Censorship

Amazon Deletes Items from Kindles... Again

It's like 1984 all over again.

From ArsTechnica:

Amazon may be in the process of stirring up some more trouble for itself thanks to reports that the company is deleting certain kinds of erotica from both the online store and users' devices. The erotica in question is controversial: it talks about certain acts of incest. Judging from Amazon's most recent bouts with book "censorship," users who have already paid for the deleted content are likely to get fired up.

The article goes on to say how one customer who complained about how their content that they paid for disappeared from their Kindle received only chastising remarks from Amazon about the severity of the item they purchased.

Meanwhile, the Strict Leather Forced Orgasm Belt remains on the virtual shelves of online retailer.

Fighting Censorship in School Libraries

From SLJ:

The National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC) recently recognized author Lauren Myracle, school librarian Dee Ann Venuto, and 19-year-old college student Jordan Allen for fighting against censorship in schools.

NCAC's annual "Celebration of Free Speech and Its Defenders" ceremony in New York City brought together more than 150 authors, publishers, and First Amendment advocates to celebrate the work of the 36-year-old organization.

Venuto, a media specialist at the Rancocoas Valley High School in Mount Holly, NJ, was honored for her efforts to keep a list of gay-themed books on her library shelves. The titles Revolutionary Voices: A Multicultural Queer Youth Anthology (Alyson, 2000) edited by Amy Sonnie.

Venuto followed her district's materials review policy, which outlines the steps that must be taken when library materials or other instructional material are questioned, when a local grassroots organization called the 9/12 Group challenged the books, drawing media attention.

Venuto says she's grateful to NCAC for spreading the word about the challenge and for the professional and personal support they gave her.

NH parents object to book that calls Jesus vagrant

A New Hampshire couple is asking a school board to remove a book that refers to Jesus Christ as a "wine-guzzling vagrant" and let a committee of parents rate all other books taught in their son's high school.
The 2001 book is called "Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America" It documents author Barbara Ehrenreich's attempts to live on minimum wage.

Dennis and Aimee Taylor have complained to Bedford High School officials about the book and have removed their son from the school at his request. They also object to obscenities in the book.
On Monday, they accused officials of either being careless in choosing books or intentionally pushing the author's views.

School board members took no action because they're waiting to hear from the district's curriculum committee.

Full article here

Amazon Selling Kindle Version of Wikileaks

Among its many services, Amazon.com offers hosting for websites in the form of data storage. When Wikileaks dumped a massive cache of diplomatic cables onto the Internet, it didn't take long for some technologically minded people to find out that Amazon had been hosting Wikileaks' data and content for quite some time. Yet, after the blow up over the cables, Amazon tossed Wikileaks from their servers, siting violations of their terms of service.

So make of this what you will, but Amazon UK is selling a Kindle version of the Wikileaks data. You can also have a look at the customer comments.

Congressional Research Service at the Library of Congress and Wikileaks

The Congressional Research Service is seeking guidance on the use of information revealed by Wikileaks. CRS researchers can use all the resources of one of the world's greatest libraries, BUT they are prohibited from using a website that's easily accessible to the average fifth-grader. Does this impede their mission to provide accurate and reliable reports to Congress?

http://www.fas.org/blog/secrecy/2010/12/crs_guidance.html/comment-page-1#comment-23738

Library of Congress Blocks Wikileaks

From The Guardian:

The Library of Congress tonight joined the education department, the commerce department and other government agencies in confirming that the ban is in place.

Although thousands of leaked cables are freely available on the Guardian, New York Times and other newspaper websites, as well as the WikiLeaks site, the Obama administration insists they are still classified and, as such, have to be protected.

Smithsonian Censors Itself at the Behest of the Government

The Smithsonian Museum has been under pressure from Catholics and congressmen to pull pieces of an exhibit focusing on homosexuality and homosexual Americans. From NPR:

At least one critic has accused the Smithsonian of caving in to pressure from Catholics and from two Republican members of Congress. Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia called the exhibition "an outrageous use of taxpayer money." A spokesperson for incoming House Speaker John Boehner told The Hill newspaper that "Smithsonian officials should either acknowledge the mistake or be prepared to face tough scrutiny beginning in January."

More from NPR.

"Mamnoueh maqroubieh," goes the Arabic proverb. All that is forbidden is desired.

Article in the LA Times: In Jordan, a bookstore devoted to forbidden titles

"There are three no-nos," the owner of Al Taliya Books explains with a big smile. "Sex, politics and religion. Unfortunately, that's all anyone ever wants to read about."

5 Things to Learn From Amazon's Latest PR Disaster

Amazon is backpedaling after initially coming to the defense of one of its electronic book authors, a man selling a how-to-guide for pedophiles.

"Amazon believes it is censorship not to sell certain books simply because we or others believe their message is objectionable," the company said in a statement. However, after receving massive media attention, the book self-published by Phillip R. Greaves II, The Pedophile's Guide to Love and Pleasure: A Child-lover's Code of Conduct, has been removed quietly from the Kindle store.

This latest action further highlights how Amazon seemingly has no idea how to defuse a public relations nightmare; has sketchy business ethics; and apparently lacks a quality control mechanism to prevent more of these publicity headaches. Here are some takeaways from Amazon's fiasco.

Full blog post here

Parent: Homework assignment crosses the line

Greenwich's top educator is defending the use of a handout sheet of literary passages containing racial, ethnic and gender slurs that was part of a homework assignment on free speech and censorship in the middle schools.

An "appetizer" to a project coinciding with the American Library Association's Banned Books Week, which took place in early October and celebrated the First Amendment, the handout was intended to get students to think about why certain literary classics are considered taboo, said Sidney Freund, the superintendent of schools.

Full article

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