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Censorship Watch: At Entertainment Weekly, The Word "Hitler" Is <I>Verboten</I> In Comments! At CBS New York, Reality Is <i>Verboten </i>On Screen
Late Wednesday night I posted a brief comment to a 1990 Entertainment Weekly (EW) review by the late Walter Clemons of Gavin Lambert's biography, Norma Shearerr. (The lack of any previous comments suggests that EW only recently posted the review on line.) My uncensored comment follows.
Mr. Clemons' otherwise readable review is marred by two jarringly off uses of language: 1. "Her career was a triumph of will"and 2. "We feel the impact of a sacred monster."
For anyone of the reviewer's generation, the phrase "triumph of [the] will," was indelibly associated with Hitler. However, since Mr. Clemons did not depict Miss Shearer in a Hitlerian manner, his allusion was poorly chosen.
Likewise, though the reviewer was straining for irony, outside of his phrase, he in no way depicted Miss Shearer as monstrous. For that matter, he didn't depict her as "sacred," either.
Although the reviewer was a veteran writer, he twice strove for effect in a clumsy, amateurish manner.
The censorship filter or humanoid replaced "Hitler" with "*****." (The censor even got the number of asterisks wrong!) Oddly enough, she/he/it left "Hitlerian" untouched.
I can remember when the 'Net was (supposedly) a limitless, uncensored, anarchic frontier. Nowadays, although I rarely use foul language, bloggers and Websites often censor my entire comments for political reasons.
And I'm far from alone. I'm still sitting on a cache of 246 reader comments —every single one!—from a CBS New York story on a brutal, racist gang attack days before Christmas by 10 blacks and one Hispanic on a lone, studious, white, 13-year-old Hispanic boy named David Muneton in Englewood, New Jersey. (I had to guesstimate the gang's proportions form a couple of hints that stories threw my way.) The CBS report, from Christine Sloan, said that the victim required reconstructive surgery to repair several broken bones in his face (i.e., from being stomped on), and that he might go blind. (The season is relevant; racist blacks like to celebrate Christmas with more frequent racial attacks on whites.) Most of the comments were from outraged whites.
The same night that the story ran, December 22, CBS' house censor deleted every single comment.
I was gearing up to post all of the comments, as well as a batch of other material, when we got a call from Trinidad on the 23rd that The Boss' father had died that night. I spent the next four days hustling to get tickets at any price, and preparing for the trip.
We spent three weeks down there (and another 22 days in July), and I still haven't gone back and done the blogging that I had "stacked up" on my hard-drive to do.
All of the blog discussions of the crime that I found linked back to Christine Sloan's CBS story, which has since been sent down the memory hole.
The exceptions are an extremely brief, unsigned, December 23 Newark Star-Ledger story, a December 23 Fox News story, which merely repeated Sloan's story, and a December 24 Gothamist story by John Del Signore, which both recounted and followed up on Sloan's story.
And all of the stories hushed up the crime's racial character.
Seeing as the crime was off-message, the local media dropped or never reported on it in the first place, and the national MSM refused to touch it.
Obviously, what the media did to the David Muneton story is much more serious than EW censoring the word "Hitler," but my point is that at present, Web site editors find nothing too petty or too big to censor.