Although there is much ballyhoo and bluster in the United States about free speech, in reality censorship and book banning have been endemic since first European colonists arrived. The act of censorship, while theoretically limited by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, has nonetheless been upheld by school boards, legislatures and courts—the very institutions that are empowered to uphold freedom of speech. Censorship is as American as apple pie, racism, and White Christian Nationalism.
For centuries, the most common graphic tool of every censor has been the use of black bars in text and on graphics. Even in this supposedly enlightened age, black bars can be found in print publications and online. Black bars block out banned or censored parts of books, articles, photos, films, paintings any thing visual and textual.
In 1926, author and poet Kendall Banning (real name) dedicated a self-published book of Censored Mother Goose Rhymes to “The Censors [of America] who have taught us how to read naughty meanings into harmless words.
Banning wrote over a dozen books, and was an editor at mainstream periodicals like Cosmopolitan, Popular Radio and Hearst Magazine, He was incensed over a 1929 congressional debate on revising tariff legislation that allowed United States Customs inspectors to ban and seize imported books they deemed “obscene.” So, Banning reprinted a 1926 version of Mother Goose with words blacked out to imply obscene words. He then sent copies to members of the U.S. Congress.
Its easy to decipher Banning’s banned words (or just check Mother Goose.
Now that’s clever!