There are more than a thousand books that you will never be allowed to read unless you leave New Zealand.
Many are of a sexual nature, deal with violence, horror and crime and might have only been fully read by one person in New Zealand – and that person decided they shouldn’t be available to the rest of us.
A total of 1319 books are banned and a further 728 restricted in some way.
It was up to the Office of Film and Literature Classification and the Censorship Compliance Unit to assess books, films, DVDs and even T-shirts and determine whether they should be banned or restricted.
“It has to include sex, horror, crime, cruelty or violence in some way for us to ban or restrict it,” the office’s advisor Michelle Baker said.
Items that include offensive language and self harm, risk taking and “suicide issues” can’t be banned, but could be restricted.
Some of the titles belonging to objectionable or restricted books included Confessions of a Pimp, Horney (correct) Housewife, Inside Linda Lovelace and A Lesbian Happening.
Baker said the office hardly reviewed its decisions, unless someone requested it to do so.
Books published about homosexuality before it was made legal in 1986 could have been banned at that time and remain so, unless someone had requested they were reviewed.
Decisions on more than two-thirds of the 2047 books restricted or banned in New Zealand were made before 1987.
A book was brought to the office’s attention usually by police, customs or the public.
The author, publisher, complainant and interested parties were given 14 days to make a submission, while one of the office’s 15 censors started reading the book.
People and organisations could be charged up to $200,000 and sentenced to 10 years in prison if they were found with, or supplied a banned or restricted book.
If a person was found with an objectionable book they could be sentenced to five years in prison, or receive a fine of up to $50,000.
A person who exhibited or displayed a banned book could be sentenced to up to 10 years in jail.
Someone who made a restricted book available to people under the age of restriction could be fined $10,000 or sentenced to three months’ jail, and an organisation could be fined up to $200,000.
Source – Fairfax Media
Article by Michelle Cooke