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Offensive pictures: Sense and censorship


Another reason to stay out of prison

IF YOU are reading this in a prison in Missouri, you probably didn’t see the June 29th issue of The Economist (pictured). We recently received a letter from the Missouri Department of Corrections informing us that it had been censored.The problem was not the cover, although it does show a semi-naked woman. Rather, the prison authorities objected to a photo accompanying an article about the Supreme Court’s recent rulings on race. The picture showed a Klansman with a noose, to remind readers what race relations were like before the Voting Rights Act of 1965.The censors thought it might instil “violence or hatred among the offender population”. This is not absurd: you could imagine some of the nuance of the article being lost if, say, a white inmate were to shove the picture of the Klansman in the face of a black prisoner. Under the state’s all-or-nothing rules, the entire issue was thrown out.Prison officials have wide…

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