|What follows is an incomplete rant. I originally wrote
this up in response to a friend of mine's request that I "summarize
my feelings on censorship into a single essay" so he could take a
good look at them. I quickly realized that this essay was just going to
feed on itself until it ate it's own tail and never really get finished,
so I stopped in mid-stream and sent it off to him. (It was already a week
late.) I may eventually get around to finishing it, as this is the one
political subject that I feel strongest about....but there are no guarantees.
I present it here because it is an accurate look at my issues with even
the most basic concepts of censorship, and I hope to convince others of
this point of view.
Wish I had. It would organize my head on the subject a bit more, as my arguments tend to be pretty much all over the place.
Basically, I have a philosophical objection to censorship. Censorship should only be allowed under three circumstances: Libel, Slander, (the knowing presentation of falsehoods as fact) and national security (giving away troop positions in a time of war, etc.).
The loss of completely free speech is basically the most dangerous infringement on freedom that can be committed. Why? Because it keeps people from complaining. Bitching is the single central ideal upon which this country was founded. People can come to this country hating every principle we stand for, excepting one, and still legitimately call themselves a patriot. That principle is the possibility of changing the system as it stands now through their own vote, and convincing others by bitching loudly enough. Any clamping down of any kind on the ability of an individual to freely speak his mind to the public limits his ability to bitch, his ability to speak to, and convince other people of the legitimacy of his complaint, and thus prevents him from affecting the system. (It should be noted that there is a big difference between allowing someone free speech, and allowing them to harass people. If someone is creating a public disturbance by actively pursuing people on the street and harassing them (ie religious fanatics), then they can be arrested for verbal attack, etc. In that case they are being arrested for attempting to force their speech on another person. This is impermissible for the same reason you aren't allowed to force sex on another person, their actions are forcibly being imposed on another person, regardless of that person's objections. However, no one should ever be prevented from presenting their ideas passively to anyone who wants to listen to them. Following this point clears up a lot of what some people would have you believe is a free speech issue. A newspaper is perfectly permitted to refuse to print a letter or column that it finds offensive/impermissible. This is it's own prerogative as an independent body of literary presentation. It is run by capitalism, not by democracy. A newspaper can tell a writer that it doesn't like to go to hell, and the writer can tell the newspaper the same. Both are still free to express their ideas (albeit, the newspaper has a wider audience). Once the government tells either the newspaper (you must print this article or we're shutting you down) or the writer (you are going to jail for attempting to publish this) to go to hell, then either the newspaper's free speech (expressed in their refusal to print said article) or the writer's is being ignored. Similarly, look at the annual St. Patrick's day parade. A contingent of gay and lesbian Irish had petitioned to march under a G&L banner in the parade. The parade, stating that this had nothing to do with St. Patrick (and it being against the Catholic religion) refused. The State government then pressured them into relenting. Censorship of the parade organizer's right to free speech in the name of enforcing the doctrine of political correctness.(and hypocrisy IMO) Another, better example, is Flag burning. The only purpose in burning an American flag (assuming that you aren't just disposing of it properly) is in order to express displeasure with the American system as it currently exists. Stopping that is limiting your ability to bitch about the system, a system supposedly set up so that you CAN bitch about it. This particular one is great for the politicians, too, because it's a self-fulfilling prophecy. "People find flag burning to be offensive, and it is offensive to the US. Thus we will ban it and throw anyone in jail who does do it. Look! No one was offended by that law. I don't see anyone burning flags now." The next time someone says "you bastard, my father died defending that flag" say to them "No he didn't. He died defending their ideals, this country, or their fellow soldiers. If they died defending a piece of cloth you could buy for $20 in any historic monument he was a fucking idiot. It's a SYMBOL. You should be no more offended than if I write "America" on a piece of cardboard and set it on fire." And yet, a bill to make flag burning a federal offense (through an amendment to the constitution no less! A further interesting point is, would the artistic depiction of flag-burning be banned as well? Like in a comic or a book? Isn't that just as symbolic, and thus just as offensive?) was only narrowly defeated a few months ago.) (A further interesting point is, would the artistic depiction of flag-burning be banned as well? Like in a comic or a book? Isn't that just as symbolic, and thus just as offensive?) was only narrowly defeated a few months ago.)(A long time ago, a person could actually die defending a flag. On the battlefield, the flagbearer served as a reference point for the entire army. If the Flag suddenly beat feet for the rear ranks, everyone knew to retreat. If the flag advanced or waved, everyone pressed forward. If the flagbearer went down, your entire army could fall apart in the confusion.)
