Banned Books Week: Just a Lot of Propaganda Says Jonah Goldberg

Submitted by Elaine Magliaro, Guest Blogger

Banned Books Weeks 2011 will be observed September 24-October 1.

 

Jonah Goldberg claims that Banned Books Week (BBW) is nothing but hype. In a column he penned for USA Today in early September, Goldberg wrote that BBW “is an exercise in propaganda.” He continued, “For starters, as a legal matter no book in America is banned, period, full stop (not counting, I suppose, some hard-core illegal child porn or some such out there). Any citizen can go to a bookstore or Amazon.com and buy any book legally in print — or out of print for that matter.”

Evidently, Goldberg thinks that books which have been removed from the shelves of public and school libraries “due to pressure from someone who isn’t a librarian or a teacher” don’t count as “banned books.” He appears to believe they can only be considered banned books if they have been banned on a national level. So what if books are removed from school and public libraries? One can always get a copy at a book store or from Amazon.com. Right?

Goldberg got into the numbers of challenged books to demonstrate how “overhyped” stories about banned books are. He wrote that reported challenges had dropped from 513 in 2008 to 348 in 2010—and that the “historic norm is a mere 400 to 500 bans or challenges” a year. He said there are almost 100,00 public schools in this country educating approximately 50 million students—as well as 33,000 private schools and 10,000 public libraries. According to Goldberg’s math—if there were “500 parent-driven ‘bans or challenges’ in a given year in public schools, that would mean for every 200 public schools, or every 100,000 students, at least one parent even complained about an age-inappropriate book. What an epidemic!”

Reported challenges…a mere 400 to 500 bans or challenges…only one book challenge per 100,000 students. What’s the fuss all about? Why should people be concerned? Maybe the American Library Association, public libraries, and schools in this country should only begin to worry when the censorship, challenging, and banning of books becomes an epidemic. Why address the problem when the numbers are so small?

Well, one could conclude that many book challenges aren’t reported. As noted on the ALA website: “We do not claim comprehensiveness in recording challenges as research suggests that for each challenge reported there are as many as four or five that go unreported.” And I have little doubt that there are many librarians, teachers, readers, and defenders of the First Amendment who feel that an historic norm of 400 to 500 challenges a year are a few hundred too many.

I have to wonder at Goldberg’s motives for writing his column. Was it so he could get in a dig at teachers’ unions? Here’s what he wrote about them:

“These days, teachers unions are fond of claiming that apathetic parents deserve more of the blame for the woeful state of education today. Maybe so. But a national policy of bullying parents interested in what their kids are reading hardly seems like the best way to encourage them. Indeed, from these numbers, the real scandal might be that so few books are “banned or challenged.’”

I’m not sure how Goldberg drew the conclusion that there is a “national policy” of bullying parents who are interested in what their children read.  He didn’t provide any proof that there was. And why  would Goldberg suggest that the real scandal is that so few books are being banned or challenged? Does he think that more books should be banned and challenged every year?

 Molly Raphael, President of the American Library Association, responded to Goldberg’s column. She wrote:

 “When a library removes a book from its shelves because someone disapproves of the ideas or opinions contained in the book, that is censorship. When it is done by publicly funded schools and libraries — government agencies — it is a violation of the First Amendment.”

Raphael said we should remember that when a book is removed from a library it is an act of censorship that affects an entire community—not just one individual or one family. She also said that public libraries “serve everyone, including those who are too young or too poor to buy their own books or own a computer.” She added that the reason librarians and library users celebrate BBW is as “a testament to the strength of our freedom in the United States. We celebrate the freedom to read because we all know that we are so fortunate to live in a country that protects our freedom to choose what we want to read. If you doubt this, just ask anyone from a totalitarian society. That is why we draw attention to acts of censorship that chill the freedom to read.”

Do not feel safe. The poet remembers.

You may kill him — another will be born.

Deeds and words shall be recorded.

~ Czeslaw Milosz, Poland

 

The lives of artists are more fragile than their creations. The poet Ovid was exiled by Augustus to a little hell-hole on the Black Sea called Tomis, but his poetry has outlasted the Roman Empire. Osip Mandelstam died in a Stalinist work camp, but his poetry has outlived the Soviet Union. Federico García Lorca was killed by the thugs of Spain’s Generalissimo Francisco Franco, but his poetry has survived that tyrannical regime.

 We can perhaps bet on art to win over tyrants. It is the world’s artists, particularly those courageous enough to stand up against authoritarianism, for whom we need to be concerned, and for whose safety we must fight.

~ Salman Rushdie, 19 April 2011

Top Ten Most Frequently Challenged Books of 2010 (Out of 348 challenges as reported by the Office for Intellectual Freedom)

  1. And Tango Makes Three*, by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson
    Reasons: homosexuality, religious viewpoint, and unsuited to age group
  2. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
    Reasons: offensive language, racism, sex education, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, and violence
  3. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
    Reasons: insensitivity, offensive language, racism, and sexually explicit
  4. Crank, by Ellen Hopkins
    Reasons: drugs, offensive language, and sexually explicit
  5. The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins
    Reasons: sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, and violence
  6. Lush, by Natasha Friend
    Reasons: drugs, offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited to age group
  7. What My Mother Doesn’t Know, by Sonya Sones
    Reasons: sexism, sexually explicit, and unsuited to age group
  8. Nickel and Dimed, by Barbara Ehrenreich
    Reasons: drugs, inaccurate, offensive language, political viewpoint, and religious viewpoint
  9. Revolutionary Voices, edited by Amy Sonnie
    Reasons:  homosexuality and sexually explicit
  10. Twilight, by Stephenie Meyer
    Reasons: religious viewpoint and violence

 (*And Tango Makes Three is a picture book.)

 Sources and Further Reading

Column: Banned Books Week is just hype (USA Today)

Banned Books Week celebrates freedom to read (USA Today)

Banned Books Week: Celebrating the Freedom to Read (ALA)

Frequently Challenged Books (ALA)

Banned and/or Challenged Books from the Radcliffe Publishing Course Top 100 Novels of the 20th Century (ALA)

Banned Books Week 2011 (Amnesty International)

The 11 Most Surprising Banned Books (PHOTOS, POLL) (Huffington Post)

Letter re: Slaughterhouse Five Ban in Republic, MO (National Coalition Against Censorship)

First Lady Laura Bush Cancels Poetry Gathering Fearing Anti-War Poems: Democracy Now! Hosts Its Own Poetry Slam with Def Poetry Jam Stars Staceyann Chin, Suheir Hammad and Steve Colman (Democracy Now, 2/7/2003)

 
Other Turley Blog Posts on the Censorship, Challenging, and Banning of Books

Publisher Announces Intention to Edit Huckleberry Finn To Remove N-Word

On the Banning, Censorship, and Challenging of Books

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?—I See Anti-Marxists Looking at Me!

151 thoughts on “Banned Books Week: Just a Lot of Propaganda Says Jonah Goldberg

  1. Even if one person is responsible for getting the book off of the shelf a book is banned in my opinion….

    Was not there some issue with Madonnas’ book…..did not some school districts try and get it banned….

    Thank you Elaine…

  2. To people who want to ban books: Might I suggest you look at the world around you, including television – which most of you think is an appropriate babysitter for your children – and shut the Hell up.

  3. Jonah Goldberg, his mother, Lucianne, and Linda Tripp … birds of a feather.

    “Librarians, teachers, and booksellers across the country use Banned Books Week each year to teach the importance of our First Amendment rights and the power of literature, and to draw attention to the danger that exists when restraints are imposed on the availability of information in a free society.” (http://www.ala.org/ala/issuesadvocacy/banned/bannedbooksweek/index.cfm)

    Dismissed, Jonah, go back to mommy’s basement.

  4. “3. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
    Reasons: insensitivity, offensive language, racism, and sexually explicit”

    “8.Nickel and Dimed, by Barbara Ehrenreich
    Reasons: drugs, inaccurate, offensive language, political viewpoint, and religious viewpoint”

    Elaine, A very important post. It is very interesting that these two books make nos. 3 and 8 on the most banned list. Both express political viewpoints offensive to Fundamentalist Tea Bagger types. ALL people who would ban books are hypocrites, expressing their own fear of ideas different from their own, by using the excuse of protecting children from obscenity. The irony of course is that all who would ban books are committing obscene acts in my opinion.

    As far as “Little Jonah” Goldberg goes he is a nothing, promoted because his mother is a wealthy courtesan of right wing power. A close minded, pompous fool of little personal accomplishment.

  5. “Nickle and Dimed” was required reading for my daughter in high school. She had an excellent education at an all female school that emphasized feminist thought and a strong sense of social justice. I used to work at the American Library Association in Chicago a very long time ago.

  6. Another terrific poutrage post, thanks Elaine.

    Others, librarians, have mentioned how the ALA uses Banned Books Week every year to pump up the ALA, not to actually create more first amendment freedom.

    One example, by the ALA themselves, they admit most of the books on their list of BANNED BOOKS are only challenged books challenged by private citizens, not banned by governments, and those challenges almost always fail.

    “The books featured during Banned Books Week have been targets of attempted bannings. Fortunately, while some books were banned or restricted, in a majority of cases the books were not banned, all thanks to the efforts of librarians, teachers, booksellers, and members of the community to retain the books in the library collections”

    So yeah, some nimrods challenge a book, the library tells them to piss off, and voila, a BANNED BOOK!

    Now, most of us would not be surprised to find an organization like ALA or any other over hypes the hype it needs to fund raise and show its importance. But instead of thinking critically about this, it’s POUTRAGE! THOSE DAMN REPUBLICANS. DONATE TO DEMOCRATS.

    Here’s one librarians point of view:

    http://blog.libraryjournal.com/annoyedlibrarian/2009/09/30/celebrate-banned-books-week/

    What’s sad about the ALA “Banned” Books Week is the lengths they go to in order to make themselves more important than they actually are. It’s nice that they care about books one week a year, because it gives us a respite from hearing how gaming is going to save libraries, but it’s not like we’re in any danger of censorship in any meaningful sense. As a comparison, think about the stupid suicide book in Australia. It seems that book was actually censored, and that kind of thing just doesn’t happen in America. To defend the presence of some stupid kid’s book in a classroom against some rube in Bumflap, GA is one thing, but to claim that by doing so you’re fighting “censorship” for our freedom is just sad.

    A kind reader sent on this article criticizing the “banned” books nonsense. Some of the arguments sound eerily familiar, since I’ve been making them on the blog for years. Note this criticism: “In the common-law tradition, censorship refers specifically to the government’s prior restraint on publication. None of the sponsors claim this has happened; the acts they have in mind are perpetrated by private citizens.”

    “Government’s prior restraint on publication”: that’s pretty much what everyone except the ALA thinks censorship is. A government doesn’t allow a book on suicide to be published without revision – censorship. A mother thinks a teen novel about rape is inappropriate for her daughter’s 5th grade classroom and complains to the school – not censorship. The school principal deciding she’s right and removing the book from the curriculum – still no censorship going on. The book’s available all over the country. Hard to see even how that book has been “banned” in any sense that warrants a national organization taking any notice.

