Oh, the irony...

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Oh, the irony...

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Out 3, 2006, 11:02am


This guy wants to ban Fahrenheit 451 - ironic, yeah, but it's not as though he's read it or anything.

Even more ironic: "Alton Verm's request to ban "Fahrenheit 451" came during the 25th annual Banned Books Week."

Some people...

Out 3, 2006, 11:07am

I was a little disappointed that he wants it banned for the filthy language etc and not because it encouraged children to be become pyromaniacs. That would have been the icing on the cake.

Out 3, 2006, 12:57pm

I went to college with a guy who wanted to ban it because firemen are heroes and the book made them seem like bad guys. I tried telling him it wasn't the same kind of firemen, but, you know...

Out 10, 2006, 10:39am

bookishbunny, same thing happens with "Huckleberry Finn," which is accused of being racist.

We're reading this to our son, 10, since the book has been taken off our school's reading list.

The part where Jim tells about discovering that his daughter is deaf makes me cry every time.

Out 10, 2006, 3:35pm

I can`t comment on Huckleberry Finn itself, and I am not particularly libertarian in my views, but I am not always happy when people single out books from the past due to apparent racism.

I`d want to clarify my position by just making it clear that I have been a member of a number of anti-racist organisations in the UK, and am not opposed to the banning of inflammatory texts.

My concern is that very often, people seem to go over old books with a metaphorical microscope, looking for signs of racism, and that much worse examples are overlooked by the same people for some reason - a good example would be Autobiography of a Super Tramp, which at one point portrays the lynchings of the past as quiet, dignified affairs. Amazingly, many editions of the book carry endorsements by George Bernard Shaw ! If anything merited banning, I would have thought that book was far more pernicious than Huck Finn !

Another point is that perceptions change - the phrase Uncle Tom is widely used in a derogatory sense, in the UK at least. At the time, Beecher Stowe, an anti slavery campaigner who saw the book as at least partly propoganda, was regarded with admiration by black activists, notably William H Ferris.

I must admit, for me it`s not a question of whether a line should be drawn, simply where it should be drawn. I appreciate other may be opposed to censorship full stop.

Anyway, that`s enough from me, but I`d be interested to know what others think.

Out 12, 2006, 3:30pm

What's progressive for its time sometimes looks racist in retrospect.

Harriet Beecher Stowe felt slavery was morally wrong and inhumane. So she was a "good guy" at a time when not everyone agreed on that score.

But she also envisioned African-Americans and tradesmen and servants because they were "quick with their hands." The implication being that they weren't bright enough for other careers.

Twain's "Huck Finn" is sometimes read without the bitter irony Twain intended, though it's hard for me to imagine that people could miss it.

Twain uses the word "nigger" throughout the book, a word that carries the most and bitterest irony since Jim, the "nigger," turns out to be Huck's most honest, loyal and devoted friend.

The book's ending is extremely uncomfortable, because it turns all folksy, with Huck and Jim ending up back where they started as if it were all a fun adventure. Huck lights out for the West because he's free and white and can re-make his life. Jim remains in slavery, his life controlled by his owners, attempt at freedom thwarted, and separated from his family.

I don't think either of these books should be banned. Both of them give Americans a chance to confront their history and talk about it.

Sadly, a lot of schools just don't feel up to it.

Out 12, 2006, 6:03pm


Good to have your thoughts on that one. I`m sure others will have their own comments to add.

I`m very much in sympathy with your conclusions on the banning question.

On a more general note (I assume most people in this conversation are in the US), I wondered what what people in America mean when they talk of `banning` ?

In the UK, people talk of a book or record being `banned` , when to my mind they mean something quite different.

For instance, during my youth in the late `70s, it was not unknown for records - mainly punk rock - to be regarded as `banned` by the BBC. Of course, there was no halt to production, and no penalties incurred by owners of said disc, it was purely that the record was not granted BBC airplay.

As regards `banned` books, my understanding is that usually that means schools and/or libraries decide against stocking a title due to some sort of pressure. I`m not aware of any school/library being prevented from doing so if they wish (I could be wrong), and I`m sure there is nothing in UK law that allows officialdom to prevent publishers publishing or booksellers selling.

This is a genuine question, not me being rhetorical to make a point. However, having known individuals from countries where a ban is a ban (i.e. a book cannot be published or owned without a degree of risk), it does sometimes annoy me when these words get bandied about loosely.

Out 12, 2006, 6:55pm

True, nickhoonaloon, 'banned' does not carry the same degree of risk in the U.S as it does in more restrictive countries. However, if we are not vigilant in calling a spade a spade when we see the control of literature and information, then we may fall into a state where the term 'banned' will be associated with a higher a degree of risk. Something is banned when it is not allowed. If a book is not allowed in a library, it is banned in that library. There is not lesser term that would apply.

Out 13, 2006, 9:35pm

Yes, I'm in the U.S., Midwest.

As a library trustee, we'd get cranks frequently lobbying the library to get stuff off the shelves.

One woman, who actually WORKED at the library and was a minister's wife, lobbied to get MAD magazine off the shelves because she didn't think it was appropriate for kids.

The best response is to have a freedom-to-read policy on display in the library and to make it clear that parents are responsible for policing their children's reading material, not the library staff or trustees.

In a nearby community, a woman is stirring the pot about Harry Potter and satanism again. That one just won't die, but objections seem to be somewhat weaker every time one of the new books comes out.

There is some censorship that occurs in the media. For instance, some radio stations and newspapers refuse to print certain words or feature certain photos. But those are privately owned entities (except for NPR/PBS), and they are within their rights to do whatever they want. And be criticized for it in competing media.

Pretty sure your private press in the UK works the same way, no?

Out 14, 2006, 4:44am

Yes, there is a form of censorship in the sense that privately owned media will invariably select what stories they want to run, and exclude others.

There is of course the BBC, which is not privately owned, and is therefore accountable in a way others aren`t.

From what you say, nohrt4me, it sounds similar to the UK, in that the librarian normally has the last word on what is stocked/not stocked.

Actually, I may have been wrong (it happens) in explaining the situation in the UK. A librarian in a publicly owned library is ultimately responsible to elected councillors. One could imagine a witch-hunt type scenario, in which a local authority decided a particular title should not be stocked in it`s libraries. Having said that, it would not be straight forward to do so, they can`t just wake up one day and go "no more Wodehouse !" or whatever.

I don`t know whether the same thing happens in the UK, odd characters lobbying libraries not to stock certain titles. There was some low-key pressure against a shop stocking Mein Kampf (apparently students at a local university needed it for a course). At one point someone from a left-wing group - a Trotskyist of uncertain sanity - suggested a compromise that the book should be placed on the shelves under a new category `Nazi propoganda` !!!!!

I`m deeply uncomfortable about booksellers being expected to act as censors, I don`t believe it`s appropriate ( I am a bookseller ,myself). There are one or two books I would avoid stocking I must admit.

Out 14, 2006, 3:57pm

nickhoonaloon wrote: A librarian in a publicly owned library is ultimately responsible to elected councillors. One could imagine a witch-hunt type scenario, in which a local authority decided a particular title should not be stocked in it`s libraries. Having said that, it would not be straight forward to do so, they can`t just wake up one day and go "no more Wodehouse !" or whatever.

nohrt4me says: This is how public libraries work here, too. The "councillors," which we call "trustees" Over Here, can set policies, but do not have the power to control individual items in the library's collection.

How much censorship individual librarians exercise, even unconsciously, would make an interesting study.

There is no list lying around of books that any public library must have; the librarian selects books that she think will be of most interest to the community.

In our tiny rural community, that collection tends to be top heavy with romances and mysteries, but there is a nod to better quality fiction as well. And the children's collection is quite good.

Public libraries DO participate in a statewide interlibrary loan program, though. So I can get any book I want from a nearby collection, though I may have to wait a couple of weeks for it. If there are enough requests for a book, our librarian usually orders a copy of it for the collection.

I like the story about the Trotskyite's suggestion for "Mein Kampf"; I'm not sure that was such a bad suggestion. Removed any inferences people might make about whether the bookseller approved of Hitler.

Public libraries aren't supposed to "re-classify" books like that. Though back in my childhood (1950s), our public librarian used to keep certain works behind the desk so she could give dark looks to people who checked them out. Everybody was a suspected Commie back then, though.

Out 15, 2006, 6:00am

Thanks for that.

I`m probably being pedantic, but just to clarify - a councillor over here would be a lay person elected to a council or local authority - like a Member of Parliament, but local government, not central government. I imagine that`s different to a library trustee.

