Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - February 17, 1971, Lethbridge, Alberta
Wednesday, February 17, 1971 THE LETHEKIDGE HEUID 5 Censorship lines appear confused By Tom Saunders, in The Winnipeg Free Press self-appointed censors are at it again. In Ipswich, England, the chief librarian removed from the town library three books featuring the most famous fat boy in English school fiction, the ubiquitous Billy Bunter. The books, the librarian reasoned, might be harmful to fat boys and make them feel more uncomfortable about their obesity than they already are. At one level, perhaps, this in- terest in the protection of fat boys may have something to commend it. It may be re- garded as a humanitarian ges- ture. But if this is to be the basis on which we judge the merit of fiction and its fitness for public consumption, some of our best writing and most memorable characters would be lost to the world's literature. We would have to scrap Pick- wick Papers, for example, which also features a fat boy; and, if we follow the practice of eliminating from our li- braries books with characters who suffer from disabilities, we would have virtually no books left. We would have to remove from the bookshelves everything from Somerset Maugham's Of Human Bond- age to Sliakespear's King Richard in. But it is not only in terms of a character's disabili- ties that this type of censor- ship is dangerous. We find the same type of censorship with regard to books and plays in w h i c h an unsavory character (or characters) belongs to a particular race or group. This applies not only to fiction but to history. There is a move on foot to- day, for example, to rewrite Canadian history to give the Indians and Metis a better break. It is a move that has much to commend it. But it is also a move that can be car- ried too far. When, in the bat- tle against race prejudice, the champions of the Indians sug- gest that school history books should be rewritten to remove from the record such things as Champlain's description of the Indians as being lazy and dirty, they are asking not for a change in interpretation but for a change of fact. Fro m the standpoint of his- tory, the question is not wheth- er C h a m p 1 a i n's observa- tion was complimentary or un- complimentary to the Indians as he had seen them, but that it was made. Similarly, while all Indian victories may not have been massacres, there is no jus- tification for saying that there was no massacre in instances where a massacre actually oc- curred. After all, the Indians are not the only people who have perpetrated massacres. Aiir.ost every people has some such incident in its past. Mod- ern members of the Clan Campbell may regret the Mas- sacre of Glencoe. But they ac- cept the fact that the massacre took place and no "prettying up" of textbooks is going to change it. If we were to remove from our textbooks all matters of fact which may give national or tribal offence, we would no longer have history we would have the worst sort of fiction. We would neither know our past nor be able to learn from it. In the last century the stench of a certain shipload of Irish immigrants to Canada became a byword. But it is in the rec- ord that these particular Irish came to Canada and that they stank. Are we to .rewrite the history of this episode for fear of hurting the feelings of their descendants and other Irish- men who take a bath every morning? Censorship of this type re- minds us not only of what it means in terms of the loss of historical accuracy but of the fact that race prejudice can be a two-edged sword. It can be used to cut unfairly. into a whole group of people; but it can also be used by, or in the interests of, a race or group to cut equally unfairly into the total life of a society on meir behalf. This obverse side of race prejudice manifests itself on all sides today. It has got to the place where about the only people who can be depicted in a derogatory light in history or fiction, or even in the world of the popular joke are the Anglo Saxons (the who apparently are not only fair game but one of the few peoples left who are able ei- ther to laugh at themselves or have other people laugh at them. Children should no longer read the delightful story of Lit- tle Black Sambo: It might of- fend Negroes. We seldom see a performance of The Merchant of Venice; It might offend Jews. TV gangsters must no longer be Italians: It gives Ital- ians a bad name. Billy Bunter must be removed from the Ipswich library: It makes a comic character out of a fat boy and that isn't nice. If Shakespeare and Dickens had lived in this sort of at- mosphere, English literature would have been denied some of its best writing. There would have been no Shylock, no Fagin no fat boy in Pickwick Papers. The Tragedy of Othello, the Moor of Venice, might have remained unwrit- ten; or, if written, it might have had difficulty in being FINAL CLEAROUT! This h the final clearance of our fall and winter stocks. Prices have been reduced substantially for a rapid eleoroutl You must come in and see these values for yourself! But do shop early for best selection! USE YOUR CHARGE ACCOUNT ADD TO YOUR ACCOUNT OR OPEN AN ACCOUNT BUT WHATEVER YOU DO DON'T MISS THESE FANTASTIC FASHION BARGAINS! y 0 I SPORTSWEAR 1 I CLEARANCE f V Clearance or Skirti, Slims, Pant-Suits, Sweaters, g Many Styles to From. Here are o few examples. 