    Check out the odd “terms and definitions” from the ALA’s own website. According to the ALA, censorship is, “A change in the access status of material, based on the content of the work and made by a governing authority or its representatives.” It’s obvious that this definition is designed to support theALA’s skewed meaning of terms. This definition doesn’t even account for the definition of censorship as “government’s prior restraint on publication,” which is a basic meaning of censorship that everyone but the ALA understands. “Change in the access status of material,” in addition to sounding like it was written by a tone deaf committee, does not cover cases of the government refusing to allow a book’s publication. In other words, it doesn’t cover cases of actual censorship. A state censoring a book doesn’t “change its access status.” It keeps the “access status” exactly as it had always been.

    It’s only saving grace as a definition of censorship is that it does acknowledge that the agent of censorship must be “a governing authority or its representatives.” But this is undercut as the absurd definition continues, “Such changes include exclusion, restriction, removal, or age/grade level changes.” Grade level changes? Oh, goodness, apparently “governing authority” doesn’t mean what most people would assume it means, i.e., the government. You know, those people who govern and who have authority. A school principal, for example, is only a “governing authority” in the most limited sense. A public library isn’t a “governing authority” or its representative at all in any sense you could give to it. Yet if a book in a public library were challenged as inappropriate for the children’s section and it was reclassified into the adult section, the ALA would have to say the book had been “censored.”

    Of course they have to alter and restrict the definition of censorship deliberately to exclude cases of the government restraining a book’s publication. That’s because if they go by this common definition of censorship, they have absolutely no cases to discuss. Since there is no actual book censorship in the United States, there’s not much need for a group crying out against it.

    We have stepped through the Looking Glass. “’When I use a word,’ the ALA said, in a rather scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less.’ ‘The question is,’ said AL, ‘whether you can make words mean so many different things.’” The ALA’s definition of censorship has no relationship whatsoever to what everyone else in the entire world understands by the word. It’s incoherent and self-serving. That hasn’t stopped plenty of librarians for going along for the ride. It’s a

    little dispiriting, because there’s no point in having intellectual freedom if there is no intellectual capacity.

  7. anon,
    when a parent requests the book to be removed from the public library or school library, isn’t it the school district or Library board, governmental entities, that make the decision to censor? I woiuld also submit that the principal is an agent of the school board and responsible to that governmental body.

  8. anon,

    “So yeah, some nimrods challenge a book, the library tells them to piss off, and voila, a BANNED BOOK!”

    That’s not how it works. Librarians don’t tell people to “piss off.” Every library is supposed to have a policy in place that is to be followed when a book is challenged by an individual or a group.

    Why introduce political parties into the discussion? Sometimes liberals want to censor or ban books because they think they aren’t politically correct. I don’t see this as a Democrat vs. Republican issue. I see this as a free speech issue.

    This was not a “poutrage” post whether you believe it to be or not.

  9. Rafflaw,

    I have to agree with the librarian and say the statistics probably should include successfully banned books, not merely challenged books. And definitely not hype as banned books, challenged books where the challenge was denied. The latter is not a banned book, it is an not-a-banned-book. The ALA apparently counts that as a banned book though.

    I’d probably also agree that certain restrictions, like age restrictions for say, 10 and under, not be hyped as a banned book.

    If a principal asks the library to ban a book and the librarian says no, has the book been banned?

    If a principal on behalf of a parent asks a teacher to ban a book, but the book is still available to the student in the library, has the book been banned? (More ambiguous.)

    If the city council asks the school to remove a book and the public library to remove a book and the school and the public library does so has it been banned?

    If they only ask to restrict it to certain ages, unless a parent signs a form, has it been banned?

  10. Anon,

    You said….to Elaine M.,

    That this was a Poutrage Post… Here is another word that I do not believe I have heard so I had to look it up….Here is what I found that it means in the Urban Dictionary….

    “The combination of emotion and behavior that results from a possibly feigned or genuine outrage over some slight and pouting about it like a spoiled child.”

    If this is what you meant then I do believe you owe Elaine an apology…I have to agree with her that this is not a Political Issue…It can be made in to one….But, in and of itself…it is not….Most educated people are either liberal or progressive…I seem to recall than Nixon said he had a hard time finding an Intelligent Conservative….If that is the case….I think that there would be more books challenged than what we have had thus far….

    I think any book requested to be banned sparks some emotion of right, wrong or indignation….or else it would not be requested…Can you imagine your library without having had a copy of mein kampf or the anarchist cookbook….or a PDR at hand….There are some people that don’t want you to possess these…..

    You know something funny…The USDA used to have a booklet on the proper use of fertilizer and creating retention ponds….Yeah…they did…hmmmm

  11. AY,

    Well, I think the poutrage, of differing types, is by both Elaine and the ALA. And ALA’s is worse because they should know better and better their argument but they can’t because their hunt for money corrupts them.

    I suspect Elaine’s is genuine, but is of the kind of shallow THOSE STUPID REPUBLICANs kind of complaint that we see so often to fill up blog pixels.

    Then her complaint is about Jonah Goldberg, a well known conservative dipshit author of the horrible and ahistorical Liberal Fascism. However, as I show, there are many other sources including librarians complaining about the ALA ‘s Banned Books Week.

    Pouting about Jonah Goldberg is useful … for fund and blood pressure raising and helping us all know how much cooler, spiffier, smarter, and downright hoopier we are than conservative teabagger racist evolution denying climate fearing Poe’s Law Dunning Krugerites.

    It will be passed around Atrios and Kos and ThinkProgress and DemocraticUnderground and Salon and HuffPo and Balloon Juice and LGM, and Reddit and Digg and FARK like our best friend’s mother and we’ll all be outraged today, we’ll forget about it tomorrow. And then, so cool, like peach trees, it will blossom this time next year when the ALA reseeds it again.

    That’s poutrage.

    Banned Books Week is not new to 2011. It goes back to 1982 I think. More interesting would be some actual analysis from a blogger to examine what the annoyed librarian and others say.

    Is it hype to include challenged books whose challenges were rejected into the list of banned books?

    What does it mean to align ourselves with a lobbying group? Does that mean we have to defend to the death not just their right to publish something but everything they say regardless of how braindamaged and corrupt it is?

    Anyway, I shall respectfully decline to apologize to Elaine, but I will note that I find about 90% of the guest bloggers’ posts on this blog to be poutrage and boring. So my stupid poopyhead criticism of her is by no means unique to her.

    fwiw

  12. You are entitled to your opinion…While I disagree about Elaine…I think she has been a teacher long enough to have grown hide….Especially if she had a student of my nature…

    As to the remainder of your post…there is a flavor of Poutage as well…lol Thanks for the response…

  13. Elaine,

    I just found your reply now, anyway,

    “Why introduce political parties into the discussion? Sometimes liberals want to censor or ban books because they think they aren’t politically correct. I don’t see this as a Democrat vs. Republican issue. I see this as a free speech issue.”

    Well, I wish this were so, but even in this thread, long before I puked all over it, you had linked to Democracy Now, Blouise had dragged in Lucianne and Linda Tripp (Linda Tripp, really?) and had emasculated Jonah and told this grown adult highly successful (and despicable) man to go back to his mommy, and Mike had called out the Fundies and the Tea Partiers.

    So like it or not, when your free speech attack primarily goes after Jonah Goldberg and not the actual real behaviors, I guess none of us should be surprised that the thread has a real subtext of eevil republicans.

  14. anon:

    you are very refreshing to read. Are you what used to pass, maybe 60 years ago, as a liberal? If so what happened to the “liberals” here? I think they took the wrong fork in the road and ended up at the Bürgerbräukeller rather than enlightenment.

  15. Dunno about 60 years ago.. About 50 years ago I passed … through a sperm duct.

    Mainly I’m just annoyed with everyone. The terribly snarky horrifyingly stupid totally in denial Internet. And myself mostly. Don’t get me started.

    /get off my lawn

  16. “Blouise had dragged in Lucianne and Linda Tripp (Linda Tripp, really?) and had emasculated Jonah and told this grown adult highly successful (and despicable) man to go back to his mommy” (anon)

    Sometimes it pays to know history. Good ol’ Jonah got his start defending Linda and her adviser, Lucianne (Jonah’s mommy).

    And since Jonah’s column was the jumping off point in Elaine’s article, why not give him a little texture.

    Of course everyone would have to agree that such texture isn’t nearly as helpful as the comments of the famously, anonymous Annoyed Librarian.

  17. Blouise,

    Leave anon alone. Let him have his little snit fest. I should have known better than to link to an article at Democracy Now. And I shouldn’t have picked on little Jonah G. who was venting about Banned Books Week. So sorry I made anon puke.

    ;)

  18. rafflaw,

    Pseudo-intellectuals are fun to play with.

    By the way, it was Jonah’s mommy, Lucianne, who told Tripp to record her calls with Lewinski and to have Monica save the blue dress. Jonah wrote all about it in the New Yorker and I read it back in ’98.

    If one subscribes to the New Yorker and wants to read the scintillating early prose of little Jonah it can be found … THE TALK OF THE TOWN – Ink – by Jonah Goldberg – FEBRUARY 9, 1998.

  19. Elaine,

    I accept your apology!

    There is one thing I know for certain … if you or SwM say anything, anon pukes.

    That was rather sexist of me … he also pukes if mespo or Gene say anything.

  20. Blouse,

    Isn’t it nice when some people are predictable…..you can predicts them… Seems like you’re batting at least as good as the Astros….

  21. Blouise,

    Thanks for the information about Jonah G.

    *****

    The jester of Monicagate
    How Lucianne Goldberg’s son Jonah has turned his 15 minutes of fame into a full-time job.
    BY INDA SCHAENEN
    http://www.salon.com/media/1998/09/18media.html

    Excerpt:
    Did you think the Clinton scandal was about the fate of the presidency, the fury of the press, the shape of democracy? Actually it’s about Jonah Goldberg’s career plans.

    Jonah, agent fatale Lucianne Goldberg’s 29-year-old son, entered the national stage when he listened to the Linda Tripp tapes with his mom. His 6,000-word opus on the subsequent media siege of his mother’s New York apartment was cut to an amusing — but trim — 900-word item that ran in the New Yorker’s Talk of the Town section.

    A lesser man’s 15 minutes of fame might have ended there, but Jonah Goldberg was just revving up.

    He took to the air: “Nightline,” “Larry King Live,” “Today” to start; soon thereafter “Hardball,” “Crossfire,” “Politically Incorrect,” “Equal Time,” “Good Morning America” and “The NBC Nightly News.” A debate in Slate and a contributing editorship at the conservative National Review followed. This month Goldberg began work on a full-length book about the Clinton affair and his personal involvement with it. The project, Goldberg says, may be a little “‘Bonfire of the Vanities’ type thing about stories peripheral to the scandal.” Movie deals may follow the final book deal, he says.

    Most people might find such activity would provide a sufficient outlet for the thoughts, insights and feelings of a bit player in the constitutional crisis that now faces the country. But not Goldberg, who recently quit his job to devote himself full-time to his Lewinsky-related activities.

    Goldberg, who is vice-president of his mother’s company, the Goldberg Literary Agency, makes no attempt to conceal his peripheral role in the scandal. “The fun part is my irrelevance,” he says. He characterizes his ascent in purely capitalist terms. “I had information to barter,” he explains, referring to the fact that he actually heard the Tripp tapes. “And when you have information to barter you become a clearinghouse for other information. People want to trade. At one point I had 12 reporters around the country calling me up, cultivating me as a source.” As a result, Goldberg says he’s made some friends.

