One World Flag- blog: Thoughts on Censorship Inspired by Egyptian revolt and Ginsberg's "Howl"
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 Thoughts on Censorship Inspired by Egyptian revolt and Ginsberg's "Howl"25 comments
picture picture 4 Feb 2011 @ 04:40, by David Bartholomew

Events like the current revolt in Egypt-- with its government's initial censorship and attempt to close-off avenues of communication by "the opposition" (although how "the people" become "the opposition" to those chosen (or not) to represent them is always beyond me)-- seem to offer the sides of other governments and other oppositions the opportunity to strategize end-arounds and think-ahead on how to avoid pitfalls toward victory in their own future skirmishes.

A recent viewing of the 2010 film "Howl", focusing on the obscenity trial of Lawrence Ferlinghetti, publisher of Allen Ginsberg's famed poem, offers some insight on censorship of its own.

I put it to you that substitution of the word or concept of "freedom" being on trial here, anywhere "obscenity" or "censorship" appears in the following, might put a more immediate spin on this depiction of continual attempts to limit God-given rights, additionally delineated in the 1st and 14th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution.

"Every word in this film was spoken by the actual people portrayed," reads a card prior to the film's opening.

Cutting to the quick, I offer up some of the closing remarks, summarizing this landmark censorship/obscenity case; those of Jake Ehrlich (as portrayed by Jon Hamm), Judge Clayton Horn (Bob Balaban) and Allen Ginsberg (James Franco). These are followed with links to websites where portions of the actual court transcript may be found. It is clear that while the dialogue lifted from the film is accurate to that read in the transcript, at points it is condensed, and certain additional passages have been removed for the sake of brevity and/or effect.

(Ginsberg defense attorney, also, according to Wikipedia, said to be the model for television's Perry Mason) Jake Ehrlich:

"The United States Supreme Court has said that obscenity is construed to mean having a substantial tendency to corrupt by arousing lustful desires. Is the word relevant to what the author is trying to say, or did he just use it to be dirty and filthy."...

"There are books that have the power to change men's minds, and call attention to situations that are visible, but unseen. Now whether "Howl" is or is not obscene is of little importance, to our world, faced as it is with physical survival. But the problem of what is legally permissible, in the description of sexual acts or feelings in arts and literature is of the greatest importance to a free society.

What is prurient? And to whom? The material so described is dangerous to some unspecified susceptible reader. It is interesting that the person applying such standards of censorship rarely feels as if their own physical or moral health is in jeopardy. The desire to censor is not limited to crackpots and bigots; there is in most of us a desire to make the world conform to our own views. And it takes all of the force of our own reason, as well as our legal institutions to defy so human an urge.

The battle of censorship will not be finally settled by your honor's decision, but you will either add to liberal educated thinking, or by your decision you will add fuel to the fire of ignorance. Let there by light. Let there be honesty. Let there be no running form non-existent destroyers of morals. Let there be honest understanding."

Judge Clayton Horn:

"In considering material claimed to be obscene it is well to remember the motto -- honi soit qui mal y pense --'Evil to him, who evil thinks.'"

(from the transcript) "Therefore, I conclude the book "Howl and Other Poems" does have some redeeming social importance, and I find the book is not obscene.

The defendant is found not guilty."

Allen Ginsberg:

"The poem is misinterpreted as a promotion of homosexuality. Actually it's more like promotion of... frankness... about any subject... When a few people are frank about homosexuality in public it breaks the ice, and then people are free to be frank about anything. And that's socially useful.

Homosexuality is a condition. And because it alienated me or set me apart from the beginning, it served as a catalyst for self-examination. Or detailed realization of my environment, and the reasons why everyone else is different. And why I am different."

For more from the official court transcript and/or by other accounts:

Transcript Link 1

Transcript Link 2

And so it seems the ongoing historical tug-of-war-- between those fighting to limit the expressions of others and those fighting for the free expression of all-- continues.

For my part-- it is all God, all part of the Oneness, all what makes a horse race, and if I don't like it, I can exercise my right to steer away from "it"... whatever "it" is... so long as "it" is taken on by the consenting (and where appropriate and necessary, adults), without being perpetuated on the unwilling or unsuspecting.

It is my sincere heartfelt wish that that those buttinski's in the world and their legacy of control, manipulation, oppression... which they attempt to justify and rationalize under so many banners, credos, traditions... and especially under severely limited interpretations and the hubris of determining for others what "divine will" might be... finally, for once and for all, accord others the same degree of freedom of expressionthey demand for themselves.

I end with Ginsberg own manifesto of the holiness of all things, excerpted from "Howl and Other Poems".

"Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy!
Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy! Holy!
The world is holy! The soul is holy! The skin is holy!
The nose is holy! The tongue and cock and hand and asshole holy!
Everything is holy! everybody's holy! everywhere is holy! everyday is in eternity!
Everyman's an angel!
The bum's as holy as the seraphim! the madman is holy as you my soul are holy!
The typewriter is holy the poem is holy the voice is holy
the hearers are holy the ecstasy is holy!
Holy Peter holy Allen holy Solomon holy Lucien holy Kerouac
holy Huncke holy Burroughs holy Cassady
holy the unknown buggered and suffering beggars
holy the hideous human angels!
Holy my mother in the insane asylum!
Holy the cocks of the grandfathers of Kansas!
Holy the groaning saxophone! Holy the bop apocalypse!
Holy the jazzbands marijuana hipsters peace & junk & drums!
Holy the solitudes of skyscrapers and pavements!
Holy the cafeterias filled with the millions!
Holy the mysterious rivers of tears under the streets!
Holy the lone juggernaut! Holy the vast lamb of the middle class!
Holy the crazy shepherds of rebellion!
Who digs Los Angeles IS Los Angeles!
Holy New York Holy San Francisco Holy Peoria & Seattle
Holy Paris Holy Tangiers Holy Moscow Holy Istanbul!
Holy time in eternity holy eternity in time
holy the clocks in space
holy the fourth dimension holy the fifth
International holy the Angel in Moloch!
Holy the sea holy the desert holy the railroad holy the locomotive
holy the visions holy the hallucinations
holy the miracles holy the eyeball holy the abyss!
Holy forgiveness! mercy! charity! faith!
Holy! Ours! bodies! suffering! magnanimity!
Holy the supernatural extra brilliant intelligent kindness of the soul!"

David Bartholomew
originator-- The One World Flag-- an international symbol of diversity

"Honoring the Talents, Abilities and Uniqueness in Each of Us, as Strengths that can Benefit All of Us."
"... because we have more in common as a world, than we have differences between nations."

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