Censorship

Tennessee Schools Sued for Blocking GLBT Sites

A media specialist and several high school students are suing two school districts in Tennessee for unconstitutionally blocking access to online information about gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) issues.

Librarian Karyn Stort-Brinks, students Keila Franks and Emily Logan, and the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee have filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee against the Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools and Knox County Schools. Franks and Logan attend Hume-Fogg High School in Nashville. Knox News reports.

Angels & Demons Banned In The Independent State of Samoa

In the Independent State of Samoa, not to be confused with the Territory of American Samoa where the First Amendment comes into play, the country's lead censor has banned the screening of Angels & Demons in the capital Apia. The censor's reason for doing so, according to Radio New Zealand International, is that the film is critical of the church so to prevent discrimination against the church by others the ban is put into play. This is in contrast to the Associated Press reporting that L'Osservatore Romano, the newspaper of the Vatican city-state, had deemed the film "harmless".

In other news from the Samoan archipelago, Radio New Zealand International reports that television reality series Survivor will be filming in the Independent State of Samoa next month. For contestants wanting to escape to a US jurisdiction, ferry service is available on Wednesdays.

School Principal On Leave Over Racy Book

A teachers union in MA says the principal should be fired for trying to hock her book on school grounds. A Lawrence school principal has been placed on leave while the administration investigates teachers union allegations that she promoted her racy romance novel during faculty meetings.

Superintendent Wilfredo Laboy tells The Eagle-Tribune that Oliver School Principal Beth Gannon is "emotionally fragile" because of the accusation. He says Gannon wrote "Crazy Fortunes" before she started working in the city's schools.

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.

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