Ever since the written word was developed, people have been trying to keep other people from reading certain things, for a variety of reasons.
I have no doubt that as a caveman was chipping the first symbols on a rock, somebody came up behind him and said, “Hey, you can’t say THAT!”
Censorship has an inglorious history, but sometimes it can have amusing results, as Gail S. Stephenson reports:
“Banned Books Week reminded me of how the East Baton Rouge Parish Library protected children from books the librarians deemed inappropriate in the 1980s.
“When I found out I was pregnant in 1984, I immediately went to the main library on Goodwood.
“Looking in the card catalog, I noticed that the information for most of the books on pregnancy bore the notation ‘Closed Shelf.’
“I learned that the Closed Shelf was a small room behind the circulation desk where the library placed books it wanted to shield from children’s prying eyes.
“In addition to books on pregnancy, the room contained all the books on how to tell your children about sex.
“But there was a beautiful coffee table book on tropical plants in that room, too.
“The only reason I could fathom that the book ended up there was the title.
“Perhaps someone misread the ‘X’ in the title for an ‘R.’
“The book was titled ‘EXOTICA.’”
After Karen Poirrier, of Lutcher, suggested an LSU fight song based on “Tiger Rag” (the “pom pom pom-pom” opening notes when the Tiger Band takes the field), I pointed out that the 1917 song already has words.
But Karen responds, “After watching the LSU-Florida football game Saturday afternoon, now do you understand why we need a fight song with words other than ‘Hold that ti-ger?’ ”
Speaking of the Florida game, Donald Bergeron, of St. Amant, has this suggestion: “I think it’s time for football to follow baseball and start charging players with errors.
“Well, maybe not all of football, but LSU should.”
T. Med Hogg says this happened when the “Dukes of Hazzard” actors were in Baton Rouge recently:
“I took my 100-year-old Jim Hogg Whiskey jug down to where they were staying, as a ‘show and tell.’
“What I told them was that my grandfather was the original Boss Hogg, having been sheriff several terms and mayor once or twice in Poplar Bluff, Butler County, Mo.
“He had a legal distillery, but shut it down when Prohibition became the law, and then started chasing bootleggers and closing down illegal stills.”
Michael J. DeFelice, of Zachary, tells this one:
“My daughter was fixing breakfast one morning when her 9-year-old, Rachel, asked her about the word ‘rabbi.’
“Knowing she had a few minutes before the bus arrived, my daughter decided this could be a teaching moment.
“She quickly told her a little about the Jewish religion, and described how a rabbi could be equivalent to a priest in the Christian faith.
“As she ran out the door, Rachel said, ‘Oh, I thought it was the plural of rabbit.’”
Write Smiley at Smiley@theadvocate.com. He can also be reached by fax at (225) 388-0351 or mail at P.O. Box 588, Baton Rouge, LA 70821.
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