Censorship

Why Jane Fonda Is Banned in Beirut

"Why Jane Fonda Is Banned in Beirut: Anti-Semitism leads to startling censorship in Lebanon." Wall Street Journal, May 1, 2009, Opinion. By WILLIAM MARLING

Censorship is a problem throughout the Arabic-speaking world. Though a signatory of the Florence Agreement, the Academy of Islamic Research in Egypt, through its censorship board al-Azhar, decides what may not be printed: Nobel Prize winner Naghib Mahfouz's "Awlad Haratina" (The Sons of the Medina) was found sacrilegious and only printed in bowdlerized form in Egypt in 2006. Saudi Arabia sponsors international book fairs in Riyadh, but Katia Ghosn reported in L'Orient that it sends undercover agents into book stores regularly.

Works that could stimulate dialogue in Lebanon are perfunctorily banned. "Waltz with Bashir," an Israeli film of 2008, is banned -- even though it alleges that Ariel Sharon was complicit in the Sabra and Shatilla massacres. According to the Web site Monstersandcritics, however, "Waltz with Bashir" became an instant classic in the very Palestinian camps it depicts, because it is the only history the younger generation has. But how did those copies get there?

The answer is also embarrassing. Just as it ignores freedom of circulation, Lebanon also ignores international copyright laws. Books of all types are routinely photocopied for use in high schools and universities. As for DVDs, you have only to mention a title and a pirated copy appears. "Slumdog Millionaire" was available in video shops before it opened in the U.S. -- Read More

New Look for Bradbury's 'Fahrenheit 451'


Hailed for its bracing portrait of a future media-addled society victimized by the systematic burning of all books, Ray Bradbury's classic science fiction novel Fahrenheit 451 is the perfect work to highlight issues of censorship and the freedom to read. And in August, Farrar, Straus & Giroux's Hill and Wang imprint will republish the book to do just that. The house will publish a comics adaptation of the novel—“a graphic translation”—created by artist Tim Hamilton, overseen by Ray Bradbury himself and supported by an elaborate marketing campaign that will peg the book to the American Library Association's Banned Books Week in September as well as a host of educational, book trade and comics industry events and promotions.

Full story at Publisher's Weekly

Free Speech Groups Criticize Dismissal of WI Library Board Members

Four members of a library board in West Bend, WI were dismissed last week for refusing to remove controversial books from the library’s young adult section—and yesterday, the ABFFE, the National Coalition Against Censorship, the Association of American Publishers and PEN American Center criticized the firings.

The groups sent a letter to the West Bend Common Council stating that the dismissals threatened free speech in two ways: punishing the board members for attempting to apply objective criteria in the selection of books, and pressuring the library to remove the controversial books. The letter said, “The role of a public library and its board members is to serve the entire community and to evaluate books and other library materials on the basis of objective criteria. By removing half the members of the library board, the Common Council is imposing its opinions on the rest of the community.”

The controversy began in February when two patrons complained that the library’s YA section included fiction and nonfiction books about gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender issues. Publishers Weekly has the story.

In Defense of Baby Shaking on the iPhone

Apple pulled a baby shaking application from the Apple App's Store recently. The NYT Bits blog has a piece titled, "In Defense of Baby Shaking on the iPhone" that makes comparisons to libraries and bookstores. Some of the library refrences are in the comments to the piece.

Books: The Sexy 'Secret Identity' Of Superman's Creator

On NPR:

Author Craig Yoe explores the risque art of the man behind Superman in his new book, Secret Identity: The Fetish Art Of Superman's Co-creator Joe Shuster.

As Yoe explains, artist Joe Shuster did not earn much money for his part in the creation of the man of steel. After suing D.C. Comics over the copyright for Superman, Shuster drew art for an obscure series of magazines called Nights Of Horror. In Secret Identity, Yoe collects Shuster's racy drawings and details the scandal and murder trial related to Nights Of Horror.

Full piece here.

Related item at The Book Calendar: The Ten-Cent Plague: The Great Comic-Book Scare and How It Changed America

Fijian Censorship Update

Following up on the discussion in LISTen 68, reporting by Radio New Zealand International notes that military-backed censors are supervising newsrooms in Fiji.

A territorial delegate to the United States House of Representatives, Faleomavaega Eni Hunkin, is now advising US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the matter.

Kindle Orwellian Nightmare

This post at Technovelgy ask the question, Could Amazon, via the Kindle, end up being the Big Brother of 1984 fame? Or at least his proxy?

"The apparent success of Amazon's wonderful Kindle has everyone's head full of blissful visions of instantly updated newspapers, books, periodicals, pamphlets, posters, leaflets, films, sound tracks, cartoons, photographs - every last error corrected and every last and most recent version included.

Well, maybe not everyone's head.

At UrbZen, the following scenario is presented:

Consider what might happen if a scholar releases a book on radical Islam exclusively in a digital format. The US government, after reviewing the work, determines that certain passages amount to national security threat, and sends Amazon and the publisher national security letters demanding the offending passages be removed."

Read the rest here.

Topeka's library board votes to leave 4 sex-related books on shelves

Four sex-related books will remain on the shelves at the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library.

The Board of Trustees voted 7-3 Thursday night to keep "Sex for Busy People," ''The Lesbian Kama Sutra," ''The Joy of Sex" and "The Joy of Gay Sex" on the library's shelves. The board passed an amended version of a recommendation from Gina Millsap, the library's executive director.

2008 CLA Survey of Challenged Materials and Policies

Kenneth D. Gariepy: You're invited by the CLA Advisory Committee on Intellectual Freedom to participate in its annual Survey of Challenged Materials and Policies.

The purpose of the survey is to gather data about the nature and outcomes of challenges to library materials (e.g., books, magazines, DVDs, CDs) and policies (e.g., collection management, access to Internet and facilities) initiated in publicly funded, Canadian libraries (e.g, public, school, academic) between JANUARY 1 and DECEMBER 31, 2008. Your responses will help inform the Committee's policy and advocacy work.

The survey is open from April 1-30, 2009.

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