Book Banned

The Punch Page

Punch & Judy Book Banned!

 


All the Gory Details

For the full story of how Punch & Judy was banned then saved,
check out the following resources.


That's not the way to do it any more, Mr. Punch
The Times
Feb. 4, 1998, by Tom Leonard


Letter to the Editor
The Guardian
Feb. 5, 1998, from Ruth Hart, Wirral, Merseyside


Mr. Punch KO's the PC brigade
The Times
Feb. 12, 1998, by Damian Whitworth


Sort out your attitude problem, Mr. Punch
Thursday, June 18, 1998, BBC On-line

 

The Times
Feb. 4, 1998

That's not the way to do it any more, Mr. Punch
By Tom Leonard

A Punch and Judy book has been withdrawn from a public library service following claims that Mr.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 I4-year-old book with illustrations clearly showing the characters as puppets rather than people - has not before met with complaints, but Wiltshire County Council ordered its two copies to be withdrawn pending a review of its suitability.

The decision won support from the Police Federation, which said the book "sent completely the wrong message". Puppeteers, however, described it as 'political correctness gone mad'. The county's library staff were alerted to the perceived horrors lurking in their children 's section after the book was borrowed by Evie Kerton, six, during a weekly school trip to Marlborougbh Library'. Her parents, Paul and Tracy, complained to the school, which in turn notified the council. Mr Kerton, 27, a carpenter from Mildenhall near Marlborough, said yesterday: "I sat down with Evie to read the book with her and was shocked with what I saw. I'm not a politically correct type but some scenes were a disgrace. The violence in the book was quite sickening. The policeman 's head is put in a noose and Punch pulls the rope and hangs him. We are supposed to teach children to respect the police." He said the book was obviously popular because extra library lending sheets had been stuck inside.

A spokesman for the Police Federation said: "We are constantly having to counter this sort of thing. We recently took action against a video game which awards points for mowing down policemen in a car chase. Itjust doesn't encourage any respect for law and order." Michael Ancram, Tory MP for Devizes, promised an investigation, and Paul Sample, chairman of the council's libraries and museums committee, apologised to the Kerton family. Peter Stedman, a member of the Punch and Judy Fellowship, said: "lt is political correctness gone mad. Punch and Judy is a moral tale. Mr. Punch is violent but he gets his come-uppance at the end and has to say sorry and promise to be good." A spokesman for Harper-Collins, which acquired the Picture Lions Book series of which the book was a part, said it had been out of print for years.

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The Guardian
Feb. 5, 1998

Letter to The Editor

Seeing dear old Punch in your pages cheered me up tremendously. This cheer soon turned to dismay when I read the tragic, puzzling news that our dear old friend has been banned from Wiltshire libraries. This is, of course, political correctness gone mad. Are we to ban the works of Shakespeare and Dickens for their violence? Even at the great age of 76, my annual seaside holiday is always booked in a town which boasts a Punch and Judy show on the promenade. These days they are becoming increasingly rare. Aberystwyth recently banned the
show following a change of personnel on the local council. My choice is now limited to Weymouth, Southport and Llandudno. Taking care over what our children watch is one thing. Throwing away their heritage is quite another.

Ruth Hart, Wirral, Merseyside

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The Times
Feb. 12, 1998

Mr Punch KO's the PC brigade
By Damian Whitworth

A blow was struck against political correctness yesterday after a Punch and Judy book, banned for being too violent, was returned to library shelves. The book was withdrawn from Wiltshire County Council's libraries last week after a couple complained when their six-year-old daughter took it home. But last night it was back on the shelves after the council decided that it was harmless. "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. "

However his comments met with an angry response from Paul Kerton, 27, who with his wife, Tracy, 33, asked for the book to be withdrawn after they saw Mr. Punch proclaiming "That's the Way to do it!" while hanging a policeman and banging a baby's head to get it off to sleep.

"I have never said a word against Punch and Judy - it was just that particular book," Mr. Kerton said. "The main reason for complaining about it was the hanging. I regret this decision by the council. I was not being politically correct, I will not be letting my daughter read this book in the future, " he added.

Evie Kerton took the book home from a school trip to the library at Marlborough. At the time Mrs. Kerton said: "l was very upset. This has wife bashing, child beating and how to hang a policeman. We complained to the county council because we wanted to protect other children. Mrs Kerton, from Mildenhall, near Marlborough, Wiltshire, said that she realised what was in the book only when Evie asked her to read it to her.

But the council was unmoved. In a statement the council said: "We feel this book is clever in its translation of a puppet show into book form and contains an historical note at the back which explains the popularity of Punch and Judy through the ages. "lt is a show, a fantasy, and all is well at the end. "

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Thursday, June 18, 1998 Published at 14:37 GMT 15:37 UK

BBC Entertainment

Sort out your attitude problem, Mr. Punch

Punch and Judy isn't just for kids


Mr. Punch, whose violence and bad attitude has graced Britain's beaches and entertained its children for years, has been ordered to improve his anger management techniques.

In response to parents' complaints, a Derbyshire council has
introduced regulations banning Mr Punch's traditional vices from shows.

In the children's show which dates back at least 300 years, the Mr
Punch puppet regularly beats his wife with his 'slapstick' and murders his baby by battering it against a wall and throwing it downstairs.

Councillors say that these sights may further traumatise youngsters with violent backgrounds and they add that the use of a cap gun in the act is no longer funny in the wake of the Dunblane massacre.

Vivienne McDonald, a council spokeswoman, said: "We are not
against Punch and Judy or clowns - only certain features of their act."

'Professor' Glyn Edwards, who heads The World Wide Friends of
Punch and Judy and has himself been a Punchman for 40 years
ridicules the suggestion that Punch and Judy are harmful:

"Attacking Punch and Judy is rather like animal liberationists
complaining about Tom and Jerry. You are treating a fantasy as if it was real life. "If one clown kicks another in a circus ring, it's funny. If the same thing happens in Marseille it is football hooliganism."

North Derbyshire Women's Aid, however, which deals with domestic violence, said it was pleased at the council's move:

"A lot of children who come to us have witnessed violence in the home - if they are going out to a show and seeing that again, we would think that would have an effect on them."

This is not the first time that Punch and Judy has come under attack. When protesters tried to enlist the aid of Charles Dickens, he responded: "I regard it as quite harmless in its influence and no more than an outrageous joke."

Some Derbyshire councillors and parents, it seems, no longer find it funny.

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