WILSON, Robert

Author Tags: Law, Sex, Women

"By normal standards, I guess he'd be considered kinky. He had some deviational needs... I liked and respected him. He was great company." -- Wendy King, describing her client Judge John Farris

With an introduction by Laurier Lapierre, The Wendy King Story (Vancouver, Langen Communications Ltd., 1980) by Robert George Wilson and Wendy King is perhaps the most notorious 'banned' book in B.C. publishing history. The prostitution memoir and court case chronicle sheds light on the sex scandal that resulted in the resignation of provincial Chief Justice John Farris after the RCMP discovered his connections to Wendy King and the Judicial Council of Canada began an investigation into his conduct in 1978. While providing some frank and engaging commentary from Wendy King about how and why she became a discreet and successful prostitute, and also tracing the method by which she was entrapped by police wiretapping, The Wendy King Story contains a transcript of a conversation between Wendy King and Farris. Going against the tide of muted media coverage, this perspective from King, a Vancouver prostitute, was banned from sale when it appeared in 1980--but not because any of the information about Farris was deemed erroneous.

On page 112 Wendy King reveals she believed she once had another client who became a judge. She describes their meeting at a downtown hotel and his extreme concerns about secrecy. This person's identity was marked in her confiscated list of clients as Davey F. "Technically," Wendy King writes, "the chief prosecutor was right when he said that the name of no elected or appointed official appears in the book." In fact, as the publisher Langen later discovered to his dismay, King had been misled by one of her clients who had led her to think he was Justice E. Davie Fulton. This client was not only impersonating Fulton, he also bore a striking resemblance to him. To prevent circulation of the book, Justice E. Davie Fulton of the B.C. Supreme Court commenced a libel action against Robert Wilson, King and the book's publisher. Simultaneously bookstores were sent letters from Fulton's lawyers threatening legal action if they sold the book. Most bookstores withdrew the title. Langen rented a vacant commercial space and called it "The Wendy King Bookstore" where the book was sold without legal actions taken against him. Langen also opened outlets in eastern Canada to try and sell the book, but it soon became a collector's item. Copies of The Wendy King Story are only available in used bookstores or via the Internet.

Robert George Wilson was born in Toronto in 1932 and he came to B.C. in 1952. His other book is The Confessions of Klaus Barbie (Pulp Press, 1984), the infamous 'butcher of Lyon'. Born in the village of Bad Godesberg in 1913, Barbie served under Himmler, head of the Gestapo, and became a Nazi party member in 1937. As head of the Fourth Section of the Gestapo, stationed in Lyon, Barbie infamously sent 44 Jewish children to Auschwitz and was responsible for the torture and death of Jean Moulin, the highest ranking member of the French Resistance ever captured by the Nazis. Allegedly responsible for the deaths of more than 26,000 people, Barbie was a sadist who received the "First Class Iron Cross with Swords" from Hitler, in person. American intelligence agents reputedly protected Barbie after World War II, from 1945 to 1955, due to his anti-communism and 'police skills', even though Barbie had been convicted of war crimes in abstentia and accorded the death penalty. Barbie and his family escaped to Latin America and gained citizenship in Bolivia in 1957. Using the name Klaus Alttman, he was an interrogator and torturer for dictatorships in Bolivia and Peru, even after he was identified by Nazi hunters ('Klarsfelds'). When a politically moderate regime was finally elected in Bolivia in 1983, Barbie was left unprotected at last. Deported to France, he was tried in Lyon in 1987 and sentenced to life imprisonment. He died in prison in 1991.

[Alan Twigg / BCBW 2003] "Law" "Censorship" "Sex" "Jacket" "Women"

Censorship & The Wendy King Story

The Wendy King Story is an overt case of censorship that, in retrospect, is unusually straightforward. The ongoing stuggles of Little Sister's Emporium to import titles for its primarlily gay and lesbian clientele have resulted in an exhausting and complex string of legal cases against Canada Customs. As well, ongoing efforts of some parents in Surrey to prevent their children from having access to children's books in Surrey school libraries that provide positive depictions of same-sex couples as parents have resulted in a series of on-again, off-again legal challenges. The B.C. Intellectual Freedom Committee has prepared a partial list of other titles and readings that have been 'banned' or prevented from sale in British Columbia. These include:

-- Nobody Has to be a Kid Forever by Hila Colman and Blubber and Then Again, Maybe I Won't both by Judy Blume. Recalled from Castlegar elementary schools after complaints from a mother that they were "soft-core pornography" and "filth". [Schools Recall 'Teen' Books, Vancouver Sun 25 February 1981, p. A10]

-- In 1983, a poetry reading by John Lane was cancelled by the Prince George public library because a swear word was found in one of his poems. [Prince George Citizen 25 October 1986]