13BMK Primeira Mensagem
Out 15, 2006, 1:33pm

I experienced another form of banning in my youth (lo! these many years ago). I was about 12 and attempting to check out some non-fiction books on archaeology. The librarian wouldn't let me have them until she asked my mother, "Some of those cultures did disgusting things. Are you sure you want her reading that?" My Mom, kudos to her memory, said, "She can read whatever she pleases. The more she reads, the better chance she has not to turn out narrow-minded." :D

Out 15, 2006, 5:04pm

nickhoonaloon, sounds like the councillor is about the same as a trustee--regular person from the community appointed/elected to a nonpartisan (usually) community oversight board. But I might be missing something, as I don't know the fine points of local government in the UK.

I envy the fact that you limit the amount of time national candidates spend electioneering and the fact that there's a moving van parked outside 10 Downing St. in case the PM loses. Shortens the lame-duck period, considerably.

BMK, good for your mom! I remember my auntie having a cow when she caught me reading "Rosemary's Baby" in high school and called my mother. She asked if Auntie had read it.

"No, of course not!" Auntie said.

"Then how do you know it's a dirty book?" Mom asked.

Out 15, 2006, 11:15pm

Well done to *your* Mom! Why is it that so many people baying to have a particular book banned have never read the thing? When the hoo-haw was flying over the first Harry Potter book, the local news was talking to a number of the "anti" folk. When asked if they'd read it--"Of course not! I don't read that sort of book." Erf.

Out 23, 2006, 11:44am

nohrt4me -- you made the most important point against banning books. People, especially children, need to learn how to make rational decisions for themselves and, without complete and balanced (if possible) knowledge, they will fail. Like the people alluded to in a later post, most of those demanding that Harry Potter books be banned had not read them. They heard they were about witchcraft and that was all they needed. Of course, witchcraft doesn't really exist but how would a child know that if he or she hasn't read about it? A childhood without imagination and whimsy is a dull one indeed. And, ironically, these anti-Potter fiends are the same people who insist the Bible must be interpreted literally. They cannot tell an allegory from reality.

My parents believed that no one can be corrupted by a book and allowed us to read anything we could understand. So I read Lady Chatterley's Lover at age 10 with a dictionary (and thought it was yucky :)). Nothing was taboo as a subject for discussion and that is how I reared my own children.

Out 26, 2006, 2:41pm

Just to make sure everyone knows my memory circuits are getting too full:

Just finished reading "Huck Finn" and I disremembered the end. Jim is free at the end of the book.

So why did I think he was still enslaved? Probably because Jim isn't freed by his own will, but by his mistress's leaving him his freedom in her will. And because Jim's dream of going north and buying his family out of slavery has been thwarted.

Anyway, an uneasy "happy ending," and underscored by the fact that Huck, who has learned how unfair his society is, lights out for the Western states.

Nov 20, 2006, 10:14am

All well and good, folks, but what about the circuits of contemporary publication? Just reading a post on another board about Memoirs of a Geisha, which was published not ten years ago and is racist, sexist tripe. Yet libraries stock it by the boatload. Perhaps this could be more of a discussion about how to educate readers (that includes editors, publishers, reviewers, buyers, librarians as well as the 'reading public') to understand and analyse the context, rhetoric and argument of books -- as kageeh says, imagination, access to reference books, communities open to discussion and a thorough grounding in question-asking are skills and values that produce reading communities (as opposed to consumers).

Nov 25, 2006, 6:10pm

Laudable goal, deliriumslibrarian. Go ahead and try to impose your sense of taste and standards on the reading world at large and let the rest of us know how that works out.

Meantime, do you have an e-mail so I can send a list of books I plan to read over Xmas break for your approval?

I don't want to fall into no tripe-ridden abyss unwittingly.

Nov 26, 2006, 4:27am

Actually, that raises an interesting point. I agree that deliriumslibrarian`s goals are laudable, and very reluctantly I agree that they`re not realisable as described.

Having said that, objecting to a book as "racist, sexist tripe" is to my mind a very different thing to "imposing your sense of taste and standards on the reading world at large".

I`m not against literary tripe per se (I`ve read and enjoyed some absolute drivel in my time). I am interested in the whole question of how we respond to racist, sexist literature. Is censorship the answer ? I don`t know. If it is , who should exercise judgements in these matters ? Are democratically accountable censors still censors.

As a bookseller, I did sell a copy of Margery Allingham`s Police At The Funeral which turned up in a job lot, though on a personal level, I consider it unacceptably racist. Something like Autobiography of a Super Tramp I would not be so generous about, and I`ve never forgiven George Bernard Shaw for endorsing it. However, even discussing that aspect of the matter assumes that a bookseller should act as some sort of self-appointed `moral guardian`, which I personally think is laughable in many ways.

I hope this doesn`t turn into too much of an academic discussion, mind. Just to illustrate that these decisions have real-life consequences and implications - I`ve never heard anyone suggest that the music of Miles Davis be censored, although it`s apparently an established fact that he was violent to women. If he was a white man who was violent to black men (or vice versa), we certainly would hear that, I imagine.

Similarly, many people object to the public rehabilitation of Pete Townsend by the media - what do others think about that ?

Nov 27, 2006, 3:41am

Re #10-11, above: Ironically enough, there was a time - during WWII - when a few British libraries did take the books of P.G Wodehouse off the shelves. And there was a great hue and cry in the press that book purchasers should boycott his works.

I won't try here to recount the bizarre sequence of events that led to all that. But as so often, the content of the books had nothing to do with it.

Nov 27, 2006, 4:21am

At risk of clouding the issue further, I have no objection in principle to anyone attempting to organise a customer boycott of a given work - I cannot imagine I myself would take any notice whatsoever, but if people wish to campaign in that way, that`s their democratic right (even if it is probably a foolish waste of time).

In fact, as we`ve already discussed, what we in the west call a `ban` on a book, is in effect a type of boycott, since there is never - to my knowledge - a ban on production or ownership.

Nov 28, 2006, 1:57am

On this side of the pond, we do tend to use "banned" to cover a variety of situations, from people lobbying libraries to take something out of their collection (or at least lock it away from the kiddies!) all the way to a ban on production or ownership.

While it hasn't happened recently, we have certainly had instances where production and ownership were outright banned. That was the case with 'obscene' literature, such as Lady Chatterley's Lover. Also the erotic stories published by Olympia Press in Paris beginning in 1954. Before (lengthy) court fights, these books could not be republished in this country. Further, while your home wouldn't be raided to seize them, if you brought them in from overseas and the customs officer spotted such a book at the border it would be seized from you. So the official effort was indeed to ban both production and ownership of these books. A famous incident of this type was the prosecution in 1957 of a bookshop here in San Francisco for publishing and selling Allen Ginsberg's poem Howl, again on the charge of obscenity. The customs bureau was again involved; the bookshop had its copies printed in London and when 520 copies were being imported by the bookshop, customs seized them and the city commenced the obscenity prosecution. The court ruled that the poem was not legally obscene and enjoined the city from further interference with its publication and sale.

Thanks to court decisions protecting of freedom of expression and individual rights, that kind of outright banning is now quite difficult here. Would-be censors typically attack libraries owning such 'controversial' works and/or attempt to stimulate consumer boycotts. Many of these would-be censors think the court decisions favoring freedom of expression are wrong, and would happily see them overturned and outright banning of books again possible.

Nov 29, 2006, 8:18pm

Well, banning isn't really as hard as it seems because most of the smut nuts are pretty smart ding dongs and they work on trying to establish "community standards."

They work on the school libraries, which are subject to more censorship, and make a lot of noise about "bad" books" that we don't want in our community.

And the librarian and library board members often decide they don't want the bad publicity, so they simply buy all those godawful books about Mitford and Christian romances.

Our librarian dropped Mad Magazine after an employee complained about having to look at it. Instead of saying, "Well, then don't work in the library," they just didn't renew the subscription.

Rarely do the smut nuts turn up in front of the library wearing armbands and stoking the bonfires.

Though they did when Nancy Garden wrote a book about being a gay teenager called Annie on My Mind.

Heavens! We don't want gay teenagers to know that there are other people like them out there! We want them to feel isolated, depressed and ashamed.

Dez 1, 2006, 1:02am

Re #23: I have just read that Lawrence Ferlinghetti, the bookshop owner and publisher who was subjected to attempted censorship over Ginsberg's Howl, will next week be made a Commandeur de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.

(You may be more familiar with the honor of Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres; I was. Turns out that the order has three grades, from the top: Commandeur, Officier, and Chevalier. How bureaucratic, so very French.)

Ginsberg was made a Chevalier in 1993.

Dez 1, 2006, 6:24am

I'm suprised the furore about Spycatcher - I'm not sure I've tombstoned the right work here - in the UK a few years ago hasn't been discussed.
The ban imposed and enforced by the british government in the end made sales of this book rocket. - Overseas imports soon made the ban irrelevant, and the fuss ensured that plenty of people bought it just to see what the fuss was about.

the cause - exposing "government secrets".

Again the question is - who decides. The only sensible answer has to be the market. If people find it dull, too outrageous or against their particular beliefs then it won't be bought or read; the worst fate for a book. Banning is essentially impracticle as shown in the Spycatcher case.

