Index: a Selective Timeline of Censorship 1235-2003.
1235 Pope Gregory IX establishes the Inquisition to patrol and enforce the orthodoxy of Catholicism.
1534 Martin Luther's translation of the Bible into vernacular German, Biblia, dat ist, die gantze Heiluge Schrift Deudsch is burned by the Catholic church.
1555 Pope Paul IV places the Prince and the Discourses by former papal ambassador Niccolo Machiavelli on the Index of Prohibited Books.
1571 Pope Paul IV issues the first formal Index Librorum Prohibitorum, or Index of Prohibited Books.
1600 Giordano Bruno, a defender of Copernican theories of the universe, is executed as a heretic by the Inquisition following an eight-year imprisonment.
1619 Lucilio Vanini is burned at the stake by the Inquisition for suggesting that humans evolved from apes.
1633 Galileo Galilei is placed under house arrest by the Inquisition--until his death in 1642--for heretical teachings published in his book, Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems.
1798 The US Congress passes the Sedition Act of 1798. The act punished those who uttered or published "false, scandalous, and malicious" writings against the government. Expires 1801.
1801 French police arrest the Marquis de Sade and seize copies of Justine, ou les Malheurs de la Vertu.
1818 Thomas Bowdler, a member of the English Society for the Suppression of Vice, publishes The Bowdler Family Shakespere, removing all "words and expressions ... which cannot with propriety be read aloud in a family."
1864 Gustave Flaubert's Madame Bovary is placed on the Index Librorum Prohibitorum.
1873 The US Congress passes the Comstock Act, criminalizing the mailing of "obscene, lewd or lascivious book or other publication of indecent character." The bill was named for Anthony Comstock, founder and secretary of the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice.
1877 Annie Besant stands trial in England for the printing and distribution of The Fruits of Philosophy, a pamphlet on birth control described as "indecent, lewd and obscene."
1918 The US Congress passes another Sedition Act, forbidding spoken or printed criticism of the US government, the Constitution or the flag. Repealed 1921.
1922 500 copies of James Joyce's Ulysses are burned by the United States Department of the Post Office. The book is also banned in the UK.
1925 The "Scopes Monkey Trial" occurs in Dayton, Tennessee. School teacher John Thomas Scopes is found guilty of violating a Tennessee law prohibiting teaching the theory of evolution in public schools.
1928 Lady Chatterley's Lover by DH Lawrence is banned in the UK.
1933 Dr. Paul Joseph Goebbels, Germany's propaganda minister, oversees the burning of 20,000 books by students near the University of Berlin. The books include those by many authors, including Einstein, London, Sinclair, Freud and Wells.
1933 Diego Rivera's mural Portrait of America, for the Rockefeller Center in New York, is destroyed because it contains a portrait of Lenin.
1934 The Hays Code is introduced, regulating the American Film industry.
1938 The House Committee to investigate Un-American Activities (HUAC) is chartered.
1941 The US Congress authorizes President Franklin D. Roosevelt to create the Office of Censorship.
1947 and 1951 The Congressional House Un-American Activities Committee, lead by Senator Joe McCarthy, forces some 324 Hollywood workers out of work for alleged membership of the Communist Party.
1948 The final edition of the Index Librorum Prohibitorum is published.
1948 Hollywood's Production Code Administration (PCA) demands cuts in Vittorio De Sica's The Bicycle Thief. The cuts are not made and the film is released without the PCA'S seal of approval--making it very difficult to screen.
1948 The Alien Registration Act 1940 is used to convict II members of the central committee of the American communist party. They are charged with organizing around and advocating the "necessity, desirability, or propriety" of overthrowing the government by force. The act was declared unconstitutional in 1957.
1951 The New York Board of Regents revokes the license for the film, The Miracle, on the ground that the work was "sacrilegious." The Supreme Court subsequently decided that "sacrilege" was not a sufficient reason to ban a play.
1960 Irish government censors call Edna O'Brien's first novel, The Country Girls, a "smear on Irish womanhood." The government subsequently bans her next six books.
1961 The French government publishes Livres Condamne--Livres Interdits, its official list of banned books.
1962 The French police censor reports in the newspapers L'Humanite and Liberation on demonstrations supporting negotiations with the Algerians during the Algerian War.
1964 Justice Potter Stewart states, "I shall not here today attempt further to define (obscenity) ... But I know it when I see it" in a case brought by the State of Ohio against Louis Malle's film, The Lovers.
1966 Edward Kienholz's retrospective at the Los Angeles Contemporary Art Museum is attacked by the LA County Board of supervisors. The Board demands that two works, Back Seat Dodge '38 and Roxys are removed from the show, and threatens the museum's funding. In a compromise decision two pieces are modified and the show is permitted to go on.
