Crook County removes book from schools after parent complains

A book involving onanism that a parent complained about was removed by the school board of Crook County, Oregon. <A HREF="http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/154698238">Sherman Alexie's <em>The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian</em></A> was the subject of the board's decision. The parent <a href="http://www.oregonlive.com/news/index.ssf/2008/12/crook_county_removes_book_from.html">reportedly claims</a> that the book had graphic drawings and inappropriate content.

IWF backs down on Wiki censorship

The online watchdog, the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), has withdrawn its objection to a Wikipedia page that contained an image of a naked girl.

The page of the online encyclopaedia shows an album cover of German heavy metal band Scorpions, released in 1976.

Mutilating books for Censorship

Apparently one high school wanted to keep some books that had offensive content in schools. <a href="http://www.newrochelletalk.com/?q=node/288">Their solution?</a> Rip the offensive pages out. (<a href="http://www.boingboing.net/2008/12/08/new-rochelle-school.html">Link</a> via Boing Boing).

Iowa superintendent recommends no book ban

Ankeny superintendent recommends no book ban: The superintendent of the Ankeny school district is recommending that a book about two male penguins raising a chick together not be banned from an elementary school library.

School bans book on Laura Bush's list of 10 best for all ages

A book that some call profane and anti-Catholic is causing a stir at Orestimba High School in this central valley town southwest of Turlock. Teachers argue the work, "Bless Me, Ultima," is a powerful story that connects with teenagers. Newman-Crows Landing Unified School District Superintendent Rick Fauss decided the book is not suitable for teenagers and banned it for the rest of the school year.

"I think there's room for exposing students to other experiences, but do we have to sacrifice the values of our families and our community to do that?" asked Fauss, a former high school English teacher.

He hasn't read the entire book but said he's "read enough."

Censorship activists move outside the library

It is common to hear of challenges to books in libraries, such as this recent story - one of many - about 'And Tango Makes Three', or this one about a young adult book that was successfully remove from a school library, but a challenge to a bookstore? In this BBC story, an author, a poet, was singled out by a religious group who lobbied a local book store to not sell his latest work, a book of poems that they felt were "blasphemous". In the end, the bookstore merely canceled the book signing that has been scheduled - they still sell the book in question despite the protests.

My thoughts
Some time back the author Salmon Rushdie published a book that followers of a different religion felt was blasphemous to their beliefs. They condemned him for his writings and the outcry in much of Western world was quite great in his defense. Sales of the book skyrocketed. People openly supported Rushdie, a national of the same country as the author of this book of poetry. What is different in this case?

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A chance to participate!

The Office for Intellectual Freedom is beginning to compile it's list of book challenges for his year, 2008. Please follow the link below if you would like to participate. I strongly encourage anyone who has access to these figures to take part in the list. Actions of this sort help sustain the neutrality of our libraries by ensuring that undue pressure to censor library materials does not compromise our free access to information.

Participate here!

Book challenges decreasing? Perhaps...

An interesting story came through my in-box the other day and I wanted to pass it along. It has to do with the number of books that are contested in local libraries, and how these requests are handled. According to this article, the number of books that are requested to pull from the shelves has been going down recently. The library in question, the Marathon County Public Library, requests that patrons fill out a form to contest a title and then the requests are reviewed by a committee, fairly straight forward, right?

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And Tango Makes Three Wins One In California

Despite a push to have it banned from Chico Unified School District, a book some parents found offensive will remain on library shelves among picture books and easy-to-read children's literature.
Three parents challenged "And Tango Makes Three" by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell, on grounds that it was not appropriate for its targeted 3- to 8-year-old audience.

But a committee formed to review the book denied the challenge, said Carolyn Adkisson, director of elementary education.

Book Causes Parental Stir in Florida

TAVARES (FL) -- A book in a middle school library already has upset one parent. David Myers, of Tavares, brought the book "Me, Penelope" to school board members Monday and read a sexually explicit passage involving a 16-year-old girl.

Myers' 12 year old daughter, a student at Tavares Middle School, checked the book out after getting permission from the librarian, he said.

"I'm to the point right now where I'm about ready to pull my daughter out and start signing the check to private school," Myers said. "But 95 percent of the parents of the kids that go to these schools can't do that."

Bunny Suicides book - an interesting turn of events

Upon discovering a book depicting rabbit ending their lives in a number of unusual ways, a woman in Oregon checked the book out of the library, refused to return it, and threatened to burn it and any other copies that were purchased to replace the copy she stole. After a time though, and a good deal of community outrage, she did return the book and claimed that her threats were fueled by emotion and distorted by the media and they should be dismissed as such.

This even brings up a couple of interesting issues; information access denial by patron action and the reaction of the community to such action. I find it quite interesting that a community, many of whom stated that they did not care for the book, felt that it still should be included in the library holdings, and some even sent funds with which to procure another copy. Given the circumstances, I have to wonder if the woman in question would not have come forth with the book, or have carried out her threats to destroy that which she felt objectionable has the media not picked up on the story.

