Fight Censorship, Mother-f@#$%&s!!

A news story rang my alarm bells last week.  It was just a quick blurb really, a time filler for a slow news day.  But hearing it sent my blood to full boil.   

My local ABC affiliate profiled Sharlene Bozack of the American Cancer Society.  In an interview, Bozack was quoted as saying, "I’d like to see smoking banned in all movies."   

The20worst20part20of20censorship I know.  I know. This is nothing new, but it still SCARES THE CRAP out of me.

The woman’s intentions were great.  She believed movies glamorized smoking and thus influenced children to pick up the habit.  And she is not alone in her convictions.  According to Time Magazine,"…a mandatory R rating for movies that feature smoking has been endorsed by the World Health Organization and the American Medical Association…"

Okay, so we ban images of smoking on film.  Smoking is bad for you; no one can argue with me there.  So let’s ban it from the movies.  Who’s s with me?

But hey, what about illegal drug use?  Illegal drug use is bad for you, right?  So let’s ban that from film too.  Who’s with me?

Alcohol?  Kids shouldn’t dink alcohol, should they?  Let’s ban it.  Captain Jack Sparrow can drink root beer. 

Hmmmm, wait a minute.  Root beer has a lot of sugar in it and sugar is bad for kids.  Also, it does have the word "BEER" in its name.  So maybe we better ban it too.  Just to be safe.  Sparrow can drink water.

What’s that you say?  You don’t want to ban root beer from PG-13 films?  What kind of SICK BASTARD are you?  You must hate children. 

My heavy-handed point is this–once you start banning things from art you create a slippery slope.  It starts with good intentions and ends with ignorance, intolerance and bonfires stacked high with books. 

42897463_5847aae136_m I’m not a fan of smoking.  It’s a filthy habit, and I’m convinced it took years off my father’s life.  I’m also not a fan of the tobacco industry and their past attempts to use films as commercials for cigarettes.  But banning images of smoking from movies is a horrible idea.

The world is full of sharp edges. You can’t put bumpers around all of them.


18 thoughts on “Fight Censorship, Mother-f@#$%&s!!

  1. Mike MacLean

    Thanks for the link B.G.

    Scrotum? All that over scrotum? You’ve got to be kidding me.

    I’d bet that many of the librarians refusing to purchase the book for their schools have not even read it. They’re most likely taking the word of one complainer out there.

  2. Naomi


    I’m glad that you mentioned THE HIGHER POWER OF LUCKY. I’ve been watching that case carefully. In the world of YA literature, being banned at a school or library is not unusual. And it almost always starts with the parents or at least perceived repercussions from parents.

  3. Louise Ure

    Start taking that bad behavior out of the movies and then watch them ask for no killings, no murders, no crime.

    A slippery slope indeed, and the end of crime fiction as we know it.

    PS: I was stunned by the list of books that folks wanted to challenge/ban this year. The Grapes of Wrath. To Kill A Mockingbird. The Great Gatsby. Gone With The Wind. It’s a sad commentary on our times.

  4. Pari Noskin Taichert

    “The world is full of sharp edges. You can’t put bumpers around all of them.”

    Mike,You hit it square on. As parents, we want to protect our children from, well, everything.

    But, that’s not life. Our job is to model and teach personal responsibility.

    That’s where I jump OFF the censorship bandwagon.

    Parents need to teach their kids to think, to make good decisions. As I write this, my younger child is in tears. I caught her lying and sneaking around. Now the challenge is to ensure that a deep, painful, heartfelt lesson is learned so that when she starts to do these behaviors again, she’ll stop herself (or, at least try). This isn’t pleasant for either one of us. I’m being a real hard a**, but it’s part of teaching responsibility.

    The same goes for smoking, drinking, overeating etc etc. Parents (guardians) have to take responsibility for themselves and for those under their care.

    It’s our most important job in life.

