Category Archives: Censorship

Hot Air: Sunday Sundries

History In The Making

I don’t know why this hasn’t occurred to me before but, no matter what, the Dems this summer will nominate either the first woman or first Jew as a major party candidate for president.

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Either Way

The Republicans, meanwhile, are going with the guy who calls women “fat pigs” and who has the support of KKK-types who believe the nation — and the world — are run by a secret cabal of Jews.

Yeah, there’s no diff. between the parties. Nah.

I’m surprised nobody’s making a big splash about this. It speaks well of the party, no? Then again, nobody wants to speak well of the party — either party — these days. Too bad.

Of course, the parties have nobody to blame but themselves.

Private Benjamins

Let’s just all agree right here and now that privatization is a dirty word, okay?

Case in point: The city of Seattle has hired a private firm at $240 and hour to tear down, sweep up, and otherwise trash homeless encampments. Yep. Hat tip to my old Ever-So-Secret Order of the Lampreys pal (and leader thereof) Kenneth Morrison for the tip.

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So, the city many of us view as the nation’s model of progressive goody-goodness would rather spend its dough thusly than on, say, maybe simply providing shelter for the poor souls who can’t afford a home.

Nah. That’d be government overreach, wouldn’t it?

Getting To Know Me

I’ve just come to the conclusion that I’m driven not to be driven. I suppose that’s why I never got a college degree or won the Pulitzer Prize.

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Nah, That’s Okay. I Don’t Need One. Thanks Anyway.

Yeah, sure, that’s it.

Getting Better All The Time

Another landmark in my recovery process. Yesterday afternoon I yelled at another driver for the first time in months. I was thrilled; my voice was strong and my tongue sharp.

The background. It’s been my experience that scads of left-turners in this sprawling megalopolis are loath to pulling out into an intersection on the green light while waiting for oncoming traffic to pass. This leads, often, to just one car making the left turn, which is criminal.

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So, yesterday I was intending to make the left turn onto Covenanter off southbound College Mall Drive to get to the Kroger Theme Park. The black Infiniti in front of me was going to make the left as well and, just as we hit the red light, it turned green. Fine, right? I’d make this light, right behind him.

Only he would not pull into the intersection. I gesticulated dramatically, hoping he’d catch my drift in his rear view mirror but, alas, he wouldn’t bite. But, I figured, I could tail him closely when he did make the turn at least after the light would turn yellow.

The light did turn yellow and he wouldn’t budge! So neither of us made the turn. I bellowed: “Fer chrissakes! Get out there you numbskull! Make the goddamned turn! Jesus Christ in heaven!”

Again, he wouldn’t bite. No glance in the mirror. No satisfying flash of the middle digit in response. No nothing. He must have had the windows rolled up. The jerk.

Nevertheless, I enjoyed the satisfaction of reaming him verbally even if he couldn’t hear it.

Slowly but surely, I’m getting back into the swing of things. Wahoo!

Okay, Mother’s Day

Here are Ma and Daddy-o in 1945 with the old man home on a surprise leave. He looks like a kid in a candy store and she’s got that dewy-eyed look straight out of a romance novel.

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BTW: Daddy-o returned to his base to help the Allies win the war by scrubbing garbage cans and making sure his bed was properly made.


Hey, we’re not the only country that’s tackling terribly important social problems (from Atlas Obscura):

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Scary Hot Air

A Profession Of Fear

I haven’t been moved much at all about all the recent news about government spying. You know, the NSA playing canasta with all our emails and the State Department eavesdropping on the belching and scratching of selected world leaders.

Characters from "The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show"

I suppose that’s because I’ve studied so much of the second half of the 20th Century in general and the the 1960s in particular. For that matter, I could have been studying the Jacobean Era of British history (the Late Sixteenth and Early Seventeenth centuries) and felt the same way about things.

Those in power have been spying on those without it since humans first started discussing things sotto voce. And governments have been prying into each others’ affairs forever.