-- Boys and Sex by Wardell Baxter Pomeroy. Challenged in 1984 by Julia Serup, a parent of a child in a Prince George school, due to its content of "deviant sexual activity." The book was removed from the school library in April 1984, but was later returned. [Peace Arch News (White Rock) 14 January 1995]

-- Breaking Up by Norma Klein. In October 1984, the Vernon School Board ordered the removal of all copies of this book from junior secondary school because parents objected to references to female masturbation and lesbianism, and descriptions of male sex organs and sex scenes. [Book Pulled from School Following Sex Complaint, Vancouver Sun 11 October 1984, p. B7]

-- After releasing the New Reality: Politics of Restraint in B.C., New Star Books claimed it was being discriminated against in terms of its access to provincial lottery revenues because funds could no longer subsidize books on "economic, political and social history and comment." Two years later, this lottery fund rule was revoked. [Censorship Alive and Kicking, The News (Burnaby) 4 March 1992]

-- In 1986, a lay preacher complained to Coquitlam public library that a children's picture book contained "vampirism".[Protecting the Right to Read, Coquitlam Now 2 March 1994]

-- The Advocate. Banned by Canada Customs in 1986 enroute to Little Sister's Book and Art Emporium. [Little Sister's Loses Customs Appeal, The Vancouver Sun 25 June 1998, p. B1]

-- Dzelarhons: Mythology of the Northwest Coast by Anne Cameron. Seized on June 4, 1986 by Canada Customs while being imported by Little Sisters. One story of this collection is the retelling of a legend where a woman marries a bear and has two children. Customs seized it on the basis that it contained "bestiality"; they later released it. [Customs Releases ŽBear' Book, Globe and Mail 26 June 1986]

-- The Sorcerer's Apprentice by Robin Muller. In February 1987, there was a demonstration outside the New Westminster Public Library during the writer-illustrator's talk to students in grades two and four. Protesters felt the book taught about witchcraft and black magic. Due to the protest, he chose another book to talk about. [Foe of Occult Raps Talk by Writer, The Vancouver Sun 20 February 1987, p. C5]

-- Joy of Gay Sex by Charles Silverstein and Edmund White. Prohibited by Canada Customs, until it was declared not obscene by the courts on May 3, 1987. [Freedom to Read Week Kit 1996 A Chronology of Freedom of Expression in Canada, Book and Periodical Council, p. 4]

-- The Five Chinese Brothers by Claire Huchet Bishop and Kurt Weise. In 1987 this book (which was originally published in 1938) was removed from use in Vancouver schools because it was seen as stereotypical and derogatory. Eric Wong, the School Board's consultant on race relations defended the decision by saying that, "the time we have our students in schools, we role-model a lot of things. Education isn't just random, you have to organize it. If you use a book like that, it's going to have a profound effect on children, not just on the majority group, but also on the minority group." [Banned: Some Throw Book at Censors, Vancouver Sun 16 June 1987, p. B1]

-- Wheels for Walking by Sandra Richmond. This book about an 18-year-old girl who becomes quadriplegic after a ski accident was removed from Abbotsford schools in 1987 because it uses strong language and has sexual content. [Banned: Some Throw Book at Censors, Vancouver Sun 16 June 1987, p. B1]

-- Earth Child Series by Jean Auel. In 1988, books in this series were removed from the Williams Lake School (District 27) library due to passages that were felt to be sexually explicit. [Peace Arch News (White Rock) 27 February 1988]

-- Kane and Abel by Jeffrey Archer. In 1988, a request was made to the Central Okanagan School Board to remove this book from secondary school libraries, on a charge that it was pornographic. The Board refused. [Out With the Old, Not Porno, The Province 25 March 1988, p. 35]

-- For All the Wrong Reasons by John Neufield. Removed by the Central Okanagan School Board. A reason given was that it was "dated, not pornographic." [Out With the Old, Not Porno, The Province 25 March 1988, p. 35]

-- Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie. Canadian Customs placed an import block on this novel, six months after it had been for sale in Canada. They decided that it was not hate literature as defined by the Criminal Code, and rescinded the ban within 48 hours. Canada became the only western democracy to detain this book. Coles bookstores pulled all the copies of this novel from their shelves. [Rushdie's Book Hard to Find, Nanaimo Daily Free Press, 22 February 1989; The Vancouver Sun, 22 February 1989; Freedom to Read Week Kit 1996 A Chronology of Freedom of Expression in Canada, Book and Periodical Council, p. 4; Dixon Deplores Book Seizures, The Vancouver Sun, 22 February 1989, p. B8]

Information on censorship repeated herein is courtesy of the B.C. Intellectual Freedom Committee. More information is available from their website.