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xmag.com : November 2000 : Girl Trouble

Another soggy November in a Presidential election year has come skulking around the bend. And we all know that means—one more time boys!—a Kevin Mannix sponsored referendum to rewrite Oregon’s first amendment. This time out, initiative #87 wants to slash and burn our first amendment to permit zoning of adult businesses. Reason being? Some people are offended by the mere sight of an adult store conducting lawful business anywhere near them. I can relate. Fast food restaurants are particularly offensive to me. And, unlike adult businesses, they do statistically support a higher crime rate. On West Burnside, if you want to score drugs or a hooker, you need to sleaze around the fast food places on the North side of the street, not the adult businesses on the South side. But many people feel that nakedness, or words and pictures depicting nakedness, is unlawful. Or immoral. Or just not right.
I could go on in this vain, but what really concerns me is this: If law-and-order Kevin Mannix gets his shot at Attorney General, Oregon could wind up like Canada. Oh Canada. With your bloody bored (sic) of censors pouring over any printed matter crossing your pristine borders. You see, in Canada it’s against the law to offend anyone, or any group, or imply, hint or even cajole that anyone might be one teensy weensy bit coerced into or degraded by any act, idea, fictional passage, picture, advertisement, ad nauseum. I know this all too well. As a contributing writer to an international men’s magazine (that shall remain anonymous because I need the exposure), I watch in helpless horror as innocuous portions of my literary genius get cut for Canada’s sake. Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Taiwan, Japan, Mexico, Ireland, Italy, no problem. But oh Canada!
“I have to cut about 75 words from this to get it past Canada,” my editrix in New York emails me. She’s referring to the publishing of an excerpt from my completed novel. Crime genre. And a passage must be deleted because someone in Manitoba might be offended. The hero narrates his attraction to a Femme Fatale:
“In the eyes of the status quo, murder, incest and rape are nothing compared to the threat of intellectual anarchy—pure freedom of thought.”
She could hurt you, cut you with those heels, make you bleed. I wanted to bleed all over the cool white indifference of her skin.
She was the kind of woman who might hold a sharp knife to your balls just for kicks—a real knife, or just a thought, a word like a knife—and you would stand stiff and obedient, gliding through, striding through her long, smooth fingers.

That entire passage gone from every single copy, worldwide, of the men’s magazine—thanks to bloody Canada. Which means: Canadian censorship is censoring work published in the US, because magazine and book publishers don’t want to risk their product seized and warehoused by Canadian snoopers and the resulting loss of revenue and distribution. So, I’ve rewritten the potentially offensive passage for the Canadian censor’s sake as follows:

She wasn’t a very nice person. She might inadvertently hurt your little pinky toe with her high heeled shoes. And then say she was very sorry. On an unrelated note, I liked her white skin, too.
Sometimes she might have sharp words for you. But, heck, that was really okay with me. Sometimes I like sharp words—get the old juices flowing in my scrotum.

There you have it—safely sanitized for Canada. You can bet that books like Tropic of Cancer and Naked Lunch aren’t faring too well in Canada these days, either. Take this passage form page five of Tropic of Cancer, by Henry Miller.

Your Sylvester is a little jealous now? He feels something, does he? He feels the remnants of my big prick. I have set the shores a little wider. I have ironed out the wrinkles. After me, you can take stallions, bulls, rams, drakes, St. Bernards. You can stuff toads, bats, lizards up your rectum... I am fucking you Tania so you will stay fucked... I will tear off a few hairs from your cunt and paste them on Boris’ chin. I will bite into your clitoris and spit out two franc pieces.

Canadian version:

I have a large penis and I suspect Tania’s boyfriend may have felt this. After Tania has had intercourse with me, it’s possible that she could take something quite large into her vagina, although I would never suggest anything from the animal or lizard kingdom, nor am I implying any kind of sodomy. It’s amusing to me to think of gently plucking a few of Tania’s pubic hairs, and pasting them onto Boris’ chin. Or, gently nibbling on her clitoris while holding a couple of small coins in my mouth, then spitting out the coins as if I had gently sucked them from her vagina. That would be an entertaining kind of parlour trick I’d like to try sometime—with Tania’s express written consent, of course.

While Canadian censorship reaches down into New York and scours our books and magazines clean of potentially offensive passages, ideas, words and pictures, the zoning of adult businesses will, no doubt, have similar far-reaching effects. This idea that we should be able to go through life and never be offended, or challenged, or thrown off-kilter—or bear passing witness to anything contrary to one’s beliefs, morals, precepts—is nothing new under the sun. Henry Miller was fighting that fat, lazy, loathsome and corrupt philosophy back in 1934. Tropic of Cancer declares itself from within the novel as one long insult hurled at the world. Because the world needed to be insulted, rocked from its comfortable cradle. Could Miller have smelled the oppression of fascism bearing down on the intellectual Cafe Society of Paris? Without question.
In the eyes of the status quo, murder, incest and rape are nothing compared to the threat of intellectual anarchy—pure freedom of thought. A man and woman meet each other going to church and begin having an affair. Then, one night the woman leaves the back door open so the man can steal in and bludgeon her clueless husband to death. True story. You can read about that in The Oregonian. Happened recently in the sanitized suburbs out in Gresham.
So I ask you, which is more threatening: going to church and the kind of people you might meet there, or going to a strip club? Or reading Henry Miller or any author shining a light on the darker reaches of the human psyche? If Kevin Mannix and the Canadians have their way, all that will be left is fast food restaurants, strip malls, churches and books like Harry Potter. And people will still be plotting ways to fuck, lie to, cheat, steal from and kill thy neighbor. But at least no one will be offended.

 

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