Issue 71, Fall 1998

The Modern Library‘s list of the 100 greatest English-language novels of the century bears out what we’ve always known—when it comes to reading, the censors don’t discriminate. Close to half the books on the list have been targets of censors, including seven of the first ten: Ulysses, The Great Gatsby, Lolita, Brave New World, Catch-22, Sons and Lovers, and The Grapes of Wrath.

New York City’s new zoning law, which relegates sex-related businesses to the boondocks, has been upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals and the city is now padlocking stores. Many businesses are attempting to comply by reducing adult entertainment stock to less than 40%, but what standard is used to decide what comprises a “sex shop” remains unclear.

The San Antonio City Council defunded the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center last fall for sponsoring a lesbian and gay film festival (Censorship News 70). Esperanza’s First Amendment lawsuit prompted the city to bar funding for organizations in an adversarial relationship. The policy was rescinded when city counsel called it illegal. Nonetheless the city still denied Esperanza funding.

Terrence McNally’s new play, Corpus Christi, previewed at the Manhattan Theatre Club in New York in late September despite protestors who claim the play is blasphemous for depicting a Christ-like figure as gay (CN 70). Joan Bertin, NCAC executive director, met with playwrights and leaders of other First Amendment organizations supporting the Manhattan Theatre Club’s right to free expression. To see the press release, the statement and the list of supporters, click here.

New and Noteworthy:

  • Martin Garbus, Tough Talk, (Random House);
  • Nat Hentoff, Living the Bill of Rights: How To Be An Authentic American, (HarperCollins);
  • Facts On File has recently published a 4-volume series on censorship. See
  • The National Council of Teachers of English (NCFTE) & The International Reading Association, pamphlet, Defining and Defending Instructional Methods; CD-ROM, Rationales for Challenged Books. For details, call 1-800-369-6283.