There is also an amusing point made by Plato on the subject of censorship that is essentially a battle in semantic (ie, in modern times we could find a way around it) but it points out the absurdity of even the concept of censorship. I'll summarize as best as I can. Censorship is necessary as there are certain ideas that, when presented even to the fully developed mind of an adult, will unavoidably corrupt said mind. OK, we'll take that as true. Now, how do we recognize said corruption in the literature, plays, etc.? Well, someone will have to go through the items in question and look for said ideas. How will he know which ideas are corrupting? He must be highly educated to recognize them. Thus he must be one of the foremost experts on recognizing these corrupting ideas. Now, the stinger. If we have all of the highly educated experts searching through all of the items in question, are they not exposed to the ideas, and thus corrupted? That's right, we are corrupting the only people educated enough to recognize the corruption in the first place. Having been corrupted, they will then purposely overlook said ideas in an effort to spread it to the rest of the public (because we all know that corrupt ideas spread like that *groan*), and thus the ideas reach the public anyway, except no on is around to recognize them any more. It's a self-destroying system. (Picture the Pope going through pile after pile of porn mags judging what is pornography and what is art. Would you trust a man who spends his whole day looking at porn to be your spiritual guide?)
The problem is that a lot of people seem to hold this opinion, wether or not they, themselves, realize it. There is inherently corrupting material out there (bullshit) that needs to be kept from getting into the "wrong people's hands." OK, let's assume for the moment that it is true that some people are less intellectually/morally/whatever strong and are incapable of resisting the inherently corrupting ideas when they are presented. Presumably we are not going to censor everything above a 5-year old's "inherently corruptible" level (although current trends make me wonder) so we must rank both the corruptible ideas and the people, to ensure that no one wanders into a higher level than they can handle. (OK Mr. Wagner, I see here that you're cleared for level 23 porn-up to and including bestiality, but no necrophilia for you. Also, you get level 18 violence-violent gun battles and extended death scenes, but no torture, and level 12 political theory-Commonly accepted political theories on Socialism, Communism, Theocracy, and some of the more extreme fascist themes, but no anarchy or nihilism. Bit overactive as a child, were we? Ok, it looks like you're cleared to rent this movie.) Who do we get to do this ranking? Personally, I find the concept that some people "just can't help but be corrupted" similar to the concept that men "just couldn't help themselves" when raping a woman. It is sickeningly maddening. When we reach the age of 21 in this country we are supposed to be treated as adults, dammit, and according to some document I can't seem to place at the moment, aren't we all supposed to be created equally? The adult mind has no trouble separating fact from fiction (OK, in the case of some brain damage, illness, etc. there are exceptions, and I can see why you would need to keep some stimuli from them.) and there should be no limit on the ideas that can be presented to any individual. Censorship as it is enacted today simply doesn't make any sense. The purpose is to remove corrupting ideas, right? The word "fuck" for example. It's removed indiscriminately from films, books, and music despite the utter nonsensical text it leaves behind, and the ludicrous manner in which it thwarts the censorship anyway. Take the following passage: "I fucking did her, man. It took me all night to get into that witch's pants, but when I did she was hot as hell and smooth as silk." Hmm. Offensive, misogynistic, and uses profanity. Better censor it: "I ******* did her, man. It took me all night to get into that witch's pants, but when I did she was hot as hell and smooth as silk." What the hell was the point here? What idea was censored? It's still offensive and misogynistic. The central idea, sex, is still present. The only censored word was being used as a colloquialism to add emphasis. "But wait, the word "fuck" is profanity." Why? "Because it is a crude manner of referring to sex." But the rest of the sentence is crudely referring to sex! "But it doesn't use profanity now." AAAAARRRRRRGGGGGHHHH!! The concept at work here is that the word itself is corrupting, not the idea behind it. Any idea presented using profanity automatically becomes a corrupting idea. Think about it. Four symbols arranged in sequence to symbolically represent a sound used to refer to intercourse will automatically corrupt your mind. What is this, magic? (Waaaait. Tetragrammaton...hmmm.) The concept seems to be that if we eliminate the word, the idea will be incapable of being expressed. Like if we remove the word "nigger" from the English language, people won't be racist any more. The purpose behind this kind of vocabulary censorship is not immediately evident. We've learned from George Orwell that one of the simplest, yet most difficult ways to limit opposition is to limit the useable vocabulary of your opponent. (Newspeak-double plus ungood) Those who are "politically correct" have determined which words are profane and which are not. I'm not conspiratorially-minded enough to think that it's done as a deliberate plan, but think about it. Some of the most backwoodsy folk don't keep up with what is and is not considered socially acceptable, and thus when they attempt to speak in public they come off as horribly racist, crude, and ignorant. Or at least, that's how people have decided they must be, to use words like that. I'm certain you've heard that "Huckelberry Finn" has been condemned as racist for it's use of the word "nigger." This completely ignores the fact that the book's central ideal is Mark Twain's intense anti-racist political message. This is the worst case of censorship, in which the ideas being presented are ignored because of the presence of a "corrupting" word. He used the word "nigger" in the phrase "Us niggers and white folks ain't really that much different." So that when the censor came by and saw the word "nigger," he, keeping in mind the embarrassment of the previous example where he couldn't see the forest (crude sexual reference) for the trees (one profane word) comes up with a censored version like this: "****************************************************", seeing a single tree ("nigger") and burning down the whole fucking forest.
