Censorship

More Thoughts on Banned Books Week

Harry Potter and Huck Finn never met in their adventures, but they'll share a shelf at libraries across America during Banned Books Week, Sept. 25 to Oct. 2. The weeklong celebration of our freedom to read began in 1982 in response to an increase in the number of books being challenged in the nation's libraries and schools.

From DePauw University, Greencastle, IN: Banned Books Week has continued annually, and its need has not diminished. According to the American Library Association's (ALA) Office for Intellectual Freedom, there were 460 recorded attempts to remove materials from libraries last year and many thousands more since the organization began counting in 1990.

Three books by Lauren Myracle -- ttyl, ttfn, and l8r, g8r -- topped the ALA's Top Ten List of the Most Frequently Challenged Books of 2009 (see article below). Written entirely in texting shorthand, Myracle's books were challenged for sexual content and drug references. Stephenie Meyer's popular Twilight series was challenged on religious grounds, evoking opposition to J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter novels for promoting witchcraft. And it's not just new books that are being challenged. Classics such as Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird and J.D. Salinger's Catcher in the Rye are perennial contenders for the distinction of being the most challenged book. -- Read More

Lauren Myracle Reads (and Writes) Banned Books, Do You?

Lauren Myracle, author of ttyl and Luv Ya Bunches, two frequently challenged books, writes about the phenomenon of Banned Books. She says that parents anger springs from fear. Grown-ups who care about what kids read aren't the enemy.

From Shelf Awareness: As 2009's number one most frequently challenged author in the country (Mom, cover your ears), I often catch flack for writing about topics that certain parents, teachers and librarians would prefer I didn't. Like what? Like a teenager kissing her female best friend, or high school kids drinking too much and doing really stupid things, or a discussion of the pros and cons of thongs.

I've also come under fire for writing (lovingly) about a fifth-grader who has two moms, as well as a boy who won't join the Boy Scouts because of the Boy Scouts' discriminatory policies. Biology gets me in trouble, too. For example, parents get all kinds of upset about a scene in one of my novels in which a 12-year-old girl sits down with a box of tampons and attempts to make heads and tails of the dense instruction pamphlet.

In grappling with issues surrounding censorship, I've come to the conclusion that the enemy--at least in part--is the inevitable us/them dichotomy that arises in discussions of intellectual freedom.

Opinion: There is a time to ban books from school libraries

"Banned books are a sign of an oppressive regime. That said, forcing age-inappropriate reading materials on youngsters not ready to deal with the material -- and doing so just for the sake of a bigger principle -- is just as oppressive..." Read more at Yahoo News

Next Week Is Banned Books Week...What Is Your Library Planning?

BANNED BOOKS WEEK September 25 - October 2, 2010.

Banned Books Week is the only national celebration of the freedom to read. It was launched in 1982 in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries. More than a thousand books have been challenged since 1982. The challenges have occurred in every state and in hundreds of communities. Click here to see a map of book bans and challenges in the US from 2007 to 2009.

Post your plans & or activities in a comment below please.

Can Censoring a Children's Book Remove Its Prejudices?

Interesting analysis from Philip Nel's blog Nine Kinds of Pie:

When I posted news of my “Censoring Children’s Literature” course last month, several people (well, OK, one person …maybe two) expressed an interest in hearing more about the course. So, given that Banned Books Week is coming up next week, here’s an update. Having lately been examining two versions of Hugh Lofting’s Doctor Dolittle (1920, 1988) and three versions of Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (1964, 1973, 1998), we’ve been addressing this question: Do Bowdlerized texts alter the ideological assumptions of the original? The answer is more complicated than you might think.

Blog entry here.

Could it Become Illegal to be a Librarian in Alaska?

From Alaska Dispatch:

Alaska librarians and bookstore owners are nervous about new laws they say stifle Alaskans' First Amendment rights -- and after trying unsuccessfully to address their concerns with the governor, they say they've got no choice but to sue.

Despite warnings that their attempts to crack down on the ability of sexual predators to entice minors online were seriously flawed, this spring Alaska state legislators and Gov. Sean Parnell went ahead and passed changes to Alaska law that critics claim are unconstitutional.

Senate Bill 222, sponsored by Parnell and introduced to the Legislature at his request, is intended to toughen the state's human trafficking, sex offense and child pornography laws through increased jail time and more ways for cops to close in on offenders. At the bill signing earlier this year, Parnell touted the legislation, in concert with other crime bills passed that same day, as a package of laws that "better protects children and all victims of assault."

Incidentally, the anonymous poster who sent in this news item wrote that his/her submission triggered the installed spam filter on the computer and would not be accepted.

Stockton Book Ban Upheld 7-0 in Packed Public Forum

Stockton MO -- The Stockton Missouri school board voted unanimously Wednesday night to uphold its April decision to ban a book from the school curriculum. The 7-0 vote came after a public forum about the novel, "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian" by Sherman Alexie.

The board also voted, 7-2, against a proposal to return the book to the high school library with restrictions.

Board member Rod Tucker said his main concern was the book's language, that it had too much profanity to be of value. He rejected the argument that most kids are familiar with such language and use it regularly. [ed- note to Rod Tucker: don't forget you live in the 'show me' state]

Supporters of the book said it was chosen to get high school boys, particularly, interested in reading. Another board member said that was a mistake because the book's reading level is low for high school readers. "We're dumbing down our educational standards if we do that," Ken Spurgeon said.

Cheryl Marcum, a resident who had pushed the board to explain and reverse its decision, was disappointed by the vote. She said she's heard about the issue from young people who have left Stockton.

"They said, 'I left Stockton because stuff like that happens there,'" she said.

At the E-book Burning.

There was an e-book burning held.

There was a speech about the evils of the book. And the crowd cheered because they believed what they had been told about evil.

Then the reading device was raised high so that all could see, but not very much because the print was so small on the screen even though they had chosen the largest font available. Someone in the crowd commented that they would have been able to see the cover image so much better on his iPad.

The Leader opened the Content Manager from the Menu. The buttons were small, so it was a little difficult.

Then Selected the Title.

Then Selected Remove Selected Item and Confirmed the removal. No one in the crowd was sure that anything had happened, but they cheered anyway.

There were no flames. There was no Press coverage. No spectacle.

With e-books, you can burn the device, but you can't burn the book.

What will tyrants do?

If They're Burning Qur'ans, ALA Says 'We'll Read Qur'ans'

From American Libraries: Book burning is the most insidious form of book banning, and just as the American Library Association is preparing to celebrate the freedom to read during Banned Books Week, along comes one Rev. Terry Jones of the 50-member Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida. The reverend’s idea of world outreach is to commemorate the 9/11 terrorist attacks of 2001 with a public burning of the Qur’an, the Muslim holy book. Gen. David Petraeus had personally pleaded with the reverend to restrain himself because of the potential for retaliatory violence.

Meanwhile, the American Library Association and librarians across the country will move the Qur’an to the top of the Banned Books Week agenda. (Leading the way by modeling tolerance, an Oklahoma public library has been hosting an exhibit of artwork inspired by Muslim tradition.)

“Free people read freely,” says Barbara Jones, director of the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom. “That is a fundamental principle of the American Constitution and a basic mission of public libraries. We don’t burn books, we read them.”

Thanks to Jenny Levine for the lead.

Craigslist Removes Adult Services Section

Craigslist has apparently closed the adult services section of its website, two weeks after 17 state attorneys general demanded it shut down the section.
The section had been replaced Saturday by a black and white "censored" logo.

Full story here.

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