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Name: The music of Gyorgy Ligeti   [ Edit ]

Date: 1926 - 1950 ,1951 - 1975

Location: Europe

Subject: Other

Medium: Music

Artist: Gyorgy Ligeti

Confronting Bodies: The Composers' Union, a committee set by the communist regieme to review music.

Date of Action: Late 1940's and Early 1950's

Specific Location: Hungary

Description of Artwork: Ligeti's music had been influenced by the works of modern composers such as Strauss and Bartok. When these were censored he turned instead to the uncensored music of the Renaissance and Middle Ages. Most of his early pieces were for chorus or experimental.



Description of Incident: In the early 1950's, all musicians had to pass work through the Composers' Union (Which was overseen by the KGB), which would decide if a piece could be performed. Legeti saw much of his work banned for minor reasons. For example, one was banned for having "ended with a minor second interval between mezzo-soprano and tenor." These were deemed too modern and "bourgeois," therefore making them unfit to be performed.



Results of Incident: The novel is a biography of the revolutionary Liu Zhidan, who had been a popular leader of communist guerrillas in the 1930's.

For the next several years, Legeti decided his serious works must be written in secret and were locked in his drawers. He left Hungary for the West in 1956 after the Hungarian revolt had been put down. He kept his works with him, hiding them as he crossed the boarder into Austria.



Source: Censorship: A World Encyclopedia. Ed. Derek Jones. Chicago; London: Fitzroy Dearborn, 2001.

Submitted By: NCAC

Date Input: Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Date Edited


Name: Li Jiantong's biography of Liu Zhidan   [ Edit ]

Date: 1951 - 1975

Location: Asia

Subject: Political/Economic/Social Opinion

Medium: Literature

Artist: Li Jiantong

Confronting Bodies: Yan Hongyan (A leading party official), Kang Sheng (director of the Central Committee's Ideological Group), and Mao Zedong.

Date of Action: 1962

Specific Location: China

Description of Artwork: The novel is a biography of the revolutionary Liu Zhidan, who had been a popular leader of communist guerrillas in the 1930's.



Description of Incident: Small sections of the novel had been published in newspapers in 1962. Yan Hongyan, a party official, had been strongly opposed to Liu Zhidan's leadership methods and complained to Kang Sheng.

Kang Sheng spoke in public about the novel and described it as "anti-party." He said it would spread negative ideologies and denounced it for portraying some of the party's enemies in a positive light. These accusations came to Mao Zedong's attention and led him to order an investigation surrounding Li Jiantong and her accomplices.



Results of Incident: Li Jiantong and her supporters were arrested by the police for dampening the impact of Mao's achievements through the praise of Liu Zhidan. They were put to "reform through labor" and the book was banned until 1978, by which time the opinion of Liu Zhidan was reversed to make him into a revolutionary hero.



Source: Censorship: A World Encyclopedia. Ed. Derek Jones. Chicago; London: Fitzroy Dearborn, 2001.

Submitted By: NCAC

Date Input: Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Date Edited


Name: Chinese censorship of Li Zhi   [ Edit ]

Date: 1500 - 1799

Location: Asia

Subject: Political/Economic/Social Opinion ,Other

Medium: Literature

Artist: Li Zhi

Confronting Bodies: Censorship official Zhang Wenda

Date of Action: 1602

Specific Location: China

Description of Artwork: Li Zhi is a Chinese philosopher who rejected conventional Confucian teachings. Instead, he blended conventional Confucianism with Buddhism to develop his own ethical philosophy. This idea was that there is no absolute truth to be found in the standards of Confucianism except through careful introspection. He published books with knowledge that they would be regarded as dangerous (Two of them are named "A Book to be Burned" and "A Book to be Hidden Away.")



Description of Incident: At the age of 74, censor Zhang Wenda had Li Zhi put on trial for spreading dangerous ideas and challenging the current orthodoxy. In reality this was partially a political move aimed at the enemies of Zhang Wenda's faction. Li Zhi was charged of seducing female students, one of which was the daughter of a high-ranking official. Zhang Wenda used this fact to embarrass his opposition.



Results of Incident: Li Zhi's printing blocks were ordered to be burned and he was given an extended prison sentence. Zhi cut his throat, feeling humiliated that he would be under surveillance.



Source: Censorship: A World Encyclopedia. Ed. Derek Jones. Chicago; London: Fitzroy Dearborn, 2001.

