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Banned in Boston (wikipedia.org)
100 points by apsec112 8 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 79 comments

TIL: Author Thomas Pynchon is a descendent of William Pynchon [1], an immigrant to the Massachusetts Bay Colony who founded Roxbury when he arrived in 1630 and founded Springfield six years later.

OP describes the elder Pynchon being exiled back to England after publishing a book criticizing Puritanism. That same book also happened to be the first one to be banned in Boston. [2]

[1]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Pynchon

[2]: https://www.masslive.com/history/2011/05/springfields_375th_...

Another use of this phrase that might amuse the HN crowd:

Until 1995, state securities regulators used to have independent authority over stock offerings occurring in their state. So your company might go through the SEC registration process for its initial public offering, get the go-ahead from the SEC and then get comments from regulators in Texas or California.

In 1980 the Massachusetts Secretary of State decided that a stock issue from a promising new computer company was too speculative for Commonwealth residents[1].

When Apple Computer, Inc. went public that year, Massachusetts residents where not allowed to purchase shares. Apple’s investment bankers later distributed lucite deal toys to the team that had the traditional prospectus cover stamped “BANNED IN BOSTON.” These are now quite collectible [2].

[1]: https://online.wsj.com/public/resources/documents/AppleIPODe...

[2]: https://www.worthpoint.com/worthopedia/apple-computer-inc-ip...

I can understand why people across the centuries might have wanted to censor The Decameron. Such a marvelous work!

(I am lucky to be able to read "old" Italian. Once I flew to Florence, got into Santa Maria Novella and spent most of the day inside reading The Decameron. It was like being in a time capsule.)

Oh man that's cool. I've never read the Decameron - can you suggest a good English translation?

Nop, sorry. I never had to :( Anyway, I don't think that will be an issue.

I also wander, what would a good English translation consists of? 14th century English? I'm afraid the subtleties related to the language will be lost, in this case, won't they?

And the rest is just mundane stories, which you will appreciate in any language, I'd say.

So, I wouldn't worry. Buy any version and enjoy, as I did, reading about how the world didn't change much in 7 centuries :) (I also find some tales quite funny.)

Just picked up Naked Lunch which appears to have been one of the last books banned in Boston. Read the first chapter and wow is it a strange ride so far.

I read The Naked Lunch a few years ago and I live in Boston, I hope I am not in trouble.

The first few chapters of the book are great but it soon gets repetitive.

It's a great book. The David Cronenberg-directed film is also excellent, although only somewhat related to the book.

I was watching a Youtube video about banned documentaries a while back. One of which was a film documenting abuse in a mental health facility. It may not have been in Boston directly, but I recall it was somewhere in MA. The documentary was set by release, and even approved by the hospital, but the government decided to step in and halt it's showing.

I think you're talking about Titicut Follies by Frederick Wiseman? He's an excellent filmmaker and a lot of his documentaries, including Titicut Follies, are on Kanopy.


Yep that looks like the one. I suppose it's good that it was eventually released even in a very limited capacity.

Which government?

Don't recall offhand if it was the City or State but one localized somewhere to MA, not Federal.

The USA's Northeast is... interesting. If you meet someone from the area, the best thing you could do would be to reach out to them. Because it would be a tall order to expect them to do the same.

It's an odd region. Repressed and taciturn by nature, as this sort of article shows. But there's also a strong ethos that people should be free to chart their own course, which stretches back to the nation's birth and eventually overcame the puritanical roots. These days people aren't particularly judgemental, but they are still quite reserved.

John Steinbeck had this to say about getting directions in the area:

>“I seem to be lost, officer. I wonder if you could direct me?”

>“Where is it you want to go?”

>“I’m trying to get to Deer Isle.”

>He looked at me closely, and when he was satisfied that I wasn’t joking he swung on his hips and pointed across a small stretch of open water, and he didn’t bother to speak.

>“Is that it?”

>He nodded from up to down and left his head down.

>“Well, how do I get there?”

>I have always heard that Maine people are rather taciturn, but for this candidate for Mount Rushmore to point twice in an afternoon was to be unbearably talkative. He swung his chin in a small arc in the direction I had been traveling. If the afternoon had not been advancing I would have tried for another word from him even if doomed to failure.

