Poison as a metaphor used in censorship  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Poison is a term frequently used as a metaphor used in the history of censorship. One of the first times was in the Proclamation For the Encouragement of Piety and Virtue of 1787 ("Poison to the minds of the Young and Unwary").

The Obscene Publications Act 1857 was coupled with a bill aiming to restrict the sale of poisons. Lord Campbell, the man behind the bill, was taken by the analogy between the sale of poison and the sale of obscene literature, and he famously referred to the London pornography trade as "a sale of poison more deadly than prussic acid, strychnine or arsenic."

A later similar analogy was drawn by British critic James Douglas in describing The Well of Loneliness in 1928; "I would rather give a healthy boy or a healthy girl a phial of prussic acid than this novel".

See also

history of censorship

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