An episode of "The Real World" in New Orleans had the kids on a swamp-boat tour of the swamp. At one point, their guide (who had a creole accent Gambit would have envied) pointed out a bird and said something like "that there's a black egret. Folks around here call that a nigger-stork." The black woman on the boat became immediately offended, and the guide became immediately labeled as a racist, despite the fact that he never did anything to justify such a label. He may have been insensitive, but the comment was never directed at anyone, and it's more a sign of the man's surroundings than anything else. (You want truly offensive? Look up the actual definition of "lousy dork.") Of course, you also have to recognize when the usage of the word is and is not racist. Even Shakespear used the term "nigger," but in his time it meant something similar to "miserly."
Got off on a bit of a tangent there. A related point is that I think the approach of censorship and automatic association of the use of certain terms is actually leading to a very dangerous situation in the world today. Take racism. The media's presentation of racism has become fairly uniform in recent years because there are only a few acceptable ways to present racists. WHITE trash with a confederate flag flying in their backyard, old WHITE rich men at the head of major corporations, or WHITE Neo-Nazi skinheads. While this may be true in some cases (Interestingly enough, it leads to anti-racist racist stereotypes ie. "all Germans are racist or anti-Semitic") those really aren't the problem areas. The problem is that I don't think people really understand that bigots are actual human beings. The media has made them into hollow, driven villains defined by these concepts, thus making the public think they could spot a racist a mile off. Everyone seems to think that it must have been self-evident that Hitler was a hideous monster of a man. That's the point, though. Hitler was an actual human being, and if you don't understand that normal human beings can be moved to do things like he did, how can we head off the next Hitler when he shows up? (Did you know that he wanted to be a painter?) I wonder if they would recognize an actual bigot if they ran into one, as they probably aren't sitting on a porch surrounded by old dogs with a confederate battle jack (the actual confederate flag doesn't look anything like that). They probably have full, individual lives in plain, ordinary jobs and homes, but they hold to ideas of racial superiority because they were raised that way or through interpretation of the world around them. (This is another system that feeds on itself...but that's another tangent.) My favorite author, H.P.Lovecraft, was a complete racist. In fact, he was the most dangerous kind of racist, an intellectual racist. (Some examples of intellectual racists were the ones that convinced the world that "separate but equal" would work, and thus didn't improve the situation at all, but made the US think the problem solved.) He believed in social Darwinism and "pure bloodlines" and wrote extensively in support of these beliefs, feeling that the conclusions were self-evident. If you go back and read his stories with this in mind, you can see signs of it. However, since it really isn't the point of his stories, his racism has no bearing on the quality of his writing. Nonetheless, you can damn well bet that no one wants to consider the work of a racist for conversion to film...
