Thursday 26 November 2009

Living In Oklahoma

Censorship is a parasite.

It eats away at all forms of free expression, regardless of the medium used as a conduit.

Supporters of censorship, often governments and organizations, like religious and parent groups, who volunteer as unofficial "morality police," want power and control. They may not admit it (and may not even realize it), but that's what they want.

To those people, opposing views and opinions are seen as threats. Those types of thoughts, if expressed, may evoke others to think critically. As such, the influence and power of those groups become unstable.

In the case of governments, the issue is quite "cut 'n dry" when considering places like North Korea and China, but censorship can be seen in places like Canada, too.

What the Canadian Human Rights Commission does and investigates can be seen as poster boy examples. Based on their track record, the government organization appears to be firmly opposed to freedom of expression.

In the case of religious organizations, parent groups, or other types of self-declared morality police, many examples could be mentioned. The international easy targets to bring up are certainly Islamic extremist groups, like the Taliban, but other religious groups support censorship, too.

A good example in recent years was the Danish Mohammed comic strip panel controversy. It managed to generate riots and death threats aimed at publications that printed it.

It would appear that some people couldn't take a joke.

On a more local level, remember a few months back when Marilyn Manson performed in Moncton, New Brunswick?

The public opinion pages of the local English language newspaper were loaded with letters telling readers that the singer's performance would send everyone, attending or not, to Hell.

Some people, because they popped-out children, believe that they must indirectly censor things to protect their offspring. They may not have the power to censor but are loud enough to influence politicians (or others) to do their bidding.

That's why video games have ratings preventing 16-year-olds from buying some of them.

Perhaps, the problem lies with some parents that don't know the difference between reality and fantasy?

By now, I'm sure many readers are wondering why I'm writing about such concepts and issues.

This week's book, The Complete Iron Devil, by legendary writer and illustrator Frank Thorne, contains material that was at the center of an obscenity case brought on by prosecutors with nothing better to do.

I'm not going to hide it: it's a science fiction/fantasy porn comic filled with magical and technological things - and plenty of T&A (and penises), too!

It reprints the 1990s series The Iron Devil #1 and 2, the only issues of the series. Originally, it was supposed to be a six-issue miniseries. Since the owners of an Oklahoma City comic book store were prosecuted for selling them to adults(!), Thorne released Devil's Angel#1, also reprinted, to ridicule the police department. Thorne included not only his characters but also many of the ones he worked on over the years. As an example, Red Sonja's owners granted him permission to the character at a time when Marvel was publishing her adventures.

In brief, The Complete Iron Devil is a humorous adult fantasy book with great art. However, it wouldn't be nearly as good if it weren't for the excellent Devil's Angel story, which points out the craziness of "morality police."

Final thought: It's a good thing we don't live in Oklahoma.

The Complete Iron Devil: 7/10

Publisher: Eros Comix, Inc.

Bernard C. Cormier is, among other things, a freelance writer and broadcaster. E-mail: © Bernard C. Cormier 2009