Above is a Walt Disney short that never gets shown on TV today. You can only find it on the Internet, not even in any cartoon collections from Walt Disney. The cartoon is no longer shown because there is frequent use of characters in “blackface.” As this is not considered acceptable today, that is but one of the reasons why it is not shown. And, yet, given that the cartoon dated from the early 1930’s and is actually supportive of blacks, is that sufficient reason to simply stop showing it?
I suspect that the other reason is to avoid some political controversy from the other side of the spectrum. In the cartoon above, the cast is putting on the play Uncle Tom’s cabin. At one point Simon Legree whips an old man after claiming that the old man is his property. Sadly, there are all too many defenders of the South who keep claiming that slavery had little to do with the Civil War (no, it is NOT the War of Northern Aggression), despite the many mentions of slavery in the very declarations used by the South at the time of its rebellion against the USA.
This is one of the problems in America today. For a segment of those on the liberal side, there really is such as thing as being “politically correct.” They are willing to engage in censorship of those who engage in “offensive” practices. However, they make no differentiation between the mere showing of an old cartoon from the times when the practice was allowed, and the deliberate filming of an offensive piece today, when people have different conceptions of what is appropriate. In the case of the cartoon above, the silliness of the politically correct approach is that the cartoon actually supports the ending of slavery and mistreatment of people based on race. It is “cutting off your nose to spite your face.”
A conservative segment of the American population would like to cast it all as a case of “politically correct” liberals. Yet, that very same segment is the first to go to war—through its radio commentators—on any presentation that even appears to present a view that goes against any of its beliefs. But, when they do it, it is not censorship. It is only censorship if a liberal does it. Think only of the Republican Party pre-censoring and punishing any who dare make a biopic of Hillary Clinton (before even knowing whether it is going to be laudatory or investigative) and you can see a good example of this type of overt and clear censorship. There have been schools in which parents have tried to have Uncle Tom’s cabin banned from the curriculum. Of course, it is never because it clearly reveals the horrors of slavery, but rather for any reason but. So, the cartoon above is unacceptable to this segment as well.
And so, a perfect storm is present for all too many producers that have old films in stock, too many libraries seeking to buy books, too many teachers trying to teach classic books. They will be opposed by both sides of the spectrum and are only safe if they refuse to release old shows, produce only contentless reality TV, buy no controversial books, and never teach students about classic books that may have some content that is not acceptable to one side or the other. [Note: among the worst offenders regarding schools are Christians. They have turned their God-given responsibility to raise their children into a diatribe against the community or even the Church having any part in raising their children. This so violates just about everything else one reads in Scripture.]
Sadly, our very economic system makes these types of censorship most successful. Since the companies want people to buy and schools need taxes approved, the easiest out is to not release old films but to make contentless shows, to not buy any controversial books for the libraries, but stock them merely with unreadable scholarly studies and romances, to forbid the teaching of anything which might lead the student to learn to evaluate positions thereby keeping them locked into thoughtless opinions.
I see no solutions, not in our current climate, not when the two extremes each claim the right to censor, while calling it something else, not when the the two extremes are going for a take-no-prisoners approach to culture. May God have mercy on this nation.