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Déjà Vu All Over Again.

October 4, 2007

A few days ago in my “Poet Laureate” piece, I mentioned growing up in a society where censorship was rampant; it was one of the “effective” ways the, former apartheid, government in South Africa maintained “control” over the populace. It’s rather depressing to see that, to a much lesser extent, it still exists in this country.

Today on from Bob Holman & Margery Snyder, there was an article about Allen Ginsberg’s poem “Howl;” that 50 years ago yesterday, the obscenity trial of Ginsberg’s publisher Lawrence Ferlinghetti ended with the judge declaring that “Howl” possessed redeeming social importance and literary merit and should not be censored. Yet in 2007, for fear of sanctions by the FCC, in a couple of cities, it is being kept off the airwaves.

from The San Francisco Chronicle:

“‘Howl’ Too Hot to Hear, 50 years after poem ruled not obscene, radio fears to air it,” by Joe Garafoli “Fifty years ago today, a San Francisco Municipal Court judge ruled that Allen Ginsberg’s Beat-era poem ‘Howl’ was not obscene. Yet today, a New York public broadcasting station decided not to air the poem, fearing that the Federal Communications Commission will find it indecent and crush the network with crippling fines. Free-speech advocates see tremendous irony in how Ginsberg’s epic poem — which lambastes the consumerism and conformism of the 1950s and heralds a budding American counterculture — is, half a century later, chilled by a federal government crackdown on the broadcasting of provocative language.”

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