https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/ ... mics-books
Banned Books Week: 'In 2017, censorship comes from an outraged public'
In the 17th century, William Prynne’s cheeks were branded with the letters SL, standing for “seditious libeler” after he published pamphlets critical of Anglican clergymen. Such punishments are long gone in the UK and US, but as this year’s Banned Books Week gets under way, the chief executive of Index on Censorship has warned that the “anger of the mob” online has spawned a new, modern kind of censorship – particularly when it comes to young readers.
“There is a really worrying trend of popular pressure forcing children’s books off shelves,” said Jodie Ginsberg of the campaign group, which is part of a coalition of UK organisations staging events, panels and discussions to mark the annual celebration of the right to read.
Last year in the US, Scholastic pulled the picture book A Birthday Cake for George Washington from publication following criticism of its upbeat depiction slaves’ lives, while the author of the picture book A Fine Dessert was forced to apologise for its depiction of slave characters. Ginsberg also pointed to the UK tabloid press campaign in 1986 against a book about a child with two fathers, Jenny Lives With Eric and Martin.
“It’s particularly true in the US. It’s not as prevalent in the UK but it’s not unheard of,” said Ginsberg. “We aren’t branding cheeks for seditious libel; we no longer have a censor in chief. But we have a different kind of censorship … that allows the anger of the mob to force both publishers and authors to censor themselves out of fear.
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