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Not in Font of the Children:
"Indecency," Censorship, and the Innocence of Youth

From the Publisher

The first comprehensive history of our battles over children and censorship.

From Huckleberry Finn to Harry Potter, Internet filters to the V-chip, censorship exercised on behalf of children and adolescents is often based on the assumption that they must be protected from "indecent" information that might harm their development -- whether in art, in literature, or on a Web site. But where does this assumption come from, and is it true?

In Not in Front of the Children, Marjorie Heins explores the fascinating history of "indecency" laws and other restrictions aimed at protecting youth. From Plato's argument for rigid censorship, through Victorian laws aimed at repressing libidinous thoughts, to contemporary battles over sex education in public schools and violence in the media, Heins guides us through what became, and remains, an ideological minefield. With fascinating examples drawn from around the globe, she suggests that the "harm-to-minors" argument rests on shaky foundations.

There is an urgent need for informed, dispassionate debate about the perceived conflict between the free-expression rights of young people and the widespread urge to shield, protect, or censor them. Not in Front of the Children will spur this long-needed conversation.

About the Author

Marjorie Heins, director of the Free Expression Policy Project of the National Coalition Against Censorship, is the author, most recently, of Sex, Sin, and Blasphemy: A Guide to America's Censorship Wars. She lives in New York City.

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Not in Front of the Children: "Indecency," Censorship, and the Innocence of Youth by Marjorie Heins (Hill and Wang 2001, ISBN: 0-374-17545-4), $30.00, 356 pages, hardback.

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