    Goldberg, who claims to distance himself from political affiliations, has impeccable conservative credentials. From an early age, his mother, who has acknowledged being an undercover Republican political operative during the McGovern campaign, exposed her son to feisty right-wing hi-jinks — and instilled in him a strong sense of family loyalty and affection. Indeed, Goldberg says he first entered the media fray “to defend my mom” from those who deemed her the money-grubbing Wicked Witch of the Upper West Side. Until he decided to devote more time to his experience with the Lewinsky matter, Goldberg was a producer at New River Media, where he worked closely with Ben Wattenberg — a former Lyndon Johnson aide who endorsed Clinton in ’92, and was proud to be known as Reagan’s favorite Democrat.

  22. Swm,

    You only have yourself to worry with. Leave me out by name or reference and we’ll ne just fine, ok?

    Can you do it? I think so…do you want to do it is the question… I hope so.. Really now, you are older than this…do it, you can. Adieu…

  23. SwM,

    I believe you have the notable exception of being a feminazi … thus dubbed by non-Robert … talk about puking … that was a genuine barf-fest of free speech.

    Weren’t you the one anon used the “V” word on?

    Anon nurse and I loved that one.

  24. “Sometimes it pays to know history. Good ol’ Jonah got his start defending Linda and her adviser, Lucianne (Jonah’s mommy).”

    Yeah, thanks, I think everyone knows that. She’s apparently running a crafts store in Virgina when she’s not busy burning books at Lucianne’s request.

    “Leave anon alone. Let him have his little snit fest. I should have known better than to link to an article at Democracy Now. ”

    Nice deflection babe, you asked me why I dragged politics into it, I laid out with geometric logic precisely how you and others had already dragged politics into it, and the best you can do is claim that I’m now pitching a snit.

    Well, easier that then to address any of the concerns.

    Blouise, how is anonymous annoyed librarian any less anonymous than YOU? He’s using a pseudonym, just like you, just like me. How does is anonymity effect his arguments? Are his arguments correct, or are they not?

    And Blouise, I can’t help it that you guys trigger my bullshit detector. It’s like you ask me to walk through the Harris Cattle Ranch and not to mention the smell. I am the victim here.

    You might more graciously thank me for my comments. Take them seriously and one day you may have a tight argument that you can present.

  25. If that is directed at me, you need a dictionary to learn the definition. If it’s directed at someone else, they are entitled to their opinions… I realize I am not … But it will be expressed anyways, much to your chagrins….

  26. “And Blouise, I can’t help it that you guys trigger my bullshit detector. It’s like you ask me to walk through the Harris Cattle Ranch and not to mention the smell. I am the victim here.” (anon)

    Of course you are, dear … anyone can see that … just take a deep breath … settle your stomach … everything will look better in the morning … or not.

  27. “Yes, blouise. He probably wanted to use worse. My only anon friend is the anon nurse.” [citation needed]

    What “v” word did I call you?

    Virgin? I can’t imagine anyone would mistake you for a virgin. Don’t know of any other “v” word insults.

    I honestly have no idea what other v word you are referring to.

  28. “Swarthmore mom
    1, September 18, 2011 at 11:59 pm

    Blouise, The predators turn to victims.”

    This is typical feminist cant.

    Someone you disagree with isn’t a person you disagree with. They are a predator.

    Dehumanize. Declare them a criminal.

    Sweet.

  29. anon,

    FYI: I’m not a babe.

    You’re the one who brought politics into the discussion. Nice try at deflection. I think you need to keep working on that “geometric logic” of yours.

    BTW, what exactly is your concern?

  30. Projection, is the best word that fits the conversation presently. May I suggest Albert Ellis and the book called REBT it may fit, if you’re looking for a cure to what bothers you so…

  31. I know this may not seem like the best place to do this–but I wanted to let everyone know that Otteray Scribe’s wife passed away late Saturday evening. Many of you may already be aware that he also lost his grandson Reed several months ago. It has been a most difficult year for Otteray and his family.

  32. Elaine,
    I was thinking of OS earlier tonight. I miss his comments and I hope he can make it back as soon as he is ready. Our prayers go out to him and his family.

  33. That would explain his absence. I hope that he finds peace. He is a very interesting man. I hope the pain of his wife passing eases day by day. If she is half as good as he appears, she must be solid gold.

    When the time is right he will return.

  34. Elaine,

    Thank you for making that announcement. Otteray Scribe is not just a well respected and well like regular contributor to this blog to me. He is a family friend as well. In this time of loss, my heart goes out to him and his family and especially to his daughter who is also facing her own health challenges due to complications from hip surgery. Whether you pray or not, whether you are religious or not, I ask you all to spare a kind thought and well wishes for him and his family.

  35. Censorship On The Rise: U.S. Schools Have Banned More Than 20 Books This Year
    By Marie Diamond on Aug 19, 2011
    http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2011/08/19/299611/censorship-on-the-rise-u-s-schools-have-banned-more-than-20-books-this-year/

    Excerpt:
    Last month ThinkProgress reported that a Missouri high school had banned Kurt Vonnegut’s classic novel Slaughterhouse Five because religious residents complained that it taught principles contrary to the Bible. Now the American Library Association reports that this year alone, U.S. schools have banned more than 20 books and faced more than 50 other challenges, with many more expected this fall as school starts.

    The library association says the number of reported challenges in the past 30 years has hovered between about 400 or 500, but there are many bans they never learn about. While parents have traditionally launched the lion’s share of challenges, Deborah Caldwell-Stone, an attorney with the association, says she has noticed “an uptick in organized efforts” to remove books from public and school libraries.

    The top reasons for challenges are sexually explicit content, offensive language and violence. “That’s not what our kids should be reading and learning,” Roberta Combs, president of the Christian Coalition of America, told USA Today.

    A review of the books banned by various schools in the past six months illustrates that eliminating this “objectionable material” actually deprives students of the chance to think and form their own opinions about difficult questions. The banned books include Push by Sapphire, the acclaimed novel about an illiterate 16-year-old girl that was made into the Academy Award-winning movie Precious. Also on the list is a “laugh-out-loud” picture book about a happy rat, and a book by a Pulitzer-Prize winning author that puts a human face on legendary human rights leader Mahatma Gandhi.

  36. MO High School Bans ‘SlaughterHouse Five’ From Curriculum, Library Because Its Principles Are Contrary To The Bible
    By Tanya Somanader on Jul 27, 2011
    http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2011/07/27/280691/missouri-school-district-bans-books/

    Excerpts:
    On Monday at the Republic, MO school board meeting, four Republic School Board members reviewed a year-old complaint that three books are inappropriate reading material for high school children. In a 4-0 vote, the members decided to ax two of the three books from the high school curriculum and the library shelves: Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler and Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson was spared. The resident who filed the original complaint targeted these three books because “they teach principles contrary to the Bible“:

    Wesley Scroggins, a Republic resident, challenged the use of the books and lesson plans in Republic schools, arguing they teach principles contrary to the Bible.

    “I congratulate them for doing what’s right and removing the two books,” said Scroggins, who didn’t attend the board meeting. “It’s unfortunate they chose to keep the other book.”

    ***

    While the books will be removed from the curriculum and the library, students desiring to read these books can get parent permission to use them for a school project. “If the parent thinks ‘For Johnny, it is age-appropriate,’ then we’ll let the parent make the call,” Minor said. It is important to note that, out of the four School Board Members, only one has actually read all three books.

  37. Ultimately if you find this treacle persuasive then there’s little I can say to convince you otherwise. If you want to call it “censorship” to pull a book from a library that’s unsuitable for kids or that doesn’t deserve shelf-space compared to a better book, fine call it censorship. But if that’s the case, then there’s nothing unwholesome, dangerous or sinister about censorship whatsoever. As to whether it violates the First Amendment, that strikes me as nonsense too. Librarians have somehow convinced themselves that they are the final constitutional authority about what should or should not be in libraries, often including relatively unfettered access to online porn.

    Oh, and to answer Magliaro’s question, my answer is Yes, I think it might be a good thing if there were more challenges to librarians’ judgment about what books kids should be reading. Newspapers have a much more obvious and direct connection to the First Amendment, but we don’t consider harsh letters to the editor — i.e. “challenges” to editorial policy — to be censorious. But when a parent questions the judgment of a librarian that’s supposed to be ominous threat to free speech? That’s bunk.

    –from Jonah Goldberg’s response to this article.

  38. Zach,

    “If you want to call it ‘censorship’ to pull a book from a library that’s unsuitable for kids or that doesn’t deserve shelf-space compared to a better book, fine call it censorship. But if that’s the case, then there’s nothing unwholesome, dangerous or sinister about censorship whatsoever.”

    Unfortunately, it isn’t always the case that books are removed from library shelves because they are unsuitable for kids or are replaced by better books. There are people and groups in this country who think the Harry Potter books are bad for children. The Potter books have been some of the most highly challenged of children’s books.

    *****

    “Newspapers have a much more obvious and direct connection to the First Amendment, but we don’t consider harsh letters to the editor — i.e. “challenges” to editorial policy — to be censorious.”

    That’s not a good comparison. Some challenged books–which happen to be quality literature–are removed from libraries. I haven’t ever heard of any harsh letters to the editors being the cause of a newspaper being banned.

  39. There is more than one way to ban a book. The educational establishment, including librarians, are overwhelmingly leftist. They can ban books, and avoid being listed as the book banners, simply by not selecting books which question the liberal orthodoxy. I worked for a college book store at the U of Washington for three years. The number of conservative books chosen by a leftist faculty was minimal.

  40. This is my second time to respond on this site. I have been watching from afar and it is late here in Ireland. I have been asking myself, have I found a home for feminist? It is presently about 2:18 p.m.

    In Cork we had an assault last night of a very close friend of mine, she was in her 60s. The gardia is presently investigating. If anyone knows anything please contact them at 063-81222.or at Mallow Garda station on 022-31450.

  41. “It is important to note that, out of the four School Board Members, only one has actually read all three books.” (Elaine)

    That sums it up nicely. Ignorance is bliss.

  42. jvemeer51,

    There is most definitely more than one way to ban a book. That said, a book store is a far cry from a public/school library.

    *****
    I worked as an elementary school librarian for a few years. I had a limited budget. My main goal was to purchase age-appropriate books that were high quality literature and books that helped to support the curriculum.

    Many book challenges can be cordially addressed with a parent who is concerned about his/her child reading a particular book.

    In Raphael’s response to Goldberg’s column, she wrote:
    “Librarians have always supported a parent’s right to decide what his or her family should read. But in our democracy, other families should be able to make different choices for their own families, not dictated by a particular
    political or religious viewpoint.”

    The problem comes when one parent or group gets a book removed from a school or public library. That means it will no longer be available to any other child/person who wants to read it.

  43. Elaine M.,

    You said:

    “That means it will no longer be available to any other child/person who wants to read it.”

    So true, so true….

  44. I, initially was afraid to post here as I viewed some of the posters hostile. I am not sure if the women hate men. I get a feeling of some general hostility.

    I am trying to figure out what “lame” means. My friend is lame because of the incident. I am unsure if I should post anymore, that word seem very unsympathetic when placed out all by itself.

