Censure

From the Yarn Harlot: http://www.yarnharlot.ca/blog/archives/2007/07/12/just_keep_your_mouth_shut.html

Synopsis: Nebraskan Judge Jeffre Cheuvront hears a case where Tory Bowen the plaintiff charges the defendent with rape. Judge Cheuvront decides certain words are prejudicial against the defendent and bans them from the court – without telling the jury that they are banned. These words are:
Rape.
Sexual Assault.
Victim.
Attacker.
Assailant.
Forced.

How does one argue a case where the CRIMINAL act being charged cannot be described without implying consent? ‘She had sex with’ or ‘they had sex’ is not the same as ‘he raped her’. Placing the burden of proof on the plaintiff in a criminal trial rather than on the defendent is turning the principles of justice on it head. A defendent is innocent until proven guilty, however this should not equate to the plaintiff being guilty until proven innocent! As a commenter on the Yarn Harlot blog says – hitting someone over the head with a frying pan cannot be called cooking. It boggles the mind. The case resulted in a hung jury, and is now going to retrial.

Second bizarre censure issue: removal of Tin Tin in Congo from the book stores due to racist portrayal. It is true that Herge himself has stated that the book was a ‘folly of youth’ and that he was embarrassed by how he had portrayed Africans in it. It isn’t a huge surprise to find works from that era with less than ideal portrayals of ‘coloured folk’. I mean, even Breakfast at Tiffany’s, a lovely iconic movie, has a very bad, well, racist really, portrayal of a japanese man. Golliwog anyone? However banning them is an idiot’s solution. Banning a negative portrayal then begs the question – Does this mean that all negative portrayals should be banned? I would think that is likely to wipe most of the books written before the 1970s from the shelves. I mean, apartheid existed in South Africa until 1993 and segregation in the US was legally enforced until the 1950, with the de jure segregation not fully reversed until well into 1970s. Memoirs, works from the period really should be banned following this logic – as well as writing about those periods which would require reflecting the then current social mores. On the burning heap as well, I say.

Or maybe the answer is for society and history to act in the same way we would expect someone with integrity to act, or even how we would wish a child to learn. A mistake is made. Is the answer to pretend it never happened, hide the evidence and deny everything? Or to be honest with oneself, admit the mistake, and learn from it.

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