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But censorship imposed through pressures brought to bear by a race or group or even by the action of an individual li- brarian has the added fault of appearing as its contrary, as parading as the champion of fairness and truth when all it is doing is depriving the reading public of both pleasure and information. The remarkable thing about this type of censorship is that it comes when censorship in other areas is becoming a thing of the past. This is particular- ly true of nudity, obscenity and sex. It is possible today to go to New York or London and see a whole play or revue whose players are in the nude. Nude scenes have been incor- porated in stage shows now be- ing presented in Toronto. Nov- elists no longer shy away from four-letter words. And as for films, apparently all barriers are down, to the point where the sex-act as in I am Cu- rious (Yellow) may be open- ly portrayed. Even our univer- sity newspapers are marked by an immature wallowing in the obscene one suspects sometimes for no more than obscenity's sake. The only lim- its to this freedom seem to be an e d i t o r' s, author's or pro- ducer's sense of good taste and what the public is willing to accept: And, in the midst of all this, Little Black Sambo may no longer be read and an Ipswich librarian removes Billy Bunter from his shelves. Somewhere, it seems, our. censorship lines have got crossed. New pollution CONCERNED about environ- mental pollution? Betcha the'e's one kind you've never heard of: "Light pollution." Like certain other types of pollution, light pollution is a di- rect consequence of increased urbanization. It's the spillover of light into the atmosphere from the multitudes of lights in a city. In this case, the "pollution is in the eye of the beholder. Light pollution is literally getting into the mechanical eyes of astrono- mers. The problem is growing rap- idly in the West and Southwest, where the country's largest telescopes have been located because the skies are not, nor- mally, cloudy all night. Accord- ing to "Natural pub- lished by the American Muse- um of Natural History, some of these telescopes are slowly being blinded by the glare of encroaching city lighting. The 100-inch reflecting tele- scope at Mount Wilson Obser- vatory has already been over- run by the lights of expanding Los Angeles. The 120-inch Lick Telescope atop Mount Hamilton is losing its effectiveness be- cause of develonment of the area south of San Francisco. The world's largest reflecting telescope, the 200-inch Hale on Mount Palomar. is being en- dangered by light pollution from both San Diego and Los Angeles. In Tucson, Ariz., ranid city development is Interfering with the work of four major obser- vatories in the area, including a new 150-inch telescope still under construction. The observatories have asked for help from the Tucson city council by requesting that new city streets be paved with asph- alt instead of light reflecting concrete. Street light shields have also been requested t o prevent light from escaping above the horizontal, as well as special filters to screen out light components which add little to illumination but which hamper astronomical observa- tions. Since only so much can be done to mask the glare of city lights, and since the cities aren't going to stop expanding in the foreseeable future, the astronomers may be reaching for the moon. In fact, that is precisely where the most important work in astronomy mav well be done in the next century. So They Say Live the words of St. Peter: "You are slaves to no one ex- cept so behave like free men and never use your free- dom as an excuse for wicked- ness. Pope Paul VI, Make this the last one The Financial Post present government if f a r too reedy to resort to the omnibus bill a sort of legislative congolermate as a means of speeding up parliamentary business. If the purpose of Parliament is demo- cratic debate, the omnibus is an arrogant abridgement of that. If speed-up of legisla- tion is the aim, the omnibus is self-de- feating because the device itself begets endless objections. Consider the wild mixture in the so- ca'led government