Similarly, the modern pattern of censorship (both in government decree and entertainment industry promotion) creates an entirely false view of the past. This is a more personal gripe I have about the refusal of the general public to admit to the mutable nature of commonly held morality over time, but it does have some application here. Look at any film set in historical times. Name me a noble king who had concubines, a racist "white hat" in a western, a great leader who began violent, bloody wars, and I will show you a film condemned by the industry, the public, and every concerned group available. (for a present-day example, look at Basic Instinct. Do you remember the hullabaloo that came about from all the lesbian activists who complained that the film portrayed lesbians and bisexual women as promiscuous, nymphomaniacal, disturbed psychotics? IMO, it didn't. It portrayed Sharon Stone's character as all of that, and never in the film was it hinted that we were supposed to expect this from ALL homosexuals.) The simple fact is that people refuse to admit that what was once considered acceptable, is now, because of a "paradigm shift" in the perception of the majority, considered hideously unacceptable. As far as the general public is concerned, if it is morally unacceptable now, it was morally unacceptable then, and anyone then who held those beliefs was just as irredeemably evil then as they are. This adds the "weight of age" to any modern moralistic argument, and is the basis behind anyone who is determined to show that we are all sinking into a more and more immoral age. The modern conception of the "nuclear family," for instance, is an artificial invention only about 70-75 years old (and that's being generous), and yet we get politicians decrying the destruction of the sacred institution of family by single mothers, broken homes, and people with alternative lifestyles. They talk like the world consisted of mothers and fathers with 2.3 children since time immemorial, and this willful ignorance, created by the censoring of past ideas that conflict with the idea of the past promoted by certain parties, results in a kind of "homogenization" of the past that is not only untrue, but gives people the false impression that they are holding up the ideals of a tried and tested system that has been in place for the history of mankind. (Sort of like the people who will viciously defend their belief that Jesus was a Caucasian, bearded man. Even if he wasn't black(as has been suggested), he would have been darker than is commonly portrayed. Why it should make any difference is beyond me. The present image was invented for lack of a better image by early religious painters.)
The worst effect of this rewriting has to do with the (IMO) unfair judgements it brings down upon past historical figures, and, by extension, upon anyone who could be associated with them today. I remember encountering the single most bigoted book I have ever seen while browsing through the stacks at Emory. It was a small, yellow sociology book, and, flipping through it randomly, I came across the following section. "It has been postulated in the past that the reason ideals such as Nazism and extreme forms of Socialism or Fascism have been able to take hold in Germany so frequently is that the German people are naturally weak-willed and seek guidance from a strong charismatic leader. This is actually untrue. The truth of the matter is that such ideas were able to take hold because the German people are naturally bitter, angry, and vitriolic towards the world and towards each other." (Another example of an intellectual bigot, but at the time of this publication, all of his ideas were readily accepted, if not held to be self-evident. 1960's.) Because of moral judgements leveled against the leaders of the Nazi movement (however justified) by people in another country more than a decade after the events in question, it became "self evident" that anyone who followed the party when it had been active is similarly guilty of such moral condemnation. I'm not talking about concentration camp guards here, or the upper echelons of the party, where policy was dictated, I'm talking about the nationalistic housewives waving Nazi flags, the idealistic young men who signed up to further the Nazi cause through expansion (part of the reason for the war was that Germany got into imperialism late, after most good parts of Africa, Asia, and Australia were taken. Germany was watching the rest of the world get rich off of foreign lands while they were playing catch-up. While a more direct cause of WWI, it was a motivator in WWII.), and all the war veterans who had fought in the "War to End All Wars" and lost. The truth of the matter was that Germany was in the middle of the worst depression western civilization had ever seen, having lost an enormous war, and had a large percentage of one generation wiped out. Hitler was a propaganda genius in a country trying to redefine itself. The lure of abject racism towards an "easily" identifiable group was an easy one to manipulate to political ends. (The "Jewish Conspiracy" has had parallel for thousands of years in other groups at other times. Jews were chosen as a scapegoat due to simmering worldwide anti-Semitism of the time. This was because of their tendency to live apart from the surrounding culture, often speaking a different language, radically different (in the eyes of their neighbors) religion and, going back even further, due to some coincidental policies of the Catholic church about usury (good Christians were not allowed to run banks, so the Jewish population was left with it) the Jews were often encountered by the "general public" as either bankers or people in political power, lending apparent credence to the concept of a powerful, rich, Jewish conspiracy. Needless to say, this appears ludicrous to most people today, but we didn't live in those times. For a similar case of an actual organization that held power under mysterious circumstances, and perhaps far less innocent ones, look up "Freemasons" and the REAL "Illuminati.") I realize that I have crammed another rant into the middle of this, but let me back up to the original topic by saying that, BECAUSE any attempt to justify treating members of the Nazi party as actual human beings following an attractive political ideal or the time are censored before they reach an audience, the average individual, when considering the Nazi party, comes to the conclusion that the entirety of Germany sort of spontaneously turned evil and genocidal a few years before WWII. The logic then follows that Germans might do it again, or that they are inherently this way. Naturally, this attitude toward Germany is RACIST. In attempting to cull racism by defining racists as complete monsters through the tools of media manipulation, history revision, and the "quieting" of any dissenting voices, we are actually creating MORE (if diametrically opposed) RACISTS who define the people they hate as RACIST. It's so convoluted and hypocritical that I have trouble understanding how it can work in the human mind.
