Turning Over New Leaf

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Give Me a Break, Lady


Censorship is generally considered the suppression of any speech or written communication that is considered objectionable as determined by the government, the media, or any controlling body having the power to determine what is spoken or written.

To a writer, censorship is a curse word.

Recently, my wife picked up a book at a garage sale and delved into it with passion. The book was called Close to Shore by Michael Capuzzo, a four-time Pulitzer Prize nominee, and told the true story of the shark attacks that prompted Peter Benchley to write the now famous novel, Jaws. How bad could it be?

When I heard my usually placid spouse complaining about the book, I questioned her, because she has always looked at the good side of everything, and knocking an author is just not in her makeup. And, of course, it wasn’t the author at whom she was angry. My wife was disturbed at the fact that some troubled woman took the time to censor the literature before selling it to her at the garage sale.

To my surprise, several pages had been censored by hand, which my wife failed to notice before the purchase. The woman crossed out phrases such as “the gods” and inserted “there is only one God.” She blotted out the word “hell” and replaced it with “Heaven.” She crossed out “evolution” wherever it appeared, as if the fish were a Satanic creation.

On page 46, the author had penned the words, “If God didn’t exist…” The woman crossed out the entire eleven word sentence and inserted, “He does.”

Now, I never challenge anyone’s religious beliefs. God bless everyone. But any human being that defaces a book by running an indelible marker through the words “The ancient dreaded practitioners of leeching and bloodlettings had become, in the new century, ‘the saviors of humanity,’” replacing them with “only Jesus saves!” in highlighted red ink on page 35, deserves to have her writing utensils confiscated, while she is banned from bookstores for life.

But then that would be censorship, wouldn’t it?



  1. I think back in the 'old days' a curse word would fall under censorship... Nowadays its a political, religious or non heterosexual one... I am surprised what your wife crossed out... Was she trying to get your dander up? :-)

  2. KBF: My wife! Read it again. She would never do such a thing! It was the lady from the garage sale.

  3. OOPS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!MY BAD!... that is what i get for having two windows open and listening to an episode of 24!. Thought it was odd that I thought your wife was the culprit.. so sorry!. :-)

  4. KBF: Not your fault. I re-worded the post to clear up the confusion. Even writers must revise, revise, revise. LoL!

  5. I am soooo sick of these sanctimonious people! I'm wondering just how strong their "faith" really is. They just cannot be content in believing what they believe, and feel it is their DUTY to try to control all us HEATHENS who do not believe in the "trinity." I'm still confused as to just where the "holy ghost" comes into the picture. I am also confused as to just how Jesus being murdered on a cross saved us from our sins. None of the evangelicals in Rod's family are able to explain that to me. They just give me a blank stare and a wan smile. I was very young when I began to wonder about Adam and Eve, and concluded that they were representative of all the people on earth at that particular time. I have since decided that the biblical stories are just that--stories made up by someone in order to try to control others.

    Hahahaha! JJ, you hit my "hot button" here.

    As to why women wear toe nail polish, ask Cleopatra!!!

  6. Judie: I don't knock anyone's faith. Just don't deface books. That's a sin.

  7. I think I would go back and ask for my money back. She misrepresented the book's story she was selling as that of the author's work. Isn't that the equivalent of selling a coloring book with no pages left to color? Pretty darn sad.~Ames

  8. Appalling! I wouldn't like to be that person's friend.

  9. Absolutely, JJ!! As long as people don't knock my faith, that's fine. But when they tell me what I should be believing, that crosses the line.

  10. I am surprised that your wife even tried to continue on with that book. I would have just set it aside. If I was interested enough to want to continue, I would have found another copy at the library or Amazon or something. But that sort of editing would have annoyed me so thoroughly that all of my focus would have gone there instead of to the content of the book. There is no excuse for defacing a book. Period.

  11. I completely agree JJ. Leave the books alone! If they are that offended by a book then they should put it down and find something else to read. Simple.
    Miriam@Meatless Meals For Meat Eaters

  12. Hi JJ .. well the music shocked me - as I sit here quietly with just the birds around!

    Good heavens - do you think she ever read the book .. and what a waste of time - no wonder your wife 'exploded' in quelle horreur ...

    Leave books alone - unless you're keeping them and then mark them up if you're studying them ..

    Respect - seems to be word she could use ..

    Cheers - and have a good week ahead .. Hilary

  13. Ames: She wanted to, but it was only a dollar and I talked her out of it. She'll probably return it when I'm not around.

    Julia: I understand. She is probably a nice lady, but she could use a vacation.

    Robin: Exactly. My wife never complains about anything, but she was steaming over this one.

    Miriam: I agree. We only have limited lifespans. Why waste them.

    Hilary: Quelle horreur! Perfect.

    Judie: I understand, and I did think of you while I was writing this. I knew you could not let this one go, and I agree with you.

  14. I had a friend who told me that, during her teenage years, her father would cut out what he believed to be inappropriate articles before letting her read the daily newspaper.

    Your experience with the book is equally amusing -- and yes, irritating.

  15. Bruce: My wife just finished the book. There was a scene where a young man was attacked by a shark and yelled, "Oh my God!" The woman crossed that out and replaced it with "Oh my word!" I think she should fly fish the Amazon.

  16. Wow, that IS annoying! And I thought it was bad when I had to buy used books for college and they were full of too much highlighting...
    I think you are right. This woman needs to get a life.

  17. 'Yellow Rose' Jasmine: Books are sacred. The first thing dictators do when they take over countries by force is to ban reading material and censor books. If she was that holy and that offended, she should have given the book away to some poor person.

    This is the first time in my life I ever wished the world had fewer readers.

  18. Wow...
    I read Close to Shore. Really enjoyed it.
    I think there's a pretty good chance the previous book owner is neurotic if not psychotic.

  19. Not only did I read Gertrude's essays and poetry, I ate Alice's brownies. Et tu?

  20. Bruce: No, I am not fond of Fudge, but I am a Hemingway fan and read the Autobiography a couple of times. Had I been born in the right era, I would have attended her salon as an expatriate.

  21. Oh boy! I do believe that you can tell a lot about a person based on what they are willing to write in books. I used to love getting the really messed up text books at school because I knew some of the notes could possibly be more interesting than the textbooks themseleves (sometimes).

    I've never seen anything like that, though. It's actually kind of funny that the person continued reading the book in the first place in order to make all the changes, like they thought they could save the next poor soul that picked it up.

    I, personally, don't like to write in books. If I find a quote I like, I'll write it somewhere else. I will, however, correct typos, and occasionally grammar. :) I can't help myself. Friends chuckle when they borrow my books because they just know I am that much of a psycho about my grammar.

  22. What an odd book to edit in such a way--about shark attacks! I wonder if the person edits all books like that?!

  23. AubrieAnne: Tell your friends there is always someone worse!

    Galen: She would have to do the same with all books. The lady really needs a hobby.

  24. Thankfully, I have never experienced this myself & I have bought many, many second hand books and about the most writing I have ever found in a book is in the front cover where someone has written an inscription becuase the book was given as a gift.
    That would have annoyed the hell out of me.
    Oh out! I just wrote the word hell ... is that mad woman out there waiting with her permanent marker.. just waiting to do her edit!


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