Information is the most valuable currency human beings possess. If you’re thinking there was some grand and wonderful time when powerful people folded their hands and played nice in regard to keeping their noses out of other people’s business then you are a far, far more trusting soul than I am.

Others, though, are up in arms over Guardian newspaper and Wikileaks scoops, as well as the revelations made by former spook Edward Snowden who, if you’ll recall, is now hiding away safely in that very model of openness and candor, Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

The PEN American Center recently released a report that a significant number of writers in this holy land are feeling more than queasy about what they commit to paper or the LCD screen. Some, in fact, are beginning to censor themselves. US spying efforts, the report claims, “…are having a tangible and chilling effect on writers….”

The report opens with this graphic:

From PEN American Center

Really? Honestly? PEN American Center says it surveyed more than 520 member writers to come to this conclusion. That means some 170 of that 520 who earn their daily bread by flinging words around and are so dedicated to the vocation that they pay annual PEN membership dues have been made bunny-rabbit scared by the possibility that some grown up frat boys in the FBI or CIA are giggling over their sex messaging as we speak.

Writers are the people we depend on for information about secret wars and industrial poisonings. They tell us about sweetheart deals, legislative payoffs, and clandestine entanglements.

Who else could tell us about the Koch Brothers or ALEC or even the fabulous new DePaul University basketball arena being built with a huge infusion of city funds while Chicago public schools are being closed left and right?

TV news doesn’t do this for us, it being too busy worrying about Miley Cyrus’s tongue and where it’s been.


This Doesn’t Take Guts

Going head to head with the big boys in power takes guts. Your state legislator isn’t going to hire you to be his publicist after you’ve made a name for yourself whistling fouls on statehouse malfeasances. Corporate vice presidents of communications might look askance at applications for copywriting positions submitted by card-carrying muckrackers.

We expect guts from our print reporters and other writers.

Now PEN American Center tells us fully one-third of them lacks said viscera.

Here’s my advice to all those writers who confess that US spying is making them quake in their boots: Quit.

Yup. Get out of the business. We don’t need you. Go get a job running the new employee orientation program at some hospital. Sell some real estate. Manage a dentist’s office. Do something. But don’t tell me you’re a writer. Because you’re not.

Gossip columnist Walter Winchell once wrote, “Red Smith was asked if turning out a daily column wasn’t quite a chore. ‘Why no,’ dead-panned Red. ‘You simply sit down at the typewriter, open up your veins, and bleed.'”

Smith, by the way, was a sports columnist. Writing, even for those in the gossip and sports rackets, takes courage. You’re exposing yourself, something you’re taught not to do from the moment you step into your kindergarten classroom.

My guess is the 170 or so writers who told PEN American Center how jittery they are over government lick-spittlers’ prying never really subjected themselves to the vital process of exposing themselves through their written words.

So I suggest to writers whose teeth are chattering because some computer geeks are accumulating email metadata that they ought to find a gig that doesn’t keep them awake at night.

Hot Air, Now And Forever


I don’t want to slip into 1980s, Sinbad-brand humor, you know — women be different from men — but, to tell the truth, women be different from men.

(If you don’t know who Sinbad was, or if you’ve mercifully forgotten him, don’t ask questions. Just be thankful.)



Anyway, my post yesterday about the dreaded prostate exam brought scads of double-Xers out of the woodwork to proclaim that a doctor’s digits inserted into a man’s rear entrance for the purpose of gauging the size and consistency of said man’s gland is, well, nothing.

Nothing, that is, compared to what women have suffered.

It’s not even nothing. It is, these commenters will have us believe, akin to getting one’s hair tousled by a favorite uncle or finding a twenty dollar bill on the sidewalk.

What is it about women that they take such pride in the type and extent of pain they can suffer?

◗ No pain on Earth can compare to that of childbirth.

◗ Nothing is like getting a pap smear.


Torture Device Or Stainless Steel Duck?

◗ The full pelvic exam must have been developed by a psychotic sadist.

