Get LISNews via email! Enter Your Email Address:
The Guardian has an interesting story on requiring Amazon.com to censor the materials they sell. "Why should Amazon be our taste and decency policeman?The online retailer has been criticised for profiting from ebooks featuring terror and violence. No one should tell us what to read."
A 451 Internet error code? Digital Trends has the details:
"Government-imposed online censorship has become increasingly prevalent over the past few years...When censorship does happen, we need a sign that clearly tells us that that’s the reason for a site’s inaccessibility.
Enter Tim Bray, a software developer at Google who has proposed a solution: a “451? error code that displays anytime you visit a site blocked by the government. The number 451 is in honor of late author Ray Bradbury, whose science fiction classic Fahrenheit 451, first published in 1950, warned of a dystopian world defined by government-imposed censorship (in the form of burning any house that contains books)."
Two pieces on censoring science information:
From the Malaysian Digest, news that a Borders store manager in Kuala Lumpur is facing possible arrest for stocking a Canadian title that Muslim religious authorities find objectionable.
Nik Raina Nik Abdul Aziz was charged in the Kuala Lumpur Syariah Court for allegedly violating the Hukum Syarak by distributing or selling Irshad Manji’s book Allah, Liberty and Love.
“The management of Berjaya Books Sdn Bhd who own and operate the Borders bookstore chain in Malaysia is very disappointed that our store manager Nik Raina Nik Abdul Aziz has today been charged by Jabatan Agama Wilayah Persekutuan (JAWI) in the Kuala Lumpur Syariah Court for distributing a book by Canadian author Irshad Manji deemed to be against the Islamic Law (Hukum Syarak) and banned in Malaysia. The charge was brought under Section 13(1) of Prime Minister’s Department for Islamic Affairs Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom have also been named as respondents in the application for judicial review."
Salt Lake Tribune: Controversy over a book describing a household with lesbian mothers has prompted the Davis School District to ask school librarians to name other titles that parents might find objectionable, according to one district librarian.
In Our Mothers’ House by Patricia Polacco was recently removed from shelves of elementary school libraries in Davis County after a group of parents objected to the story’s content. The book remains accessible but only if a student presents a permission slip from a parent to check out the book.
DaNae Leu, a media specialist at Snow Horse Elementary School in Kaysville, said the district is taking a proactive stance on pulling other books in the wake of the controversy. Also marked for removal is And Tango Makes Three, the story of a pair of male penguins who sit on an egg at a zoo until it hatches; and Totally Joe, a book for ages 10 and up about a teenager who is gay.
She said librarians are being asked to supply names of books that contain gay and lesbian characters. Many librarians are frustrated about the situation, she said, but are nervous about speaking out because they fear reprisals.
"I’ve never seen this happen. It’s almost like they want to preemptively pull books that might disturb somebody," she said. "I feel like Joe McCarthy is asking me to name names," she said of discussions in which administrators have asked for book names
CNET's Greg Sandoval brings word of a bill in the New York State legislature prohibiting anonymous communications online. This proposal follows on from another New York State proposal discussed by David Kravetz at Wired.
It is unclear from either news account but the proposed bills might impact LISNews.
Residents speak up about 'Fifty Shades of Grey' at Library Board meeting
The furor and debate over the removal of the erotic novel “Fifty Shades of Grey” from Brevard County Public Libraries’ shelves continue to be a page-turner.
While board members and the library services director said they appreciated input from four people who spoke in favor of the book’s return and one who supported its removal, they did not talk about giving “Fifty Shades of Grey” space again at the 17 Brevard County Public Libraries branches.
Even more serious is the growing acceptance of the don’t-rock-the-boat response to those artists who do rock it, the growing agreement that censorship can be justified when certain interest groups, or genders, or faiths declare themselves affronted by a piece of work. Great art, or, let’s just say, more modestly, original art is never created in the safe middle ground, but always at the edge. Originality is dangerous. It challenges, questions, overturns assumptions, unsettles moral codes, disrespects sacred cows or other such entities. It can be shocking, or ugly, or, to use the catch-all term so beloved of the tabloid press, controversial. And if we believe in liberty, if we want the air we breathe to remain plentiful and breathable, this is the art whose right to exist we must not only defend, but celebrate. Art is not entertainment. At its very best, it’s a revolution.
Must schools ban 'gateway' books, too?
"There have been few challenges in Tennessee school districts recently. Apparently, our schools have been doing yeoman’s work in pre-screening their assigned reading, weeding out any book that might challenge the narrow definitions of good taste, and avoiding the expensive and unseemly task of removing a title from class.
But the Sumner County action does raise an interesting question in light of Tennessee’s new mandate on sex conversation in schools. The legislature has said the only approved approach to sex is that only married men and women should have it; so, what to do about these books in school libraries?"
I have an "education hero," a person who's little known outside the profession. To me, he showed heroism in a time of crisis. Most of you have never heard of him - superintendent of schools, Island Trees Schools, Long Island in the 1970s. Story began in 1976 when four Island Trees (Long Island) School board members attended an upstate New York conference sponsored by the Parents of New York, United (PONYU). Considered an ultra-conservative organization, PONYU advocated censoring books that did not "meet their standards." PONYU published a list of 33 books that "should not be on the shelves of school libraries."