Cock blocking people’s freedom of speech is rightfully unpopular, but that doesn’t make it non-existent. Banned books are, and will continue to be, a subject of discussion for years to come (let’s not forget the Alaskan librarian who came out to tell tales of Sarah Palin’s ban-happy ways). The fact that some of the greatest novels of all time where once banned is something that need’s to be shoved in the face of those who seek to censor, ceremoniously.
This Wednesday Jewcy’s favorite literary libertine, Mike Edison is hosting the third annual “Banned Book Party” at Housing Works Bookstore Cafe in New York City. Mike, a former editor for Screw and High Times and author of I Have Fun Everywhere I Go answered a few of our questions about the event.
How’d you come up with the idea for this event?
It just seemed like a natural thing to do. Every year the American Library Association celebrates “Banned Book Week” and I thought I could just run with the concept. After a career of doing drug and porn magazines, I thought I had something to say about the nature of a truly free press. We are very fortunate, you know? Despite the best efforts of a lot of humorless cocksuckers – the self-righteously moral douchebags who want to be able to control what you read, who have always tried to ban certain books because they don’t like the ideas within them, whether it’s the concept of questioning authority in Catcher in the Rye, or the idea that sex and drugs can be fun and without consequences – we still have complete access to every sort of idea, or art, or photo or film. We mock our leaders mercilessly. We masturbate to the filthiest crud of all time. They tried to stop Larry Flynt and Hustler magazine, and they failed. Go back just a few years and there were people trying to ban the works of Walt Whitman – can you imagine? America is not always a very progressive society, in fact we are very prudish in many ways, but at the end of the day the self-appointed moral police and self-righteous religious cranks can suck a dick. We have an incredible amount of freedom when it comes to art and ideas.
What was the first book you took to as a youngster?
I loved If I Ran the Circus by Dr. Seuss. I would love to update it for adults… you wouldn’t believe what I could do with that concept.
What are your favorite banned books?
All the classics – Candide, Catcher in the Rye, Slaughterhouse FIve, A Clockwork Orange, Leaves of Grass…
Say you were actually trying to get your book banned, what’s the quickest way to do it?
Books aren’t really banned anymore…. there hasn’t been anything like that in years, the obscenity trials for Howl and Naked Lunch I think were the last of that type of state-sponsored censorship. But what happens is parents or religious groups try to ban books from school libraries — mostly the source is right wing homophobes and misled Christians who can’t handle Jennifer Has Two Daddies. I wish someone would try and ban my book. That would put me in some good company!
It is conservative parent groups and religious kooks that are always challenging books, trying to have them removed from the libraries, especially school libraries. It’s always the same story — they live in fear of Harry Potter because he practices witchcraft and therefore he is anti-Christian. They live in fear of a gay agenda that is going to turn us all into a bunch of fags, they live in fear of evolution. But mostly they live in fear of losing control. These are the same idiots who tried to stop rock’n’roll because they thought it was jungle music.
Has there ever been a book that was deservedly banned?
The first amendment is tricky, you know. Not all speech is protected. Obscenity is not protected speech — basically pornography is the legal version of obscenity. Hate speech is protected, but fighting words may not be. Libel and slander are not protected. I don’t know that there are any books that are deservedly “banned” — even books of lies and hatred are generally going to have to be tolerated under the same laws that protect real art and radical thought. Of course if I ran the circus I would ban Eat, Pray, Love, just for general principals. What a piece of shit.
Tell me some contemporary writers who you see as truly pushing the envelope.
There is no more envelope. I ate it.