Banning books: keeping our children safe from the perils of free thinking

Burning books is not funny. Neither is banning them, or challenging their right to sit on a library shelf. That being said, sometimes people find reasons to hate books that are so absurd, Meghara Eichhorn-Hicks can’t help laughing. It is in this spirit of mocking exasperation that she presents a list of books that have been banned, burned or challenged for totally ridiculous reasons.

Ongoing challenge of homosexual themed books in West Bend, WI

Recent challenges to West Bend Public Library's (West Bend, WI) selection of materials for the children's and young adult collections. http://www.fox6now.com/news/witi-090303-west-bend-library,0,296647.story

School removes book over its portrayal of logging

Here's a new twist on book challenges: A book about saving forests has been removed from first-grade classes in the Grants Pass School District after complaints about the way loggers are portrayed.

School officials say the decision was made after complaints over material in "Help the Forest" by Rita Crosby.

Public library board in Kansas votes to restrict books

David Lee King helped created a trend on Twitter today with tweets over a book restriction action by his employer. Four books were proposed to be restricted from access by children: Sex for Busy People, The Lesbian Kama Sutra, The Joy of Sex and The Joy of Gay Sex. Local station KTKA has more. A quick scrape in Google News led to a letter to the editor of the Topeka Capital-Journal against the restrictions.

A Lesson From My Father About Objectionable Books

Letter to the editor in the New York Times.


First Banned, Then Unbanned in North Dakota

How often do you think of North Dakota? I'll confess, I haven't thought about it since the primaries....

But author John Berendt, the author of "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" a book banned for four days from the Beulah High School library, said the incident made him think about North Dakota for the first time.

Berendt followed every word in Bismarck Tribune news stories and every word posted by the hundreds of people reacting to the story this week.

His 1994 nonfiction book, described as Southern gothic in tone, details a murder in Savannah, Ga. It has sold more than 5 million copies worldwide, remained on the New York Times' Bestseller List for four years and was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.

It was banned at the request of Beulah parents who, after reading parts of it when their son brought it home in an accelerated reading program, found it pornographic and at odds with what the school promotes for kids.

Berendt said he was as surprised by the accusation of pornography as he was impressed by the "spirited defense," not only of his book, but in opposition to book banning in general, posted by blog contributors and the Beulah High School librarian.

China closes 90 websites as internet crackdown intensifies

China closes 90 websites as internet crackdown intensifies: Nervous Beijing 'determined to quell online dissent' as economic gloom deepens and sensitive anniversaries loom. Some have read that as a shot across their bows, intended to encourage them to take more care in censoring content in general over the year ahead. This year sees the 20th anniversary of the military crackdown on the Tiananmen Square protests, the 50th anniversary of the failed uprising in Tibet which led to the Dalai Lama fleeing to India, and the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic.

Alexie Book Still Spended from Crook Cty Classrooms But Available in the Library

Sherman Alexie's “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” is still under suspension by the Crook County (OR) School Libraries. A parent of a 14-year old objected to a description of masturbation in the award-winning YA book (like 14 year-olds don't already know?)

About 60 people turned out Monday night to the Crook County School Board meeting and about 15 testified about the book. The board then voted 4-1 to continue the temporary suspension, while making the book available to students in the library. School Board Chairman Jeff Landaker was the lone vote against the motion to suspend and wait for further review.

“The reason I voted no is because this issue has already taken one month’s time,” Landaker said. “And it’s at a time when, in my opinion, we have more critical issues facing us. We have a financial situation where we’ve had to cut 10 days off the school year and are facing a million-dollar budget shortfall next year. Now, it’s going to take two month’s time to address this, and I think we need to move on.”

Report from the Bend Bulletin.

"New OIF Blog Deletes Free Speech"

Mr. SafeLibraries stopped by to mention <A HREF="http://safelibraries.blogspot.com/2009/01/new-oif-blog-deletes-free-speech.html">a new post he wrote</A>. A brief excerpt: <BLOCKQUOTE><I>The American Library Association 's [ALA] so-called Office for Intellectual Freedom [OIF] has a new OIF blog (http://www.oif.ala.org/oif/). For a few days, the new blog contained a means for commenting just like most other blogs. I know because I used it to respond to an existing comment—to no avail, as it turned out.

Viewing Filtering From The Outside

When library professionals get together and talk internet filtering, we often forget something vitally important. Sure we talk about freedom of access, how filtering supposedly coincides with collection development policies, and how to protect our patrons and such like.

One thing that seldom gets brought up, at least in conversations I've been privy to is "So, what do our patrons actually think about our filtering?" And it's kind of rare to see any input from the outside, you know, from the people we're actually supposed to be serving.

Twanna Hines is not a librarian. She's a Funky Brown Chick. She's a writer, an occupation I think we can all say we know something about. She lives in New York City and writes about dating, sex, and relationships. And as a patron, she was appalled to find out that the New York Public Library filters her site.

I have to wonder, how many of us can access the above links at work? And does it say anything about filtering when some of us might have to go home to read about what people think about filtering?