Make no mistake, however, I do not wish to ban these "alternate perspectives"...censoring the censors in effect. Instead, it is vitally important that they be allowed to continue expressing their opinions where the rest of the world can see them. Why? Without truly seeing and understanding the problem, any attempts to address it can only be scattershot guesstimate attempts. In a perfect world, censorship would never be necessary, or even need to be considered, as everyone would be blessed with omniscient oversight of all relevant concepts in a particular topic, and thus everyone would be able to agree, or intellectually disagree on any subject, and biased, or bigoted opinions or positions would not exist. However, since we do not live in this perfect world, it becomes even more important that censorship is not allowed to quell any opinion or idea, no matter how ludicrous or biased. Quashing the opinions of those with "unacceptable" ideas is, in effect, attempting to remove the "problem" by ignoring it. Ignoring people who have appealing (to perhaps only a select group) ideas can appear to lend credence to their ideas, and grow a strong "underground" following. Ignoring ideas has never resulted in their extermination, and oppressing them, no matter what the ideas are, almost always encourages their growth in certain disenfranchised groups. "Look, everyone knows that the Jews control Hollywood. You notice that no celebrity ever declares this in a movie or on TV? Well, there you go!"
One of the most intelligent things I ever heard come from "The Daily Show" was a statement about the resurgence of the KKK. "Clansmen are a bit like clowns. They look big and scary in their costumes, but just remember, they can't hurt us as long as we keep laughing at them." If we don't get people like this out in the open where we can see and "laugh" at them, then they become dangerous.
And now, for an example of the most common true use of censorship...a brief history of EC comics.
William Gaines took over his father's comic book business "Educational Comics" in the late 40's. At this time the Superhero genre was well under way and experiencing it's "golden years". Educational Comics (EC) published a handful of (very very BAD) funny animal stories and comic versions of Bible stories. Naturally, they were barely staying afloat. William Gaines began to take the company in a completely different direction, while not canceling the previous titles immediately, by introducing the entire genre of horror comics. EC (now renamed "Entertaining Comics") took off. Their comics saw just as wide a distribution as Marvel or DC once they started selling well with "Tales from the Crypt", "The Vault of Horror" and "The Haunt of Fear" as well as "true crime" comics (which had had a few minor predecessors in the form of Dick Tracy style comics) "Shock Suspense Stories" "True Crime" etc. etc. Soon after EC took off, Gaines also started to publish MAD comics. (Later MAD magazine) With the newfound popularity of the horror, crime, and parody genre of comics, EC actually surpassed both Marvel and DC in monthly sales, after being under new management for only a short while. In response, DC and Marvel panicked. They began to copy-cat everything EC was doing right. DC came up with "The House of Mystery" and "The House of Secrets" Marvel came up with "Cracked". (Look to "House of Secrets" for the original appearance of Swamp Thing.) None were doing nearly as well as EC, though. (In fact, William Gaines, in the ultimate In-Your-Face decided to make fun of the two copycats by ripping off MAD-his own mag- with "Panic!") This was much more of an upset than the appearance of Image in recent years.
