See no evil, speak no evil

October 4, 2007

A common thread in many of the discussions about that Eightball business in Connecticut was the level of maturity of the works on the school’s approved reading list. It comes up again in this column from The Hartford Courant:

“But how ironic that in educated and affluent Guilford – where the summer reading list for high school includes Charles Bukowski, Augusten Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg – it’s a graphic novel that’s causing a stir.”

The common conclusion is that it’s okay to cover mature themes in prose – just don’t illustrate them, and Courant columnist Rick Green agrees:

“The problem with ‘Eightball #22’ is that it violates the first rule of dirty: The book doesn’t just talk about breasts and sex. It has images, if only a few. In high schools and Superbowl halftime shows, we find that shocking.”

Apparently, the second rule of dirty is “Don’t read it aloud.” This piece in The New York Times talks about the anniversary of a ruling in favor of Ginsberg’s Howl and a radio station’s decision not to air a reading of the poem designed to test the zealousness of the Federal Communications Commission:

“Janet Coleman, WBAI’s arts director, said that when the idea of airing the poem to test the law was proposed, ‘I said, “Yes, let’s try it.”’ The radio station has a history of championing the First Amendment, having broadcast the comedian George Carlin’s ‘seven dirty words’ routine that resulted in a 1978 Supreme Court ruling on indecency. But after several harsh F.C.C. rulings in 2004 — against CBS for a glimpse of Janet Jackson’s breast during the Super Bowl halftime show and against Fox for curse words used during the Billboard Music Awards — ‘our lawyer felt it was too risky,’ Ms. Coleman said. The commission can impose ‘draconian fines,’ she said, that could put WBAI out of business.”