Submitted By: NCAC

Date Input: Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Date Edited


Name: Hanoch Levin's "The Patriot"   [ Edit ]

Date: 1976 - 1984

Location: Middle East and Caucasus

Subject: Religious

Medium: Theatre

Artist: Hanoch Levin

Confronting Bodies: The Israeli Theater and Film Censorship Board, the National Religious Party (Hetzofeh branch), and ultra-Orthadox Jews.

Date of Action: 1982

Specific Location: Israel

Description of Artwork: "The Patriot" was called into question over it' story involving an Israeli who wants to emigrate to America. The American consul forces him to do things such as spit on his own mother and torture and Arab boy and murder him to prove his loyalty to Israel. One scene that found particular resistance involved him torturing the Arab boy using Sabbath candles. The play harshly satirizes and calls into question Orthodox rituals.



Description of Incident: After complaints from the minister of the interior and the National Religious Party, the Israeli Theater and Film Censorship Board ordered it banned in 1982. It was not even given the opportunity for cuts.



Results of Incident: In response, two members of parliament prepared a bill against art censorship, saying it was only required in cases of slander. Unions of artists and writers also staged rallies, demanding that the censorship board be abolished.

After this, the censorship board gave the play another chance, provided it would cut the scene with the Shabbat candles, in addition to a few others.



Source: Censorship: A World Encyclopedia. Ed. Derek Jones. Chicago; London: Fitzroy Dearborn, 2001.

Submitted By: NCAC

Date Input: Monday, July 30, 2007

Date Edited


Name: City refuses to advertise show of artwork by children of drug addicts   [ Edit ]

Date: 2006-present

Location: Europe

Subject: Other

Medium: Mixed Media ,Commercial Advertising

Artist: Around 80 children who have grown up with parents addicted to drugs or alcohol.

Confronting Bodies: Glasgow city council

Date of Action: July, 2007

Specific Location: Glasgow, Scotland

Description of Artwork: The exhibit features artwork by children who have grown up in families that were torn apart by drug abuse. The artwork is not toned down and some of the issues addressed in it is not comfortable material.



Description of Incident: Even though the city council of Glasgow has partially funded the event, they refused to advertise for it on the large plasma screen above the Glasgow Concert Hall. The council's marketing bureau stands by its right to reject "inappropriate material."



Results of Incident: The move has been criticized by academics but the decision on the council's part has not changed. The show will continue to run until mid-August.



Source: news.scotsman.com

Submitted By: NCAC

Date Input: Monday, July 30, 2007

Date Edited


Name: Mikhail Lermontov's "Death of a Poet"   [ Edit ]

Date: 1800 - 1850

Location: Russia and Central Asia

Subject: Political/Economic/Social Opinion

Medium: Literature

Artist: Mikhail Lermontov

Confronting Bodies: Tsar Nicholas I and Russian beurocrats.

Date of Action: 1837

Specific Location: Russia

Description of Artwork: "Death of a Poet" was written in response to the death of Aleksandr Pushkin (A famous poet and author) in a duel. Most of it was developed while Pushkin was merely wounded and this portion merely praises him and insults his opponent. However when Pushkin died three days after the duel from wounds he sustained, Lermontov added a new section in a fit of rage. This passage denounces the aristocrats around the throne (Who apparently supported Pushkin's opponent) as the executioners of freedom and genius.



Description of Incident: An aristocrat who saw the poem as an attack on the best families in Russia showed it to the head of the secret police and emperor Nicholas I. The copy sent to the emperor was labeled "A Call to Revolution." He immediately considered it political subversion and that it implied his own connection to the death of Pushkin.



Results of Incident: Although the head of the secret police found nothing objectionable in the piece, circumstances forced him to denounce it as seditious. Nicholas had Lermontov examined for insanity and then exiled him to the Caucasus.



Source: Censorship: A World Encyclopedia. Ed. Derek Jones. Chicago; London: Fitzroy Dearborn, 2001.

Submitted By: NCAC

Date Input: Friday, July 27, 2007

Date Edited


Name: Swedish gallery pulls drawing of Mohammed as a dog   [ Edit ]

Date: 2006-present

Location: Europe

Subject: Religious

Medium: Design

image description
Artist: Lars Vilks

Confronting Bodies: Exhibition organizers

Date of Action: July 2007

Specific Location: Karlstad, Sweeden

Description of Artwork: The pieces in question are three sketchy drawings depicting Mohammed as a dog. Another drawing by Vilks has Mohammed and Hans Christian Andersen are visiting the Carlsberg brewery in Copenhagen.