  45. My book, A PAINED LIFE, a chronic pain journey, was ‘banned’ to the membership of the association who claimed their mission to be education about the disorder (trigeminal neuralgia). The refusal to acknowledge the book, even the refusal to allow, at a regional conference, business cards with the books’ title to be placed on a table amongst many pamphlets and info on the disorder: including ads, was an effort to keep them from knowing the book even existed. That to me is censorship (actively keeping the book away). (BTW the reason was because I mentioned my experience with a doctor who paralyzed my face – nothing negative just descriptive, as was the rest of the book about the entire experience of living with and striuggling against TN, but, as the presdient of the TNA told me, the reason I could not inform about the book, nor would they, was because the doctor was a board member and major name in TN.)

  46. “Banned Books Week” worth the hype
    by Gary Panetta
    Journal Star
    9/12/2011
    http://blogs.pjstar.com/panetta/2011/09/12/banned-book-week-worth-the-hype/

    Excerpt:
    I winced this morning when I read Jonah Goldberg’s column about Banned Books Week, which takes place this year Sept. 24-Oct. 1.

    Titled “Banned Books Week Overhyped Propaganda,” the opinion piece pokes fun at the annual effort by the American Library Association to throw a spotlight on attempts to force school and public libraries to remove books from the shelves that some people consider controversial.

    For Goldberg, this effort is a bunch of lefty nonsense. There really is no danger of books being banned in the United States, he writes. This is just an effort to bully parents who are concerned about what books their kids may have access to.

    I half agree with Goldberg. I don’t think there is a danger of mass censorship coming to the United States. In fact, thanks to the ALA and “Banned Book” week, people who challenge the presence of a book at the library don’t often succeed. The challenges, though, persist.

    And even when there are no challenges, self-censorship can occur, especially in public schools. I can still remember my long ago high school librarian using a pair of scissors to remove pages from a novel that he thought might offend parents.

    Of course, if books can’t be banned, they can be “edited.” Case in point: a new rewritten version of “Huckleberry Finn” that’s deemed safer and more child-friendly because racial language has been removed.

    Goldberg’s opinion piece shows the weakness of treating issues in a conventional liberal-vs.-conservative terms. Doing so in this case misses some important questions.

    Among them: What are the goals of school and public libraries?

    In the case of a school library, one goal is the education of the students in science, history, literature and the arts. Another is simply to inspire a love of reading in students. Books have to be selected to meet these goals in terms of substance and accessibility. The interests of pressure groups from the right or left are pretty much irrelevant.

  47. OT … I just finished reading Elaine’s post regarding OS … Tex and I offer our sincere sympathies to OS and his family in this, their time of mourning..

  48. I am not understanding what you are saying. Are you speaking to me or this AY person. I have less than a half hour to home. I will stop by Tompkins before I get home.

  49. Not by the Hair of our Chinny Chin Chin!
    Libraries will say “no” to censors, big, bad, and otherwise, during Banned Books Week.
    http://oxford-ct.patch.com/articles/not-by-the-hair-of-our-chinny-chin-chin

    Excerpt:
    During the last week of September, libraries nationwide participate in Banned Books Week, a celebration of the First Amendment. The American Library Association uses this event to promote “the benefits of free and open access to information while drawing attention to the harms of censorship.”

    Because censorship is illegal, it may be assumed that no one challenges the placement of books on school and public libraries’ shelves. That’s not true.

    In 2010, 348 challenges were reported to the American Library Association. In these cases, people requested that books be removed from library collections or that they be restricted to certain age groups. Complaints were based on content that was deemed unsuitable. “Unsuitable” could mean “sexually explicit” or “offensive” or “too mature” or any number of other adjectives that are entirely subjective.

    In most instances, nothing came of these challenges. That fact combined with the relatively low number of reported complaints has caused some to dismiss the value of Banned Books Week. In fact, syndicated columnist Jonah Goldberg recently suggested that Banned Books Week uses “propaganda” to combat “mythical censorship.”

    To emphasize the supposed ridiculousness of Banned Books Week, Goldberg focused on parents’ challenges to school books. He wrote, “If you complain that your 8-year-old kid shouldn’t be reading a book with lots of sex, violence or profanity until he or she is a little older, you’re not a good parent; you’re a would-be book-banner.” Goldberg seems to believe that there is “a national policy of bullying parents interested in what their kids are reading.”

    Goldberg missed the point.

    The purpose of Banned Books Week isn’t to judge parents’ decisions for their children. Rather, among other things, the week supports parents’ right to make choices for their own children – without making choices that could affect someone else’s kids. It is one thing for a parent to complain that his or her child should not be expected to read a book that that individual believes is inappropriate. It is a completely different issue for a parent to suggest that no other children should have access to that material.

    Often book challengers have good intentions. When it comes to school books, those who complain may claim to simply be protecting children. But sometimes there may not be anything for children to be protected from.

    The truth is, people actually have questioned whether or not “The Three Little Pigs” is suitable for children. According to BBC News, in 2008, a British government agency declined to give an award to a children’s story based on “The Three Little Pigs,” partially because the agency feared the story could offend Muslims. Due to their religious beliefs, Muslims do not eat pork.

    Objections to “The Three Little Pigs” have been made in our country, too. According to the book Banned in the USA, citizens of Hawkins County, Tenn., protested the use of a Basic Reading textbook series in their public school system in 1983. Among the many complaints regarding these books, one in particular stands out: the books contained the story of “The Three Little Pigs.” In a letter to the editor of a local newspaper, a concerned citizen criticized the classic tale for featuring a punishment when a crime hadn’t been committed.

    If these viewpoints seem far-fetched, then it should be easy to understand the significance of the First Amendment. No one should be denied access to even one book based on the opinions of another person. Who is to say one opinion is more valuable than another?

    Critics like Jonah Goldberg can suggest Banned Books Week is flawed, but this event directs attention to an important fact: challengers can huff and puff, but they can’t blow the First Amendment down. That’s something to celebrate during the last week of September and all year long.

  50. My sympathies go out to OS and his family too. He is a solid contributor on this blog and the Daily Kos. Loved the story he told about his grandson, the young chef.

  51. Book banning, coming to a library near you?
    Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF), Public Information Office (PIO)
    http://americanlibrariesmagazine.org/news/ala/book-banning-coming-library-near-you

    Excerpt:
    “The removal of one book is the equivalent of stripping away the rights of hundreds to choose books for themselves,” said ALA President Molly Raphael. “As we have seen this year, too often the voices of a few have restricted the rights of many.”

    The Republic (Mo.) High School banned Kurt Vonnegut’s “Slaughterhouse-Five,” due to a complaint that the book “teaches principles contrary to Biblical morality and truth.” The book was banned, and more than 150 students and their families lost access to the American classic.

    In many cases, it is only through public concern and citizen involvement that books are saved from confiscation or from being kept under lock and key.

    Only after national outcry the Republic School Board of Education in Missouri has agreed to reconsider the banning of “Slaughterhouse-Five.”

    In Norwalk, Conn., Ponus Ridge Middle School Library retained the first book written entirely in the format of instant messaging, “ttyl,”by Lauren Myracle, after the book was facing removal due to complaints that the book’s text was “grammatically incorrect” and used foul language. After a public outcry and a board review, school officials decided to keep the controversial novel for young adults in the library.

    Raphael continued, “Library collections should reflect the diverse viewpoints of our nation. We may not share the same viewpoints, but we cannot live in a free society and develop our own opinions if our right to access information freely is compromised.”

  52. Knight: Banned Books Week promotes, protects freedom
    By Bill Knight
    Pekin Daily Times
    Posted Sep 19, 2011
    http://www.pekintimes.com/opinions/columnists/x827640680/Knight-Banned-Books-Week-promotes-protects-freedom

    Excerpt:
    Now, parents have the right — the responsibility — to guide their own children’s reading, of course. But that right does not extend to other people’s children. The rights and protections of the First Amendment extend to children and teens as well as adults.

    A list of banned books includes not just trendy teen titles about vampires or coming-of-age tales. Titles that have been forced off the shelves include classics and respected authors: “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Great Gatsby”; “Brave New World” and “1984”; John Steinbeck and Ernest Hemingway; “Catch-22” and “The Catcher in the Rye”; “Invisible Man” and “The Color Purple”; Mark Twain and Jack London.

    Objecting is not always illogical or insane, of course. Some books are vulgar, offensive or disturbing. But what’s troubling can be provocative; what’s provocative can lead to good results.

    After all, in some places, the Qur’an and Holy Bible have been banned. Even within faiths, authoritarians include and exclude Scriptures. Institutional Christianity centuries ago banned the Books of Mary and Thomas; today, Catholic Bibles include Old Testament Books of Judith, Maccabees, Sirach, Tobit and Wisdom that Protestant Bibles omitted.

    So, to protect our right to be informed and inspired, we must challenge attempts to censor by watching for, attending and participating in relevant public meetings, by writing letters to public officials and local media, by supporting local libraries, schools and booksellers, and by working with others to protect the freedoms we share and enjoy.

    Also, the best tool against censorship, like most disease, is prevention. That requires us to keep informed. Groups providing news on censorship and banned books range from the First Amendment Center (www.firstamendmentcenter.org/research-articles/) to the McCormick Foundation’s Freedom Project (www.freedomproject.us/post-exchange). Other organizations include the American Booksellers Association, the Freedom to Read Foundation and the National Council of Teachers of English, plus the National Coalition Against Censorship, the PEN American Center and the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.

  53. Are these books not for our kids?
    State ACLU issues list of what’s been deemed improper school reading
    Houston Chronicle
    http://www.chron.com/life/article/Are-these-books-not-good-for-our-kids-1699531.php

    When books are banned in schools, it’s usually because of sex.

    But profanity, violence, religion, politics, race — they get their face time, too. The same issues that spark hot tempers and raised voices between friends also pit First Amendment devotees against protective parents.

    Banned Books Week, an annual celebration of the freedom to read, begins Saturday. And for the 14th year, the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas has compiled a report on books challenged and banned across the state.

    “Sometimes challenges are denied, sometimes books are banned, sometimes there is restricted access,” says Dotty Griffith, public education director for the ACLU of Texas.

    Twenty books were banned and 87 challenged in Texas public schools during 2009-10. Bans and challenges are made district by district.

    The list of banned books ranges from older titles, including Forever and Then Again, Maybe I Won’t, by Judy Blume, to newer books, such as Cecily von Ziegesar’s Would I Lie to You: A Gossip Girl Novel. Among the notable literature challenged: Flowers for Algernon, The Catcher in the Rye and The Kite Runner.

    To some extent, what gets banned or challenged depends on what’s in fashion. In the past, Harry Potter books were challenged because of their focus on witchcraft. Similar cases were made against vampire books, although Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series was challenged by only one district in 2009-10.

    Yet some topics always fall under scrutiny. This year, as in years past, some of the banned books have gay themes.

    “When we talk about a book being banned, we mean being taken off the shelf,” says Gloria Meraz, communications director for the Texas Library Association. “A ‘challenge’ is when questions about a book are raised.”

    The greatest number of challenges came from Leander Independent School District north of Austin, followed closely by Round Rock and Cypress-Fairbanks independent school districts. In Leander, nearly every challenge came from a parent or guardian.

    The Houston Independent School District did not report any challenges or bans. This is big news; two years ago HISD reported more challenges than any other district.

    Katy and Conroe Independent School districts reported no challenges. Fort Bend ISD reported one challenge: Olive’s Ocean by Kevin Henkes. Ultimately, the book was retained and no restrictions were placed on it.

    Incident in Humble
    Middle schools across Texas saw the most controversy, with 50 percent of banned books removed from their shelves or class reading lists.