In one of the issues of MAD, Gaines tore into a local New York senator unrelentingly, and, in addition, there was some kind of manipulation that Gaines went through to reveal a nasty bit of scandal about the man. The senator (all this is from memory, so I may be wrong on the details) swore he would get back at Gaines. In an APPARENTLY UNRELATED INCIDENT, enter Dr. Werther. Dr. Werther was a child psychologist who published a book called "The Seduction of the Innocents" when he discovered that almost all juvenile offenders had, at one point, *gasp*, read comics! This startling revelation had gone largely unnoticed for a few years, but suddenly came to the fore in the political circle immediately following the incident with the senator. In the classic method, the politicians used a technique seen quite recently in this country. The technique of making parents fear their children. According to Dr. Werther, comics encouraged bad language skills (through the use of sound effects that confused the tender young minds) a lack of appreciation in art, a lack of civic-mindedness, a tendency toward violence and insolence towards parents, and even homosexuality (regarded at the time as a mental dysfunction or disease), citing Batman and Robin as an "appealing example of a homosexual lifestyle." Needless to say, Dr. Werther was full of shit. The McCarthy of comics. Whether he believed all this himself is up for debate. After a great deal of posturing and postulating on the part of various politicians in the New York area (enough to get the attention of the rest of the country and get back echos from like-minded politicians from further away) the sales for EC started to drop off a bit. Kids were buying them as fast as they could, but shopkeepers, fearful of parent reaction, were starting to hold back from shelving the comics. In those days, you would send a bundle of comics out to each distributor each month, and, at the end of the month, the surplus would be sent back. EC was starting to get a few completely unopened shipments back.
Then the master blow was struck. EC was called into court on pornography and indecency charges for their comics. The evident purpose was to shut down EC once and for all, or post a censor at their offices to tell them what was and was not allowed. Gaines really wasn't prepared for this, mostly because, in his naivete, he didn't think his 1st amendment rights could be legitimately threatened. Dr. Werther was called as an expert witness, Gaines was grilled on his editorial decisions about covers and stories (along with the infamous "injury to the eye" motif that still stands as the "farthest limit of violence in comics" for various metatextual reasons). Many, many cries of "who will protect the children" were heard from the prosecution.
In the end, the system worked. The court upheld Gaines's and EC's right to publish the material that they had been publishing, and would continue to publish. One of the more shining moments in court history, IMO, in that they were able to look past the hysterical parents, the pseudo-science, and could clearly see that the law had no business mucking around here. Unfortunately, that wasn't the end of the story. The case had brought around enough attention from church-groups and other "right-minded" individuals that distribution was encountering more and more problems, as more and more shopkeepers didn't want such an item to be displayed in their store. The final nail in the coffin of EC came from their competitors. The "top members of the industry" (Marvel and DC) got together and established a "self-regulation board" for comic producers. This is where we get the "comics code seal of approval." Sit down and read the comics code some time. It would be laughable if it hadn't accomplished so much harm. The code is filled with a handful of perhaps legitimate concerns, but the vast majority of it can only be explained as a specific targeting of EC. (who was still outselling Marvel and DC, both of whom had lost business to the trials as well. they were looking for a scapegoat.) "The word "crime" shall not appear in letters any larger than the rest of the title on the front cover of a comic." Well, I guess "True CRIME stories" won't be getting any approval. The comics-code seal of approval soon became the only way that distributors would stock their comics. Every comic producer would send their test-sheets into the self-regulation board, and the regulation board would send them back an approval, or a list of "suggested corrections." Needless to say, anything from EC rarely ever got by with the seal. In several instances, the corrections were more revealing of the board than of the comic companies. One of Gaines's "Weird Fantasy" (Sci-Fi) stories was about a human coming to a planet of blue and orange robots to determine if the robots were ready to join the planetary commonwealth. The blue robots were "inferior" and thus used by the orange robots as workers and servants. The human (who hasn't left his space suit due to the unbreathable air) tells the robots that they are not yet ready and leaves. When in space, we see him take off his helmet, and, in the last panel we see that he is black. The censorship board looked at the story and said "In the last panel, that man can't be black." Gaines just about exploded.
In the end, not having the comics code seal of approval meant you never made it onto the shelves, and thus never got bought. It was like having an X (not XXX...that's actually a label the makers use to advertize porn specifically, as opposed to X which merely means "content suitable only for adults") placed on your film thirty years ago. No theater would screen you, and (when they became available) no rental shop would stock you. EC went under because they couldn't get to their audience any more. The only thing that survived was MAD, because it was a magazine, not a comic (AAAARRRRRGGGGGHHHHHH), and was spun off into it's own company before EC went under. Fortunately, Gaines lived to see himself vindicated through HBO's production of "Tales from the Crypt" and died only shortly before the first film was made. (Incidentally, the Crypt keeper was never a skeleton originally. The joke was that, since "Tales from the Crypt" was being risen from the dead, so was the original host.)
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