Modern (and Raunchy) Swedish Bible Censored In US

It wouldn't be the first time the Bible was censored.

But it is probably the first time that the Bible has been published serially, in a sort of magazine format, with somewhat sexually explicit pictures. Then there was the homoerotica...

Yeah, it should surprise no one that this didn't work out too well in the "land of the free."

More from The Local.se.

Uproar in Australia Over Plan to Block Web Sites

A proposed Internet filter dubbed the ''Great Aussie Firewall'' is promising to make Australia one of the strictest Internet regulators among democratic countries.

Consumers, civil-rights activists, engineers, Internet providers and politicians from opposition parties are among the critics of a mandatory Internet filter that would block at least 1,300 Web sites prohibited by the government -- mostly child pornography, excessive violence, instructions in crime or drug use and advocacy of terrorism.

Hundreds protested in state capitals earlier this month.

''This is obviously censorship,'' said Justin Pearson Smith, 29, organizer of protests in Melbourne and an officer of one of a dozen Facebook groups against the filter.

Full article here.

Floridian Protests DVD He Sees as Pornography

A Rocky Creek (Tampa area) man wants to have a film he regards as pornographic removed from the shelves of the Town 'N Country Regional Public Library.

Frank DeAngelis, a former police officer and retired sociology professor, said he didn't know what to expect when he checked out "The Films of James Broughton." DeAngelis said he was shocked to see naked men engaging in various sexual acts. In one the collection's films, "Devotions," two men dress up like nuns and embrace and kiss.

But what really concerned DeAngelis is that naked children are shown, albeit in nonsexual situations.

"Why would they put little children in there to infer pornography?" DeAngelis said. "They crossed the line with the little children." Story continued here.

Australian Web filter plan extends further

THE Federal Government's controversial internet censorship plan may extend to filter more web activity than first thought, Broadband Minister Stephen Conroy revealed today.

In a post on his department's blog, Senator Conroy today said technology that could filter data sent directly between computers would be tested as part of the upcoming live filtering trial.

"Technology that filters peer-to-peer and BitTorrent traffic does exist and it is anticipated that the effectiveness of this will be tested in the live pilot trial," Senator Conroy said.

Banned in Cupertino

Add one more headache for whoever is running Apple's App Store approval process: edgy books.

Books aren't a huge part of the App Store, but there are over 600 titles for sale, ranging from classics to Japanese comic books. CNET's own David Carnoy has a new detective thriller out called Knife Music, but you won't find it on the App Store.

That's because when Carnoy enlisted a software developer to submit the book to the App Store, Apple rejected the book for containing "objectionable content," citing a clause in the iPhone SDK that states: "Applications must not contain any obscene, pornographic, offensive or defamatory content or materials of any kind (text, graphics, images, photographs, etc.), or other content or materials that in Apple's reasonable judgement (sic) may be found objectionable by iPhone or iPod touch users."

Second Circuit Court Gags NSL Gag Order

On Tuesday, December 16, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit established important restrictions on the power of the federal government to impose gag orders on recipients of National Security Letters (NSLs). Currently, the recipient of an NSL cannot challenge a gag order for one year, and the chances for success are limited by a provision of the law that requires judges to regard as "conclusive" government assertions that secrecy is necessary to protect national security. The Second Circuit ruled that these provisions limit First Amendment rights.

More from Bookweb and on pdf, Doe v. Mukasey (ACLU) Suit.

China defends censoring websites that break rules

China defended Tuesday the blocking of websites it said violated Chinese law and urged Internet companies to respect its legal system.

"The Chinese government conducts necessary management over the Internet. It is the same with other nations," foreign ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao told journalists.

"You cannot deny, some websites actually contain content that violates China's laws."


Supermarket Censorship

A supermarket refused to make a cake for a child's birthday. The child, Adolph Hitler Campbell is not getting a cake from Shop-Rite this year. This blatant act of censorship has upset the family, according to the <a href="http://www.lehighvalleylive.com/today/index.ssf/2008/12/holland_township_family_angry.html"> LehighValleyLive.com website</a>. Unfortunately this is not from the Onion, and pictures of the child's birth registration as well as that of his unusually named siblings are attached to the article.

Racy passages cut from course book by staff at New Rochelle High

Racy passages cut from course book by staff at New Rochelle High: School officials are distancing themselves today from the actions of the New Rochelle High School's English department staff, which reportedly tore out pages of a literature book used in a senior class because the passage included references to oral sex.

"This action was not authorized by the Board of Education and absolutely is not condoned as sound teaching practice," the Board of Education said today in a statement.

"Uncomfortable" Parent Gets Book Pulled

A parent's complaint prompted the Crook County School District to pull a book that had been assigned to a high school English class.

Hank Moss of Prineville said he was uncomfortable with parts of "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian."

The book by Sherman Alexie is a semi-autobiographical story of a boy who leaves his school on the Spokane Indian Reservation to attend an all-white high school.


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