>“Thank you,” I said, and sounded to myself as though I rattled on forever.

Genuine question, not intended as an attack: does anybody find these regional stereotypes to be actually meaningful in real life? In my experience they are sort of like geographically-themed horoscopes, and I didn't think anybody really took them seriously. I've met a lot of different people from a lot of different places, I've lived in a few different regions, and I can't really think of a less useful predictor of personality than where you grew up.

This is a throwaway so I don't mind saying...yes.

I've lived in a lot of different areas in the US. People in the NE and PNW are more guarded and reticent. People in the Southwest/Midwest are more friendly and talkative. Wearing a cross or being the right color makes a big difference in some places.

These are not categorical statements about everyone in a region, but my life experience says that some US stereotypes have some basis in reality. Local communities have different behavioral norms, and that's fine. We can pretend that they don't exist, but we can also acknowledge them to try and help bridge cultural gaps.

Personally, I wish that people were more accepting of Northeast personalities. But the world wouldn't work if everyone was the same.

There are lots of jokes about norwegian-americans in lutheran churches which are spot on. likewise for passive aggressive minnesotans.

And everyone i’ve ever known from wisconsin would at least be considered a mild alcoholic anywhere else.

Stereotypes are what they are, first order approximations.

As a Norwegian living in America I'd love to hear some of these. Got a link?

As a great grandson of Norwegian immigrants - (They were some of the first Norwegians to Ballard Seattle (where the king and queen of norway still? visit) - My great grandfather owned the first bakery there.

The sense of humor is my cup of tea: puns.

Dead-pan-really-good-puns. My Norwegian and Swedish friends are as punny as me.

Do you like puns?

Give me a topic for a pun-off

(as you can see from my last name "stave" '*staava*' (I don't know how to phonetically spell it - but based on stave churches...)


I used to think I was indecisive... but now I'm just not sure.

I believe there was an entire episode of Almost Live! where Bill Nye went around Ballard as a cop arresting people for not conforming to Norwegian stereotypes

Slightly meaningful at best.

Most people’s experience of a region are hugely tourist. Like folks who visit NYC and see Times Square, then draw conclusions about your average New Yorker. Likewise folks who visit Hollywood and make a conclusion about California.

I don’t agree. Your examples are both extremely touristy and stereotyped heavily in media... largely produced in those locations.

The regional stereotypes I’m familiar with are... stereotypes. They’re true. They just might not be true about any particular individual who lives there. And they’re true because these are largely learned behaviors.

Are they useful? Well, in aggregate they might give you some patience and understanding if you’re going to that region and have to interact with the people. Lots of behaviors you might consider rude might actually be friendly or at least polite there. And while you may not be able to assume an individual from a place matches the stereotype, it’s a pretty safe bet if they match the stereotype they’ve got a connection to the place.

When it is polite to say hello to someone (and how one does so), is culturally relative. It's not really personality, it's learned behavior.

I grew up in the suburbs around Boston. My mom was an immigrant and my dad Irish/Armenian. America is pretty diverse and you find various pockets of friendliness in most cities.

There are some “general regional tendencies” I’ve found but they’re overblown, if a little fun.

In my experience Armenians in the Boston area are very friendly or hostile. But they’re my relatives..and it might just be me. In general Id say people Around Boston are less “outgoing” than the people in NY were I lived for a little while. Though in NY I always felt they were more honest with you. Less friendly than Alabama were one of our offices were. (Bless their hearts). And a co-worker from Minnesota “Minnesota nice” notes that while theyre friendly on the outside not so with personal info. (They’ll give you directions anywhere except to their house ) And in MInnesota when they’re hunting for agates, be afraid.



Have you been to Boston? People often told me they knew I wasn’t from around there because I smiled so much.

Yes, I live a mile outside of Boston and I grew up here. I don't think I've ever met anyone from here that really fits the stereotype. My local friends don't smile any less than my Californian friends.

> People often told me they knew I wasn’t from around there because I smiled so much.