Dez 1, 2006, 9:55am

deliriumslibrarian (#18) -- Memoirs of a Geisha might be interpreted by you as sexist and racist(and you may be alone in this view) but it's hardly tripe. The author did not try to sell the reading public on approving geishas. What he did, and he accomplished this beautifully, was describe in a very compelling way the life and training of a specific geisha in Japan. For someone with little knowledge of this custom, I (and many others) were enthralled, especially by how well the author -- a man -- got into a woman's head.

If the intent of your intent "to educate readers (that includes editors, publishers, reviewers, buyers, librarians as well as the 'reading public') to understand and analyse the context, rhetoric and argument of books" is to dismiss critically acclaimed books such as Memoirs of a Geisha, then I will have to choose not to be so educated. In fact, this book is not racist or sexist -- it is merely a description of a life and custom. The object is to inform the reader, not to entice him or her into that world.

Dez 1, 2006, 12:48pm

It`s interesting that reading_fox and I , both from the UK, seem to have quite a different take on this to the rest of you.

A similar example to the Spycatcher one would be that of the Sex Pistols (a popular singing group of the `70s). As I recall, they had two singles banned by the BBC (i.e. from BBC airtime) - both immediately shot to the top of the charts. The next one got airplay and was less successful. A fourth was banned and yet again sold well ! They were not a group I followed, but my recollection is that after that, there were fewer banned records and fewer number one hits.

The Spycatcher example is actually slightly out of the ordinary, as obviously Peter Wright`s terms of employment forbade him from publishing details of his work, and remained binding after he left the intelligence services. As I recall, his legal argument was that the government had not applied this rule to one of his colleagues (because it suited their purposes), and therefore thir veto on his work was not binding as they had a responsibility to act consistently in these matters.

I just mention it because the government`s powers in respect of Wright`s book resulted entirely from Wright`s past occupation, and would not apply to another writer. Even under those circumstances, they were subject to legal challenge, and, as our foxy pal indicates, to people`s actions in the real world.

Just as a more general point - how do we feel about the assertion that `the market should decide` ? Would we apply that to all books ?

Dez 1, 2006, 1:08pm

Sigh ... on a complete tangent, I can't tell you how old it makes me feel that you have to indicate who the Sex Pistols were ...

The thing about having the market decide is that you have to be careful you don't get into a "tyranny of the majority" kind of situation ... what if the "market" decides books on evolution should be banned?

One more kind of tangent-y thing .. can one of our UK LTers fill me in on the Clockwork Orange situation over there? Was that banned over there? Or was that something more to do with Anthony Burgess himself?

Dez 3, 2006, 11:44am

Kageeh- Great response. I was going to write something, but I think you summed it up perfectly.

Dez 3, 2006, 1:25pm

The film of A Clockwork Orange was withdrawn from future UK presentation (cinema, video, tv) by Stanley Kubrick following the initial release, when it was linked to alleged 'copycat' crimes.

Burgess didn't particularly like the film because it used the original US text, which due to a printer error was missing the last chapter. However, while Burgess felt this altered the tone and meaning of the work, he was still annoyed with Kubrick when he withdrew the film, feeling that he was left high-and-dry to defend a legitimate piece of art.

Of course, all this controversy meant that book sold even more and become Burgess' best known work. This fact also annoyed Burgess as he believed it wasn't even close to his best work. Mind you, Burgess also believed that he was the natural successor to Shakespeare and Joyce, and seemed to be permanently irritated by something or other.

Dez 3, 2006, 2:25pm

kromestomes -

Sorry for making you feel old.

I can still remember the first time a friend and myself noticed some of the tunes that prevailed during our adolescence in a second-hand shop in a box marked `nostalgia` - we were so taken aback we spontaneously sobered up !

There have been many such instances since.

Anyone else got any thoughts on `letting the market decide` ?

Editado: Jan 6, 2007, 4:20pm

Esta mensagem foi removida pelo seu autor.

Editado: Jan 13, 2007, 3:52pm

I must add fuel to the fire on several points.

The father who objected to the F 451 was being drastic and silly. If he didn’t want his child to read the book: MORE POWER TO HIM! However, he had NO right to request that the book be removed from curriculum. Deciding if your own child should or should not read, hear, or watch something is called parenting. Choosing that no one else’s child should is censorship. It’s a fairly simple line to draw.

deliriumslibrarian’s suggestion that his/her taste be taught to all as rule of law is against my way of thinking. What this person expressed is an opinion. Opinions have a place in guiding people’s perspectives but should always be presented as opinions… NOT FACT. Just ‘cause I think Hesse’s Demian is a great book doesn’t make it so for anyone but me… and while I personally would rather eat nails than read a Jackie Collins novel doesn’t mean that everyone else should run in fear. One man’s crap is another man’s cake. Also, as to the comments that the book is “racist, sexist tripe”, I don’t know if it is or isn’t and I don’t actually care. If you’re against censorship then you’d better be prepared to stand up and defend the right of people to write and read some stuff you find despicable. I guarantee that someone out there somewhere finds what you love despicable. Finally, libraries shouldn’t be the moral or taste police. Rather than worry about what a library has, I think we should worry more about what it hasn’t. I’d rather see an extremely diverse selection on a library’s shelves than only “quality” books. My concern would be who gets to decide what’s quality. deliriumslibrarian and I might agree on everything, but chances are we wouldn’t.

Another point I would like to make, is that censorship isn’t always as black a white as allowing or removing materials. The idea that one may be watched and possibly judged on what one is reading can be a form of censorship. When one isn’t sure about how what he/she reads, watches, says will be presented or perceived, one is likely to censor one’s self. Thus the Patriot Act is a very large dose of indirect censorship.

Last, when librarians decide what to buy for a library this is not censorship. It can become censorship if the goal of the buyer is to avoid controversy or to suppress ideas. However, I would bet that most librarians (at least public ones) go about buying by thinking about what needs to be included, not what needs to be excluded. The truth is that libraries have a finite budget and not everything will end up on their shelves. At some point the persons doing the buying have to make some hard choices. Choosing to buy one thing over another isn't censorship unless the buyer is intentionally trying to keep items out of the library. It's very hard work buying books for a library. There are so many different groups and types of people to consider and only so much money. Finally there is the issue that a community will not give tax dollars and other money to a library if the library isn't used. So, if the library chooses to buy many items which only serve a small population of their community, their patron numbers are likely to drop. This in turn can lead to reduced funding, which means even fewer books for the next year.

Editado: Fev 21, 2007, 7:38am

More library madness in the US? This was posted on the BBC website yesterday

Fev 20, 2007, 6:53pm

Banning books is a way to control thoughts and ideas that others find offensive. It's about power. Censorship in any form stifles creativity and indepedent thinking in people and keeps people in ingorance. Knowledge is power right?

Men fear thought as they fear nothing else on earth -- more than ruin -- more even than death.... Thought is subversive and revolutionary, destructive and terrible, thought is merciless to privilege, established institutions, and comfortable habit. Thought looks into the pit of hell and is not afraid. Thought is great and swift and free, the light of the world, and the chief glory of man.

Bertrand Russell
British author, mathematician, & philosopher (1872 - 1970)

Fev 21, 2007, 8:14am

Jargoneer, did you hear about this one: Earlier this month, in Florida, a woman complained about a theater that had the title "The Vagina Monologues" on the marquee ... she was worried she might have to explain the word to her daughter (I believe it was) if the latter saw it while the two were driving around town ... so the theater changed the marquee to read "The Hoohaa Monologues" ...

Fev 21, 2007, 8:46am

LOL - at least then she didn't have to explain to her daughter what it was all about!

Fev 21, 2007, 9:08am

If she's old enough to read the word, she should know what the body part is. I mean, you don't want her to find out the names of her own anatomical features on the streets, do you? ;)

Fev 23, 2007, 12:34am

Oh, evidently the names of body parts are too frightening for some. "The Higher Power of Lucky" (a Newberry Award-winning book) by Susan Patronhas has been banned by some school libraries for using that most obscene of words: scrotum. You can read about the silliness here - http://tinyurl.com/39mb9z from the New York Times.

Fev 23, 2007, 8:29am

Okay, I'll post what I wrote on the bookcrossing.com sit:

And now, a song....

Scrotum, Scroooootom,
It's my wrinkly, crinkly bag of skin.
Scrotum, Scroooootum,
It's the thing I keep my testes in!

Alas, I did not write it. I believe it was The Asylum Street Spankers.

Editado: Fev 23, 2007, 5:31pm

Thanks for the link to the NYT, BMK.

Ms. Patron is right that "scrotum" is a funny word. When my son, then 4, was taking a shower, he wanted to know what it was. When I told him "scrotum," he laughed his head off.

When he was 7, he invented a character named "Mr. Scrotum," who seemed to be kind of a cross between Fagin and Ebeneezer Scrooge.

