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Saturday, 22 February 2014


In 399 BC, Greek philosopher, Socrates, defied attempts by the Greek state to censor his philosophical teachings and was sentenced to death by drinking a poison, hemlock. Socrates' student, Plato, supposedly went on to advocate censorship.

Areopagitica; A speech of Mr. John Milton for the Liberty of Unlicenc’d Printing, to the Parliament of England is a prose polemical tract by the English poet John Milton opposing licensing and censorship, which was published on November 23, 1644. Areopagitica is among history's most influential and impassioned philosophical defenses of the principle of a right to freedom of speech and expression.

Sweden was in 1766 the first country to introduce a constitutional law where censorship was abolished and the freedom of the press guaranteed.

In 1873 the US Congress enacted the Comstock Law, making it illegal to send any "obscene, lewd, or lascivious" books through the mail.

The first film to be censored in UK was Charles Urban's ninety second movie of a piece of Stilton cheese viewed from a microscope. Released in 1898 the image of active bacteria on a cheese created a storm of protest from British cheesemakers so it was quietly withdrawn from exhibition.

In 1907 Chicago became the first city to regulate and censor movies. The Chicago Tribune announced that the over 115 nickelodeons across the city had an “influence that is wholly vicious.”

The 1925 song “How Could Red Riding Hood (Have Been So Very Good)” by A.P. Randolph was the first tune to be banned from radio due to its sexual suggestiveness.

To avoid government censorship, Hollywood movie studios instituted their own set of industry censorship guidelines in 1930, popularly known as the Hays Code.

The Nazis banned and burned the book Bambi because it was by a Jewish author.

Georgia approved the first literature censorship board in the United States on February 19, 1953, when the General Assembly unanimously voted to establish the Georgia Literature Commission.

The Catholic Church abolished its list of Forbidden Books On June 14, 1966. It had existed since the sixteenth century and by 1948 over 4,000 titles had been censored including works by Erasmus, Defoe, Descartes and Immanuel Kant.

The FBI investigated the song “Louie Louie” because the agency thought the lyrics were dirty. After three months, the FBI abandoned the investigation because it couldn’t make out the words.

Because of TV censorship, actress Mariette Hartley was not allowed to show her belly button on Gene Roddenberry's Star Trek [episode #78 All Our Yesterdays in 1969] but later Roddenberry got even when he gave Hartley "two" belly buttons in the sci-fi movie Genesis II (1973).

The People's Republic of China lifted a ban on works by Aristotle, William Shakespeare and Charles Dickens in 1978.

When The Shining premiered, the MPAA wouldn’t allow blood to appear in any trailer “approved for all audiences,” but Stanley Kubrick managed to get a trailer comprised solely of the elevator scene passed by convincing the board the tsunami of blood was rusty water.

In early 1980 South African school children, fed up with the inferior apartheid-era education system, started chanting the lyrics of Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall (Part II)." The song, with a memorable line stating "We don't need no education," had held the top spot on the local charts for almost three months,.  By May 2, 1980, the South African government had issued a ban on "Another Brick in the Wall," creating international headlines.

Tipper Gore,  the wife of Tennessee senator Al Gore, formed the Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC) with three other politically-connected women after listening to the Prince song "Darling Nikki." The group pressured the RIAA to establish a ratings system for albums and concerts, and also to keep offensive album covers out of view in record stores.
On September 19, 1985 various musicians, including Frank Zappa and John Denver, testified at congressional hearings regarding warning labels on albums deemed to contain explicit lyrics. The PMRC  testified in favor of the labels, while the musicians argued that it was censorship. The result of the hearing was warning stickers on albums with offensive lyrics.

The first computer game to be certified by the British Board of Film Classification was an illustrated text adventure called Dracula, based on the Bram Stoker novel, published by CRL. The game received a 15 certificate in December 1986.

The Chinese government has censored the word "Censorship."

Belgium is the only country that has never imposed censorship for adult films.

Here are some songs about censorship.

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