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Censorship in the age of multiculturalism

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Censorship in the age of multiculturalism
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Aught3ModeratorUser avatarPosts: 4290Joined: Fri Feb 27, 2009 3:36 amLocation: New Zealand Gender: Male

Post Censorship in the age of multiculturalism

I recently read the coda Ray Bradbury put in later additions of his novel Fahrenheit 451. It made quite an impression and I wanted to share.

About two years ago, a letter arrived from a solemn young Vassar lady telling me how much she enjoyed reading my experiment in space mythology, The Martian Chronicles.

But, she added, wouldn't it be a good idea, this late in time, to rewrite the book inserting more women's characters and roles?

A few years before that I got a certain amount of mail concerning the same Martian book complaining that the blacks in the book were Uncle Toms and why didn't I "do them over"?

Along about then came a note from a Southern white suggesting that I was prejudiced in favor of the blacks and the entire story should be dropped.

Two weeks ago my mountain of mail delivered forth a pipsqueak mouse of a letter from a well-known publishing house that wanted to reprint my story "The Fog Horn" in a high school reader.

In my story, I had described a lighthouse as hav,­ing, late at night, an illumination coming from it that was a "God-Light." Looking up at it from the view-point of any sea-creature one would have felt that one was in "the Presence."

The editors had deleted "God-Light" and "in the Presence."

Some five years back, the editors of yet another anthology for school readers put together a volume with some 400 (count 'em) short stories in it. How do you cram 400 short stories by Twain, Irving, Poe, Maupassant and Bierce into one book?

Simplicity itself. Skin, debone, demarrow, scarify, melt, render down and destroy. Every adjective that counted, every verb that moved, every metaphor that weighed more than a mosquito,out! Every simile that would have made a sub-moron's mouth twitch,gone! Any aside that explained the two-bit philosophy of a first-rate writer,lost!

Every story, slenderized, starved, bluepenciled, leeched and bled white, resembled every other story. Twain read like Poe read like Shakespeare read like Dostoevsky read like,in the finale,Edgar Guest. Every word of more than three syllables had been ra,­zored. Every image that demanded so much as one instant's attention,shot dead.

Do you begin to get the damned and incredible picture?

How did I react to all of the above?

By "firing" the whole lot.

By sending rejection slips to each and every one. By ticketing the assembly of idiots to the far reaches of hell.

The point is obvious. There is more than one way to burn a book. And the world is full of people run,­ning about with lit matches.


You can read the rest here: http://www.cabrillo.edu/~jhancock/coda.html
Wanderer, there is no path, the path is made by walking.
Fri Sep 10, 2010 4:44 am
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lrkunUser avatarPosts: 3831Joined: Wed Jun 23, 2010 8:37 pmLocation: R. Gender: Tree

Post Re: Censorship in the age of multiculturalism

Aught3 wrote:I recently read the coda Ray Bradbury put in later additions of his novel Fahrenheit 451. It made quite an impression and I wanted to share.

About two years ago, a letter arrived from a solemn young Vassar lady telling me how much she enjoyed reading my experiment in space mythology, The Martian Chronicles.

But, she added, wouldn't it be a good idea, this late in time, to rewrite the book inserting more women's characters and roles?

A few years before that I got a certain amount of mail concerning the same Martian book complaining that the blacks in the book were Uncle Toms and why didn't I "do them over"?

Along about then came a note from a Southern white suggesting that I was prejudiced in favor of the blacks and the entire story should be dropped.

Two weeks ago my mountain of mail delivered forth a pipsqueak mouse of a letter from a well-known publishing house that wanted to reprint my story "The Fog Horn" in a high school reader.

In my story, I had described a lighthouse as hav,­ing, late at night, an illumination coming from it that was a "God-Light." Looking up at it from the view-point of any sea-creature one would have felt that one was in "the Presence."

The editors had deleted "God-Light" and "in the Presence."

Some five years back, the editors of yet another anthology for school readers put together a volume with some 400 (count 'em) short stories in it. How do you cram 400 short stories by Twain, Irving, Poe, Maupassant and Bierce into one book?