We had a discussion about "The Higher Power etc." when I read your post, and this led to a short debate about whether the cat, neutered, still has a scrotum. I said yes, because the skin's still there. He says no because there's no bag. You be the judge.

He also informed me that someone went through the library dictionary at his school and whited out the dirty words.

Parents who don't talk to their kids about this stuff miss out on some awfully interesting conversations ...

Mar 13, 2007, 3:22pm

In a nearby community, a woman is stirring the pot about Harry Potter and satanism again. That one just won't die, but objections seem to be somewhat weaker every time one of the new books comes out.

Those people amuse me the most, because while they're campaigning for Harry Potter to be pulled from libraries, they've never heard of LeVay or Aquino. Their texts remain in libraries unnoticed.

Mar 13, 2007, 3:25pm

Heavens! We don't want gay teenagers to know that there are other people like them out there! We want them to feel isolated, depressed and ashamed.

Or books on bisexuality, because "bisexuals don't exist."


45ericalynnb Primeira Mensagem
Mar 30, 2007, 5:04am

I heard that some groups are trying to, once again, take Harry Potter off the shelves because Daniel Radcliff, who plays Harry in the movies, appeared nude in Eqqus, and if kids read the book then they will obviously watch the movies, become obsessed with Daniel, and all go join a nudist colony, apparnetly. Just imagine what would happen if books were held accountably for the other movies of actors who was in a movie version.

Editado: Mar 30, 2007, 8:46am

Oh, no! Not a nudist colony! Peaceful settinga and seaweed body-wraps will warp our children's minds! Not to mention the VEGAN CUISINE!!!

Mar 30, 2007, 9:43am

I'm a newcomer to this list, and I just want to say how much I've enjoyed the last 20 minutes reading all 46 entries!! There is a wealth of thought and caring in this thread. Not to mention some LOL moments (Mr. Scrotum??).

I am a school librarian who functions also as a public librarian, so I can identify with almost everyone. Censorship problems are ever with us. While, as a mother myself, I understand certain concerns from other parents, I have always drawn the line at allowing anyone dictating book selection to anyone but their own children.

I too have had a "Yay, Mom" moment. Maybe experiences like that turn us into booklovers. In my case a rural Nebraska public librarian called my mother when I wanted to check out "Old Jules" by Mari Sandoz at age 14. My mother leaped to my defense and told her that my selections were NOT to be questioned. God love her.

Mar 30, 2007, 2:28pm

My primary problem with keeping kids in the dark about sexuality is the fact that it makes it easier for pedophiles and whatnot to prey on kids, not harder. If kids know about this stuff, they're a lot less likely to be victimized, and, as was said before, if the kid is old enough to read the word, they should know what it is. Parents discomfort with talking about sex should not prevent them from having what has become a more and more vital discussion with their kids. As for the HP bannings, I find them laughablej, as I've said many times before. They are being banned for "magic" when the simpleton Christians doing the bannings are incapable of seeing that they actually teach Christian morals and ethics. I don't even condone the banning of Levay's books, as I'm a supporter of freedom of religion. Parents should do their job and monitor what their kids are exposed to, not have others do it for them. I don't have a problem with parents not allowing their kids to read Harry Potter, although I may disagree with their reasons for doing so. What I do have a problem with, is parents who believe they have a right to dictate what others can and cannot read, especially since these parents generally have kids who are most in need of solid parental figures because theirs are off campaigning and making asses of themselves so much of the time.

Mar 30, 2007, 9:30pm

As in #47, I agree that this is one of the more entertaining threads. No one's mentioned the phenomenon of "banning" boosting a book's sales. Remember "The Satanic Verses" episode? Nearly every copy was snapped up in about 24 hours. And then they all ended up in used book stores because it's, ahem, not the most scintillating thing you'll ever read.

#48 makes an important point about kids becoming vulnerable to predators. Gavin de Becker, the security expert, made this point very well in his excellent book Protecting The Gift: Keeping Children and Teenagers Safe (and Parents Sane). If you don't teach your kid, someone else is ready to do it for you, for his own purposes. Kids are naturally curious about the forbidden.

As an aside, every woman needs to read his first book The Gift of Fear.

Mar 30, 2007, 10:48pm

>48 DeusExLibris:
"They are being banned for "magic" when the simpleton Christians doing the bannings are incapable of seeing that they actually teach Christian morals and ethics."

Sorry, but that statement really irks me, although I agree with it 100%. Here's why:

(Primailly Fundamentalist, Evangelical) Christians have "branded" the terms "morals" and "family values" and easily a dozen more. If you talk "family values", it is now assumed to be "Christian family values", and it perpetuates the mindset that anything that ~isn't~ Christian, is by definition -- bad, immoral, perverse, even Satanic. I am affronted by this kind of opinion almost every day.

The same morals and ethics taught by Christians are practiced by almost ALL religions, and by people who do not believe in any given deity. The values are universal (so to speak), with some local cultural variations, and they are thousands of years older than Christianity.

Treating people fairly is NOT a Christian value. Treating people fairly is NOT a Christian value. Treating people fairly is NOT a Christian value. Treating people fairly is NOT a Christian value. Treating people fairly (or not) is what makes us human, not theists.

Christian values should only address ideas that are SOLELY Christian, and not shared by any other group. Taoist values (random alternate belief system chosen) should only those interests that are SOLELY Tao in nature.

What is left is the ideas that everyone agrees on, and ~that~ would be a GREAT foundation to move forward on!

Okay, a couple of deep, cleansing breaths, let them out slowly.... again.... I feel much better now, thanks.

Mar 31, 2007, 12:07am

>48 DeusExLibris: "They are being banned for "magic" when the simpleton Christians doing the bannings are incapable of seeing that they actually teach Christian morals and ethics."

I have read all the HP books so far, I enjoyed reading them, and I am a Christian, so I think I am qualified to respond to this.

I do not agree that they actually teach Christian morals and ethics.

Harry and his friends are good and have good ends, however they break rules in doing so, and that is wrong. I realize that no one is perfect (that is a basic Christian belief(that all are sinners)) but I will want my children to be sorry when they do wrong.

Also I believe that the supernatural does exist so there are people in the world that use (or try to use) real magic and usually this ends up with Satanic practices.

If I had children I would prefer that they read other books then Harry Potter and I would try to have the kind that I wanted them to read in my own library, however for the most part I do not think I would mind them reading anything as long as 1)I read the book and 2)we discussed it and 3)their reading stayed balanced enough.

Now On Book banning in general:
Puritan poet John Milton three and a half centuries ago: "Though all the winds of doctrine were let loose to play upon the earth, so truth be in the field, we do injuriously by licensing and prohibiting to misdoubt her strength. Let her and falsehood grapple; who ever knew truth put to the worse, in a free and open encounter?"
In other words the less banning the better.

I think that countries should not ban books unless it is a case of national security.

I have no problem with local libraries (even those funded by taxes) banning books as they see fit.

As a human being, citizen, and Christian I want to leave earth, and especially the US a better place when I leave, therefor I have an interest in how children are taught in public schools, (and they are being funded with MY money) so I feel I ought to have some input on that subject in my local schools. Now because children are more impressionable when they are younger I think I should have more of a say over how they are taught at a younger age and less as they get older, however the responsibility for my own children is ultimately my own and as their schooling, wherever it be done, will be with my own money I ought to be able to have final say in what they are taught.
(Side note: I want my children to love God and country, and to love truth, freedom, justice, and mercy)

I am sorry for the long post, but hope that it will be responded to politely.

Oh, and Christians are not always as simple as you think, Child_of_Light, we just see the world a lot differently and so think differently.

Editado: Mar 31, 2007, 1:30am

I need to write a minor retraction to my "100%" agreement statement (in >50 WholeHouseLibrary:). I do not believe that Christians are simpletons -- far from it.

Two of my uncles were Jesuit priests, and they each had multiple Doctorates to append to their SJs. I've had the extreme pleasure of making the acquaintance of, annd reading their well-thought opinions and well-researched responses, of at least a few People-of-the-Cloth right here on LibraryThing. I value all of their opinions.

Now I'm going to put my foot squarely in the dog-poo.

>51 QuesterofTruth:
I fully understand what you are saying regarding what you want for your children, and why you have an interest in what your children are taught in school. As an atheist, with the exception of the "love God" thing, in principle I want the same for not only my own children, but for ~everyone's~ children.

The problem is, it gets squirrely when one uses ~dogma~ to "trump" ~science~. I'm not saying that you, personally, might take such a position, but there are those that would, and some that are actively pursuing that kind of agenda. Just look at the nonsense that Kansas has been going through for the past couple of years. No one's belief system should be imposed on entire groups of young minds, or old minds for that matter. Two plus three always equals five (for all values of two and three). That's a fact. If you want to teach your children that it's that way because your god made it so, I'm certainly not going to stand in your way, but you can tell them that at home, or teach it to them in Sunday School -- NOT in public school.

