Inappropriate Adolescent Behaviour What is Obscenity? Clearly something hard to talk about constructively. “Obscenity” is difficult to discuss honestly. After all, what makes a thing obscene? It is Something too vague perhaps to be defined. It’s an elusive term we use, but can’t explain. Different people often see things differently. Some see obscenity in nude pictures, statues, paintings, etc. While others find less obscenity in these things. All the same, “obscene” isn’t the same as “wrong” or “bad”. Clearly obscenity is not identical with evil. It only covers a single segment of it. But what is that segment? A look at the words “obscenity” and “pornography” suggests that it is a segment that didn’t worry people very much till relatively recently. Though censorship was known in english law quite early on, it wasn’t for obscenity but for heresy and sedition.”Undue” exploitation of sex” is what criminal law in Canada prohibits. This is how criminal law defines obscenity. But it is rather vague. It doesn’t differentiate between “ordinary obscenity” and “hard-core pornography.” The first denoting the ordinary run of “girlie magazines and the second denoting pictures , literature and so on that deal with rape, sadism, masochism, bestiality, necrophilia and other perversions. People tend to object far more to “hard-core pornography.” Another distinction unfortunately overlooked by our criminal law is the distinction between isolated instances of obscenity and the products of vast commercial enterprise. There has been an increasing trend towards children’s literature that reflects a more realistic approach to the life both fiction and non-fiction, with subjects that include sex, homosexuality, divorce, child abuse, drugs, violence, etc. And they are these realistic books that have people outraged. In school libraries, the most frequent complaints come from parents about the school’s selections. And in public libraries, parents were once again the single greatest source of challenges to materials. The world is filled with “obscene” things. And it would seem that those parents are just trying to protect their children from the outside world. But does it really help? These day, an average elementary school student knows many things. They are influenced by a wide range of sources, from television and other forms of media, their environment at home and school, their personality and their background. Why they read does not necessarily mean that they will follow. Literature is a valued source of knowledge for these children, and should not be held back. So rather than applying full censorship, it should be made an age-related censorship. Many of the complaints that were issued were of the immaturity of the readers. And younger children should be prevented from borrowing material intended for an older age group. Controversial materials should still be held either in reserve stock, available on request, or under a section for parents and teachers who can decide for themselves whether the material is suitable or not. Our would is not perfect. We are a world filled with violence, sex, racism, etc. Certain literature like “hard-core pornography” should be censored to the general public. These types of “explicit sex” truly have no meaning. They degrade the human race by increasing physical, mental and sexual abuse against women, animals, and sometimes against men. These inhuman treatments should not be shown to prevent other potential people from “experimenting” these acts of disgust. “Ordinary obscenity” should be censored closely, but with an objective view. They may also cause an increase in the violence against women, so they must be reduced and kept out of reach of the immature readers. To make a tree grow correctly, you must start caring from the very beginning. You must not block its nutrients, water nor sunlight, but allow it to move around a bit. We have a governing social system that mainly frowns upon the violence against women. There should indeed be access to most types of literature, but in varying degrees of freedom, determined not by censorship, but by controlled access. Parents are trying to protect their children from the harsh realities of life, but are they really helping, or hindering?
Bibliography The Censorship Iceberg: The results of a survey of challenges in school and public libraries. By Dr. David Jenkins. School Libraries in Canada. Fall, 1985. v.6 n.1 p19-22 Sanitized textbooks reflect a pious paradise that never was. By June Callwood. The Globe and Mail. March 18, 1987. pA2-A3 Suffer the little children. By Janet Collins. Books in Canada. October 1991. v.20 n.7 p25-27 Court bans ‘humanist’ books from Alabama public schools. By Robin Toner. The Globe and Mail. March 5, 1987. pA10 Censorship in the children’s library. By Rupert Colley. The Junior Bookshelf. June 1990. v.54 n.3 p121-123 Censorship News. Spring 1985. n20 Limits of criminal law – obscenity: a test case. By The Law Reform Commission: working paper no. 10. p7-9 Censorship: stopping the book banners. By the book and periodical development council. August 1988. p1-17