Simplicity itself. Skin, debone, demarrow, scarify, melt, render down and destroy. Every adjective that counted, every verb that moved, every metaphor that weighed more than a mosquito,out! Every simile that would have made a sub-moron's mouth twitch,gone! Any aside that explained the two-bit philosophy of a first-rate writer,lost!

Every story, slenderized, starved, bluepenciled, leeched and bled white, resembled every other story. Twain read like Poe read like Shakespeare read like Dostoevsky read like,in the finale,Edgar Guest. Every word of more than three syllables had been ra,­zored. Every image that demanded so much as one instant's attention,shot dead.

Do you begin to get the damned and incredible picture?

How did I react to all of the above?

By "firing" the whole lot.

By sending rejection slips to each and every one. By ticketing the assembly of idiots to the far reaches of hell.

The point is obvious. There is more than one way to burn a book. And the world is full of people run,­ning about with lit matches.


You can read the rest here: http://www.cabrillo.edu/~jhancock/coda.html


Who gets the last say with regard to what should be included or excluded?
Unsupport unthink.
Sun Sep 12, 2010 10:31 pm
DepricatedZeroChat ModeratorUser avatarPosts: 1326Joined: Fri May 28, 2010 11:43 amLocation: Cincinnati, OH Gender: Pinecone

Post Re: Censorship in the age of multiculturalism

lrkun wrote:Who gets the last say with regard to what should be included or excluded?

The author
Why does my life have to be so small
And death is forever
And does forever have a life to call its own?
Don't give me an answer cause you only know
As much as I know
Unless you've been there once
And I hardly think so

Green Day - One of My Lies
Fri Nov 19, 2010 3:09 am
AndiferousUser avatarPosts: 2727Joined: Mon Jan 04, 2010 7:00 amLocation: Laputa Gender: Time Lord

Post Re: Censorship in the age of multiculturalism

This may be accurate but seems overly misleading. People are people and they are rarely happy. If they are, sometimes they will look for reasons to not be happy. I could make random and scientific guesses in turn, like, oh, maybe people think they are more honest when they feel they are unhappy with something.

This gall is to be expected when in the public eye. If this individual is disturbed by a scattered few personal opinions, just wait 'till the critics come round. The author seems to be naively learning the truth of human nature and I'm not sure how this applies to minorities, except by the unfortunate coincidence of being part of the people bitterness.

On the other hand, speaking in terms of the racism in the topic, if you have "Southern white suggesting that I was prejudiced in favor of the blacks and the entire story should be dropped. " living next door and you happen to be black, I can see how you may begin to think "that the blacks in the book were Uncle Toms and why didn't I "do them over"?"

It's not clear if it's politics or reaction and innate ridiculousness that causes the reaction in the first place. I don't blame that person for having that neighbour, and I'd want to clarify it the best I could because it is a problem and maybe there is an answer. But I might not know how... but damn, that neighbour sucks.

It's got nothing to do with minorities but everything to do with human racism and pettiness. And as a writer this person seems awfully naive to criticism. This person is supposedly understanding humans on some level... ;) I've seen this article before and am feeling a bit suspect of the quality of the work at this point and the individuals' real understanding of reality.

Sorry, it ticks me off a bit. Perhaps he or she should just sue them.
"As there seemed no measure between what Watt could understand, and what he could not, so there seemed none between what he deemed certain, and what he deemed doubtful."
~ Samuel Beckett, Watt
Mon Nov 22, 2010 12:06 am
AndiferousUser avatarPosts: 2727Joined: Mon Jan 04, 2010 7:00 amLocation: Laputa Gender: Time Lord

Post Re: Censorship in the age of multiculturalism

I guess I thought I should expand as I lost it on Ray Bradbury and in a verily confusing way. Lol.

He had the choice to turn down said editor who wanted to modify his words. Editors do that, why they are editors.