The Earth is millions of years old -- there is solid, conclusive evidence that supports that fact. Evolution happens; it's still happening. We humans have one set of wisdom teeth, that with each generation, erupt through the gums later in life, and are useless to us. Thousands of years ago, humans had at least 2 sets of wisdom teeth. Ask your dentist. Mine volunteered the information, and he's a reasonably religious guy (reasonably religious -- if I were cynical, I'd say it was an oxymoron! -- but I'll just note it). There are those who say that the Earth is just several thousand years old, because their religious text suggests it. There's no evidence to support that belief, though, and plenty to prove that it's not true.

I hope we all can do the love truth, freedom, justice, and mercy things. My government will have to earn its respect from me.

Mar 31, 2007, 2:41am

fantastic thread! i have to thank 51 for standing up and stating a pro-censorship opinion - it's always interesting to have someone articulate a viewpoint that the majority of people (here) are likely to disagree with.

my issue with banning books in public libraries is simple. your morals may not be my morals. as these books are being gathered for many different people, of many different backgrounds, of different ethical and religious beliefs, i struggle to see how banning books for 'questionable' content is ever a good idea. to me, banning something like annie on my mind is in direct opposition to my ethical beliefs, and the beliefs i would one day like my children to have. my the same token, the left behind series sicken me, but i would not want a public library to ban them on the basis of their opposition to my religious beliefs.

with banning books, someone is going to lose.

(however, i think visual pornography is a different matter, because of the inherant ethical problems in the wholesale degradation of women - but this differs from censoring written books considerably).

Mar 31, 2007, 2:53am

>51 QuesterofTruth: You seem to be overlooking about 90% of the New Testament. Jesus says in all but one gospel that the old testament rules are no longer relevant. He breaks purity codes left and right by associating with everyone, sinners, money changers, etc. Infact, he was basically an anarchist that was able to see past rules to what was important, and that was, to me, one of his most important teachings. Most of his career was spent rebelling against the rote following of laws that nobody knew the basis for any longer. To say that he promoted strictly following laws is to ignore one of his most basic teachings as given through his actions. I have no problem with parents regulating what their kids read, infact I think its an essential part of their job as parents, as long as its balanced, realistic, and the parent doesn't try to dictate to others what can and can't be read. I'm sorry if this comes off as impolite (especially the part about Joshua) it is not meant that way, I just have the bad habit of stating opinions a bit firmly, plus the fact that its past mid-night at the moment.

Mar 31, 2007, 10:37am

Just as an aside, Johnny Got His Gun was banned during WW2 for reasons of national defense for reasons that were never quite clear to me.

All Quiet on the Western Front is an equally powerful anti-war statement, and that was still available.

The banning of "Johnny" is interesting because it is so rare. As far as I know, only a handful of books have ever been censored by the U.S. government.

Anybody know if there's a list of these?

Mar 31, 2007, 3:46pm

Ok, before I begin to respond, let me say that though some of these things are subjects that I could get somewhat worked up about; I will do my best to remain polite but please forgive me if I am not polite enough. And while I believe I am right and need to stand up for what I believe, I think relationships with everyone here are more important than me winning a debate.

52 > WholeHouseLibrary

I really do not want origins (evolution, intelligent design, etc.) taught in a public school as fact. The thing is that they are not SCIENTIFIC fact though one of them is probably true. You are right, no ones belief system should be imposed on anyone else. However science is based on the scientific method:
“A method of research in which a hypothesis is tested by means of a carefully documented control experiment that can be repeated by any other researcher.”

Macro-evolution (the change of one species or kind of animal into another, like a fish into a lizard) cannot be replicated, (nor can any other theory of origins for that matter). Actually the whole theory of macro-evolution (I keep saying macro-evolution because creationists do realize that species change with in the limits of their genes but they remain the same species or kind(this is called micro-evolution)) is rather contrary to science, because the laws of thermodynamics tell us that the universe is losing usable energy and that it is like a clock unwinding, while macro-evolution tells us that the universe (or at least our part of it) is getting more complex. Furthermore the odds of a human being coming about randomly are so bad that they are incredibly worse than when a statistician would say it was just zero.

The real problem with origins is that it is really philosophy, but it is necessary to have some kind of philosophy to build science on. I think that both atheistic evolution and intelligent design ought to be given as options to public school students. (Final note: It is often thought that creation and intelligent design are the same, this is not true. Creation is Christian doctrine having to do with views of Genesis 1 and Intelligent Design is the theory that an intelligence designed life and brought it into being. This “Intelligence” is not necessarily the God of the Bible.)

Dating methods are not really reliable and as I am endangering the focus of this thread, post your reply somewhere and a link to it here and I will try to answer some.

The Bible in Public Schools, I do think that the Bible should be taught in public schools not as true though I believe it is (and I think that teachers should be able to express their beliefs on this while admitting that not every one believes as they do) but as a part of literature. This site is a site about books and everyone here should realize that most if not all of the literature of Western Civilization has been influenced by it, and cannot really be fully understood without a general understanding and knowledge of what the Bible contains.

Mar 31, 2007, 3:54pm

>53 veritas: veritas

I don't like being labled pro-banning but on reflection (it took me a while to write the last post :)) I guess I really am. I guess this is like guns, I am pro-gun because I think that they are necessary to keep the peace, but that doesn't mean I want everybody out on the street using them. I think that banning should always be an option for the librarian but I don't think it should be used often.

Mar 31, 2007, 4:38pm

So, are you saying that nothing about origins ought to be taught in public schools?

I think that ill-prepares kids to understand the various theories and to discuss with their parents what they believe about it.

But maybe you're just saying that there are gaps in our knowledge about how evolution works and on what scale. A good teacher will point these things out and admit that there are things we don't know.

I don't know why that has to be controversial. We don't know how many stars have planetary systems--and we can't agree whether Pluto is still a planet or not.

It seems to me that science ought to be as much about the questions as the answers, no?

I'm not sure what you mean when you say science must be predicated on a philosophy. Care to elaborate?

Mar 31, 2007, 4:39pm

Oh, viz a viz book banning:

School libraries do and should ban some books, just as they do and should filter the Internet (though I may disagree with what they ban/filter).

When I think of book banning, I'm thinking of public libraries banning books for both children and adults because they think people will somehow go wack-o if they read those books.

Mar 31, 2007, 4:57pm

>54 DeusExLibris: Child_of_Light

Thanks for the post, you don't sound impolite at all just a little blunt which is fine as long as you believe what you say.

I think you are wrong. Jesus did not say that the Old Testament law is no longer relevant. Jesus said that He came to complete the Law and Prophets (synecdoche for the whole Old Testament). He did say “You have heard that it was said...” a number of times but He was referring to the tradition of the rabbis not to Mosaic Law. He was not an anarchist (I know you did not quite say He was) but one who rejected the SPIRITUAL leadership of the Jewish culture, He condemned them for placing extra burdens on the people that they were not really willing to obey themselves (they had numerous work-a-rounds to do what they wanted, for example Jews were required to take care of their parents, but the leaders said that if a person donated the money that he was going to use for his parents to God, he was no longer responsible for his parents!).

You are partly right though, because Jesus did not support legalism, but idea that obedience should be from the heart. Jesus himself was sinless and did not break any of the Old Testament law.

Christians, however are not called to keep Old Testament law, just the Ten Commandments (with the possible exception of the Sabbath*). The rest of the law does not necessarily have to be obeyed but it is still useful (“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.” 2 Timothy 3:16 ESV)

* Jesus repeated all the Ten Commandments except this one and said that they should be followed, moreover He made them to be not only external commands but about the heart attitude as well. If Christians do keep the Sabbath they generally do it on Sunday because this is the day when Christ was raised.

Mar 31, 2007, 5:54pm

>58 nohrt4me:

“So, are you saying that nothing about origins ought to be taught in public schools?”

No I said, “ I really do not want origins (evolution, intelligent design, etc.) taught in a public school as FACT.” (capitalization added later for emphasis)

What I mean is that origins is all theory as far as a scientist is concerned and that the various theories should not be taught in a public school class room as fact, but as theory.

“But maybe you're just saying that there are gaps in our knowledge about how evolution works and on what scale. A good teacher will point these things out and admit that there are things we don't know.”

That is what I am saying but not all I am saying; We don't know that macro-evolution works at all. It has NEVER been proven. I agree about the teacher but not all will and not all administrators will allow teachers to point out objections to macro-evolution, nor do text books, in fact major text books will continue to show evidence that has been disproven for years.

“It seems to me that science ought to be as much about the questions as the answers, no?

I'm not sure what you mean when you say science must be predicated on a philosophy. Care to elaborate?”

