Saturday marked the beginning of Banned Book Week (Sept. 25-Oct. 2), which celebrates the wonderful freedom of being able to read whatever one likes, and reminding us that it's a freedom that must be fought for constantly. One need only look at lists of books that have been banned at one time or another to understand what's at risk (banned-books.com has good lists here and here, and Wikipedia has this list that includes books that have been banned in other countries).
That makes it a great time for the release of Howl, the new movie starring James Franco about Allen Ginsberg and the court case to determine if his poem, Howl, was obscene, and if anyone who published or sold it was guilty of a crime. See my ReThink Review of Howl and discussion about censorship with Cenk Uygur and Ben Mankiewicz of the Young Turks below.
As I mentioned in the review, I read Howl for the first time after seeing the movie, and it was a magical experience that I believe everyone should have. If you're interested in the poem and the case to ban it -- or want to find a fun way to celebrate Banned Books Week -- I recommend checking out the book Howl On Trial: the Battle for Free Expression by Bill Morgan and Nancy Joyce Peters. Below are some pages from Howl On Trial on Google Books, and if you scroll down to page 21, you'll find the complete poem of Howl, including the essential footnote.
Enjoy it, my angelheaded hipsters.
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