I went to The Friends of the Library book sale the other day. I picked up a Jodi Picoult book for only two bucks. I love Jodi’s books. This one, Leaving Time, is one of her best, I must say.
I was only a few pages into reading it when I saw a word had been marked out. The previous owner actually obliterated the word using a black sharpie. It was the F-word. I could tell because the sentence was: I’m sorry, but I ____ed up royally.
I thought this marking out was strange for several reasons. First, they obviously had no issue with the ‘ed’ on the end of the F-word. They left that as a clue as to what the marked out part was.
The other strange thing was their choice of weapon—the black sharpie. As everyone who’s ever used one knows—it’s messy and it bleeds through paper. I turned the page and saw, sure enough, the sharpie had not only obliterated the intended word, but had also bled through the page and obliterated the word on the other side. So what did this person then do? They took a pencil and wrote in the word on the reverse side of the page.
They didn’t just do this once. They did it every time there was a word they deemed not fit for human consumption. Every hell, damn, shit and fuck was marked through.
Why? I don’t understand why this person felt it was their duty to censor art? Because that’s what it is—censorship. Jodi Picoult wrote a terrific book and this person thought they needed to make it better . So they took it upon themselves to ‘correct’ this book before giving it to The Friends of the Library to sell.
It makes me wonder if they would do the same thing to other art. Would they put a fig leaf over the statue of David’s crotch? Would they put Band Aids over the Venus de Milo’s nipples? Would they use that same sharpie to mark out Cupid’s baby penis?
A lot of writers have been censored and their books have been banned by sensitive souls. Here is a partial list: Mark Twain, Kurt Vonnegut, Maya Angelou, Judy Blume, William Faulkner, George Orwell, James Joyce, Victor Hugo and even William Shakespeare. Imagine a world without these wonderful authors!
Before you pick up your sharpie you might want to think about the damage censorship can do. Oftentimes that ink bleeds through and messes up the other page.
Just because you think you’re right doesn’t make it so.
Food for thought.