I am not sure what you mean by the first question.
Philosophy and Science:
Science is studied for a reason. Christians study science because they want to explore the world that God created to learn more about Him. In fact it is because the founders of modern science believed in God and an orderly universe that science IS.* If there is no assurance that the universe will act the same (given the same situation) than what good is science?

I really couldn't say why atheists study science because I am not one.

One's philosophy of the universe or worldview is rather important when studying almost anything because it changes how we study whatever we are studying.

I am sorry if the above doesn't help, respond and I will try again.

* Some Scientists who also believed in God (most of them are Christians):
Leonardo de Vinci, Johann Kepler, Francis Bacon, Blaise Pascal, Robert Boyle, Athanasius Kircher, Galileo, Nicholas Copernicus, Isaac Newton, Carolus Linnaeus, Gottfried Leibnitz, Michael Faraday, Charles Babbage, Samuel F. B. Morse, Gregor Mendel, Louis Pasteur, Lord Kelvin, and George Washington Carver. (There are others that I have listed in a book but I did not feel like writing a hundred names, so I just picked some)

Some Christian Theologians who were also scientists:
Increase Mather, Jonathan Edwards, and Cotton Mather.

Mar 31, 2007, 9:58pm

I guess I don't agree entirely.

I think all people--believers and unbelievers--study science because they have curiosity about their environment and perhaps that curiosity stems from the need to manipulate to their advantage for better survival.

A Christian may use science for better purposes because of his beliefs. As a Catholic, for example, I believe that science will soon be able to clone people. However, I believe it would be wrong to do so, just as it is wrong to create embryos for reproductive implantation. (I would also argue that we have gone too far down the road manipulating plants and animals as well.)

Some Christians reject what science suggests because it doesn't tally with a fundamentalist interpretation of Scripture.

My Baptist in-laws, for instance, reject the notion that the world is millions of years old.

My Amish in-laws--and I realize this is a really extreme example--believe the world is flat. They believe the moon landing was a hoax.

Certainly, all of us want schools that support the beliefs and values we try to instill in our kids. Which is very difficult since we live in a pluralistic society.

One of the things I think a public education--and a public library--does do is to help kids understand what "the other side" says.

I think this can be done in a respectful way--though you're right, it often isn't.

Otherwise, we simply split into our own belief worlds and become more and more suspicious of each other.

I really liked the quote you offered earlier from John Milton, BTW.

Mar 31, 2007, 10:08pm

I think that banning should always be an option for the librarian but I don't think it should be used often.

I can't imagine a time when it would be right for a public librarian to ever ban a book. It is not for anyone else to decide for me what I can read. This has nothing to do with beliefs or religion, simply my right as a free citizen to read whatever I want. My mother always told me that one cannot be corrupted by a book and, as long as we have free minds, I believe she was right.

64quicksylver_btg Primeira Mensagem
Mar 31, 2007, 10:52pm

As a public school teacher, the issue of book banning is always touchy. For those parents who are worried about what their kids are reading in school, I would make a few arguments for letting your kid read the book in school. First, as soon as you tell your kid they can't read something, they are going to go read it. You just made the book that much more interesting to them. Second, by reading the book in class, your child has a teacher and 20-30 other students to discuss the book with. They may be able to explain the things, like satire or historical references, that your child might miss reading on their own. Satire like Huck Finn especially needs to be read with an adult because kids, even high school students, struggle with that kind of humor (heck, adults struggle with satire). Finally, if you are worried about what your child is reading, read the book with them. Talk about it with them. This gives you the chance to influence how they read the book. After all, what matters in the end isn't what you read so much as how you understand what you read.

Abr 1, 2007, 1:57am

Sounds to me like what people are really saying is that, instead of trying to regulate what kids can and can't read, which is futile, that parents should be parents, hmm, what a novel concept. Now if only we could explain this to the people who think they have the right to prevent other people's kids from reading Harry Potter, just because they aren't able to see past the skin deep layer of magic.

Abr 1, 2007, 8:58am

Thanks, #64, for weighing in! My son has wonderful public school teachers, and my hat is off to each and every one of you!

#65, We've read all the Harry Potter books aloud with our son. There are times when Harry tells lies, hides things, or doesn't tell people what's going on when he should.

It's given us a chance to talk about the difference between being a hero and acting selflessly--and being an idiot and taking stupid chances.

We are all waiting with bated breath to see how Book 7 turns out!

Editado: Abr 2, 2007, 6:55pm

"My Baptist in-laws, for instance, reject the notion that the world is millions of years old.

My Amish in-laws--and I realize this is a really extreme example--believe the world is flat. They believe the moon landing was a hoax."

I think there is a big difference between these two examples. The second one is just silly because a person can travel around the world an see "yes it is round" and can see evidence of the world being round.

The problem with the belief that the world is millions of years old, is that dating methods are usually based on the premise that changes in nature are constant and linear. But there is no way to prove that unless we had measurements of the various data used all through out history.

Ok because it has been suggested that this is more than just slightly off topic ;) I have started a thread for discussions about Christianity and Science at http://www.librarything.com/talktopic.php?topic=10287
I believe the group allows anyone to post so please do if you have anything meaningful to say.

Abr 2, 2007, 5:57pm

I think this is getting WAY off topic and a new thread should probably be started. Maybe Outside?

Abr 2, 2007, 7:06pm

In order to help this thread get back on track:

>63 kageeh: Kageeh:

"...It is not for anyone else to decide for me what I can read..."

I agree but a librarian banning a book doesn't hinder your reading it, though I guess I have to add that librarians should not keep patrons from borrowing whatever they want from Inter-Library Loan, just keep "banned" books out of their own local collection. And as I said I think banning ought to only be used very rarely.

Abr 2, 2007, 8:33pm

I'm sorry, but whenever I read the list of banned books I have to laugh because my gold standard for banned books is something like the Maquis de Sade, not Harry Potter. Must be that liberal education getting in the way of my value system again, because after reading Swift's "A Modest Proposal," everything else seems pretty tame.

Abr 3, 2007, 10:23am

veritas (#53): Just curious, how is "visual pornography" different than a book?

Note that I ask as someone who does NOT believe that sexually explicit images are inherently degrading to women.

Abr 3, 2007, 9:35pm

#71 - not all visual pornography is inherently degrading, at all. artists like natasha merritt work with sexual explicit content, and i adore her work. i guess, visual pornography is complex. a book in which a rape scene is described, such as a clockwork orange is a very different fact from images of a woman, in degrading poses, taken because she in a financially disadvantaged position and needed the money, in a situation where she is likely to have been raped at some point, or images depicting rape, or sexual violence, where someone is likely to have not consented, or where consent is a very hazy issue...

it's deeply complex.

i am totally not 'anti' sexual explicit images of men and women - i just thing so much of the industry is built upon suffering, misery and exploitation that there are far better arguments for restricting porn than the written word.

but yeah, small small part of a big big issue.

Abr 12, 2007, 3:04am

>#69 Banning a book from a public library most certainly hinders people from reading it! Not everyone has access to bookstores, or access to the Internet, or can afford to buy online the books they're interested in. I live in a city with no bookstores, with a population that's about 2/3 Latino, and many people don't have computers, or are working poor, or unemployed. They rely absolutely on the public library. It's middle class myopia to think that everyone has equal access to information or the means to acquire it without a public institution.

Editado: Abr 12, 2007, 8:30am

Good point, #73.

I just have a hard time with any one person - even a librarian - deciding what an entire community should or should not read.

Abr 12, 2007, 9:32am

I was interested in #73 and #74, but I`m still not quite clear about one or two things.

It`s striking that none of the US participants in the debate seem to have much expectation of redress or accountability in these matters.

In the UK, the only people ultimately who could prevent a librarian stocking a particular book would be the democratically elected local authority, who can be lobbied/called to account in the normal way.

Similarly, if anyone felt a librarian was doing a community a disservice by refusing to stock a given title, their complaint could ultimately go to the relevant councillor.

Just as side issue type of thing, I wasn`t totally convinced by # 73. Certainly, the comments you make are a compelling case for a well-stocked public library service, but ultimately, librarians decide what to stock and not to stock every day - that`s what their job is.

In the UK in my experience, if one group or another decides to lobby for or against the provision of particular titles in the library system, the discussion eventually comes down to whether it`s a good use of the public`s money to buy the book - and so it should.

Appropos of my Sex Pistols story earlier in this thread, I come from Notts, UK, the home of D H Lawrence. It`s well-known locally that when Lady chatterley`s Lover was genuinely banned (i.e. there was a ban on distribution or sale), many local shopkeepers - including some who didn`t actually run bookshops - acquired copies by means known only to themselves and publicised these wares by word of mouth, often keeping them literally `under the counter` in plain bags for the discerning reader to purchase !

Wonderful thing, human ingenuity.

Editado: Abr 12, 2007, 9:48am

Speaking from my own experience, some years ago I was responsible for ordering all the paperback fiction for a medium-sized public library. We received a complaint from a dad that his teenaged daughter had checked out a "filthy" book from the bookmobile. It was a Bertrice Small bodice ripper - I don't remember which one in particular.