reorganization bill, C-207. It contains provisions for establish- ing a new department of the environment; creating up to five ministers of state for specific purposes and permitting others to be attached to senior ministers; increasing the number of parliamentary secretaries; and shortening the period of service before civil servants became eligible for pension. When the Conservative opposition chal- lenged this unwieldy bill on a point of order, Mr. Speaker Lamoureux was ob- viously and properly full of doubts about the process. He warned "we may have reached the point where we are going too far and where omnibus bills seek to take in too much." Nevertheless, he allowed the bill to proceed on the grounds that Pa-hament hzs got into the habit of toler- ating the omnibus. Alfred Hales, the Conservative chairman of the public accounts committee, put the finger on what's wrong with the omnibus. By lumping very different things together, he pointed out, the government makes it impossible for opposition members to indi- cate in the final vote which sections they favor and which they oppose. How, for instance, can sensible debate take place about a bill Hint includes such disparate proposals as the creation of an environment department ami the modifica- tion of pension rules for bureaucrats? Many who might vote for the new ministry could well take solid exception to the size of pension offered government employees who retire early or who are retired early. The opposition should also be allowed a clear and specific go at the proposal to add to the number of cabinet ministers and parliamentary secretaries. If the proliferation of titles continues much longer, the diminishing number of MPs on the government side who have no title will become conspicuous. Parliament will have reached the Gilbert and Sullivan condition: "Where everybody's somebcdy, then no one's anybody." Starfish plague reefs The Financial Post AS if the world had not worries enough already, it develops that a wretched starfish is destroying untold miles of coral reefs in Australia and throughout the Pa- cific, and is now being found in the Indian Ocean on the coast of East Africa. However, science comes to the rescue, once again. Two German scientists study- ing sexual fidelity in the animal world at the Max Planck Institute, Munich, made a remarkable discovery related to sex prob- lems. The starfish, the acan- thaster plani or "crown-of-thorns" variety, is a formidable critter which can grow up to two feet in diameter. Nevertheless the starfish falls easy prey to a little shrimp with a fabulous appetite, the two-inch-long "painted hymenocera picta, which can gobble it up in a few hours. So once again the world may breathe freely with ihe prospect of dramatic coral reefs and playboy beaches saved by paint- ed shrimps. Or can it: Remembering DDT it might be well to inquire more deeply as to whether the remedy is not worse than the original infestation. What else does tha esurient shrimp gobble up? Tootle ooh ooli ow! By D'Arc Rickard 1VO man should ever sit through a music festival. No man should ever go any- where near a music festival or anything that sounds even faintly like one. Music festivals are excruciatingly painful experi- ences, certainly the most horrible form of punishment ever devised by man, and I say to hell with music festivals. Only a nincompoop would go to two mu- sic festivals; I have sat through seven. In March, April and May, when all the world is coming out of the long winter sleep and buds and blossoms are giving mankind reason for renewed hope, the strident discords of little Tommy and Jerry at the piano echo through the land. It's ghastly. Thousands of little fiends take trom- bones in hand and race to the festival halls molto allegro! They even practise ttteir oboes in the washroom, sending up columns of sound into the main hall. There are more music festival commit- tees across Canada than you can shake a baton at. Men and children are suffering in almost every major city in this country. I love music. Canned music is my chief pleasure in life. There's nothing I like bet- ter than to put a stack of long-plays on a record player and sit back and relax. But I've noticed that some melodies shoot me out of my rocker and half way up the wall of my den. These are the bits and pieces of music I have heard murdered, not once, but throughout an entire after- noon. Perhaps you have never been subjected to a music festival. Be thankful. Once in- side a festival hall, there is practically no escape the door is almost always guard- ed by a dedicated woman with forefinger pressed tightly to her lips in a gesture of "shush." Trapped in this hall of horrors, the music lover listens as children play the same piece over and over and over; as many as 40 performances