They Walk Among Us

Oh dear…now I’ve done it.

We’ve recently had a dust-up with some local censors putting the screws to a middle school play about–of all ironies–bullies. The upshot, some parents whined, the school administrators caved, the play gets cancelled. Typical fascism.

Anyway, Bob Hicks, former lead theatre critic for The Oregonian, wrote a perfectly well reasoned piece on the subject:

arts-scatter

Which was fine, except I, in full-puffed gills, Keith Richards waving a ratchetknife, take-no-prisoners mode, took exception with Bob’s statement that “censors have the best intentions.”

Expect heavy rain.

Here’s my response, along with the illustration I would have posted had art-scatter had that option:

I know you’re a gracious, polite guy, Bob. I can be too. But sometimes I’m not, and this is one of those times: censors do not have the best intentions.

What they have is a jones for power. They crush those who disagree the slightest with their orthodoxy because nothing must interfere with the fragile little snowglobes in which they make their fragile nests. Here’s what the pecksniffs, hypermoralists, and others bloated with a delusional sense of importance teach kids: pretend to be creative and we’ll praise you and make you feel all cuddly inside, and everything will be mondo groovy, and we’ll give you a brown felt unicorn and a cup of cocoa. Color outside the lines, and we’ll make you you wish you’d never been born, you snotty little clot of rancid waste.

Censors are agents of the thought police.

About Steve Patterson

Steve Patterson has written over 50 plays, with works staged in Portland, Los Angeles, Chicago, Detroit, Austin, Tampa, and other U.S. cities as well as in Canada and New Zealand. His works include: Waiting on Sean Flynn, Next of Kin, Farmhouse, Malaria, Shelter, Altered States of America, The Continuing Adventures of Mr. Grandamnus, Bluer Than Midnight, Bombardment, Dead of Winter, and Delusion of Darkness. In 2006, his bittersweet Lost Wavelengths was a mainstage selection at Portland Center Stage's JAW/West festival, and, in 2008, won the Oregon Book Award (he also was an OBA finalist in 1992 and 2002). In 1997, he won the inaugural Portland Civic Theatre Guild Fellowship for his play Turquoise and Obsidian. View all posts by Steve Patterson

2 responses to “They Walk Among Us

  • Bob

    Hey Steve, terrific post. I found myself cheering you on, even as you were arguing with me. You came straighter to the point than I did. In general, a censor is a censor and let’s not make excuses. My only rejoinder is this: When children are involved, I think some people really do think they’re doing the right thing: the kids aren’t ready for this, blah blah blah. Well, the kids are ready, and the censors are still wrong, and I think Richard Peck said it very well. But as stupid as the school censors’ actions are, I’m not sure they rise to the level of malevolence of our governmental censors who are literally afraid of losing power if the public had free access to all the information deemed too “sensitive” for us to know about. — bob hicks

  • splattworks

    Thank you, Bob. I really didn’t disagree with you–I think I’d just been upset reading about the case in the paper a couple days ago, and my feelings about censors in general came boiling up. For once, I’d love to see a school administrator stand up on their hind legs and say to the parents: “Uh…no. And get the hell out of my office.”Ah well. One can dream. You wrote a good piece on it. Thanks.

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