How common is it for this sort of action to take place? Given the regularity with which these sorts of stories make the news it seems to be a fairly regular occurrence. According to the ALA, more than a book a day is challenged in the United States.

Further Reading:

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Censorship, or What Really Weirds Out Weird Al

Visitors to MTV’s new online music video site can listen to songs with plenty of crass and vulgar lyrics, but may be surprised to find that certain other language had once been deemed too nasty for broadcast — that is, the names of the file-sharing sites Morpheus, Grokster, Limewire and Kazaa, all of which have been the bane of the music industry.

The foul-mouthed musician swept up by MTV’s speech code is Weird Al Yankovic, whose lyrics to “Don’t Download This Song,” a tongue-in-cheek complaint about file-sharing first released in 2006 included those so-called offensive terms. (Since then, two of those sites — Grokster and Morpheus — have become inactive.)

Full story in the NYT

Music video to "Don't Download this Song


Canada's approach to web censorship -- first let the flowers grow, then lop them off

Kevin Libin: "If indeed censorship is now the Anglosphere’s reflex — even the Americans have their famously curmudgeonly FCC, though its arena of influence is far more limited — at least one can say this about the Human Rights Commissions: it’s possible they have a relatively saner approach than our Commonwealth compatriots (Australia and the UK have institutions known as human rights commissions, too, but they lack the power to suppress speech). "

Protest logged in Australia on internet filter for illegal sites

THE Rudd Government is facing a backlash over its plan to ask internet service providers to test filters on a blacklist of about 1000 illegal websites.

The majority of online readers of The Courier-Mail yesterday angrily hit out at the Government plan, which wants to test how filters could effectively block illegal material.

A poll asking readers if they supported the proposed internet filter showed 88 per cent – or 3222 voters – were against the plan and likened it to mandatory censorship. Only 11 per cent, or 426 people, supported it.

Library Backs Book On Same-Sex Parents

The Calvert County Board of Library Trustees voted unanimously Tuesday to keep a controversial book about two male penguins where it is shelved: in the children's section of county libraries, along with other picture books.

"It is a great book for a certain family, but not for my family and a lot of families I know," Bubser said at the meeting. "I believe in everyone's rights. I believe in freedom of speech, but this is not right for my family."

Schools, libraries see hundreds of requests to ban books

This USA Today Story has a neat sortable table of Books challenged 2003 - 2008.

Anne Marie Wlodarczyk of Lackawanna, N.Y., said she was outraged earlier this year when a local school board member asked that six books dealing with the occult be pulled from shelves at the local middle school.

"It's important for children to read, and I will not let my child be hindered," said Wlodarczyk, whose son is a high school freshman. "How do you expect a child to grow? I'm sorry, you can't hide the outside world from them."


Teachers Required To Take Seminars On "Huck Finn"

Instead of dropping “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” from its reading list, the Manchester school system has decided to hold seminars for teachers on how to deal with issues of race before bringing the book back to classrooms.

The goal of the seminars is to put the book into perspective and create a dialogue on race, white privilege, satire and stereotyping, which were also issues when Twain published it in 1885.

Oregon mom now says she'll return "Bunny Suicides" to school library

An Oregon woman who refused to return "The Book of Bunny Suicides" has changed her mind.

Taffey Anderson says she will make the book available for the Central Linn School District's review committee to screen. The Halsey woman recently said she would burn the book rather than take a chance on it returning to a shelf at the Central Linn High School library.

Banned author criticizes decision

Banned author criticizes decision

The original article may be found here


This article, which appeared in the DailyComet, Lafourche parish, Louisiana on Friday October 17th, discusses reaction of a books' author to the banning of his book titled “Black Hawk Down”, which was used as the basis of the Ridley Scott movie of the same name. The book was assigned to a 10th grade class, and a parent objected to the strong language used in some of the combat situations, the principle agreed and banned the book. The author commented in this article that he felt censorship always backfires and hence that there is little point in contesting the book. It offers an interesting look at this unfortunately common situation from the viewpoint of an author.


It is important to note that in this case there is a written policy in place for parent who feel that their children should not be exposed to certain material. This policy states that the principle has the first authority of rejection of material, and if they approve the material the parents may make an appeal. If they decide that the material should be banned, it falls to the instructor to begin the appeal process

Further Reading on this subject:

The original article, also from the Daily Comet, dicussing the specifics of the situation.

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More on The Bunny Suicides

<a href="http://www.oregonlive.com/news/index.ssf/2008/10/book_lovers_offer_to_replace_h.html">More on the kerfuffle surrounding</a> a mom trying to ban and burn a copy of The Bunny Suicides: This is the best part of the article: "Knoedler (Central Linn principal) said she knew people were passionate about books and the First Amendment, but is still shocked by the response that the story has generated. Asked if any of the e-mails or calls received by the school had taken Anderson's side, she said, "Not a single one.""


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