Description of Incident: A few hours after the opening of the exhibit entitled "The Dog in Art," the organizers noticed the drawings and took them down. Exhibition organizer M√§rta Wennerstr√∂m explained that they were worried that portraying Mohammed as dog would offend Muslim visitors and that although they are not proud of the decision, believed it needed to be done as she was complained to.



Results of Incident: The pictures were taken down to avoid an uproar.

The Orebro (Sweeden) newspaper Nerikes Allehanda publishes the drawing as part of an Aug 19, 2007 editorial criticizing several Sweedish art galleries for refusing to display a series of prophet drawings by Vilks. In response Muslims stage a demonstration and demand the editor apologize and never publish a similar image. The editor refuses to do that.

Source: http://gatesofvienna.blogspot.com/2007/07/swedes-narrowly-avert-their-own-motoon.html

Submitted By: NCAC

Date Input: Friday, July 27, 2007

Date Edited: Tuesday, October 9, 2007


Name: Poetry of Reiner Kunze   [ Edit ]

Date: 1951 - 1975

Location: Europe

Subject: Political/Economic/Social Opinion

Medium: Literature

Artist: Reiner Kunze

Confronting Bodies: German Democratic Republic (GDR) authorities

Date of Action: Throughout the 1960's and 70's

Specific Location: East Germany

Description of Artwork: Kunze wrote poetry and essays about life on the East of the Iron curtain. They often directly addressed politics and censorship issues (Such as sending mail).



Description of Incident: In the 1960's Kunze began to reject compromises from the GDR to change his work. Kunze insisted that these changes would destroy the artistic integrity of his poetry and make him into a tool for some government cause. As a result, the only place his volumes of poetry appeared was in the West. Official GDR critics in the East who had access to them assured the public that his writing was a "malicious distortion of the image of the GDR" and criticized it for its "naked individualism." They used this as an excuse to ban all of his work, politically offensive or not. They even stopped him from publishing a book of children's stories he'd written.

In addition, the GDR sent agents to drive Kunze to insanity. They put personal pressures on his family and friends, invaded his privacy, started whispering campaigns against him, and made official threats.



Results of Incident: After the collapse of the GDR, Kunze published a documentation of the GDR's attack on his psyche.



Source: Censorship: A World Encyclopedia. Ed. Derek Jones. Chicago; London: Fitzroy Dearborn, 2001.

Submitted By: NCAC

Date Input: Friday, July 27, 2007

Date Edited


Name: Milan Kundera's "The Joke"   [ Edit ]

Date: 1951 - 1975

Location: Europe

Subject: Political/Economic/Social Opinion

Medium: Literature

Artist: Milan Kundera

Confronting Bodies: Czechoslovak authorities

Date of Action: 1968

Specific Location: Czechoslovakia

Description of Artwork: "The Joke" is the tale of a young communist party official who sends a postcard to his girlfriend. On it he writes the joke, "Optimism is the opium of the people! The healthy atmosphere stinks! Long live Trotski!" For this he is found as being an enemy of the state, expelled from his university, and sentenced to work in the coal mines.



Description of Incident: "The Joke" was published in 1967, but after the Warsaw Pact invasion of 1968, it was banned completely. Not only that but Kundera was expelled from the Communist party, kicked out of film school, had all his works confiscated from libraries and bookshops, had his plays banned from theaters, and was forbidden to travel to the West.



Results of Incident: In 1969, Kundera worked with American publishers to make an English translation. Although the English version managed to keep the parts about the oppression of writing in eastern Europe, Kundera was disappointed that they did not follow his use of punctuation and reflect his writing style. Not until 1992 was an English version that satisfied him published.



Source: Censorship: A World Encyclopedia. Ed. Derek Jones. Chicago; London: Fitzroy Dearborn, 2001.

Submitted By: NCAC

Date Input: Thursday, July 26, 2007

Date Edited


Name: Stanley Kubrick's "Clockwork Orange" banned in Britain   [ Edit ]

Date: 1951 - 1975

Location: Europe

Subject: Other

Medium: Film Video

image description
Artist: Stanley Kubrick

Confronting Bodies: Local police authorities and the concerned public

Date of Action: 1974

Specific Location: Britain

Description of Artwork: The film, based on a book of the same name, takes place in a future England and follows a teenaged gang leader who enjoys rape and ultraviolence. He volunteers for a rehabilitation program which removes his desire for violence, but leaves him suicidal.



