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Stifled Laughter: One Woman's Story About Fighting Censorship


Now available in paperback, this moving account describes one woman's fight to restore banned literary classics to the classrooms of rural Florida. Claudia Johnson was the first recipient of the PEN/Newman's Own First Amendment Award for her efforts.
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Now available in paperback, this moving account describes one woman's fight to restore banned literary classics to the classrooms of rural Florida. Claudia Johnson was the first recipient of the PEN/Newman's Own First Amendment Award for her efforts.
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In 1986 school officials in Lake City, a town in north Florida, banned a state-approved high school textbook because it included Aristophanes's sexually frank Lysistrata and Chaucer's bawdy ``The Miller's Tale.'' Johnson, a playwright and graudate student, decided to fight back, and her lively story captures the claustrophobic know-nothing spirit of the book burners. Though the students themselves were critical of the banning and Lake City was ridiculed by editorialists, the directive was upheld by a federal judge in 1988 and by an appeals court the next year. Johnson and her allies, advised by lawyers fearful of the Supreme Court's new conservative majority, did not further pursue the case. However, she joined a successful fight against an attempt to ban Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men in another rural Florida town. Johnson's description of the toll her crusade took on her marriage might have been trimmed, but would-be activists will learn from her story that fights are stressful. (Sept.)
Library Journal
During 1986 in the small town of Lake City, Florida, textbooks used in the high school humanities class were confiscated and locked up by order of the school board. Chaucer's "The Miller's Tale" and Aristophanes' Lysistrata, included in the textbook, were found to be offensive due to "sexual explicitness." Johnson, then a Ph.D. student in English literature at Florida State University and a resident of Lake City, vigorously opposed the banning of these works as well as the moral dictatorship of the administrators. She writes of the legal as well as personal trials she endured in her struggle to preserve the right of free speech in her community. Her court battles were unsuccessful, yet the experience of her five-year ordeal is edifying. Recommended for general collections.-Eloise R. Hitchcock, Tennessee Techno- logical Univ. Lib., Cookeville
WomanSource Catalog & Review: Tools for Connecting the Community for Women
Imagine finding out that a book you delighted in reading as a child, first introduced to you by your mother, was being banned by the school district where you lived. This is exactly what happened to Claudia Johnson, and Stifled Laughter tells the story of her ensuing fight against the school board and community in Lake City, Florida. With wry humor, Claudia recounts her head-to-head battle with ignorance and the "old boy network"–at one point the boundaries to her property are suddenly redrawn due to a surveyors "mistake" and access is denied to the only road leading to her home. Claudia does not give up; Stifled Laughter is testimony to her strength. Ultimately, what this book has to offer to inspiration, and the courage to not let even one incident of censorship go unchallenged.
—Ilene Rosoff
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781555913373
  • Publisher: Fulcrum Publishing
  • Publication date: 9/5/1996
  • Pages: 192
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Claudia Johnson was the first recipient of the PEN/Newmanfs Own First Amendment Award for her efforts against censorship. She is also a writer and screenwriter in resident at Florida State Universityfs Film School and shares two homes with her family in Live Oak and Tallahassee, Florida.
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