  5. Fran

    Censorship is always scary to me. When I was teaching in southern New Mexico, we had a parent who was adamant about us removing “The Grapes of Wrath” from our senior – senior! – reading because on page 50 it mentioned the breasts of Rose of Sharon. And this in a school with daycare because so many of the kids had kids! The whole English department ended up at the school board meeting to protest that nonsense. But if you look at all the banned books, it just makes your head spin.

    In college, my theatre department was taken to court to get us to stop our production of “Equus”. It didn’t work, but that showed me just how far people will go to impose their sense of what’s right and acceptable on others, and I’m standing firmly behind freedom of speech.

    So you don’t want to see a movie where folks are smoking? Don’t go. But don’t stop me from going or stop the movie from being made. That’s my stand, anwyay.

  6. Pari Noskin Taichert

    Fran,Southeastern NM is such an oddly conservative area. It astounds me. It’s one of the places where they burned HARRY POTTER books.

    BLESS ME, ULTIMA, the seminal work by Rudolfo Anaya is on most banned lists annually because it has to do with a curandera.

  7. JT Ellison

    So my question is this… Why do they get so threatened? I’m a rather conservative person, yet I don’t get twerped out over this stuff. If I find it offensive, I don’t read it. If I don’t like what’s on the TV, I change the channel. I’ve never understood how people can be so very scared of words. Actions? Certainly. But words, no.

    Pari, you’ve got to be one of the best moms out there. You remind me of mine, stern but always fair.

  8. Pari Noskin Taichert

    Sorry to respond to J.T. here, Michaeal, but I’ve got to say that it’s not the words that frighten these folks, IMHO, it’s ideas.

    Empires are built upon ideas.Religions thrive because of ideas.When you are exposed to new ideas, you might question the old ones.

    Control becomes difficult when people dare to think.

    As to being a good mom, thanks for saying that today, J.T.

    I feel like an ogre.

  9. Mike MacLean

    The thought that people were burning the Harry Potter book turns my stomach. Kids are finally getting excited about reading and these jackasses are too ignorant to see that as a good thing.


  10. billie

    “The world is full of sharp edges. You can’t put bumpers around all of them.”

    GREAT GREAT lines and sentiment.

    I know the feeling as a mom of wanting to try. And as a therapist I know how much you’re actually doing harm if you don’t teach them to protect themSELVES.

    billie, with the prospect of getting back to my work-in-progress literally hanging like fruit on the vine in front of me – YAY!!

  11. Pari Noskin Taichert

    Hey, Keith,Movies glamorize smoking. They also glamorize unprotected sex, snapping off at your parents, stealing and a bunch of other things . . .

    Again, I think it’s parents’ responsibility to discuss with their kids and to help them see through the lush visuals to the real messages (and to interpret *those* messages as well).

    I’m done now. Good night.

  12. Mike MacLean

    The movies absolutely glamorize smoking. Big tobacco has admitted to buying endorsements in films to do just that. And while industry has promised no longer to follow that practice, I wouldn’t be surprised if they still have some sway in Hollywood. Paul can correct me here if I’m off base.

    But the movies glamorize violence too, not to mention premarital sex. Are we supposed to do away with those images as well? And if we do, are we really protecting children, or are we failing to prepare them for a world where people have different opinions of right and wrong.

    Part of me would like to see Hollywood do away with the rating system altogether. The only problem is, then I’d have to sit through a movie like THE DEPARTED with a pack of 12-year-old girls who just want to see Leonardo Dicaprio.

  13. Keith

    I was just sort of checking. As long as the thought is “Yes, the movies do glamorize stuff, but we still can’t censor,” I’m fine.

    It’s when the tone starts drifting toward “It’s never been proven that movies and TV affect children’s behavior” that I start sharpening the pen.

  14. Elaine Flinn

    Funny – I don’t hear anyone (not here-so don’t climb all over me, okay?) wanting to ban some of today’s ‘music’ – if indeed that is what it is. If we’re going to get on a banning kick – how about ‘Gangsta rap’? You know – the cop killing stuff, the personal ‘ho’s’ and ‘cribs’. Oh, wait. They make money. Tons and tons of money. Silly me. I forgot that.


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