Censorship is alive and well today in books and songs


Thank you, Danny Stusser and Ryan Vandergriff, for reviewing my rock biography, Somebody Else’s Dream: Dakota, the Buoys, and “Timothy,” especially Ryan’s description of the book as “a tour de force bit of writing.” 

The Buoys, from Northeastern Pennsylvania, toured the west coast in support of their banned song, “Timothy.” They were the opening act at the 1971 Satsop River Fair & Tin Cup Races Festival for two consecutive days. It was a four-day ordeal that drew 150,000 people — the largest audience the Buoys (who later became Dakota) ever saw. Satsop’s largest single-day crowd, with The Buoys as the opening act, was estimated at around 35,000 attendees. 

But the story of The Buoys is more than just opening for “the first legal festival in Washington State.”

The song “Timothy” was banned because of “inappropriate content,” ugly references to cannibalism during the 1963 Sheppton, Pennsylvania, mining disaster. Unfortunately, that censorship is alive and well today in books and songs, as politicians and school boards continue to ban ideas presenting different opinions. 

George Orwell’s dystopian view of the future, 1984, published in 1949, was banned in the U.S. for being pro-Communism and banned in Russia for being anti-Communism. 

John Steinbeck’s, The Grapes of Wrath, won the 1940 Pulitzer Prize, but The Associated Farmers of California publicly burned the book, calling it “a pack of lies” and Communist. 

Still controversial, The Handmaid's Tale, originally published in 1985, depicted a patriarchal, totalitarian, and theocratic society in the near future. It was removed from classroom and library bookshelves nine times over 2021-2022.

Author Salman Rushdie spent years hiding after Iran’s Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a 1989 edict, a fatwa, calling for his death after the publication of his novel The Satanic Verses, which some Muslims consider blasphemous. As a result, Rushdie lost sight in one eye and use of a hand from an attack by a man who rushed the stage in an August 2022 attack.

The Buoy’s “Timothy” is a contemporary example of censorship that goes against the principles of free speech in an open society. Thankfully, they were able to perform that song uncensored at the legendary Satsop Festival.


Maxim Furek

Furek is a "Rock Journalist" based in northeast Pennsylvania. He's published several books, including one on the Sheppton Mining Disaster, which led to his interest in the song titled, "Timothy."

EDITOR'S NOTE:  The opinions expressed above are those of Maxim W. Furek and not necessarily of The JOLT or its staff or board of directors.  

Further, if you'd like to express your opinions, please write them up and send them to us, especially if you are focused on Lacey or Tumwater. If you've got questions about what would be acceptable, please call Danny Stusser on 360-357-1000 x1. 


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