Too Rude for Queensland?

Guest blogger - Emeritus Professor Peter Spearritt, curator of Freedom Then, Freedom Now.

Censorship exists in all societies, from self-censorship in actions and language, through to bureaucratic networks controlling information, opinion and images. Censorship of military and intelligence matters still applies to newspapers, most pronounced in time of war. With the rise of social media, censorship has become much more complicated, as fringe political and terrorist groups can use social media to promote racial and religious intolerance and individuals can rant at will. The current President of the United States has complained about ‘fake news’, which appears to be any news that he hasn’t made or approved of.

Love Illustrated - banned by Queensland Literature Board of Review in 1954

Love Illustrated - banned by Queensland Literature Board of Review in 1954

While Queensland lives under a federal umbrella of censorship for books, magazines, films, computer games and such like, most debates in Queensland about the appropriateness of material have been around sexual innuendo, ‘bad language’ and what constitutes community standards. All the banned magazines and books featured in the Freedom Then, Freedom Now exhibition will appear tame to younger generations. But in the 1950s, when Queensland set up its own Literature Board of Review, both the Catholic and the Protestant churches still enjoyed mass adherents, and were able to pronounce on such matters from many a pulpit. American comics were attacked for portraying violence and/or encouraging promiscuity.

Little Red School Book - banned Queensland Literature Board of Review in 1972

Little Red School Book - banned Queensland Literature Board of Review in 1972

Pornography, once sold under the counter as postcards or magazines in brown paper bags, has now flourished on the internet, and caters to every imaginable taste. Many people continue to find this very offensive, especially when the images exploit children, or show violent sexual acts.  Governments seem unable to figure out how to effectively curb this new intrusion in our lives. The freedom of the individual to access such images confronts society-wide condemnation of violence and exploitation.

Explore more about freedom and censorship in Queensland’s contemporary history by visiting the Freedom Then, Freedom Now exhibition at State Library or the online showcase.

https://youtu.be/7879K7hJ1ew

Further reading on censorship in Queensland -

Further articles written by Emeritus Professor Peter Spearritt -

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