When I was very young, my father would sometimes shock me with accounts of the books that authorities had tried to censor when he was young. It sounded like this could never happen to my generation, or if it did, it could only occur in dictatorial states, or in the more unenlightened Good Ol' Boy parts of the USA.
Unfortunately, the reality is that censorship occurs here too, even today:
1) the RCMP last year raided the home of Ottawa Citizen reporter Juliet O'Neill, who had reported on the federal government's role in the case of Maher Arar, the Syrian-born Canadian who was deported to Syria by U.S. authorities in 2002 and jailed and tortured by the Syrian government for 10 months without charge. The police confiscated O'Neill's computer and boxes of files to discover the name of the Canadian official who had leaked information about Arar to her.
2) in 2003, the Ontario Provincial Police raided the home of writers Stephen Williams and Marsha Boulton. They confiscated the computers, files, and other materials before laying 95 new charges against Williams for violating a court-ordered publication ban of 1995. Williams has published two books about serial sex murderers Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka that criticize the investigation of the killings in the early 1990s.
3) the Surrey School Board of B.C. continues its attempts to forbid three picture books — Asha's Mums, Belinda's Bouquet, and One Dad, Two Dads, Brown Dad, Blue Dads — that portray same-sex families.
Tomorrow, Saturday, Feb. 26 marks the end of Freedom to Read Week
, an annual celebration of the fundamental right to read put together by the Freedom of Expression Committee of the Book and Periodical Council. Members of the Committee come from the Writers' Union of Canada, PEN Canada, League of Canadian Poets, the Canadian Library Association, the Periodical Writers Association of Canada, and other organizations.
Labels: books, censorship