cover image Stifled Laughter: One Woman's Story about Fighting Censorship

Stifled Laughter: One Woman's Story about Fighting Censorship

Claudia Johnson. Fulcrum Group, $19.95 (192pp) ISBN 978-1-55591-200-0

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.)