I've always understood jokes like this to be a sort of ironic "it's funny because that's what people say about us even though it's not really true". I am now realizing I might be alone in this.

I went to high school in Boston and spend quite a bit of time in mass, main, and nh and feel that this stereotype is vastly overstated. As my dad used to say, "how are the people around here? Well what were the people like where you came from?"

One thing I remember from urban life in Boston itself in the 70s/80s is that the neighborhood identity was extremely strong. The most fun cities are extremely neighborhood centric but this was extreme: though my city high school had kids from all over the city, it was clear that some of them I could not safely visit at their homes. You could tell from someone's accent where they lived in the city. I can't say if this is still the case.

It's been totally hollowed out over the past few decades, you might still see it in parts of DRM/hyde park

I grew up in the south, though not a southerner. When I moved to Boston (25 years ago), I found my people. The honesty in how people react to you is something else. The "townies" have turned it into an art form, and I love/roll-my-eyes-at them for it.

For those of you who recognize the internal curmudgeon in yourself, move to Boston. Remember: "I LOVE HUMANITY, IT'S PEOPLE I CAN'T STAND"

Boston is my favorite city on earth! Got a tattoo as well. I picked out my funeral home already so when I die after eating at the oyster happy hour my family can just drop me off there. Can’t imagine living anywhere else.

Right, the Northeast. Those oddballs! Those obscure 50M people.

Is the term still used? e.g. for Mooninites in Boston?

As a European I've always found it strange just how deeply uncomfortable Americans seem to be with nudity. How is public breastfeeding a problem? Like just let it happen? Or try to imagine running a public naked sauna ... Or how some movies require a special cut for the US market (to remove some "inappropriate" scenes).

As a midwestern conservative [evangelical] christian homeschooled white man, female nudity = sex = sin. As a normal adult married to a woman with a 9 month old baby yeah nudity aversion is ridiculous and actively harms natural processes like breastfeeding. It’s absurd that we parents, along with everyone else, have to pretend genitals don’t exist or some precious thing to hide away and treasure.

Where do you draw the line? There are lot of sexual crimes that are essentially just nudity.

Here in San Francisco there are various wrinkly old dudes who walk around town naked. Not something I would do myself, but it doesn't seem to hurt anybody.

There's a big difference between just being nude vs., say, performing a striptease which is explicitly sexualized or flashing a particular person which is a kind of personal attack.

What crimes are you referring to, and are you saying they should continue to be crimes?

“Aroused” states, touching, exposing to specific individuals, etc seem like pretty obvious lines.

I think most people can tell the difference between “being nude” and “being sexual”.

Well for starters. Public urinating shouldn’t be a “sex crime” like some jurisdictions have made it. And of course this is assuming the perpetrator isn’t doing it as some kind of personal fetish obviously.

Why doing something is ok until you dont get pleasure from it. Whats wrong with experiencing pleasure. Are we so envious of that but on same time ashamed to admit that?

It is not okay to include others in your sexual activities without consent. That's the line. Getting aroused by doing something in the public / been seen doing something means involuntary participation of others, which is not okay.

Yes so thats the question, why do you not concent to someone enjoying without harming anyone. Lets say i ecstatically enjoy sunsets by the see. Should i be forbiden to enjoy them because i enjoy them a lot more than nearby standing people?

Targeted exposure and sexual aggression. There’s a difference between “hey dad why is that person naked on the train” and a person masturbating at you while you’re heading to work. Sex crimes due to nudity, or eliminating, are unjust.

> pretend genitals don’t exist or some precious thing to hide away and treasure.

But breasts are not genitals!

Fun fact: the Pioneer space probes included a plaque with some information about Earth and humanity, for the benefit of any extraterrestrial being that might find it one day, but the drawings of a naked man and woman didn't include any detail in the woman's pubic area (imagine a Barbie doll) because this was considered too obscene, apparently even for an alien:


You know the Puritans left for the US because they wanted to enact even more strict religious rules right?

Someone once remarked to me that "you can understand a lot about the US by remembering it was founded by people whose religious beliefs were too crazy for 17th-century Europe."