    “The genre of young adult or teen lit increasingly does try to deal with real life in many ways,” Griffith says. “I think there is a desire to shield kids from some of the tougher situations, but if young people weren’t being confronted with certain kinds of situations, there wouldn’t be books about them.”

    The recent incident at the Humble Independent School District with author Ellen Hopkins – whose young-adult books were restricted in a few districts this year – is a case in point.

    When the bestselling author was pulled from a lineup of writers to appear at a Teen Lit Fest in Humble, cries of censorship burst from the literary community. After other authors backed out of the event to support Hopkins – whose books have tackled meth addiction, teen prostitution and suicide – the district canceled the festival.

  54. Vonnegut Library Donates Copies Of ‘Slaughterhouse-Five’ To School District Where It Was Banned
    Huffington Post
    8/5/11
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/05/kurt-vonnegut-republic-missouri-slaughterhouse-five-book-banning_n_919455.html

    Excerpts:
    In response to the Republic, Mo., school board’s controversial decision last week to remove “Slaughterhouse-Five” from its high school library and curriculum, the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library in Indianapolis announced that it would offer a free copy of the modern classic to 150 of the school’s students, thanks to a generous donation from an anonymous donor.

    Julia Whitehead, the Executive Director of the Vonnegut Library, told HuffPost that the gift was part of an effort to raise public awareness of the school board’s decision, and that she hoped parents in the school district might get involved.

    “All of these students will be eligible to vote, and some may be protecting our country through military service in the next year or two,” Whitehead said in a statement. “It is shocking and unfortunate that those young adults and citizens would not be considered mature enough to handle the important topics raised by Kurt Vonnegut, a decorated war veteran. Everyone can learn something from his book.”

    The school board voted unanimously last week to eliminate “Slaughterhouse-Five,” as well as Sarah Ockler’s “Twenty Boy Summer,” from Republic High School’s curriculum and remove copies of them from its library, after a local resident publicly complained about their “inappropriate” content and said they promote values contrary to those found in the bible.

    When the school board’s decision was announced, The Vonnegut Library began working with Doug Bonney, an attorney and legal director of Western Missouri’s ACLU organization.

    Bonney said that the ACLU has been following this situation ever since a Missouri State University professor, Wesley Scroggins, wrote an article in the Springfield News-Leader last fall complaining about what he viewed as inappropriate content featured in “Slaughterhouse-Five” and “Twenty Boy Summer,” as well as in another book, the award-winning young adult novel, “Speak.”

    *****

    Wall of Separation, the official blog of the group Americans United for Separation of Church and State, recently revisited a 1982 censorship case in a New York school district, which had also tried to remove “Slaughterhouse-Five” from its curriculum.

    After the case was presented to the Supreme Court, Justice William Brennan led the charge against the book’s removal, writing that school boards cannot remove books “simply because they dislike the ideas contained in those books” and “seek by their removal to ‘prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion.'”

    Now, almost thirty years later, the book has come up against similar opposition. In a statement from the Vonnegut Library, Whitehead quoted Vonnegut himself, who wrote: “All these people talk so eloquently about getting back to good old-fashioned values… and I say let’s get back to the good old-fashioned First Amendment of the good old-fashioned Constitution of the United States — and to hell with the censors! Give me knowledge or give me death!”

  55. Ten Books About Censorship For Kids & Teens
    by Rocco Staino
    Huffington Post, 9/18/2011
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rocco-staino/banned-book-week_b_968389.html#s364518&title=Places_I_Never

    Excerpt:
    The annual event celebrating the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment, Banned Book Week is September 24th — October 1st. Each year the list of frequently challenged books is highlighted and this year the American Library Association is encouraging people to participate in a Virtual Read-Out.

    Despite the high visibility of the event, there are few stories for kids and young adults with censorship as the theme. To help celebrate Banned Book Week I have compiled a list of 10 books that deal with censorship in various areas.

  56. Student Runs Secret Banned Books Library from Locker
    http://www.care2.com/causes/student-runs-secret-banned-books-library-from-locker.html

    Excerpt:

    A Catholic school student who identifies herself by the avatar name “Nekochan” started an unofficial library of banned books that she runs out of her locker at school. She began to lend books to her classmates when her school banned a long list of classic titles, including The Canterbury Tales, Paradise Lost and Animal Farm.

    Concerned about getting in trouble for violating school rules, Nekochan wrote a letter to an online advice column to ask if it was “ok to run an illegal library” from her locker.

    Nekochan wrote about the recent book ban: “I was absolutely appalled, because a huge number of the books were classics and others that are my favorites. One of my personal favorites, The Catcher in the Rye, was on the list, so I decided to bring it to school to see if I would really get in trouble. Well… I did but not too much. Then (surprise!) a boy in my English class asked if he could borrow the book because he heard it was very good AND it was banned! This happened a lot and my locker got to overflowing with banned books, so I decided to put the unoccupied locker next to me to a good use. I now have 62 books in that locker, about half of what was on the list.”

    I understand the appeal of reading banned books because they are banned. When I was eleven, I bought a banned books poster at a school book fair and proceeded to read each of the titles on the poster, crossing each one out as I went. It still hangs on the wall of my childhood bedroom.

    Books are banned for many reasons, but in a lot of cases, such as Nekochan’s, the complaint originates in religion. Amelia T.’s Care2 post discusses the case of a public school that banned books for “contradicting the Bible.” In that case, only one member of the school board had read all of the books under consideration for banishment. Books are often banned by school boards whose only knowledge of the books is a brief, out-of-context quotation.

  57. Why do gay penguins make people so mad? ‘Tango’ tops banned books list — again.
    LA Times
    April 12, 2011
    http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/jacketcopy/2011/04/why-do-gay-penguins-make-people-so-mad-tango-tops-banned-books-list-again.html

    Excerpt:
    It’s just an orphan penguin with two daddies. Why can’t people let it alone?

    Once again, “And Tango Makes Three,” the award-winning children’s book, has topped the American Library Assn.’s list of most frequently challenged books, announced Monday. “And Tango Makes Three” tells the true story of two emperor penguins at New York’s Central Park Zoo who hatched and parented a baby chick. What about the book has gotten feathers ruffled? The emperor penguins were both male.

    Written by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson and illustrated by Henry Cole, “And Tango Makes Three” has spent five years on the most-challenged list. For 2010 it again took the top spot. The library association writes that objections to the book include it being deemed “unsuited for age group.” “Religious viewpoint” and “homosexuality” have also been cited as reasons for challenging the book.

  58. I have been offline for the past several days. I was unaware that Elaine had posted the announcement of the loss of the love of my life after 55 years. For the first time in more than a week, I logged on and was reading comments in this thread when I saw her note and the kind responses.

    I will be writing a diary about her over on Daily Kos and also Street Prophets in a day or two. The memorial service will be on Thursday–we had hoped sooner, but that was the soonest we could get it scheduled.

    It will be a long time before I am back to anything resembling normal. Maybe never. But I am passionate about many of the issues debated here, as was she, but she was not a blogger herself. I did get ideas from her as she would read over my shoulder and make suggestions for comments. Some of the trolls and right-wingers got her Celtic dander up and she used some language about some of them that could not be put in a family newspaper. When I did use some of her comments, I must admit I had to do a little censoring myself. Not for content of course, but for style.

  59. Otteray,

    I hope you’ll post a link to your Daily Kos diary about your wife here at the Turley blog. Please know that my thoughts are with you and your family at this difficult time.

  60. “Banned Books Week”
    Constitutional Law Prof Blog
    September 25, 2010
    http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/conlaw/2010/09/banned-books-week.html

    Excerpt:
    The last week in September is the American Library Association’s “Banned Books Week”: “an annual event celebrating the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment,” which “highlights the benefits of free and open access to information while drawing attention to the harms of censorship by spotlighting actual or attempted bannings of books across the United States.”

    A classic example of the situation “banned books week” is meant to address occurred earlier this month when a school board in Stockton, Missouri unanimously banned Sherman Alexie’s National Book Award winning novel, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian from the school curriculum.

  61. Banned Books Week
    ACLU of Oregon
    http://aclu-or.org/bannedbooks

    Excerpt:

    What is Banned Books Week?

    Banned Books Week is an annual event started by the American Library Association (ALA) in 1982. This week-long event, held during the last week of September, raises awareness of freedom of speech through celebrating challenged books and the value of free expression.

    What do we mean when we say “Banned” and “Challenged” books?
    A book is “challenged” when a person or group objects to the materials and attempts to remove or restrict their accessibility. A book is “banned” when this removal is successful.

    Thanks to the work of libraries and the ACLU, most book challenges are now unsuccessful.

    Who does the challenging?

    There is a misconceived notion that the term “banned book” means the government is trying to interfere in the public’s access to these works. According to the ALA’s website, parents of school aged children are responsible for challenges more often than any other group. The ALA website states that that the top three reasons books are challenged are:

    1.the material was considered to be “sexually explicit”
    2.the material contained “offensive language”
    3.the materials was “unsuited to any age group”
    Challenges are typically done on a small scale by a group of concerned citizens who attempt to have the materials removed from their local libraries and bookstores.

    Why Does ACLU fight to defend the freedom to read?

    The ACLU is dedicated to the protection of free speech and free expression. When a small group of individuals tries to keep the rest of society from reading a book or viewing a painting they are impeding that freedom by attempting to dictate what is and is not acceptable expression.

  62. ACLU Of Texas Issues 15th Annual Banned Books ReportReport Finds Young Adult (YA) Literature Is Main Target For Challenges And Banning In Texas Public Schools
    http://www.aclutx.org/2011/09/15/aclu-of-texas-issues-15th-annual-banned-books-eport/

    Excerpt:
    HOUSTON — Books in the hottest genre in literature, called YA or Young Adult, are the most frequently challenged and banned in Texas public schools, the ACLU of Texas reported in its annual investigation published as “Free People Read Freely.”

    Texas schools banned 17 books last school year, 2010-2011, a decrease from the 20 taken from shelves the previous year. Most are in the popular YA category, although at Cibolo Green Elementary School, Merriam-Webster’s Visual Dictionary drew objections due to “sexual content or nudity.” As a result of the challenge, the dictionary was placed in a restricted area of the library.

  63. I know now why my kids did not attend Texas public schools. My son read nearly every Roald Dahl book in his early grades at a parochial school.

  64. Notable First Amendment court cases
    From the American Library Association
    http://www.ala.org/ala/aboutala/offices/oif/firstamendment/courtcases/courtcases.cfm

    This page contains summaries of frequently cited First Amendment cases. Arranged by topic, they cover case law issued by a variety of courts: the Supreme Court of the United States, the Court of Appeals of different Federal circuits, the District Court of several Federal districts, as well as the highest court of several states and particular appellate courts of action.

    *****
    Three of the Notable Cases:

    Campbell v. St. Tammany Parish School Board, 64 F.3d 184 (5th Cir. 1995)

    Public school district removed the book Voodoo and Hoodoo, a discussion of the origins, history, and practices of the voodoo and hoodoo religions that included an outline of some specific practices, from all district library shelves. Parents of several students sued and the district court granted summary judgment in their favor. The court of appeals reversed, finding that there was not enough evidence at that stage to determine that board members had an unconstitutional motivation, such as denying students
    access to ideas with which board members disagreed; the court remanded the case for a full trial at which all board members could be questioned about their reasons for removing the book. The court observed that “in light of the special role of the school library as a place where students may freely and voluntarily explore diverse topics, the school board’s non-curricular decision to remove a book well after it had been placed in the public school libraries evokes the question whether that action might not be an attempt to ‘strangle the free mind at its source.'” The court focused on some evidence that school board members had removed the book without having read it or having read only excerpts provided by the Christian Coalition. The parties settled the case before trial by returning the book to the libraries on specially designated reserve shelves.