One correspondent wrote, “Guys are such wimps.”

I get the feeling my women friends are, well, proud of the pain they’ve suffered.

Such a strange thing to be proud of. Especially considering my own life has been devoted to the avoidance of pain. I’m proud of no pain. I am proud, though, of having dodged countless episodes of pain in my 57 years.

Women, I love you all. But, y’know, we’re just different.

Maybe I am getting all Sinbad-y here. I’d better stop.

Censorship And Sensibility

As you know, this is Banned Book Week. And the number one challenged book in the nation for the year 2012 was — drum roll, please — the Dav Pilkey juvenile story series, Captain Underpants.

According to the American Library Association, the Capt. U. books were banned and otherwise persecuted by constipated, paranoiac, supremely pain-in-the-ass parents and officious do-gooders because Pilkey’s prose includes bad language.

Captain Underpants

The Officer In Question

No, not fuck or blowjob. Not that kind of bad language. And certain not rape, war, dismemberment, nuclear bomb, or slavery — hell, nixing books that contain those obscenities would probably leave nothing for our precious teens and impressionable adults to read. Which, come to think of it, just might be what many of the busybodies of this holy land want. But, back to Pilkey, his word sins include fart and snot rockets. The monster.

This variety of verbiage has driven professional tut-tutters to organize and pressure school boards and municipal libraries to remove such smut from the public’s shelves.

Makes you want to thank god we have such caring, conscientious individuals around to protect our delicate eardrums and eyes, no?

Anyway, my fave banned book always has been Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Use the comments section on this page to tell us what your most beloved banned book has been. Or, if you prefer, let us know the last banned book you’ve read. The following list may help. It includes selected banned titles from the Library of Congress’s Books That Shaped America exhibit.

  • The Autobiography of Malcolm X
  • Beloved
  • The Call of the Wild
  • Fahrenheit 451
  • Gone with the Wind


Banned? Honestly?

  • The Great Gatsby
  • In Cold Blood
  • Invisible Man
  • Moby Dick
  • Stranger in a Strange Land
  • To Kill a Mockingbird

Moby fucking Dick?

Look, folks, these uptight lunatics have to be stopped. The first thing any of us can do is read a banned book. Do it.

The Pencil Today:


“I’m not against the police; I’m just afraid of them.” — Alfred Hitchcock


Books are dangerous things. That’s what quite a few jittery folks in this holy land think.

There are enough bibliophobes around to cause heaps of trouble for librarians who are brazen and perverted enough to stock their shelves with certain titles that any god-fearing soul knows will weaken the nation and destroy the family.

Herewith is the American Library Association’s list of 2011’s ten most challenged books in these Great United States, Inc.:

  • The Lauren Myracle series including “ttyl,” “ttfn,” and “l8r”
  • The Kim Dong Hwa series “The Color of Earth”
  • “The Hunger Games” trilogy by Suzanne Collins
  • “My Mom’s Having a Baby! A Kid’s Month-by-Month Guide to Pregnancy” by Dori Hillestad Butler
  • “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian,” by Sherman Alexie
  • The “Alice” series by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
  • “Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley
  • “What My Mother Doesn’t Know” by Sonya Sones
  • The “Gossip Girl” series by Cecily Von Ziegesar
  • “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee

Harper Lee, Contributor To Delinquency

Any of these books may well turn your child into a young socialist or aspiring terrorist. If you are an older person and you even inadvertently read one of these tomes, you’ll suddenly find yourself wishing to acquit black men falsely accused of crimes, use indelicate language, and — worst of all — possibly think about sex.


Drop everything you’re doing right now and pick up a copy of the Indiana Daily Student or click over to the IDS website. Read the unsigned editorial about the personal struggle of a self-described chunky Hispanic latent homosexual who endured years of bullying at the hands of his schoolmates.

If it doesn’t make you cry, you’re probably dead.

The author of the piece points out that a conservative Christian Cro-Magnon man named Douglas Wilson is slated to speak at IU Friday. Wilson thinks current anti-bullying efforts let gay and lesbian kids off the hook. They’re bad seeds, he concludes.