Description of Incident: The British Board of Film Censors (BBFC) had released the film uncut with the X rating, but received a number of complaints that the film would damage society by inspiring teenagers to violence. Through out 1972 and 1973, police linked cases of teenage violence to "Clockwork Orange." Simply having the culprit admit to reading the book was enough proof for the public that the film was a bad influence.

In response to the uproar it was causing in Britain, Kubrick had the film withdrawn from the country, even though it had already been running for 61 weeks there.



Results of Incident: It was not until Kubrick's death in 1999 that the film was legally permitted to be shown in Britain.



Source: Censorship: A World Encyclopedia. Ed. Derek Jones. Chicago; London: Fitzroy Dearborn, 2001.

Submitted By: NCAC

Date Input: Thursday, July 26, 2007

Date Edited


Name: Stanley Kubrick's "Lolita"   [ Edit ]

Date: 1951 - 1975

Location: North America

Subject: Explicit Sexuality ,Other

Medium: Film Video

image description
Artist: Stanley Kubrick (Director), Vladimir Nabokov (Writer of the novel)

Confronting Bodies: Catholic Legion of Decency

Date of Action: 1961

Specific Location: United States

Description of Artwork: The novel, "Lolita," which was published in 1955 and quickly became a classic, follows the seduction and sexual relationship of a middle-aged man with his twelve-year-old stepdaughter. It has been both praised as a masterpiece and denounced as pornography.



Description of Incident: Kubrick acquired the rights to make a movie based on the novel, but his distribution contract required him to not only meet the standards of the Production Code Administration (PCA) but also the Catholic Legion of Decency.

Working closely with Nabokov, the film was watered down considerably. Lolita's age was raised to make her a teenager, no provocative clothing was worn, any scene remotely sexual was watered down to being merely implied and further obscured by comedy. Even though the PCA further required dialogue muted and scenes cut short, it eventually got their seal.

However, even after being cut, the Catholic Legion of Decency still condemned the film for "offering unrelieved sexual depravity."



Results of Incident: A deal was eventually struck to release the film in 1962. The seduction scene had to be cut even more, and nobody under the age of 18 was admitted.

Critics were divided saying the film adaptation had lost the novel's shock value and had lost its purpose in the editing.



Source: Censorship: A World Encyclopedia. Ed. Derek Jones. Chicago; London: Fitzroy Dearborn, 2001.

Submitted By: NCAC

Date Input: Thursday, July 26, 2007

Date Edited


Name: Czech government frames singer   [ Edit ]

Date: 1951 - 1975

Location: Europe

Subject: Political/Economic/Social Opinion

Medium: Music

Artist: Marta Kubisova

Confronting Bodies: Director of the State Concert Agency, Dr Hrabal

Date of Action: 1970

Specific Location: Czechoslovakia

Description of Artwork: Kubisova had won prizes for her song "Harmonika," which was a tribute to Russian soldiers who died during World War 2. However, after the Warsaw Pact invasion of 1968, she refused to sing it anymore and instead preformed "Modlitba," which was meant to evoke national spirit.



Description of Incident: The spokesman for Kubisova's musical trio, the Golden Kids, was summoned to the office of the Director of the State Concert Agency just before they were to travel to Slovakia for a performance. Dr Hrabal (the director) showed him a set of pornographic photos (Presumably fake) and told him to identify Kubisova as one of the models. When the spokesman refused, he was told to make the Golden Kids a duo.

The secret police used the photographs as an excuse to cancel all Kubisova's contracts for performing or recording.



Results of Incident: 15 months later Kubisova filed a lawsuit against Dr. Hrabal and won. Hrabal claimed he never thought it was her in the photographs. Regardless, she remained on the blacklists until the collapse of the USSR.



Source: Censorship: A World Encyclopedia. Ed. Derek Jones. Chicago; London: Fitzroy Dearborn, 2001.

Submitted By: NCAC

Date Input: Thursday, July 26, 2007

Date Edited


Name: Anti-pornography documentary banned   [ Edit ]

Date: 1976 - 1984

Location: North America

Subject: Explicit Sexuality

Medium: Film Video

image description
Artist: Bonnie Sherr Klein

Confronting Bodies: Ontario Film Censorship Board

Date of Action: 1981

Specific Location: Ontario, Canada

Description of Artwork: "Not a Love Story: A Film About Pornography" is a documentary focusing on the pornography industry as an opposing force to feminism. It criticizes the industry's use of violent images to dehumanize women and promote violence against them.