But blame marketing and saleability and the raw greed for profit rather than take coy aim at "political correctness" as he seems to be doing. If you don't like one editor, go somewhere else if you do have that opportunity. If your editor cares more for money and profit than literature, then hold that editor to task for greed and sacrificing art for marketability and just don't go back.

Don't blame the people, they're always like that.

But don't pull political correctness into a censorship issue, because it isn't about it. It's about selling books and selling words for profit. It's not pleasant and hey, he should probably have left anyway.

The censorship is part of marketing your art for certain economies or say going against lobbyists for health care, and so on. It can (I believe) sacrifice principle). And I am sure he earns a nice bit for his books.

I guess this is why I am uncomfortable.
"As there seemed no measure between what Watt could understand, and what he could not, so there seemed none between what he deemed certain, and what he deemed doubtful."
~ Samuel Beckett, Watt
Mon Nov 22, 2010 12:50 am
GiliellUser avatarPosts: 1218Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 7:29 am Gender: Female

Post Re: Censorship in the age of multiculturalism

I quite agree with Andiferous
This kind of editing has been around ever since literature was invented.
Social conventions and catering for the market were always part of publishing.
Jane Austen (I love Jane Austen) couldn't describe certain aspects of married life because she was not married herself. So she was not supposed to know. A married woman or a man could have written those "details".
She also didn't write about really poor people (the poor people in her books usually are so poor they can only afford 2 or 3 servants). Why? Not because of any real censorship, but because those people wouldn't buy and read books.
To point such things out is usually the task of literary criticism. If you can support your point that Bradbury was using racial stereotypes by applying the "science" of literary criticism, then you can make that point, whether the author likes it or not.
Go to heaven, we don't want you in hell with us!
Most people don't object to discrimination and oppression as such, they only object to being at the receiving end
Thu Jan 27, 2011 10:42 pm
ImprobableJoeLime TordUser avatarPosts: 6195Joined: Sun Feb 22, 2009 3:24 pm

Post Re: Censorship in the age of multiculturalism

I have to disagree with his use of 'minorities' as a scapegoat in this case, since often it is the majority that does the censoring, because they're really the only ones who have the power to do so. I also take issue with the word 'censor' and its variations in this screed. It isn't the correct word in all of the instances listed, since generally only governments have the power to censor. Certainly unwanted editorial advice from readers doesn't fucking qualify.

All in all, Bradbury seems to be a rather disagreeable human being with a penchant for hyperbole and sloppy language that diminishes whatever point he was trying to make in this instance. Oops, I criticized his word choices, I guess he would think I'm a censor as well?
Come visit my blog! There will be punch and pie!
Fri Jan 28, 2011 12:02 am
AndiferousUser avatarPosts: 2727Joined: Mon Jan 04, 2010 7:00 amLocation: Laputa Gender: Time Lord

Post Re: Censorship in the age of multiculturalism

Giliell wrote:I quite agree with Andiferous
This kind of editing has been around ever since literature was invented.
Social conventions and catering for the market were always part of publishing.
Jane Austen (I love Jane Austen) couldn't describe certain aspects of married life because she was not married herself. So she was not supposed to know. A married woman or a man could have written those "details".
She also didn't write about really poor people (the poor people in her books usually are so poor they can only afford 2 or 3 servants). Why? Not because of any real censorship, but because those people wouldn't buy and read books.
To point such things out is usually the task of literary criticism. If you can support your point that Bradbury was using racial stereotypes by applying the "science" of literary criticism, then you can make that point, whether the author likes it or not.