I checked out Wilson’s website. Man, this guy is a piece of work. He links the late IU sex researcher Alfred Kinsey with Nazism. He also espouses age-old Puritan chestnuts like a wife should be submissive to her husband (but not in the fun, light bondage way, either).


Here’s an example of Wilson’s “thinking” on Barack Obama’s health care reform bill: “When they urge the passage of Obamacare because this person will now ‘have coverage,’ they overlook the fact that nothing good can come from men wanting to be God.”

Wait, what?

Wilson’s wife also has a blog. They’re both the kind of folk who need to cite a Bible passage for every thing they say. Only their Bible doesn’t seem to have a passage advising them not to terrorize kids who are struggling with their sexuality.


I’ve long suspected noted brute-with-a-badge Joe Arpaio is playing with a short deck. Now I know it’s true.

The longtime Maricopa County (Arizona) sheriff jumped on the Birther bandwagon months ago. He’s upping the ante now. Arpaio’s current take on that particular psychotic reaction makes earlier Birther charges seem almost sane.

“America’s Toughest Sheriff”

Tough guy Joe now says the Republicans are in on the scheme!

Yep. GOP senators and even the motley crew running for the Republican nomination for president all have have thrown in their lots with the conspirators who took a Kenyan baby and groomed him to become the President of the United States.

Not even Stephen King could come up with this stuff.


Does the thought strike you that this great nation is riding a time machine backward?

Guess who’s in the headlines again, 54 years after the Cuban revolution, 50 years after the Cuban Missile Crisis, and fully four years after he quit as Cuba’s boss because he was getting too old and feeble to terrify anybody anymore.

Yep. Fidel Castro.

America, I’ll Be Living In Your Nightmares For The Next Fifty Years!

I’m not part of Castro’s fan club. There’ve been good and bad things to say about his bully-boy reign. Sure, everybody can read and health care coverage is universal in Cuba. But just try being a dissident and see how far that’ll get you on the island.

Anyway, Miami Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen, who has no filter between his reptilian brain and his mouth, the other day was talking about the Marlins new stadium which is located in Miami’s Little Havana district.

Perhaps Guillen, not normally known as a sage political observer, figured Hmm, lots of Cubans around here. I’d better say something nice about Castro.

So he gushed about the Havana strongman. “I love Fidel Castro,” he brayed. “I respect Fidel Castro. You know why? A lot of people have wanted to kill Fidel Castro for the last 60 years but that son of a bitch is still here.”

Suddenly, Guillen found out that the nearly one million Cubans who live in Miami are the ones who’ve wanted to slice Fidel’s throat this last half century. Don’t ask me why, but there’s hardly a group on Earth with longer memories and holding a deeper grudge than the people who fled Cuba after Castro took over.

Miami has rarely seen a storm like the one that’s blowing over town right now.

Local pols are screaming that Guillen should be fired. A state legislator is calling for “punitive measures” against him, according to the Associated Press.

The owner of Miami’s Major League Baseball team has suspended Guillen for five games.

No one knows if this will be enough to satisfy the baying hounds who right now are ringing Marlins Stadium, calling for Guillen’s head.

Look, Guillen’s a big-mouthed dope. So are Rush Limbaugh and Don Imus and every other professional gabber who has delivered racist, sexist, insensitive, insulting, or deliriously uninformed diatribes. But we don’t punish people for stupid talk in my country. We don’t take their jobs away from them.

If we did, everybody would be in hot water and nobody would have a job.

Not The Most Respected Political Commentator Around

Wait a minute…, everybody is in hot water and nobody does have a job. Oh well, you know what I mean.

Back to this going back in time bit, though. Wasn’t it just a few years before Fidel Castro blew into the national consciousness that we proud Americans were punishing folks and taking away their livelihoods just for talking or thinking the wrong way?

It looks like old Joe McCarthy has never really gone away.