of same composition in an afternoon. A strong man, or one exceptionally hard of hearing, may survive. The weak find themselves being led from hall to hall. They are the lost souls of the music world. The Pied Piper of Hamilton, Ont., or Leth- bridge, Alberta., of Swift Cm-rent, Sask., has them in his grasp. Once subdued by the erratic performances of thousands of little piccolos, festival-goers find them- selves hypnotized into believing that "marks" and not "melodies" are the true signposts along life's musical highway. How often have I seen some woman, some festival organizer, rush triumphantly from the festival hall with the rallying cry: Nancy Wildnotes got a Never mind if half the audience is gasp- ing for air. A mark of 90, issued by an adjudicator hopefully fishing for an invita- tion to a home-cooked meal (adjudicators travel around the country in teams, hum- ming to is the one sweet thing in a hall filled with sour notes. When a child flukes his way through Bortkiewicz's Best Bits For Young Pianists and gets a mark of 90, he is the prince of the muffin tin set. (Admissions are almost always col- lected in muffin The truth is, most music festival organ- izers never listen to the You'll find them in the festival office compiling lists of marks. This is the way they retain their sanity. They al.'o have hundreds of awards, scholarships and trophic? to keep track of. Sometimes a festival organizer will venture into a hall to hear a perform- ance, but only if a 90-mark is in prospect. In some ways, I pity the adjudicators. After listening to 40 renditions of some in- nocuous, trivial thing composed as a joke by some chap suffering from indigestion in the time of the bubonic plague, adjudica- tors will often call as many as six con- testants back again for another singalong. But the surest method of driving anyone wacky is the suspense treatment all adju- dicators love to strum and string out. It's the method of announcing the marks. The winners (first place is often a tie between three or more contestants) are announced last, after each adjudication or criticism is read rath high good humor. Meanwhile, little Marilyn is shivering in her boots. She likes music. She enjoys the piano at home, practising her lessons. But she's no genius. She will never get a 90- mark. Little Marilyn is forced to lose, year after year, because her mom hopes to achieve some status in the musical life of Flapsburg, Que. When little Marilyn gets to be 16, 17 or 18, losing out on that title "Most Promising Musician of the Fes- tival" can be a bit of a heart-breaker. But the cruelty is far more subtle. In my opinion, the faltering, sweating, hope- less student who never wins a 90-mark, never wins a trophy or a scholarship, but loves music and plays for his own enjoy- ment is the real winner of "most prom- ising student" titles. Love of music con- quers all. But adjudicators are human too. One time I saw an adjudicator leap from his table at centre aisle. It was in tire middle of a particularly peculiar piccolo perform- ance. shouted the adjudicator. "I don't want to hear any He gave the girl a 90-mark, possibly to soothe his conscience, possibly as a reward for stopping immediately. It was at the end of a long, hard afternoon. A torture to equal anything ever pro- duced by the rack, is a full day of ac- cordion classes. One time I heard 30 ac- cordions playing in unison. Not like an or- chestra. Each one was playing exactly the same notes, or trying to. I have never for- given myself for allowing myself to be trapped 'in that hall, K A FRONT ROW SEAT! It had all the. delicate nuances of a jetliner breaking tile sound barrier. It was the most horrible mess of jangled sounds I have ever heard. Music festivals can be abolished, just the same as capital punishment, atom bombs and the water torture can be abolished. To obtain this goal, festival organizers should be required to listen to each and every performance. They would never or- ganize another sound. You'd never hear another peep out of them. If we don't abolish these murderous af- fairs, at least we can, so to speak, tuno them up. First and foremost, every com- petitor should be asked to play something different. This would at least, put some en- tertainment value into an afternoon in the chamber of plink, plank, plunk. We can limit violin and bagpipe solos to 30 seconds each. Oral adjudications of these performances would not be needed. It takes 30 seconds for adjudicators 10 get their hearing aids adjusted. There would be no oratorical or drama- tic speech classes in the sound-prc.ifrd fes- tival. These people could have their ovu festivals and then enler politics. Failing these suggestions, all we can do is dismember the musicial instruments end hide the pieces in post office mailing slots.