Lillian Hellman, censored in Florida, knew a thing or two about blacklists

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Author Lillian Hellman's plays have been pulled from the shelves of Orange County Public School libraries in Orlando, Florida, victims of House Bill 1069--a bill restricting everything from pronoun use to sex education and other issues deemed offensive by Florida conservatives.

Hellman wouldn't have been surprised. Having lived through what she described as "scoundrel time" in her book about the 1950s blacklist, Hellman knew what happened when "We, as a people . . . agreed to swallow any nonsense that was repeated often enough, without examination of its meaning or investigation into its roots" (Scoundrel Time, 78). Worse still, Hellman wrote, was the way in which the censors of the 1950s picked frightened men to frighten first, knowing that they would have neither the courage to stand up, much less fight back. "Judas goats," she called them, "they'll lead the others, maybe, to the slaughter for you" (others meaning all those "who believe in this lovely land and its freedoms and rights, and who wish to keep it good and make it better" (Judas Goats). 

Fighting the enemies of one's country, Hellman concluded, is "still not un-American." 

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