Now, I happen to agree that her books are filthy, with no redeeming characteristics whatsoever. However, they circulated well, and adult readers seemed to enjoy them, so I ordered them. After the dad complained, however, the library director took me aside and told me not to order any more books by Small. That one dad had effectively banned that author's books from our entire library system, without anyone (except me and the library director) ever becoming aware of that fact.

Abr 12, 2007, 9:55am

Speaking as a former child (weren't we all), there were no books I couldn't get my hands on, albeit illicitly. I read all the banned books of the time and I survived nicely. In fact, it all fed into my constant reading--when nothing else was available, there was always the cereal box! As an adult, I tend to be a bit more picky in my choice of reading material, and find that, for the most part, salacious material is not very interesting. As others have pointed out, saying "No, you may not read that," whatever 'that' is, merely enhances its desireability. At one time, the phrase "Banned in Boston" was an almost sure way to make a book a best seller.

Abr 13, 2007, 2:42pm



I`m intrigued - how would you prefer to see selections made ? Just as a side issue, how would you see the individuals concerned being made accountable ?

The reason I ask (it may seem pedantic) is that I wonder where we would draw the line between accountability and censorship.

On the one hand, it seems quite right to me that a librarian, or anyone involved in selecting books for a publicly funded library, should be held accountable, and people should indeed complain if unhappy with something (however small-minded I might personally find their purported `greivances`). On the other hand, you obviously have concerns that complainants can weild (is that how you spell it ? I`m very tired) disproportionate influence, particularly if the officials concerned are noticeably soft-brained or afraid of controversy.

Me, I lean towards the `accountability` thing, you obviously lean towards the `freedom from undue pressure` thing. Can these things ever be resolved fully ? I`d be interested to know what you think .

Editado: Abr 13, 2007, 3:26pm

Interesting question. As I said, I was responsible for ordering the paperback fiction. And I was (and am) fine with being held accountable for that. I made my selections by knowing what was in my collection, what my readers wanted to read, and by taking requests and recommendations from them, as well. Until the irate dad complained, the library administration trusted me to make selections that were appropriate for our public library. After he complained, he got to decide. That seems wrong to me.

I want to stress that I didn't have my nose out of joint because my selection was questioned. I was not invested in any of the books I ordered. But I think it is fair to say with my knowledge of the library's collection and what our patrons preferred, as well as my experience in selecting books for the library, I was probably more qualified than the dad to decide what should or should not be on the library's shelves.

And, yes, I think the director was definitely trying to avoid controversy by acquiescing to his demands. That's the part that bothered me. Should the dad have a say in how public monies are spent in public libraries? Of course, as should every library patron. But, as a library patron myself, I don't want some uninformed yokel off the street dictating to me what I may or may not read.

Abr 13, 2007, 3:38pm

If somebody bought a book for the library, can it be removed from availability by a protesting parent? They couldn't argue that public money was being spent to acquire it.

Abr 13, 2007, 3:41pm

That's a good question. I haven't worked at the library in almost seven years now, so I don't know.

Does anyone else know?

Abr 13, 2007, 4:02pm

As a former library trustee, we were given these guidelines:

The librarian develops the collection that will best serve the community's needs and reflect its demographics. That means the librarian decides which books to purchase or, if donated, to accept or reject.

Once part of the collection, no books should be banned from the library, not even if the majority wants you to get rid of them.

It sets a precedent for special interests developing the collection from their own POV rather than the librarian, who is supposed to represent ALL POVs.

Once one group has successfully banned a book, then it invites every special interest group in the door to start picking apart the collection.

When a parent comes in armed with righteous indignation saying, "I don't want my kid reading this," the correct response is to say, "Then tell her not to. And give her a list of what she can read and we'll help her find them, consider buying them, or ordering them on interlibrary loan."

Abr 14, 2007, 5:00am

nickhooaloon, #82 gives a very good indication of how it should go, and does go in enlightened communities. In less enlightened communities, the squeaky wheels get the grease, and books are not bought or are removed because of pressure from strident groups.

More broadly, it seems you may be confusing democracy and individual liberties as applied to libraries. The scope of a library collection more properly is viewed through the lens of individual liberties: not even a democratic majority should be able to tell us that particular books are 'unsuitable' and not to be bought or kept in the public library. That is, it is not 'the public's library' but 'everybody's library' -- the library of the D.H. Lawrence reader as much as the library of the C.S. Lewis reader, and vice versa. That a majority of the community might want to exclude one or the other of these authors from 'the public library' is not a good reason for doing so.

Abr 14, 2007, 10:58am

Thanks for that, people.

I`m hoping a few other LTers will have contributions to make that haven`t done so yet.

I think you have a point, Pechmerle, about the `tyranny of the majority` and/or `the tyranny of the market`. I recall a time when controversy abounded as to whether libraries where I lived should stock books aimed at black readers - I recall there were groups lobbying for both side of the argument. In a way, I think these things should be brought into the open and debated publicly, though I also kind of hope that particular debate is now historical.

What i`m more interested in, is that obviously no library can stock every available book - some are acquired, some are rejected. One would hope there`s some accountability in that process.

Take the accountability away and you have the situation outlined above - a librarian making decisions unilaterally, deciding what a community can/can`t read.

Keep the accountability, and there is indeed a risk, a probability I`d say, that `professional complainers` will be jumping on every bandwagon going.

That`s all I have time for right now, but it would be interesting to hear more views.

Abr 14, 2007, 2:47pm

YES, thanks for your message, saved me time & tooth gritting and you put it better than I may have.

Abr 15, 2007, 3:26pm

I don't know how things are in Merry Olde England, but over here in the Land of the Free we have what's referred to as political correctness. PC as it is abbreviated for purposes of this post, is a form of pressure put on people for saying/thinking Unacceptable Thoughts. We are a country eat up with Unacceptable Thoughts. Just about every group of people that has taken the time to identify themselves as a certified Victim Community identify new Unacceptable Thoughts faster than you can shake a stick. We had a perfect example of how this works just this past week.

People here have heard of Don Imus, a radio/tv Personality known for Freely Speaking his Mind. Well this Speaker of Unacceptable Thoughts in the heat of a particularly moving session of verbal diarrhea allowed the Worst Sort of Unacceptable Thought to gush forth from his mouth. Now mind you, this particular Unacceptable Comment (an Unacceptable Thought after it has been spoken) is apparently only Unacceptable when spoken by Some People, of whom Mr. Imus was one. Admittedly, what Mr. Imus said was Racially Insensitive and Sexist, but only because he was not of The Race Allowed to Think and Say Racially Insensitive and Sexist Things. You see, in this country PC is purely in the interplay between subject and object. It follows no rules of logic. If a certified Victimizer says Something not PC to a Certified Victim they may find themselves in Dire Peril, which is indeed what happened to Mr. Imus. His sponsors felt financial pressure from the Certified Victim Community, several of which worked overtime to insure Mr. Imus lost his job, and sure enough so he did. This is how censorship works in Our Faire Land. In the meantime the Victim Community continues to refer to the best and brightest of their Community as nappy haired hos. Freedom of Speech Triumphs again. For Some People.

Abr 15, 2007, 3:59pm

"...You are living in the Free World -- In the Free World you must pay."

William Worthy by Phil Ochs

Abr 15, 2007, 4:12pm

And now, back to our discussion on banned books in public libraries...

Abr 17, 2007, 11:44am


I don`t mind getting sidetracked, as long as we get back to the matter in hand pretty sharpish.

I don`t live in Merry Olde England.

The phrase PC is sometimes used here, but only by the chattering classes, and different people have very different ideas as to what it means.

As regards Mr Imus - well, I have a deep dislike of politicians and media types, so I`m hardly a natural ally for him. Based on experience I wouldn`t comment on someone`s dismissal unless I knew all the facts - sometimes I find the public story differs from reality.

Having said that, I`ve been unemployed more than once, and the idea of calling for someone`s dismissal doesn`t sit easily with me.

In any case, there are better ways to do these things. A friend of mine, an active Trade Unionist, found that anti-racist posters he put up in his workplace were constantly torn down or defaced, always anonymously. Eventually, with the agreement of management, he booked a room for a public meeting and put out a message for the person/people responsible to meet him there one lunch time to publicly debate the issues in front of their peers. (Unsurprisingly, no one appeared, and his posters remained untouched ever afterwards).

In the case of Mr Imus, I think minority rights groups should have asked the radio station to put on a debate between their representatives and Mr I. Ratings would have gone up, both sides would have aired their views, everyone would have been happy.

It may not be a perfect solution, but I reckon it`s as good as any other.

And now, as Amancine rightly says, back to our discussion on banned books in public libraries...

