse psychology. People will be lining up at the virtual bookstore, stampeding for my titles, and that will be money in the bank...

As far as I know, no one is clamoring to ban my books, but you never know what will set some people off.

God help us if an author sneaks in a little witchcraft, homosexual family units, or young characters filled with anti-religion angst and questioning.
Let's go back into the time machine and spank Mark Twain for using the N-word. Never mind that such usage, as wrongheaded as it might seem to the modern sensitive liberal, was standard back when Twain was writing his humor. Oh, wait a minute, we don't need to build a time machine; we can simply ban his books from the library, burn them, or, better yet, publish new editions with the N-word edited out.
Oh, my, we must protect our little snowflakes from the ills of the world as depicted through books. Never mind that your spawn will learn the sixth grade version of sex ed, long before you start stumbling over your own tongue over the prospect of "The Talk."
Maybe with all these unhappy readers, we should ban ALL books.

But make sure that you tell your children that books are bad and forbidden -- under NO circumstances are they to open a book, Kindle, iPad, etc.

That would make THIS writer very happy.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Lady Chatterley's Lover: A Book Banned in Several Countries AND Tried in a Court of Law!

Dust Jacket of Lady Chatterley's Lover, 1959 Grove Press Edition
(Unexpurgated Edition)


You can read all about the troubled publication and legal history of Lady Chatterley's Lover on Wikipedia.

The basic plot summary:
The story concerns a young married woman, Constance (Lady Chatterley), whose upper-class husband, Clifford Chatterley, has been paralyzed and rendered impotent. Her sexual frustration leads her into an affair with the gamekeeper, Oliver Mellors. This novel is about Constance's realisation that she cannot live with the mind alone; she must also be alive physically.
I have a personal tale about this book.

Back when I was in Catholic high school (back in the mid-1960's), my best friend suggested that I read Lady Chatterley's Lover, a racy pot boiler filled with illicit sex and infidelity--a definite winner for a 15-year-old girl who avoided any book that smacked of being "Literature." I had managed to dodge Jude, the Obscure, The Scarlet Letter, and anything Shakespeare. I had read To Kill a Mockingbird, however, because I liked the teacher.

And our school library had the delicious Lady C in its collection!

I was puzzled, though--why was such a book in a Catholic high school library?

And after reading the book, I couldn't figure out why my friend had thought this book was such a big deal. In fact, the book seemed overwrought and missing something. I was disappointed.

Fast forward to my college years. Lady C was a required book for a course called Love and Sex in Literature.

Groan...Not that boring old thing. Dr. Ames, my prof, just smiled and said, "I think you'll see it in a different light now." And then she challenged me to find out why.

Wow, was she right! This college edition was nothing like the flaccid (excuse the pun) work that I had read in high school.

Had my innocent mind simply blanked out all those racy passages?

Nope. After some basic library research, I discovered that my high school library had added a heavily expurgated edition to its collection, perhaps the librarian's way of solving the thorny problem of literature vs. pornography. Evidently, my friend and I had read two different versions of the same book.

I went back and found an expurgated version and compared it to D.H. Lawrence's intended version.

It was horrible; the deleted passages, albeit racy and sometimes even a bit profane, constituted the heart of the book. Lady C isn't just about two people engaging in an extramarital affair and having a lot of sex in forbidden places but an entire treatise on the vast class divisions in Great Britain. Despite some profanity--most notably, the F-word--the love scenes are actually quite sweet and mild, at least by today's standards.

Although a bit overwritten, Lady C is an important literary work; in 1959, U.S. Court of Appeals ruled in favor of its literary merit:
Lady Chatterley's Lover was one of a trio of books (the others being Tropic of Cancer and Fanny Hill), the ban on which was fought and overturned in court with assistance by lawyer Charles Rembar in 1959. It was then published by Grove Press, with the complete opinion by U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Frederick van Pelt Bryan, which first established the standard of "redeeming social or literary value" as a defense against obscenity charges.
The "redeeming social or literary value" standard was later upheld by the Supreme Court and has remained ever thus.

Any time we think something should be banned, expurgated, or censored, we should keep Lady C in mind.

That means we must tolerate (maybe not like) hard pornography as part of the package, only going after those aspects of the industry that break the law (child porn, snuff porn, slavery, etc.).

We don't want to open that censorship door again just because we don't like someone else's depiction of sex.

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