I think almost every state has laws protecting breastfeeding in public. Otherwise the issue in the US focuses overwhelmingly on parents wanting to prevent children from seeing nudity.

How "public" can saunas get? There are also saunas/hottubs/showers at gyms everywhere. The only restriction is they are single-sex. Mainly for women keeping the guys out. Or at least that was uniformly the requirement until recent politics with transgenders.

I suspect Europeans are the odd ones out here. As an Asian I don’t find anything strange about Americans in that regard at all.

What part of Asia? Japanese are far less prudish when compared to USA or UK et al

I've been to Turkish baths and Koren baths before and only in the latter I was told to throw away the tiny towel I was holding to cover Mr Johnson. I don't know why in some cultures it is ok but in some others nudity ignites feeling of shame but after I threw the tiny towel I felt better. I guess peer pressure works both ways.

Sorry I meant South Asia.

But most people in the US are (very recent) descendants of Europeans, not descendants of Asians. Perhaps that's why the difference is interesting.

Is it just an American thing? I remember seeing this commentary by a British poet: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/hollie-mcnish-breastfeeding-i...

Why would you want to be naked in front of a bunch of strangers? What is the special thing we are missing because of this?

If people have to be naked, most would prefer to strangers to friends and extended family. Probably because a shame / judgement fear exists.

Why would you want to be naked at all? Better sun covering, skin can breathe, etc

Why would you want to be naked infront of anyone? You are comfortable with yourself, perhaps pride in latest fitness routine.

With covid I don't really want to be around strangers..

What would be the downsides of being naked in front of a bunch of strangers?

To answer your second question: the sense of freedom, peace, and comfort.

It's much too intimate a relationship, in a sense. You're throwing your imperfections, or maybe for a better word your total presence at a person. It's kind of like those people who when you ask "How you doing?" at a checkout counter really tell you how they are doing, right down to the colonoscopy they are having next week.

I mean personal space, man; it's visual too you know? I don't need to know you have liver spots on your left buttcheek or the size of your wang when I don't even care to ask you your name.

edit in response to yours: You know what would really make me feel free, safe, and comfortable? If that party of drunk guys staggering dangerously close to me were also naked, too. I think I'm okay with giving up my freedom as not to make people uncomfortable that way, especially women.

It's all in the head and how you perceive the world.

They're strangers, the average person is not trying to develop any kind of connection with you (and the unaverage person who is, isn't going to let clothing stop them). When you go to the doctors and have to disrobe, they aren't trying to make a connection with you.

Who cares about imperfections? No one is perfect. The models you see on magazines are heavily photoshoped, the actors on screen wear tons of makeup.

If you don't need to know, don't stare. Staring is rude, clothed or otherwise.

I don't care about the size of anyone's wang, and I'm sorry that you've been conditioned by others to care about penis sizes.

I can't make sense of your edit.

I'm not saying you're wrong (and I hope that you're not saying I'm wrong), it's just all about perspective. If you're in a sauna, chances are extremely likely no one is wanting to inspect your body just as much as you don't want to inspect theirs, they just want a good sauna time just like you would.

Being naked should be incidental, not the goal.

First time I visited a sauna I had some reservations as well. I probably wouldn't have tried if my SO (who had been to saunas before) hadn't suggested it. But that anxiety about being nude melts away in minutes. Then I realized it's actually very relaxing.

There is no weird feeling of intimacy with the people present. They're there to relax as well, and odds are you will never see them again. And I suspect seeing average people and their imperfections makes it easier to accept your own.

If you don't want to see liver spots or the size of other mens penises then you could always just not look.

Drinking or being intoxicated tends to be forbidden in saunas. I suppose your fear of groups of drunk naked guys might be more likely at a nude beach? At least they won't be carrying concealed weapons.

Yes, but its the same body. Let's think about it, you dont check guys hand size when its naked all the time, why would you care about size of his penis (its also strange how even in comments most peopele feel uncomfortable calling body parts by they proper name). You should not.

> What is the special thing we are missing because of this?

At least where I live, the main thing we're missing is frostbite.

