Argument for book banning . . . or at least a forewarning of content

safelibraries.blogspot.com points to tulsaworld.com where a Brigham Young University freshman (she's also an AP literature student with a kick-butt ACT reading score) is shocked and offended she had to read "Beloved" and "Catch-22". She's not not advocating censorship, she would just prefer compelling literature without the public-pleasing passages that "elevate" the book to best-selling status. Or maybe just some form of warning, a label, a rating or even hint on the outside of literature

In every other entertainment industry, producers are required to rate their product so the public can make an informed decision. Which is the greater travesty? Depriving the reader of information, judgment and free choice and calling it freedom of speech, or risking the buzzword "censorship" to facilitate knowledge and choice?

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they're called "book reviews." read some.

seriously, you couldn't find any content evaluations or audience recommendations for Beloved or Catch-22?

maybe this is your calling, to create a service that rates reading material, like "kids-in-mind.com" (for movies). I love kids-in-mind because it tells me exactly which movies I should see; mmm, Zombie Strippers: an 8 (out of 10) for sex, a 10 for violence, and an 8 for profanity. cool!

As librarians....

As librarians we can serve the patron ...all patrons... by providing reviews that can assist reader in the selection of materials appropriate to their needs.

Some people want Pollyanna (in a figurative sense as well as Pollyanna) and some want blood and guts. That is why we became librarians, n'est pas?

wishing to warn readers?

The fact that "in every other entertainment industry, producers are required to rate their product so the public can make an informed decision" does not obligate book publishers to do likewise. I find the statement itself both disheartening and repulsive. Firstly, let's get back to reading for the sake of enjoyment, enrichment, and knowledge. In a culture where practically everything and everyone is now a commodity, it's no wonder reading itself is being seen only as a product of the publishing industry (or entertainment industry as you put it). Secondly, making "an informed decision" about anything requires more than a cursory glance at a warning label or rating system put in place by others. To sacrifice your own evaluation of something to the opinion of others may save you some time, but it certainly does not make for a quality assessment.
If you wish to fully evaluate a piece of writing, there is only one way to do this: read it yourself. Then and only then will you be able to make an informed and intelligent assessment of its contents; and to determine whether those contents will enrich you or not.

Just a little disagreement

"The fact that" isn't a fact--it's a false assertion on the student's part.

Even in the most obvious example, MPAA ratings, (1) it's not the producers who rate the films, (b) the ratings are voluntary, enforced only by theater/distributor unwillingness to deal with unrated films, (c) many DVDs don't have ratings.

I'm also disheartened by the concept that books are just another part of "the entertainment industry." So much for knowledge and enlightenment...

(I'm not disagreeing with most of what you say---but what this person said simply isn't a fact.)

I see

Safe libraries' conception of community standards?

Mormons.

Mormons?

So Mormons are not allowed to have community standards?

So social mores are fine if they are yours, but everyone else has to observe yours?

Conservative religiously observant communities are not allowed to have standards that they feel meet their needs?

Is it just Mormons you don't like? How about Roman Catholics, they have some pretty strict social norms. I bet Orthodox Jews, and observant Muslims really get your goat.

not the existence of religion so much ...

Community standards are applied to a community. If Miss Fussy Britches (read the article) wants to censor something she has to take into account the entire community. Which, I can only assume, when presented with a list of Mormon beliefs and practices, would finish their coffee and say no thanks.

No one has to observe my standards or theirs, but they do have to find a consensus that a majority of people in the community can live with.

Muslims and Orthodox Jews don't "get my goat." I'm just pretty sure that people who like pork, regular sex, leaving the house on Friday nights and women with bare calves (I think that's everyone) would like to have those things without some stuck-up killjoy from the mosque, synagogue or church down the street hassling them. That is not a community standard in the sense of the community that uses the school but rather their religious community.

And who cares about that? It's not just the atheist that dislike the hand of the Sky God in their lives. It's also the people who have different Sky Gods.

If the author really wanted this addressed then she would have her parents speak with the teacher and principal about alternative assignments, which I'm sure would be no problem due to her "kick-butt ACT reading score" (isn't pride a sin?). But she chose to speak on everyone's behalf.

And if she can't get the AP credit for reading the PG-13 literature then she should take it up with the Advanced Placement Board and leave the grown-ups and mature teenagers to read in peace.

everyone else has to observe yours?

"So social mores are fine if they are yours, but everyone else has to observe yours? "

Isn't that the Republican Party's new motto?

"So social mores are fine if they are ours"

Beats me

I have no idea about Republic mores.

Roman Catholic, those I can help you with, but I am going to venture a guess that the Republicans are a bit more...shall we say... relaxed than that. Although Mark Foley was chastised for sending racy emails to 18 year olds...so who knows which way the Republican wind is blowing today. I guess it depends on who is doing what to whom.

If we all (meaning Roman Catholics) followed our own norms we would be a lot better off as a group. I am not holding my breath.

