Wednesday, December 3, 2008


I'm having a hard time getting myself going this morning. The thoughts are muddled and infrequent. I'm reading the news out of habit and not for discovery.

I've almost finished the book, Obscene in the Extreme. And now I see why I'm fascinated. The author, Rick Wartzman, was the co-author of the great book, The King of California. That was a book I read at least twice as I read and re-read almost every chapter.

This new book tells of the power plays by the Associated Farmers and the Kern County Board of Supervisors as they tried by word and deed to quash the effects generated by the Steinbeck book, Grapes of Wrath. This was in 1939, just one year before I was born. And as I read it I was dismayed by the great number of people that were all in favor of censorship. They believed it was in the best interests of our society to regulate what could be read.

And last night I was thinking of how grateful I am to my parents for teaching me that censorship should be fought at every level; but most importantly at the personal level, that no one had a right to tell you how or what to think. Yes, I've been suspicious of 'authority' for a very long time and ultimately I've been proven right far more often than wrong. Way to go, mom!

Our parents weren't militant liberals and we were never indoctrinated as if we were in some cult. But we listened to their conversations. Without television, a lot of conversation starters came from the newspapers. Or newspaper. Los Angeles and the suburbs had three papers to choose from and our parents chose the Daily News. Mom was not about to allow a Hearst paper into the house and she didn't have much use for the Chandler family either, so the Times never made it to our breakfast table.

The book describes the events of 1939 and 1940 and the years leading up them, but it's still a very timely book. Big agriculture/corporate farming has not changed over the years and they still oppress their labor in search of more profit for the stockholder. But now they do it remotely, by dealing with 'labor contractors' so they don't have to get their hands dirty with labor issues.

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