Explicit 'Banned Book' Infuriates Virginia Father, Leads to School Review

Fox News: [John Davis] says he became "infuriated" when he discovered that his 16-year-old son brought home a book he'd been given in school that contained references to homosexuality, drug use and explicit sexual behavior.

The father's complaint has led to a school review of the novel, "Perks of Being a Wallflower" by Stephen Chbosky, which has been a source of controversy in other schools across the country.


"I don't think it's age-appropriate for anyone," [Davis] said. "I don't think adults should be reading that junk. It's pornography. They're corrupting his mind with this garbage."

Full story

(Right on the heels of Banned Book Week, no less. AW)


That father is not a government. The book is not banned.

But, if you read the full article, it was removed from a classroom in Indiana. The book is on the ALA list of challenged books (aka the Banned Books list). Hence, it can be given the moniker "banned book". No, it is not banned in this case (so far).

And if you are really going to take issue with it, then take it up with Fox News and their choice of wording for headlines. They even put the term in parenthetical.

It doesn't take an elected government to ban a book, sometimes you just need a hysterical minority. However, the schoolboard, teachers, and the school principal are government officials.

So far, this is ony a challenge in an effort to have a book banned. What makes this censorship is that the parent in question is attempting to remove from all the other parents at the school, their right to allow their children to read the book as part of the curriculum.

If Daddy-dearest doesn't want his children reading this book, then he can ask that they be assigned another.

There is nothing that cannot be found offensive by someone, somewhere.

...for being so concerned for me.

"I don't think adults should be reading that junk."

Does this man really think his 11th grade son doesn't already know about homosexuality, drug use and explicit sexual behavior?

He's out of touch with reality.

12:48pm — Anonymous - excellent point - it's surprising and a constant source of amusement that the "free marketers" on the fringe right do not want any government regulation at all but they are willing to ban books in direct contradiction to the first amendment - these whack jobs want to make rules about what goes on in your bedroom and how you manage your life but not have any rules on wall street where individuals of varying levels of integrity manipulate billions of dollars potentially de- stabilizing the economy, putting people out of work, wrecking families, foreclosing on homes and putting people out on the street.

The hypocrisy is overwhelming - the intellectual integrity non-existent and the fear of someone else having a different perspective on life in contrast to their spoon fed cookie cutter program - enormous.

The child should read the book and then independently critique it with a written book report and oral discussion with the teacher and class. Its an opportunity for the student to learn vital and objective skills and thoughtfully blast, praise or "so what" the curriculum. This is only possible if the student is free, learned any objective skills, and learned to think for himself.

If he loves the book that doesn't mean his parents have done a lousy job of raising him but on the contrary he might be his own man after all.

Fear is good for nothing in this world.

Paul Burke
Author-Journey Home

Then you would also advocate that this young man and his fellow students also read books with a different viewpoint on the same issues. For example, if he also reads material with a different perspective on homosexuality, e.g. that the case has not been proven that individuals are born this way or which question whether homosexuality is a normal or desirable lifestyle.
If you have the student read only materials which advocate the homosexual lifestyle then that it is not helping him to think for himself. If however he reads books on both sides of this issue then one may more accurately make this case.
I can't help but wonder whether the same people who condemn this parent for questioning materials would come to the aid of a library asked to remove from their shelves materials which represent currently unpopular viewpoints. I see hypocrisy on the left also on this issue.

For those who are so ready to condemn this father and others who have genuine concern about age-appropriate materials in libraries for children and adolescents, ask yourself this question.
Would you object if the library insisted on adding to their collection books giving a different perspective on homosexuality (e.g. questioning the position that it is not a choice or presenting it as a disorder rather than just another lifestyle) or books which advocate abstinence until marriage or books which advocate creationism or adding older books to the collection written at an earlier period which refer to blacks as "colored" or worse.
Would you defend the right of libraries to add these types of materials to their collections or would you demand that they be removed from the shelves?
Or does it depend on where you stand on such issues?

No, it does not depend on where librarians stand on the issue. Collections should be developed with an indifferent eye to viewpoints; meaning, we should collect all vantage points. This notion that we only collect viewpoints we approve or or like is false.

This issue is about a parent attempting to restrict materials for children that are not his own; we believe it is the right of parents (and no one else) to determine what their children read.

I agree that it shouldn't matter what your view are. I was asking a question which you did not answer. You didn't answer whether you would object to materials being added to library collections on specific topics. For example, would you ask that libraries not buy books on creationism or which advocate abstinence prior to marriage or which oppose gay marriage (just a few examples)? Or once on the shelf would you want such books removed from the shelf?

I did answer your question. I said we should collect all view points. That encompasses your specific topics.

All right, I'll take you at your word. But I do think that many who use the label of censorship or banned books when it comes to materials which promote a political or social position they agree with would very likely turn around and demand that materials which take a different stand on an issue than they would be removed from the shelf. For example, see: http://www.ericdigests.org/pre-9215/library.htm
Within this document especially note the section "WHO ARE THE CENSORS AND WHO ARE THEIR OPPONENTS?"
See also:
Free Speech For Me - But Not For Thee: How The American Left and Right Relentlessly Censor Each Other. - book reviews
Reason, Oct, 1993 by Thomas W. Hazlett .
This article reviews a book by Nat Hentoff "Free Speech for Me ..... ". See this at: http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1568/is_n5_v25/ai_14536897/pg_2/?tag=content;col1

That's a shame if there are librarians who do that because that's simply wrong and defeats the purpose of universal information access. As for the political spectrum censoring each other, well, that's politics.

it depends on on whether you actually have them, but where they go in the Library.

So anything on creationism should be in religion, not in Science, Nature etc, that sort of thing.

The budget is the only constraint I have on collection development. It makes me choose which books I add and which I do not.

Subscribe to Comments for "Explicit 'Banned Book' Infuriates Virginia Father, Leads to School Review"