Fiction, by its definition

Fiction, by its definition is a story that is made up. Part of making up a good story is putting all the necessary components in there - and most of the good ones are good because they include all the ugly parts of life - sex, violence, drugs, etc. It is reality and sometimes it is good to make people fae the ugly things so that they can appreciate their pleasant sanitized lives. I have had my fill of all the righteous, naive, religious based arguments out there. We are not ruled by religion, but by logic and laws which should NOT be influenced by the various religious beliefs out there. There are plenty of christian bookstores and family friendly reviews to protect the innocents and keep reality from knocking on their door. Also consider that once you make something "rated" more kids will want to get a hold of it to see what is so naughty about it, so maybe ratings would be good..... :-)

public-pleasing passages

The "Alice in Wonderland" approach to studying literature is not possible, or even desirable.

I wish her opinion had a warning label on it....

Something along the lines of "Self-righteous Twaddle from a Sheltered Author Who Resents Exposure to New Things."

So much is worrisome.... Her first "sex education" is in the form of literature in her senior year of high school? Challenging subject matter is simply there to be "public pleasing?" The Bible is a prime example of "inoffensive" literature...what with its incest and murder and torture? Apparantly ACT scores do not take critical thinking into account.

"Which is the greater travesty? Depriving the reader of information, judgment and free choice and calling it freedom of speech, or risking the buzzword 'censorship' to facilitate knowledge and choice?" Or is the greater travesty insisting on assigning labels to books so that you don't have to worry that your delicate sensibilities will be offended by the evils that please "the public," because as an 18 year old prodigy you are already the best judge of what is and is not good for others to be exposed to?

Yes, I do defend her right to say what she pleases, but I sure hope that she is never allowed to shape public policy.

How open minded

Because someone has different views from yours you want to restrict her career choices.

Rather than suggesting that she consult with a librarian so that she may be provided with reviews as she considers her choices in literature, you belittle her.

Excellent work there. I wish you were a librarian in my town so you could personally insult the students here rather than providing them with reading material that meets their needs.

Do you think the only valid opinions are yours and that your values are the only correct ones?

Ahhh, you have warmed my

Ahhh, you have warmed my shriveled dried-up little heart!

Had I said "there are things called book reviews, read them" I would have been repeating the same thing others have already posted.

The girl knows better than her teachers; I'm sure she knows better than librarians too. She already knows the solution she wants, and it's impossible to help people who have already made up their minds. The teacher had already provided her with material that met her needs (isn't the need in literature courses pretty well met by reading what is assigned?) and she was not happy with that.

"Do you think the only valid opinions are yours and that your values are the only correct ones?"
Why, yes, of course;don't you feel the same way about yours?

Bookstores

>>(1) it's not the producers who rate the films, (b) the ratings are >>voluntary, enforced only by theater/distributor unwillingness to deal >>with unrated films,

Going on the distributor idea maybe this is a niche that bookstores could fill. A bookstore could categorize books in ways that would be usefull to their customers. So a parent could say, "I am buying a book for a 12 year old and I need a book where no one is getting blown."

I like this comment at the

I like this comment at the bottom of the page. Sums up how I feel about the whole article.

"First of all, this National Merit Scholar/AP literature student with a kick-butt ACT reading score" needs to do a little homework on the MPAA's rating system and the RIAA's "Tipper Sticker" system. Both are not required - the record company that puts out the album can choose to opt out of the sticker business, and the MPAA rating is not backed by any law - the ratings are only a suggestion.

So no, dear Merit Scholar, producers are not required to do anything about the content of their work, and may choose to opt out of the rating system quite easily - this goes for both audio materials and film.

For someone who seems to have thought about the issue at some length, she sure doesn't seem to grasp a basic knowledge of performing the necessary research. "

Replying to anon

'So a parent could say, "I am buying a book for a 12 year old and I need a book where no one is getting blown."'

Isn't that what good Librarians can do for you?

For me the whole article is moot due to the first quote: 'Yay! More black-and-white pornography!"
She knew exactly what it was then to make that judgement!

Depending on the context

It does make sense that a formal literature class is going to require people to go outside their comfort zones, so the procedures will be different there.

In terms of general public library recreational reading, it can be very useful to know quickly about a book's content. For example, we serve a lot of rural nursing homes. Those are some very picky patrons, even the ones who aren't particularly religious. They want romances, but nothing spicy. And we have thus found lines of books that advertise themselves as being squeaky clean and purchase everything they churn out. When a nursing home employee is picking up 10-20 books at a time, they need that instant information; they can't be reading stacks of reviews. And other patrons can see that 'clean' label and ignore those books.

It seems to be much less controversial -- and more accurate -- than doing the reverse and having the other books have warnings.

Palin and Bookbanning

Sarah Palin when mayor of her Alaska town tried to ban books from the local library and it took a major revolt and effort to stop her. Now she wants to be VP of the US. Not a good sign for librarians and readers who are opposed to book-banning!

That is simply not true.

When mayor Sarah Palin did not request the removal of any books from her city's public library.

Please see this article from a local newspaper.

Please also see this from the Boston Herald.

Or this from the Anchorage Daily News, although the headline is a bit misleading.

What is true is that censorship and removal off books was discussed by the city's librarian and Sarah Palin both before Palin took office as mayor and after she was sworn in.

Mayor Palin did ask for the librarian's resignation when she requested the resignation of four other department heads. It is not an uncommon practice for city department directors to be replaced when an administration changes. One may compare this with the traditional blanket resignations of senior government officials when a new President takes office. As these officials serve at the pleasure of the President, or the Mayor there is no contraindication to replacing them.

The librarian had broad based community support and the request for her resignation was rescinded by Mayor Palin.

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