Censorship of Barking, Rock Music, and Shakespeare on the Birthday of Thomas Bowdler: July 11th

We try to minimize barking, reduce howling, and limit growling. However, in the end, as most dog handlers will tell you, this censorship can have limited success. The same could be sad for sanitizing classic literature and banning rock and roll.

Let’s Spend The Night Together.

Thomas Bowdler born July 11, 1754, seemed to feel that the works of William Shakespeare needed to be edited. He engaged in his revision in hopes of providing text which he deemed more suitable to 19th century women and children. His amended version was titled “The Family Shakespeare.”

If you don’t like it, then make it illegal.

Bowdlers attempts to amend Shakespeare was criticized in most literary circles. In fact, the publicity for sale of his sanitized Shakespeare had the affect of increasing interest in the original version. In the end, the Shakespeare volumes which he considered unacceptable were sought after by readers.

The effort of Thomas Bowdler to censor Shakespeare is similar to the attempts of the British Broadcast Coronation to ban rock and roll. Since the BBC emerged as the ultimate source of moral guidance for the radio landscape, the organisation has always struggled to define what should be allowed on the airwaves, and what shouldn’t

Sometimes, the songs that have been censored by the BBC over the years have bee perfectly innocent, leaving listeners to wonder why they were removed at all. Other times, tunes with a clear political message have been silenced based entirely on the organisations fear of what might happen if music was allowed to enrage and engage the masses. There are also plenty of banned songs throughout history that were removed from radio shows for no other reason than they weren’t “decent” enough at the time.

This was not just happening in Britain. In 1927, the United States of America’s Congress enacted the The Radio Act of 1927, which was used as a way for the government to control the content that was being broadcasted. The Radio Act prohibited the use of obscene, indecent or profane language through the air. This was first used to fine a radio station in 1970, fifty-three years after the Act was passed, because of a reference to sex. Then, in 1934, congress created the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) to monitor international communications through radio, television, etc. Since their creation, not only have they added to the laws prohibiting music play, but they are also directly involved with censoring it themselves. .

Music is an art form, and, as with any free expression, it often leads to controversy. Though many of us might be accustomed to hearing plenty of risqué tracks on the radio, there are still plenty of songs that were banned from television, radio, stores, and even countries because the lyrics were deemed “too controversial.”

3 thoughts on “Censorship of Barking, Rock Music, and Shakespeare on the Birthday of Thomas Bowdler: July 11th

  1. I remember in England the “pirate” radio stations that broadcast from boats in the channel i believe. They played all the rock and roll songs. I never understood why they existed but reading your post Ithink the BBC banning songs might be the answer.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yea. As I understand it there was a commercial motive for off broadcasters which the BBC could not provide. The fact that odd shore radio was out of government jurisdiction. The bots like Radio Caroline could play any songs which they wanted.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. My God!! Why wasn’t this covered in my required American Gov’t 11th grade curriculum? The purpose of government is to make things government doesn’t like illegal. It is so logically true that it is almost not funny. I mean just consider Nancy Reagan’s War on Drugs. She was addicted to tranqulizers, but she didn’t like people who took drugs, so she started a war on them. At least Lady Bird Johnson (the name? i know) just planted wildflowers.

    Liked by 1 person

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