If you’re not free to offend, you’re not free. This idea was famously claimed by Salmon Rushdie whose 1988 novel "The Satanic Verses" offended Muslims.

But who in the whole, wide world would be offended by Frank Capra’s 1946 movie “It’s A Wonderful Life”? In a story on censorship, The Guardian reported that Spain’s dictator Franco cut seven minutes from the movie more than 40 years ago, but the scissored version is still in circulation in Spain.

Franco, who imagined a wide variety of boogeymen in the arts – such as sexuality, and anything anti-Catholic – ordered the cut in the film’s footage that alluded to a housing co-op likely due to his fear of communism.

Censoring Hemingway

In Franco’s three dozen years in power, he also saw boogeymen in books. For example, he switched out the word “lesbians” for “good friends” in Ernest Hemingway’s “Across the River and Into the Trees.

And he struck the term “birth control” from James Baldwin’s “Go Tell It on the Mountain.” But hey, he was a dictator and could do what he wanted.

You don’t expect such mind control in democracies. Yet, Art News reports that a mayor in Israel, Carmel Shama-Hacohen, ordered a painting by Israeli artist David Reeb removed from an exhibit at Ramat Gan Museum for using “gutter language.”

Policing thought is also taking place in the U.S. As reported by CNN, there have been a large number of attempts to remove books from school libraries 155 instances to date.

A statement from the American Library Association executive board explains the reason for the “uptick: belief that the voices of the marginalized have no place on library shelves.”

Such a belief squares with the Republican party’s effort to restrict minorities from voting in battleground states. Racism is America’s boogeyman.

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Pen power

According to the ALA executive board, the push to keep books by minorities out of school libraries goes to the thinking that they will sway students “to abandon constitutional principles, ignoring the rule of law, and disregarding individual rights.”

Say what? Do these wannabe censors ever listen to themselves?! What do they think banning books based on race is if not all of the above?

But wait, the book ban people are not just complaining. The ALA reveals that those bent on getting books by minorities out of school libraries have “resorted to intimidation and threats to achieve their ends.”

Case in pointlessness: Jill Woolbright, a school board member in Flagler County, Florida, has filed a criminal complaint against a memoir titled “All Boys are Blue” by journalist George M. Johnson who is Black.

The memoir recounts Johnson’s experience as a victim of violence at the hands of bullies because he is gay.

Unease with out of the mainstream lifestyles may not label her irrational, but filing a report with the county sheriff’s office claiming a crime has been committed certainly does.

Even so, Woolbright’s criminal complaint has swayed the Flagler Country Schools to remove “All Boys are Blue” from the library shelves. Intimidation works.

But again, where’s the crime Woolbright alleges? Given the nationwide push in state legislatures to restrict minority voting rights, I have to wonder if the main objection to Johnson’s book is not so much his sexual preference as it is his race.