Cancelled by the mob will be this century’s version

I don't know why you're getting downvoted, it's exactly true. If you say or write something that's offensive to someone people will put a completely disproportionate effort into making sure you're fired from your job, never get to write or publish anything again and in general achieve full censorship through mob justice.

Like, the most recent example - Gina Carano. Do I disagree with what she was saying? Absolutely. Do I think that she deserved the amount of abuse she was getting on Twitter and elsewhere, and her eventual firing from Disney? Absolutely not.

Like, how is that different than Boston banning certain artists because they didn't like what they were saying? Because we(as in, more "liberal" leaning people) disagree with them? It's stupid and I don't agree with the practice.

Edit: and of course this effect exists here as well. If you disagree with something it gets downvoted until it's pushed to the bottom of the site, made nearly invisible, and eventually once enough people complain it disappears entirely behind a flagged tag. Most people don't actually engage in an exchange of ideas, they just make sure to penalize someone for saying something they don't like(downvote) and move on.

Puritanism needs sinners to crusade against.

America's puritan based roots along with a continuing culture of anti-intellectualism will eventually be our undoing. This is slightly strange though given the premises on which our country was founded.

Like a lot of subjects, I think people find what they want when one talks about the founding of the United States of America. The slavery issue and treatment of native Americans that is the basis of the United States is pretty hard to get past as a founding principle, and I don't think it's a stretch to say they didn't consider women at all as being referenced in either document when they write "men", as many of the guys who wrote and signed that that were slave owners so they didn't even mean all human being males counted as men (except 3/5 of a slave for census purposes.)

Are you talking about political correctness now?

Someone doesn't want drunks or junkies or people selling themselves or ugly stuff on TV. They go away on their own to live for self-improvement. Turns out, their lives are very nice and everyone wants what they built. They use the law to take it, bring back the drunks and drugs and criminals who churn people, and now all that is gone. Good people move away, and fools are left wondering why the world is so bad to them.

I'm waiting to hear someone ask why those people at the Capitol were so mad. What? They're crazy? Or do they have a legitimate reason to be upset? Either way, it's your show. You're the one with the trillions, the army, the never ending great debate. Maybe you're not that good at your job.

Or maybe, you are very good at your job, the job of processing people and ruining lives for your hallow celebrity and unrestrained ambition that changes every day and will do anything for a dollar. Congrats. You're a tv star now.

>*ban works featuring "objectionable" content, and often banned works with sexual content or foul language*

Ironically, Boston is known exactly these banned things...

It's pretty funny that we are at that point again.

Deplatformed from Boston means that you have something interesting to say that makes middle class busy bodies uncomfortable.

Even PG had something to say about that:

>Of course, if they have time machines in the future they'll probably have a separate reference manual just for Cambridge. This has always been a fussy place, a town of i dotters and t crossers, where you're liable to get both your grammar and your ideas corrected in the same conversation. And that suggests another way to find taboos. Look for prigs, and see what's inside their heads.


>mentioning sex >inciting an armed insurrection We’re not at this point again

With regard to being able to create a "master" database, use a "female" connector, hold a "stand up" meeting, or greet people with "hey guys," we certainly are.

What's the problem with stand-up meeting?

Some people can't stand up.

Having lived through an actual armed insurrection: I hope you get treated for whatever mental illness has caused you to lose touch with reality.

That crosses the line badly. You can't post like this here, and we ban accounts that do. Please don't do it again.


Not mentioned on this page, but a more virtuous campaign to ban a film in Boston was Monroe Trotter's attempt to ban the racist film Birth of a Nation:

"Ironically, Trotter had succeeded in tightening a censorship bill but failed to stop the movie. It was a victory for artistic freedom but not necessarily a defeat for civil liberties, since the conflict had nurtured a young NAACP, which gained strength in the ensuing battles for civil rights in the coming century. As for Griffith, in an interview he gave in 1941 when he was virtually forgotten in Hollywood, he remarked that “because of the social progress which Negroes achieved” given the oppression they faced, “it is best that The Birth of a Nation in its present form be withheld from public exhibition.’’"


And it worked so well too.

Censors aren't there to protect the public, they are there to make busy bodies feel good about themselves.

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