Punch & Judy Book Banned!
On Feb. 4, 1998, in an article by Tom Leonard, The Times reported that a Punch
and Judy book had "been withdrawn from a public library service
following claims that Mr. Punch's 'sickening violence' could corrupt
children. The book - which follows the traditional plot - recounts
how the puppet tricks a policeman into putting his head into a
noose and hangs him, coshes Judy and bangs their baby's head to
get it to go to sleep." The Wiltshire County Council ordered its
two copies to be withdrawn pending a review.
A Cultural Tradition Rescued!
After a few concerned and disgusted letters to the editor, and
some serious consideration of what they had done, the Council
reversed itself. One week later In an article by Damian Whitworth,
The Times announced that the Council had decided:
"This book stems from our cultural heritage and we have to draw
a line to prevent political correctness damaging our long-held
traditions," Councillor Paul Sample, chairman of the Libraries,
Heritage and Arts Sub-Committee, said." We have to be on our guard
against our long-held traditions and cultural heritage being damaged
by a tide of political correctness which is sweeping in from America.
Punch and Judy are alive and well in Wiltshire."
It is so ironic and a bit sad that Punch & Judy have become a target of the politically
correct. However, these extremists are nothing new to Mr. Punch.
Charles Dickens, a great Punch & Judy fan, once wrote:
"In my opinion the Street Punch is one of those extravagant reliefs
from the realities of life which would lose its hold upon the
people if it were made moral and instructive. I regard it as quite
harmless in its influence and as an outrageous joke which no one
in existence would think of regarding as an incentive to any kind
of action or as a model for any kind of conduct. It is possible,
I think, that one secret source of pleasure very generally derived
from this performance, as from the more boisterous parts of a
Christmas Pantomime, is the satisfaction the spectator feels in
the circumstances that likenesses of men and women can be so knocked
about, without any pain of suffering".
Let's lighten up and let toys be toys. Any child can easily see realistic film of actual and cinematic
violence by humans against humans every single day in our media
saturated culture. Thus it is tragic that condemning fantasies
which feature little puppets hitting each other with tiny sticks
can be considered worth the effort.
"Extreme In No Way!"
- an old nadist motto
All the Gory Details
Full accounts of each source article and letter.
The Punch Page