Tyrone Davis’s soul hit from the spring of 1970.

The Pencil Today:


“Censorship feeds the dirty mind more than the four-letter word itself.” — Dick Cavett


This is a call to arms.

Turn off your TVs, get up off your sofa, crank up your computer and start writing emails to the Monroe County Community Schools Corporation. I’ll supply some good addresses for you below.

First, the issue.

I have learned through a reasonably reliable source that someone — presumably a parent — has challenged the MCCSC to remove Maurice Sendak’s children’s book, “In the Night Kitchen,” from the Binford Elementary School library.

Details of the challenge are sketchy at this moment since Binford teachers and administrators have not even sat down together to consider the challenge. But “In the Night Kitchen” has had a long history of raising the hackles of bluenoses since its publication in 1970.

It’s the story of a kid, who looks to be two or three years old, who has a dream that he has fallen into a huge bowl of batter being prepared by a trio of chefs. The three chefs, all of whom jarringly resemble Oliver Hardy, are making a batch of bread dough.

The kid gets tossed around amid all the stirring and kneading. Soon, the kid learns that the chefs are missing a key ingredient for their dough, milk. So the kid fashions an airplane made of dough to fly around in search of the missing ingredient. He finds a giant bottle of milk and somehow manipulates it to pour its contents into the chefs’ bowl.

The bread is made, everybody’s happy, and the kid wakes up in his own bed.

So, what’s the problem?

This: the kid is naked as he’s tossed around in the dough. So naked that his little pizzle can be seen — his mini-danglers, too.

It’s not as if the kid’s full package is drawn in any excruciating detail. His baby penis is drawn in a general outline and is less prominent, naturally, than either of his thumbs. And his gonads are no more in your face than his big toes.

Only a very bizarrely obsessed mind could see this innocent little cherub and his male equipment as objectionable.

And it is to these bizarrely obsessed people we have to say, “Just shut up!”

Here’s a little more info on the Sendak book. It was named a Caldecott Honor Book. It was named one of the notable children’s books of the era 1940-70 by the American Library Association. The New York Times named it one of the best books of 1970. The Library of Congress has preserved it as exemplary of children’s books for that year.

Sendak is the beloved author of “Where the Wild Things Are,” for which he won a Caldecott Medal. He helped the Children’s Television Workshop develop the vision for “Sesame Street.” His work has earned him the Hans Christian Anderson Award, a National Book Award, a Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal, and a National Medal of Arts. He even has an elementary school named after him in the Los Angeles Unified School District.

Still, there are all those pesky — and potentially dangerous (to our liberties) — sex obsessives out there.

“In the Night Kitchen” has been named 25th on the American Library Association’s 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990-2000 list.

Man oh man. There’s a hell of a lot of whacked out people in this holy land.

So, be a good citizen. Pound away at your keyboard and let these MCCSC officials and teachers know we won’t be bullied by prigs, prudes, and hysterics. (BTW: I’m not going to hyperlink here because potential spammers could then scrape this site looking for these email addresses. So, just copy and paste — the extra step won’t kill you.)

  • Dr. Judith A. DeMuth, Superintendent of Schools, MCCSC:
  • W. Kelly Smith, Assistant Secretary, MCCSC Board of Education:
  • Susan Wanzer, MCCSC Board of Education:
  • Martha Street, secretary, MCCSC Board of Education:
  • Jim Muehling, MCCSC Board of Education:
  • Keith Klein, vice-president, MCCSC Board of Education:
  • Dr. Lois Sabo-Skelton, MCCSC Board of Education:
  • Dr. D. Jeannine Butler, MCCSC Board of Education:
  • Joe Childers, principal, Binford Elementary:
  • Melinda Hamilton, librarian, Binford Elementary:

Oh, and if you happen to know who the parent is who’s raising this stink, gently tell him or her to sit down, relax, and have a drink maybe, or go get a massage.

Because, really, neither Maurice Sendak nor the Binford school library means you any harm.


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