    *****

    Sund v. City of Wichita Falls, Texas, 121 F. Supp. 2d 530 (N.D. Texas, 2000)

    City residents who were members of a church sought removal of two books, Heather Has Two Mommies and Daddy’s Roommate, because they disapproved of the books’ depiction of homosexuality. The City of Wichita Falls City Council voted to restrict access to the books if 300 persons signed a petition asking for the restriction. A separate group of citizens filed suit after the books were removed from the children’s section and placed on a locked shelf in the adult area of the library. Following a trial on the merits, the District Court permanently enjoined the city from enforcing the resolution permitting the removal of the two books. It held that the City’s resolution constituted impermissible content-based and viewpoint based discrimination; was not narrowly tailored to serve a compelling state interest; provided no standards or review process; and improperly delegated governmental authority over the selection and removal of the library’s books to any 300 private citizens who wish to remove a book from the children’s area of the Library.

    *****

    Counts v. Cedarville School District, 295 F.Supp.2d 996 (W.D. Ark. 2003)

    The school board of the Cedarville, Arkansas school district voted to restrict students’ access to the Harry Potter books, on the grounds that the books promoted disobediance and disrespect for authority and dealt with witchcraft and the occult. As a result of the vote, students in the Cedarville school district were required to obtain a signed permission slip from their parents or guardians before they would be allowed to borrow any of the Harry Potter books from school libraries. The District Court overturned the Board’s decision and ordered the books returned to unrestricted circulation, on the grounds that the restrictions violated students’ First Amendment right to read and receive information. In so doing, the Court noted that while the Board necessarily performed highly discretionary functions related to the operation of the schools, it was still bound by the Bill of Rights and could not abridge students’ First Amendment right to read a book on the basis of an undifferentiated fear of disturbance or because the Board disagreed with the ideas contained in the book.

  65. Otteray Scribe, I’m so sorry for your loss. And after reading this I’m sorry she didn’t blog because she sounds lovely…

    “I did get ideas from her as she would read over my shoulder and make suggestions for comments. Some of the trolls and right-wingers got her Celtic dander up and she used some language about some of them that could not be put in a family newspaper. ”

    Heal back quick….

  66. Forgot to finish. A repairman showed up. I was saying I would like to have the opportunity to work for her, but since I still live in Texas it won’t be happening, but I can send a donation.

  67. Missouri School Ends Ban On ‘Slaughterhouse-Five’…Sort Of
    http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2011/09/20/323474/missouri-school-ends-ban-on-slaughterhouse-five-sort-of/

    This Summer, the Republic School Board in Missouri decided to ban Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five and Sarah Ockler’s Twenty Boy Summer after a resident complained these novels “teach principles contrary to the Bible.” After enduring serious blowback, the school board unanimously voted to overturn the ban yesterday. Technically. The two books will now be available “for independent reading as long as they are kept in a secure section of the school library. Only parents or guardians can check them out.” The teachers “still cannot make the books required reading nor read them aloud.”

  68. Off Topic:

    Yahoo Appears To Be Censoring Email Messages About Wall Street Protests (Updated)
    By Lee Fang on Sep 20, 2011
    http://thinkprogress.org/media/2011/09/20/323856/yahoo-censoring-occupy-wall-street-protests/

    Thinking about e-mailing your friends and neighbors about the protests against Wall Street happening right now? If you have a Yahoo e-mail account, think again. ThinkProgress has reviewed claims that Yahoo is censoring e-mails relating to the protest and found that after several attempts on multiple accounts, we too were prevented from sending messages about the “Occupy Wall Street” demonstrations.

    Over the weekend, thousands gathered for a “Tahrir Square”-style protest of Wall Street’s domination of American politics. The protesters, organized online and by organizations like Adbusters, have called their effort “Occupy Wall Street” and have set up the website: http://www.OccupyWallSt.org. However, several YouTube users posted videos of themselves trying to email a message inviting their friends to visit the Occupy Wall St campaign website, only to be blocked repeatedly by Yahoo.

    *****

    Check out the link above to view a video of ThinkProgress making the attempt with the same blocked message experienced by others.

  69. Banned Books Week: defending our freedom to read
    Gordon T. Belt
    First Amendment Center Library Manager
    Tuesday, September 20, 2011
    http://www.firstamendmentcenter.org/banned-books-week-defending-our-freedom-to-read

    Excerpt:
    “I cannot live without books.” — Thomas Jefferson.

    Of all Jefferson’s inspiring and thought-provoking quotes, this one is among my favorites. As the First Amendment Center’s librarian, I have a special affinity for books, and as someone academically trained as a historian, I have an appreciation for the Founding Fathers and for the important words they left behind.

    Banned Books Week — Sept. 24 through Oct. 1 — is an annual recognition by librarians and book-minded people that the First Amendment should never be taken for granted. I believe the freedoms embraced by the Founding Fathers in the 45 words of the First Amendment also speak to an implied freedom to read, yet history shows us that the struggle to maintain that freedom has never been easy.

    Jefferson believed that censorship only served to draw attention to books that might otherwise be ignored or forgotten. In 1814, Jefferson wrote to his Philadelphia bookseller, Nicolas G. Dufief, concerning Jefferson’s purchase of a book by Regnault de Bécourt, La Création du Monde. American authorities claimed that de Bécourt’s book contained blasphemous material, and had accused the author of selling his book to Jefferson. In coming to de Bécourt’s defense Jefferson eloquently stated, “I am really mortified to be told that, in the United States of America, a fact like this can become a subject of inquiry, and of criminal inquiry too, as an offence against religion; that a question about the sale of a book can be carried before the civil magistrate.”

    Throughout our nation’s history, words that have questioned the authority of our government and religious institutions have faced public scrutiny. Even works by our most well-known Founding Fathers have been censored out of fear of rebellion and societal decay.

  70. Elaine,
    I saw that article about Yahoo and their lame excuse claiming it was just an error on their parts, but then they said the error might take awhile to fix! I smell a rat.

  71. Elaine M.,

    Thank you…I seemed to have missed that article….

    Raff,

    I suppose if you are a corporation like Yahoo….and your net effective tax rate is…something like 2.1%….I’d comply with what the money’d people asked as well….There was some concern that if Yahoo paid its fair share of Taxes that it’d drop about 30% in value…Hmmmm….I wonder if there is a connection…

  72. What I do not know is what the effective tax rate of Berkshire-Hathaway is presently….I wonder if the shares have decreased since Warrens offer to pay his fair share of taxes…Wall Street does have a way to punish non-compliant souls….

  73. My favorite from the “Banana Man” link, AY:

    “In May, two Ohio seventh-graders were suspended for alleged flatulence on a school bus.”

    Alleged flatulence???

    (Regarding, “Have we gone totally bananas?” Yes. Yes we have.)

  74. Elaine M. 9:45 am : “Student Runs Secret Banned Books Library from Locker

    Excerpt:

    A Catholic school student who identifies herself by the avatar name “Nekochan” started an unofficial library of banned books that she runs out of her locker at school. She began to lend books to her classmates when her school banned a long list of classic titles, including The Canterbury Tales, Paradise Lost and Animal Farm.”

    ———————-

    My first nominee this year for a Medal of Freedom.

    (Didn’t I read a book about something like this? Books were banned and people had to hide them if they wanted to read them, it was dangerous to do so…) :-)

  75. History lesson needed
    http://www.tri-cityherald.com/2011/09/20/1648278/history-lesson-needed.html

    I do not know how old Jonah Goldberg is, but his recent column, “Banned Books Week is just a lot of hype,” was written, I believe, by someone who does not know his U.S. history. In 1955, a U.S. citizen could not buy or legally bring into the United States books by D.H. Lawrence, Henry Miller and other noted authors. Mickey Spillane novels with sexual innuendos were readily available but authors writing about honest human behavior, feelings, actions and language were banned — not allowed in this country in which the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution gives freedom of religion and speech to citizens and the press.

    If you still believe banning books is all hype, get a copy of The Monumental Decision of the United States District Court Rendered Dec. 6, 1933 by Hon. John M. Woolsey Lifting the Ban on Ulysses. James Joyce, Hemingway and countless other great literary writers were banned in the U.S, and no bookstores sold their literature. Freedom doesn’t just happen. Banning books infringes on your and my right for free, honest expression in print and speech.

    Vivian Martin, Kennewick

  76. Book battles heat up over censorship vs. selection in school
    By Natalie DiBlasio, USA TODAY
    August 18, 2011
    http://www.usatoday.com/news/education/2011-08-22-book-ban-schools_n.htm

    U.S. schools have banned more than 20 books and faced more than 50 other challenges this year, the American Library Association reports, and many more are expected this fall.

    “By far our busiest time is the early fall,” says Angela Maycock of the association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom. “When students go back to school, we see a real upswing in complaints.”

    There is intense debate over whether those challenges involve censorship or are just parents seeking age-appropriate reading material.

    “It is not a banning when some school decides to remove a book,” says Dan Kleinman, who in 2004 started the website SafeLibraries.org . “They are just following their selection policy.”

    ” Districts are dependent on budgets, and politically motivated school boards try to determine what we read, what we think and what we teach,” he says.

    The number of book challenges, usually initiated by parents, fluctuates yearly, says library association spokeswoman Jennifer Petersen. Reported challenges have declined from 513 in 2008 to 348 last year, but Petersen says there are many that her group never learns about.

    Last month, Kurt Vonnegut Jr.’s Slaughterhouse-Five and Sarah Ockler’s Twenty Boy Summer were removed from Republic High School in Republic, Mo.

    Ockler called the ban “extremely disheartening.”

    The top reasons for challenges are sexually explicit content, offensive language and violence, the association says.

    “That’s not what our kids should be reading and learning,” says Roberta Combs, president of the Christian Coalition of America .

    Virginia’s Albemarle County School District removed the Sherlock Holmes mystery A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle from a sixth-grade reading list this summer after parents said the book portrays Mormons in a negative light, says Matt Haas, executive director of the county’s schools.

    In Channelview, Texas, The Adventures of Super Diaper Baby, by George Beard, Harold Hutchins and Dav Pilkey, was removed from grade schools after parents complained when their 6-year-old was suspended for calling a classmate “poo-poo head,” Maycock says.

    **********
    My Note: Forced removal of a challenged book from a library is not part of a library’s selection policy.

    **********
    Banned books
    Books banned by various schools in the past six months include:

    1. Athletic Shorts, by Chris Crutcher

    2. Big Momma Makes the World, by
    Phyllis Root

    3. The Bonesetter’s Daughter, by Amy Tan

    4. Burn, by Suzanne Phillips

    5. Great Soul, by Joseph Lelyveld

    6. It’s a Book, by Lane Smith

    7. Lovingly Alice, by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

    8. The Marbury Lens, by Andrew Smith

    9. Me Talk Pretty One Day, by David Sedaris

    10. Mobile Suit Gundam: Seed Astray Vol. 3, by Tomohiro Chiba

    11. My Darling, My Hamburger, by Paul Zindel

    12. The Patron Saint of Butterflies, by Cecilia Galante

    13. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky

    14. Pit Bulls and Tenacious Guard Dogs, by Carl Semencic

    15. Push, by Sapphire

    16. Shooting Star, by Fredrick McKissack Jr.

    17. The Short and Incredibly Happy Life of Riley, by Colin Thompson

    18. Vegan Virgin Valentine, by Carolyn Mackler

    19. What My Mother Doesn’t Know, by Sonya Sones

    20. “What’s Happening to My Body?”: Book for Boys, by Lynda Madaras with Area Madaras

    Source: Jennifer Petersen, the American Library Association
    Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, says he believes the challenges are increasingly influenced by politics and the economy.