1967 An exhibition at the gallery of the Argentine Artists' Society in honor of Che Guevara is raided and closed down.
1967 The Rolling Stones renames "Let's spend the night together" for its appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show after Sullivan finds the chorus of the song, "objectionable." The group instead sings, "Let's spend some time together."
1970 A local district attorney closes and arrests the organizers of "The People's Flag Show" at Judson Church in New York for what he regards as "Vietnam War-inspired flag abuse."
1971 The Guggenheim Museum in New York cancels Hans Haacke's exhibition about the real estate holdings of trustees of the Guggenheim.
1973 Kurt Vonnegut's novel, Slaughterhouse Five, is burned on the orders of the board at Drake High School in North Dakota after a teacher orders it for his class.
1977 Jacobo Timerman, editor of the Buenos Aires newspaper La Opinion, and a trenchant critic of the Argentine government is imprisoned without trial for thirty months and expelled from the country.
1978 Monty Python's Life of Brian is banned in various cities in the UK, Chile, South Africa and elsewhere.
1983 Martin Scorsese's film of Nikos Kazantzakis' book Last Temptation of Christ is banned in Chile. The Catholic church banned the book in 1955.
1987 National Endowment for the Arts chairman Frank Hodsoll vetoes funding for a Washington, DC, electronic billboard project by Jenny Holzer and others.
1987 The British government bans former spy Peter Wright's book, Spycatcher, but the book is readily available elsewhere.
1989 Members of the US Congress attack National Endowment for the Arts-funded works by Robert Mapplethorpe and Andres Serrano--resulting in a long-running debate over federal funding for the NEA.
1989 A mural outside an elementary school depicting children holding once-banned books climbing an endless staircase is redone, changing the titles of the books.
1989 Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issues a fatwa condemning Salman Rushdie to death for alleged blasphemy against Islam in his novel, The Satanic Verses.
1990 A Robert Mapplethorpe retrospective, "The Perfect Moment," at the Contemporary Arts Center of Cincinnati is raided and indictments are brought against museum director Dennis Barrie and the Arts Center on obscenity charges.
1991 Media coverage of the Gulf War is subjected to widespread censorship, authorized by the Pentagon.
1994 Saudi Arabia bans satellite television dishes.
1994 The movie Schindler's List is banned in Malaysia and withdrawn from the Philippines after threats to censor it.
1995 The Smithsonian Institution cancels an exhibition organized by the National Air and Space Museum questioning whether the dropping of a nuclear bomb on Hiroshima was necessary.
1996 Shakespeare's Twelfth Night is banned from schools in Merrimack, New Hampshire, because the play violates the school board's decision not to teach about alternative lifestyles.
1997 The art museum at Brigham Young University, Utah, forces the removal of four August Rodin sculptures from an exhibition.
1998 Terrence McNally's play Corpus Christi is withdrawn by the Manhattan Theater Club following protests by conservative religious organizations. The play is reinstated following intense pressure.
1998 The US Supreme Court upholds the "decency" standard for federal grants to the arts, requiring that "general standards of decency and respect for the diverse beliefs and values of the American public" be taken into account when making grants.
1999 Then-New York City mayor Rudi Giuliani orders the Brooklyn Museum to remove a Chris Ofili's piece, The Holy Virgin Mary, from the "Sensation" exhibition and threatens the museum's funding. A court rules in favor of the museum.
2000 Barbie doll-maker Mattel sues artist Tom Forsythe over his photographs of Barbies in various poses.
2000 China's Ministry of State Security initiates censorship of foreign news websites, creates a special internet police and shuts down sites posting articles critical of the government.
2000 A French judge orders internet portal Yahoo! to prevent French web surfers from accessing American websites offering Nazi memorabilia for auction. Yahoo! refuses to comply but does ban the sale of such items on its websites the following year.
2001 The Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA) goes into effect in the US. This new law requires public and school libraries receiving federal assistance for internet connections to install filters on all computers.
2002 The prosecutor's office in Russia charges author Vladimir Sorokin with pornography for a scene in his book Goluboe Salo (Blue Fat) depicting a sexual act between Stalin and Khrushchev.
2002 At the request of Attorney General John Ashcroft, the Department of Justice purchases drapes to cover the two semi-nude art deco statues that have been in the Great Hall of the Department since the 1930s.
2003 The Cincinnati Playhouse cancels a tour of Glyn O'Malley's award-winning play Paradise that reflects on the conflict between Israel and Palestine following complaints by Cincinnati Muslims.
2003 The state of New Jersey decides to abolish the position of poet laureate after controversy surrounding a poem by incumbent Amiri Baraka.
2003 Some Catholic universities cancel productions of Eve Ensler's play The Vagina Monologues.