Description of Incident: Although the film saw permission for a release in the rest of Canada, the Ontario Film Censorship Board determined that it was unfit for a commercial release in their city. The board admitted that it was an important study, but were worried that images of fellatio and masturbation in the movie may be abused (They were not worried about the violent images).



Results of Incident: The Ontario Film Censorship Board was defeated in a lawsuit filed by the National Film Board on behalf of "Not a Love Story" and several other banned films.



Source: Censorship: A World Encyclopedia. Ed. Derek Jones. Chicago; London: Fitzroy Dearborn, 2001.

Submitted By: NCAC

Date Input: Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Date Edited


Name: Oppression of theater in Sierra Leone   [ Edit ]

Date: 1976 - 1984

Location: Africa

Subject: Political/Economic/Social Opinion

Medium: Theatre

Artist: Kolosa John Kargbo

Confronting Bodies: Sierra Leone party officials, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting

Date of Action: 1979

Specific Location: Freetown, Sierra Leone

Description of Artwork: "Land of Distress" is a play that was performed by Kolosa John Kargbo and his company of 11 others in Freetown. It is about corrupt government officials and a young man who returns from Europe to expose them while introducing democracy (Sierra Leone had recently become a one party state and the government had resisted a coup d'etat.)



Description of Incident: In the middle of their performance run at city hall, the company was summoned to police headquarters and told, without reason, that the play should be cancelled. When they returned to city hall, it was surrounded by police.



Results of Incident: A month later it was decided that all manuscripts would have to be cleared by the government before being preformed.

Kargbo and company found it difficult to cope. After another uncompromising play, Karbgo was transfered to the city of Bo by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. The decision was based on the idea that he could cause less damage there. Another of the comapnies plays was critical of female circumcision, but this was censored due to complaints from the secret society that practiced it. After continued harassment, the group disbanded.



Source: Censorship: A World Encyclopedia. Ed. Derek Jones. Chicago; London: Fitzroy Dearborn, 2001.

Submitted By: NCAC

Date Input: Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Date Edited


Name: James Joyce's "Ulysses"   [ Edit ]

Date: 1900 - 1925

Location: Europe ,North America

Subject: Explicit Sexuality ,Language

Medium: Literature

Artist: James Joyce

Confronting Bodies: US Post Office, New York Society for the Suppression of Vice the British Director of Public Prosecutions, and British customs officials.

Date of Action: 1920 - 1933

Specific Location: Great Britain and the United States

Description of Artwork: "Ulysses" is an 18 chapter book in which each chapter represents about one hour in the course of a day and reflects a chapter in the Odyssey. The story follows an ordinary day in Dublin and touches upon obscene points such as urination and masturbation. Due to each part being written in a different style and having different themes associated with it, the story seems very disjointed. This is why court cases against the book were limited to certain chapters, making it difficult for lawyers to defend the obscenities by linking them to the story as a whole.



Description of Incident: Before the story was even published, it had been censored of numerous sexual and excretion references by the New York "Little Review," a magazine who was to release it in serial publications. However, in 1920, on three separate occasions, the US Post Office intercepted the magazines and had them burned (At the time they had the right to halt any indecent materials). In particular, the episode "Nausicaa" caused a stir through its heavy, although comic, focus on masturbation. The New York Society for the Suppression of Vice found out about this and brought the owners of the magazine to court, where they were forced to stop printing episodes of "Ulysses."

The trial scared off any potential publishers and printers who saw it as filth, but eventually Joyce had the book released in France. However, Joyce still found resistance to it in English speaking countries. The US Post Office held any copies of the book it found and had them burned. British customs officials also confiscated it and had it sent to the Home Office for examining. In 1922, the Director of Public Prosecution deemed it indecent and ordered that customs not let the book get through to Britain. He made this decision having read only 40 pages.



Results of Incident: Not until 1933 was the ban challenged. US publisher Random House brought the book before a judge who, upon reading the sexual passages, declared, "nowhere does it tend to be an aphrodisiac. Ulysses may, therefore, be admitted into the United States." This decision, made based on effects that the writing has on the average reader, became the new standard by which obscenity was judged in America.



Source: Censorship: A World Encyclopedia. Ed. Derek Jones. Chicago; London: Fitzroy Dearborn, 2001.

Submitted By: NCAC

Date Input: Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Date Edited


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