  77. Those challenging books find strength in numbers
    By Didi Tang and Mary Beth Marklein
    USA Today
    12/6/2010
    http://www.usatoday.com/news/education/2010-12-01-bookbans01_ST_N.htm

    Shortly after the fall semester began this year, Wesley Scroggins, a parent of three in Republic, Mo., publicly criticized the local school district for carrying books that he described as soft pornography.
    “We’ve got to have educated kids, and we’ve got to be a moral people,” Scroggins said then. “I’ve been concerned for some time what students in the schools are being taught.”

    Parents have long raised concerns about school and library books — children’s and young adult books, and sometimes dictionaries — often for inappropriate content. The number of reported challenges in the past 30 years has hovered between about 400 or 500 each year, says Deborah Caldwell-Stone, an attorney with the American Library Association.

    Whereas challenges once were mostly launched by a lone parent, Caldwell-Stone says she has noticed “an uptick in organized efforts” to remove books from public and school libraries. A number of challenges appear to draw from information provided on websites such as Parents Against Bad Books in Schools, or PABBIS.org, and Safelibraries.org, she says.

    And the latest wrinkle: A wave of complaints around the nation about inappropriate material in public schools has stirred emotional argument over just how much freedom should be extended to students in advanced courses.

    Earlier this year, a California parent objected to sex-related terms in a collegiate dictionary placed in a fourth- and fifth-grade classroom to accommodate advanced readers. And the American Library Association and other groups say they have seen a noticeable rise in complaints about literature used in honors or college-level courses.

    “This is a relatively recent phenomenon, and it’s spreading,” says Joan Bertin, executive director of the National Coalition Against Censorship, a New York-based group.

    More high schools are offering Advanced Placement or similar honors courses, in part to help students earn college credit and to give them a leg up in college admissions. Nearly 12,500 U.S. high schools offered Advanced Placement English literature this year, up 30% since 2000, and the number of students taking the national exam is up 86%.

    This year, high schools in Hillsborough County, Fla., Easton, Pa., and Franklin Township, Ind., were asked to review books being read in Advanced Placement English courses.

    Judith John, an English professor at Missouri State University, suggests book bans might have become more noticeable these days because of an uncertain economy and concerns about terrorism. “When people are afraid, they become more conservative and reject changes,” she says.

    Candi Cushman, education analyst for Focus on the Family, a Christian ministry in Colorado, says it’s “healthy and normal for parents to want to weigh in on what their kids are exposed to at taxpayer-funded schools, especially when we talk about materials that are sexually explicit.”

    Sex is not always the primary concern. A Seattle high school recently dropped Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World from its 10th-grade required reading list after a parent objected to the book’s depiction of American Indians as savages.

    Cushman’s group encourages concerned parents to start with school officials. “We trust the democratic process to weed out illegitimate complaints,” Cushman says.

    The American Library Association urges schools to keep challenged books on the shelves until a review committee can read the material and make a recommendation to key decision-makers.

    Sometimes the decision is questioned:

    • In Plano, Texas, last month, the school district collected a textbook, Culture and Values: A Survey of the Humanities, from classrooms after a parent voiced concern, then reissued the book after former students launched a social-media campaign to object. “This decision was made behind closed doors without discussion,” says Ashley Meyers, 22, a 2006 graduate who had used the book.

    • After the school board in Stockton, Mo., voted in April to ban The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, English teachers who assign the book said they should have been consulted about its educational value. “We expected a more thorough, well-developed process before a book was banned,” English teacher Kim Chism Jasper said during a public forum in September.

    • A chapter of Glenn Beck’s 9.12 Project, a conservative watchdog network, was a force behind the removal of Revolutionary Voices: A Multicultural Queer Youth Anthology from the school library at Rancocas Valley Regional High School in Burlington County, N.J. The ACLU of New Jersey requested documentation from school officials regarding how the decision was made.

    Such controversies make headlines, which helps the library association and other anti-censorship groups track book bans. John, who has been studying book bans since 1993, suggests many library books simply disappear from circulation.

    “It’s more prevalent than people think,” she says.

  78. “In 1955, a U.S. citizen could not buy or legally bring into the United States books by D.H. Lawrence, Henry Miller and other noted authors. Mickey Spillane novels with sexual innuendos were readily available but authors writing about honest human behavior, feelings, actions and language were banned — not allowed in this country in which the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution gives freedom of religion and speech to citizens and the press.”

    Great point Elaine and worth reiterating. Add James Joyce, William Burroughs and others to that list. It was all done in the name of protecting children’s sensibilities. Lo and behold more than 50 years later the book banners still use that specious reasoning.

  79. “On rare occasion, we have situations where a piece of material is not what it appears to be on the surface and the material is totally inappropriate for a school library. In that case, yes, it is appropriate to remove materials. If it doesn’t fit your material selection policy, get it out of there.”

    “Marking 25 Years of Banned Books Week,” by Judith Krug, Curriculum Review, 46:1, September 2006.

    See also: “Banned Books Week Propaganda Exposed by Progressive Librarian Rory Litwin; ALA Censors Out Criticism of Its Own Actions in a Manner Dishonest to the Core.”

    The truth is, no book has been banned in the USA for about half a century. Fanny Hill got that honor a long time ago. Challenged books in schools that are removed is something completely different from book banning.

  80. Dan,

    “The truth is, no book has been banned in the USA for about half a century. Fanny Hill got that honor a long time ago. Challenged books in schools that are removed is something completely different from book banning.”

    If a librarian is told that she/he must remove a book from a school or public library or a school is told a particular book must be removed from a reading list, isn’t that book–in effect–banned from the library or school? What would you call a book that is not allowed to be kept in a school library or read at a school–a removed book? Smoking is banned in restaurants and public buildings in the state where I reside. Would you say that smoking is not actually banned here because people can smoke in places other than restaurants and public buildings?

  81. Massachusetts library lifts 1906 ban on Mark Twain book
    By Daniel Lovering | Reuters
    http://news.yahoo.com/massachusetts-library-lifts-1906-ban-mark-twain-book-225525966.html

    Excerpt:
    CAMBRIDGE, Mass (Reuters) – A Mark Twain book with nude illustrations, added to a Massachusetts public library after a century-old ban was lifted, was plucked from the shelf within hours on Thursday.

    Trustees of the Charlton Public Library lifted the 1906 ban earlier this week of “Eve’s Diary,” Twain’s satirical version of the Adam and Eve story, said Cheryl Hansen, the library’s director.

    Two paperback copies were made available at the library in central Massachusetts on Thursday and, within hours, one of them was in a reader’s hands, she said.

    “I think there’ll be a lot of interest in taking it out,” Hansen added, saying the unanimous vote to lift the ban came just in time for Banned Books Week, which begins on Saturday.

    A library trustee learned about the ban from a local newspaper article and last year tracked down a first edition of the book, which will be on display through next week, she said.

    The book, published in 1906, was banned when the library’s then-trustees took issue with illustrations by Lester Ralph that showed Eve naked. Adam appears covered up in the pictures, she said.

    “They’re not what we would consider inflammatory at all, and I’m even surprised they were considered (inflammatory) then,” Hansen said.

  82. I just learned of Otteray Scribe’s great loss and I send my sympathy to OS and his family. Although I have never met OS, he is my friend. I feel very sad tonight. I hope he will rejoin us soon.

  83. @Elaine M., let it put it this way, and I’ll simply need to quote from a former ALA Councilor at librarian.net:

    “It also highlights the thing we know about Banned Books Week that we don’t talk about much — the bulk of these books are challenged by parents for being age-inappropriate for children. While I think this is still a formidable thing for librarians to deal with, it’s totally different from people trying to block a book from being sold at all.”

    Totally different.

  84. @Elaine M.

    No. Removing a book after application of book selection policy is not banning. If it were a banning, then the creator of BBW would be a banner:

    “On rare occasion, we have situations where a piece of material is not what it appears to be on the surface and the material is totally inappropriate for a school library. In that case, yes, it is appropriate to remove materials. If it doesn’t fit your material selection policy, get it out of there.”

    As to the reading lists, same thing. Courts allow schools to remove inappropriate materials, including the US Supreme Court. If it were a banning, then the SCOTUS and other courts would be banners.

    Is it your intention to argue that Judith Krug and the courts are book banners for legally removing inappropriate materials from public schools?

    FYI, I was just on the air discussing this issue. Perhaps you should give it a listen. For the next 2 weeks only, you can hear what I said on a local NPR affiliate radio station about Banned Books Week, Judith Krug, and the ALA here:

    http://www.kunm.org/twoweekarchive.html

    And set the date to Thurs Sep 22 and the time to 8:00 AM before clicking the button. Then, in four minutes, you’ll start to hear the music then the show. I am on for 1/2 hour. You’ll hear her say goodbye to me later.

    If you happen to listen for an additional half hour, others talk about me, including the IF head at the NMLA who agrees with me!

  85. Dan,

    From the ALA website:

    About Banned & Challenged Books

    What’s the difference between a challenge and a banning?

    A challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group. A banning is the removal of those materials. Challenges do not simply involve a person expressing a point of view; rather, they are an attempt to remove material from the curriculum or library, thereby restricting the access of others. Due to the commitment of librarians, teachers, parents, students and other concerned citizens, most challenges are unsuccessful and most materials are retained in the school curriculum or library collection.

    ***

    Often challenges are motivated by a desire to protect children from “inappropriate” sexual content or “offensive” language. The following were the top three reasons cited for challenging materials as reported to the Office of Intellectual Freedom:

    – the material was considered to be “sexually explicit”
    – the material contained “offensive language”
    – the materials was “unsuited to any age group”

    Although this is a commendable motivation, Free Access to Libraries for Minors, an interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights (ALA’s basic policy concerning access to information) states that, “Librarians and governing bodies should maintain that parents—and only parents—have the right and the responsibility to restrict the access of their children—and only their children—to library resources.” Censorship by librarians of constitutionally protected speech, whether for protection or for any other reason, violates the First Amendment.

    http://www.ala.org/ala/issuesadvocacy/banned/aboutbannedbooks/index.cfm

  86. Dan,

    Notable First Amendment court cases
    http://www.ala.org/ala/aboutala/offices/oif/firstamendment/courtcases/courtcases.cfm

    *****

    The Right to Read Freely

    Evans v. Selma Union High School District of Fresno County, 222 P. 801 (Ca. 1924)

    The California State Supreme Court held that the King James version of the Bible was not a “publication of a sectarian, partisan, or denominational character” that a State statute required a public high school library to exclude from its collections. The “fact that the King James version is commonly used by Protestant Churches and not by Catholics” does not “make its character sectarian,” the court stated. “The mere act of purchasing a book to be added to the school library does not carry with it any implication of the adoption of the theory or dogma contained therein, or any approval of the book itself, except as a work of literature fit to be included in a reference library.”