Glad you could make sense of that disorganized rampage. :D

Honestly, I like Austen books but am ambivalent at the same time. Wow, that's a long story. :)

Most females of the age did masquerade under male pseudonyms because that was generally what was done; and there's question about how much of Austen was actually composed by Austen and not her editor. I'm inclined to believe it after seeing a jpg copy of an original draft page, full of spelling and grammatical awkwardness. Her own style, they say, is much more 'flowing' as like the Brontes, but what we see now is likely the reworking of her editor. Most female literary types in history were kind of like spies with secret identities, though. :D

I really could babble endlessly on this and maybe I should not. But I believe there is a weird relationship in literary history between stereotype and "archetype." I kind of believe stereotypes under the euphemism "archetype" made Shakespeare "great" but I've never heard a convincing argument about how the two concepts differ. So I guess I don't like Mr. Speare. :)

On the other hand, many female writers, along with others who were out of popular favour, became very clever and practiced at excellent satire, as sometimes this was their only vehicle for political comment. I love satire. So yay. :)

Thanks for understanding my incomprehensible babble. There is no inherent right for anyone to be published and really, he should not think himself so privileged to be in that position. This is really irritating, as I've had to put up with rejection for lesser things myself. :P
"As there seemed no measure between what Watt could understand, and what he could not, so there seemed none between what he deemed certain, and what he deemed doubtful."
~ Samuel Beckett, Watt
Sun Jan 30, 2011 1:18 am
obsidianavengerPosts: 840Joined: Tue Dec 15, 2009 6:44 am Gender: Pinecone

Post Re: Censorship in the age of multiculturalism

Andiferous wrote:I guess I thought I should expand as I lost it on Ray Bradbury and in a verily confusing way. Lol.

He had the choice to turn down said editor who wanted to modify his words. Editors do that, why they are editors.

But blame marketing and saleability and the raw greed for profit rather than take coy aim at "political correctness" as he seems to be doing. If you don't like one editor, go somewhere else if you do have that opportunity. If your editor cares more for money and profit than literature, then hold that editor to task for greed and sacrificing art for marketability and just don't go back.

Don't blame the people, they're always like that.

But don't pull political correctness into a censorship issue, because it isn't about it. It's about selling books and selling words for profit. It's not pleasant and hey, he should probably have left anyway.

The censorship is part of marketing your art for certain economies or say going against lobbyists for health care, and so on. It can (I believe) sacrifice principle). And I am sure he earns a nice bit for his books.

I guess this is why I am uncomfortable.


meh. there is probably some of the profit motive involved (give the people what they want) but you can't claim that political correctness isn't taken too far. for example, its considered racist in many circles to speak out against islam, even though the religion itself is overwhelmingly supportive of violence in many cases. its considered wrong to say that certain cultural beliefs (like being successful in school is "acting white") are detrimental to the black community and can help to explain their lagging achievement. its considered sexist to claim that the reason women's achievements don't match men in the workplace is because women don't tend to go after the same sorts of jobs with the same dedication that men do. and yet the evidence is that all these statements are true.

granted, the op just sounds like a tempermental artist throwing a fit because his "materpiece" is being messed with, but the whole political correctness thing is kind of a pet peeve of mine.
Sun Jan 30, 2011 1:30 am
AndiferousUser avatarPosts: 2727Joined: Mon Jan 04, 2010 7:00 amLocation: Laputa Gender: Time Lord

Post Re: Censorship in the age of multiculturalism

You know this sounds suspiciously not free-market economy, supply and demand, and stuff. ;)
"As there seemed no measure between what Watt could understand, and what he could not, so there seemed none between what he deemed certain, and what he deemed doubtful."
~ Samuel Beckett, Watt
Sun Jan 30, 2011 1:39 am
obsidianavengerPosts: 840Joined: Tue Dec 15, 2009 6:44 am Gender: Pinecone

Post Re: Censorship in the age of multiculturalism

Andiferous wrote:You know this sounds suspiciously not free-market economy, supply and demand, and stuff. ;)


see the political compass thread :P
Sun Jan 30, 2011 1:43 am
AndiferousUser avatarPosts: 2727Joined: Mon Jan 04, 2010 7:00 amLocation: Laputa Gender: Time Lord

Post Re: Censorship in the age of multiculturalism

Heh will, but in truth I remember all our arguments and I even remember your position on the graph without looking, for some reason. :)
"As there seemed no measure between what Watt could understand, and what he could not, so there seemed none between what he deemed certain, and what he deemed doubtful."
~ Samuel Beckett, Watt
Sun Jan 30, 2011 1:44 am
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