Last weekend I gave six Woody Allen DVDs to a charity shop.

Maybe the shop assistant imagined I was ditching them in disgust at the sex abuse allegations levelled at the filmmaker.

I wasn’t. It’s just that I found a box set of 20 of his films going cheap, and was giving away the duplications.

It’s worth pointing out that the allegations are only those, allegations. Woody Allen and his son Moses Farrow claim they’re completely false and motivated by malice.

But even if they are true, would it be grounds to stop watching his films?

That question – of whether you can or should divide art from the artist – is a moral dilemma which has just resurfaced.

It arose with the screening of Leaving Neverland, the documentary in which two men describe abuse they suffered at the hands of Michael Jackson. Again, the claims have been denied, though the film makes a persuasive case.

So should Jackson’s records be banned?

Gary Glitter was quickly dropped from ads for Young Person’s Railcards and is never heard on the radio anymore. Jimmy Savile was a regular presenter of Top of the Pops for years yet none of the current BBC4 repeats ever feature him.

Jackson could also be banned from the airwaves, though it would be hard to eradicate him from history. There are at least 60 million copies of his album Thriller across the world.

But should anyone really be eradicated from history? We can and should condemn evil behaviour, especially against children. But we can’t and shouldn’t pretend the criminals never existed and remove all trace of them. Books, films and TV documentaries abound about some of the last century’s worst criminals, Hitler and Stalin. We need to know about them.

In any case dealing with evil behaviour by banning the work of the evildoer is a pointless form of censorship. It does nothing to undo the wrongdoing or to stop it happening in future.

And censoring anything is guaranteed to make it more popular, as the BBC learnt to their cost. In 1984 they banned Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s first single Relax – and thereby sent it straight up the charts to number one, where it sat for five weeks.

When their second single Two Tribes was released it went straight to number one. And then Relax climbed back up to number two. So that worked well. That ban was probably the best thing that ever happened to the group.

Censorship also turned Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses into a roaring success, and its author into a household name. In January 1989 WH Smith were selling only 100 copies a week and planned to drop it. Then, thanks to book burnings and death threats, it became an international bestseller.

Look hard enough and you’ll find wrongdoing everywhere. Some is worse than others.

Child molestation is not as bad as murder but much worse than burglary, and burglary is worse than shoplifting. Shoplifting from a small store must be worse than stealing from a huge chain. So where exactly do you draw the line?

The publication of Philip Larkin’s letters revealed a great deal of nasty racism. His biography disclosed that, at one point, he was conducting affairs with three women simultaneously.

But he’s still one of Britain’s most popular poets. It’s the poems I like, for their tough honesty, gentle sadness and humour. I wouldn’t want to go for a pint with the poet.

Julian Lennon has described his father John as uninterested in him and guilty of cheating on his mother Cynthia – and says he was a hypocrite in preaching about the importance of love while failing to show it to them.

Does that mean we have to dismiss all the music of one half of the last century’s greatest songwriting partnership?

What matters about art – whether it’s literature, music, painting, sculpture, film or anything else – is how it makes you feel. You may laugh or cry or feel moved or inspired. You don’t have to like the creator.

Great art can be made by terrible people, and it’s daft to believe any artist’s personality or behaviour must be good because their work is. It’s an example of celebrity culture at its stupidest.

Our response to Michael Jackson’s alleged crimes shouldn’t be to ban his records. It should be to take them as a warning against unthinking idol worship.