    *****

    Rosenberg v. Board of Education of City of New York, 92 N.Y.S.2d 344 (Sup. Ct. Kings County 1949)

    After considering the charge that Oliver Twist and the Merchant of Venice are “objectionable because they tend to engender hatred of the Jew as a person and as a race,” the Supreme Court, Kings County, New York, decided that these two works cannot be banned from the New York City schools, libraries, or classrooms, declaring that the Board of Education “acted in good faith without malice or prejudice and in the best interests of the school system entrusted to their care and control, and, therefore, that no substantial reason exists which compels the suppression of the two books under consideration.”

    *****

    Todd v. Rochester Community Schools, 200 N.W.2d 90 (Mich. Ct. App. 1972)

    In deciding that Slaughterhouse-Five could not be banned from the libraries and classrooms of the Michigan schools, the Court of Appeals of Michigan declared: “Vonnegut’s literary dwellings on war, religion, death, Christ, God, government, politics, and any other subject should be as welcome in the public schools of this state as those of Machiavelli, Chaucer, Shakespeare, Melville, Lenin, Joseph McCarthy, or Walt Disney. The students of Michigan are free to make of Slaughterhouse-Five what they will.”

    Minarcini v. Strongsville (Ohio) City School District, 541 F.2d 577 (6th Cir. 1976)

    *****

    Minarcini v. Strongsville (Ohio) City School District, 541 F.2d 577 (6th Cir. 1976)

    The Strongsville City Board of Education rejected faculty recommendations to purchase Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 and Kurt Vonnegut’s God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater and ordered the removal of Catch-22 and Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle from the library. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled against the School Board, upholding the students’ First Amendment right to receive information and the librarian’s right to disseminate it. “The removal of books from a school library is a much more serious burden upon the freedom of classroom discussion than the action found unconstitutional in Tinker v. Des Moines School District.”

    *****

    Right to Read Defense Committee v. School Committee of the City of Chelsea, 454 F. Supp. 703 (D. Mass. 1978)

    The Chelsea, Mass. School Committee decided to bar from the high school library a poetry anthology, Male and Female under 18, because of the inclusion of an “offensive” and “damaging” poem, “The City to a Young Girl,” written by a fifteen-year-old girl. Challenged in U.S. District Court, Joseph L. Tauro ruled: “The library is ‘a mighty resource in the marketplace of ideas.’ There a student can literally explore the unknown, and discover areas of interest and thought not covered by the prescribed curriculum. The student who discovers the magic of the library is on the way to a life-long experience of self-education and enrichment. That student learns that a library is a place to test or expand upon ideas presented to him, in or out of the classroom. The most effective antidote to the poison of mindless orthodoxy is ready access to a broad sweep of ideas and philosophies. There is no danger from such exposure. The danger is mind control. The committee’s ban of the anthology Male and Female is enjoined.”

    *****

    Case v. Unified School District No. 233, 908 F. Supp. 864 (D. Kan. 1995)

    When the Olathe, Kansas, School Board voted to remove the book Annie on My Mind, a novel depicting a lesbian relationship between two teenagers, from the district’s junior and senior high school libraries, the federal district court in Kansas found they violated the students’ rights under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and the corresponding provisions of the Kansas State Constitution. Despite the fact that the school board testified that they had removed the book because of “educational unsuitability,” which is within their rights under the Pico decision, it became obvious from their testimony that the book was removed because they disapproved of the book’s ideology. In addition, it was found that the school board had violated their own materials selection and reconsideration policies, which weighed heavily in the judge’s decision.

    *****

    Campbell v. St. Tammany Parish School Board, 64 F.3d 184 (5th Cir. 1995)

    Public school district removed the book Voodoo and Hoodoo, a discussion of the origins, history, and practices of the voodoo and hoodoo religions that included an outline of some specific practices, from all district library shelves. Parents of several students sued and the district court granted summary judgment in their favor. The court of appeals reversed, finding that there was not enough evidence at that stage to determine that board members had an unconstitutional motivation, such as denying students access to ideas with which board members disagreed; the court remanded the case for a full trial at which all board members could be questioned about their reasons for removing the book. The court observed that “in light of the special role of the school library as a place where students may freely and voluntarily explore diverse topics, the school board’s non-curricular decision to remove a book well after it had been placed in the public school libraries evokes the question whether that action might not be an attempt to ‘strangle the free mind at its source.'” The court focused on some evidence that school board members had removed the book without having read it or having read only excerpts provided by the Christian Coalition. The parties settled the case before trial by returning the book to the libraries on specially designated reserve shelves.

    *****

    Sund v. City of Wichita Falls, Texas, 121 F. Supp. 2d 530 (N.D. Texas, 2000)

    City residents who were members of a church sought removal of two books, Heather Has Two Mommies and Daddy’s Roommate, because they disapproved of the books’ depiction of homosexuality. The City of Wichita Falls City Council voted to restrict access to the books if 300 persons signed a petition asking for the restriction. A separate group of citizens filed suit after the books were removed from the children’s section and placed on a locked shelf in the adult area of the library. Following a trial on the merits, the District Court permanently enjoined the city from enforcing the resolution permitting the removal of the two books. It held that the City’s resolution constituted impermissible content-based and viewpoint based discrimination; was not narrowly tailored to serve a compelling state interest; provided no standards or review process; and improperly delegated governmental authority over the selection and removal of the library’s books to any 300 private citizens who wish to remove a book from the children’s area of the Library.

    *****

    Counts v. Cedarville School District, 295 F.Supp.2d 996 (W.D. Ark. 2003)

    The school board of the Cedarville, Arkansas school district voted to restrict students’ access to the Harry Potter books, on the grounds that the books promoted disobediance and disrespect for authority and dealt with witchcraft and the occult. As a result of the vote, students in the Cedarville school district were required to obtain a signed permission slip from their parents or guardians before they would be allowed to borrow any of the Harry Potter books from school libraries. The District Court overturned the Board’s decision and ordered the books returned to unrestricted circulation, on the grounds that the restrictions violated students’ First Amendment right to read and receive information. In so doing, the Court noted that while the Board necessarily performed highly discretionary functions related to the operation of the schools, it was still bound by the Bill of Rights and could not abridge students’ First Amendment right to read a book on the basis of an undifferentiated fear of disturbance or because the Board disagreed with the ideas contained in the book.

  87. @Elaine M,

    What can I say. That’s what the ALA wants you to believe. It does not comport with Judith Krug, SCOTUS, other courts, and common sense.

    Redefining language is one way the ALA misleads people. For example, the ALA says every single one of the hundreds of people who bring challenges are censors. Now we all know that is not true, but by changing the language, you have already half won the battle. Apparently, the ALA has won that battle with you. Apparently, you don’t even know it.

    The ALA’s definitions are wrong. “A banning is the removal of those materials.” That means Judith Krug, SCOTUS, and other courts who allow the removal of inappropriate books from public schools are book banners. Certainly that is not true. Besides, the last USA book banning occurred about half a century ago. Therefore, “A banning is the removal of those materials” is not true.

  88. Dan,

    “That’s what the ALA wants you to believe. It does not comport with Judith Krug, SCOTUS, other courts, and common sense.”

    What doesn’t comport with Judith Krug, SCOTUS, other courts, and common sense?

    *****

    From The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language:

    ban (tr. v.) 1. to prohibit, especially by official decree. See synonyms at forbid.

    Synonyms: forbid, ban, enjoin, interdict, prohibit, proscribe. The central meaning shared by these verbs is “to refuse to allow.”

    *****

    I think we have a different understanding of the word “ban.”

  89. Elaine M,

    Yes, that’s a ban.

    But the issue is a selection policy, not banning.

    Schools have selection policies. If the book does not meet the selection policy, then, as Judith Krug said, “get it out of there.” That has nothing to do with banning. It’s simply inappropriate for that school under that school’s selection policy. Selection is used to exclude huge numbers of books on a nearly daily basis. Do you want to argue a school bans huge numbers of books, so all schools ban millions of books each year? The word is selection, not ban.

    I’ll likely not respond further to you because I sense you will never see the difference between a ban and the application of a selection policy that every school has.

  90. Dan,

    “I’ll likely not respond further to you because I sense you will never see the difference between a ban and the application of a selection policy that every school has.”

    *****

    I am fully aware that libraries have selection policies. I was a school librarian. I know the difference between book selection and book banning. The subject of this post is not about library selection policies. It’s about the issue of people and groups challenging books and trying to have them removed from libraries and reading lists. It’s about censorship and the banning of books. You’re talking about apples; I’m talking about oranges.

    I’m not sure why you’re accusing me of not understanding the difference between a ban and an application of a selection policy. Where did I give any indication of that in my post or any of my comments?

  91. Reading is the greatest interest any child can have. From reading all other learning becomes possible. A child’s reading curiosity should be given full rein and they should never be denied a book that interests them.Sometime that may make parents and others uncomfortable and that is too bad. The clarion call of those who would make books unavailable is saving a child’s innocence. Those who do so are doing it becuse of narrow fears that they themselves have and frankly in my opinion are close-minded fools. My reading was never restricted by my parents and my children’s reading was never restricted in turn. I think we all have turned out all right and are moral people, living moral lives.

  92. Mike S.,

    I think reading aloud to children is of great import. It should be an integral part of every child’s education. I loved reading to my students–and I have fond memories of reading to my daughter. My husband was the one who usually read her the Roald Dahl books–which she loved. Dahl wrote a number of children’s books that have been highly challenged.

  93. Elaine,

    My wife and I always read to our girls, who were particularly fond of Shel Silverstein, Seuss and Dahl. For me it was always one of the great pleasures of parenting. My absolute favorite and theirs was something called “The Pokey Little Puppy” which was appropriate for two year olds and up.

    I taught myself to read at five so I don’t really remember my folks reading to me. However, my parents and older brother were avid readers and growing up in that environment, with the many boxes of their old books started me on my way. To me reading is the key to verbal acuity and that is the key to all learning.

  94. Mike S.,

    Reading widely is also the best education for one who wants to become a writer.

    I felt it was so important to read aloud to my young students because some were struggling readers who wouldn’t have been able to read the books that I read by themselves. That said, many of those students who had difficulty reading were very bright children.

  95. Woah this weblog is wonderful i love studying your articles. Stay up the good work! You realize, lots of persons are looking round for this info, you could aid them greatly.

  96. Well, all this time later I reread this. Turley promotes the 2010 Top 10 list from the ALA. The ALA faked that list and I have a recording of one of the listed authors essentially saying just that. And after I exposed the fake, And Tango Makes Three stopped its 5 year likely faked run on the list. So that puts what Turley said in a new light. Go listen to the author exposing the ALA yourselves:
    http://safelibraries.blogspot.com/2011/09/banned-books-week-is-gay-promotion.html

  97. I belive everyone is overreacting. Yes, I believe book banning is a problem, and at least in public schools and libraries, should be illegal. When children get bad ideas, or negative influences, it is rarely from books, but more often from television, music, and other things that are becoming more and more vulgar with every passing day. Books, especially books of the past such as Huckelberry Finn, teach us valuble lessons, and show us the result of negative behavior. Also, children know the difference between real and pretend. Children who read Little House on the Prarie do not literally try to build and move into sod houses, just as children who read Harry Potter do not really try to use spells, but only pretend to do so in their play.

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