Abr 21, 2007, 11:01pm

Iam sorry but, I just have to have my input on Imus. His truly ugly remark was directed towards innocent individuals who did not deserve his disrespect. The juvenile discourse of "shock jocks" is a sorry commentary on the intelligence of society as is "yellow journalism" and the popularity of authors such as B. Small and much of the "rap music" so poplular now. Rap is full of the slurs Imus used, but directed to females in general not to a group of outstanding college women and so I think for his use of the term towards this team and for his history of slug mouth it was right to remove him from the air. I can think of several others equally deserving to losing a public forum. Banned a 1961 pub. by Berkley Pub'l Co.(of course) has a terrific intro by Granville Hicks which ends w/ these words "The whole idea of censorship is offensive. By definition the censor sets himself up as morally superior being. The relationship between art and morality is not, I grant, a simple one, but the problems are for us to solve." I find that the "nay" sayers are so often loud, rude folk who win by being loud and rude. American public libraries belong to the American public and it is our responibility to that senseless banning/censorship is not done. Jesse Helms was a good example of powers ability to wrongly censor in his ability to cut funding for the arts in a number of areas. Now we have politicians supporting and manipulating the public education system. By petition & ballot the silent majority, it is the power of the market, you do as we wish or we won't buy/vote for you. I do hope this is still true.

Editado: Abr 23, 2007, 4:57pm

Rap is full of the slurs Imus used, but directed to females in general not to a group of outstanding college women

I hope you do not mean to say that as long as it is about 'females in general', it is acceptable. As a female, generally speaking, I think I deserve respect even though I'm not on a sports team.

Abr 23, 2007, 6:32pm


I thought the girls involved missed a marvelous opportunity to bring up that exact issue. This was a matter of common human decency and respect, not racism as Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton tried to make it out to be.

Abr 24, 2007, 4:46am

The terms Imus used were quite specifically racist as well as sexist.

Abr 25, 2007, 12:14pm

Yes, "rap & gangsta" are full of disrespect and they have been making big $'s from their bilge. My point was that, Imus's comment targeted a small group of individuals who were easily identified as totally undeserving of such a slur. Inversely, it was easier for outrage to be poured on one old white man and his coharts than on those making big bucks from the music of disrespect. Have you noticed how many females are in the videos? Makes you wonder if their financial gain overides the damage to their and others' self-esteem.

Abr 26, 2007, 7:44am

True, but...
Who has most of the power in American society, older white guys or young black guys? And yes, sure, we should live in a country where the rules should be the same for everyone. But I can't help think it's a little disingenuous to ignore the context when talking about race. Sure, gangsta and rap stars use distasteful language. But do gangsta and rap stars make up the bulk of black America? Were blacks in certain electoral districts systematically prevented from exercising their right to vote in 2000 and 2004?

But yes, in an ideal America, the context would be different. Power would be more equally distributed between older white guys and younger black guys -- and everyone else -- and then the equivalent language argument would have more strength.

Abr 26, 2007, 8:28am

cbaker123: I have to disagree in the sense that just because a group has a lower "power rating" shouldn't give them license to use that kind of language ... plus, I think a valid argument could be made that black rappers have much MORE cultural power than old white guys ... gangster rap, etc., may not represent the majority of black America, but you wouldn't know this from the media coverage ... in fact, the Imus situation illustrates this exactly ... whatever beliefs he really holds, I bet he would not have made those comments on the air if he wasn't trying to be as "cool and hip" as the rappers ... finally, whatever the power disparity between white GUYS and black GUYS, that should be no excuse for the misogynistic aspect of his comments.

Abr 26, 2007, 8:59am


That's like excusing the school-yard bully's behavior because his parents are fighting. It may explain why it happens, but it doesn't make the bullying any more acceptable.

Abr 26, 2007, 10:56am

I agree, if something is wrong to say by one, then it should be wrong to say by ALL.

Sharpten and Jackson however get thier publicity by finding and chastising white guys, because it has more impact. Those 2 wind bags do not need anymore air time, I think they make things worse buy calling everything racism.

Abr 28, 2007, 12:41am

Oh, I'm not arguing for a double standard. But I do believe we need to view these matters in some context.

Abr 28, 2007, 8:42am

It seems to me the context is a rickety, old white man trying to be cool, using what he perceives to be the cool, hip language of the streets (to shock?) in order to prove how cool and hip he really is.

What he didn't count on is that disrespectful, mean and crude are never cool and hip. It is always out of place in a public discussion, and, one can only hope, people are getting tired of it.

As far as freedom of speech, we live in a society where everything can be measured in dollars and cents. NBC and MSNBC decided Imus' faux-pas lost too many advertisers and would cost them too much money, so they cut him out like a cancer. Ever since the Irish rebelled against Capt. Boycott, withholding financial support against bad behavior has been an acceptable method of expressing power. This is one way people seek redress for wrongs, especially when government refuses to do so.

Maybe Imus should have given up the shock part of his jock and started acting like a grown-up when he turned sixty-five.

Abr 28, 2007, 8:52am

I just read the article this thread refers to today. (I know, I'm sort of late.) I love Fahrenheit 451; it's one of those books I read every year and I have suggested it to students as reading material. The one thing that is absurd to me is the fact that he wants the book banned based on his "religious beliefs". I wonder what he would have to say if he actually read Fahrenheit 451 (there's a novel idea) and discovered that the book they are memorizing at the end is The Bible.

I skimmed through the messages because there are so many. I apologize if this has already been mentioned.

Abr 29, 2007, 4:48am

Excellent point, GD. And I believe not mentioned previously anywhere above.

In light of your comment, scroll back up and look (with, I predict, a mixture of amusement and sadness) at #56.

Maio 11, 2007, 12:05pm

deleriumlibrarian mentions the geisha book and says it is racist, sexist hype.

there will always be the "ins" and "outs" of societal thought. i suggest to you that ernest hemingway, for one, and probably many other mostly male writers who have won the publitzer andnoble prizes, would not be published today, as their work is too "sexist" and "racist" for the 9 out of 10 people in new york who are female. it is a female writeers world today, and men survive to be published only upon their reverence for the "feminine devine" (the da vinci code was not that great, but it carried the theme that God is female, or have i read it wrong?) i'm not bitching, just stating what i perceive from my perusual of my rejection slips. lol. the ones i have from 1968 through 1975 are all male. the one's i have from 2005 through now are all female. bottome line: GET RID OF THIS POLITICAL CORRECT CRAP!!! iT IS CENSORSHIP OF THE SNEAKY KIND.

Maio 11, 2007, 12:31pm

#56, I understand yyour sentiment. However, one is religious doctrine, the other is a scientific theory. Scientific Theories are put through riguorous testing, and a theory in science is generally all but proven. We have all sorts of evidence of evolution, such as fossils of links, geological evidence that suggests the world is billions of years old. We have no such evidence of intelligent design. Note please, that I have no problem with ID being taught in schools, IN A HUMANITIES OR WORLD RELIGION CLASS. Religious teachings have no place in the science classroom as we have no proof. I have heard the arguement that evolution is just a theory, well, this honestly suggests to me a lack of knowledge of science. A theory in science is all but proven. If Christian Fundies are going to argue against science, they, by definition, have to know something about what the hell they're talking about. I have seen no evidence of this, as I have gone to a fundi school and heard what is taught. How can one sound intelligent when discussing scientific theories, when all they seem to be taught about evolution and the big bang is essentially "How could we come from an explosion and a glob of goo. It doesn't make logical sense." Well, I'm sorry, but if you all bothered to learn something about the theories, it would make sense. Sorry if I sound combative, I don't mean to. Infact I think ID should be taught in school if for no other reason that to assist interreligious dialogue. I just don't agree with religious doctrines being taught as science. They are the same, and shouldn't be treated as such.

Maio 17, 2007, 12:57pm

I don't believe in banning of books period. But there is one book that I did find a little offensive, and you will probably find this funny. It was a Rex Stout book that I read many years ago. I think there was something about a cook in the title. It took place at the Greenbrier Resort and the black employees of the resort were portrayed in a very sterotypical (for the time) manner. I did try to remember the book was written in a different time, and I had never seen this in any of his other Nero Wolfe mysteries, but I just can't like the author anymore.
As for things that are taught in school that we don't agree with:
This is what I tell my children. Learn it as a possible theory. Pass the test. Forget about it, or compare what you have been taught by people we actually trust and make up your own mind. I have basically stuck with this since the oldest was in grade school. All of my children but one are well read and as normal as a child of mine could be. I don't think they need to be taught what to think, just how to think for themselves.

Maio 17, 2007, 3:34pm

I don't think any book should be banned ever. I think the whole "for the children" excuse is one of the biggest cop-outs of our time. I think that over protecting our young people stops them from learning about people whose beliefs are different than theirs' which leads to them growing up and becoming like Imus or the people feeling forever victimized. The best way to get along in our society is to learn as many different ideas as you can and go from there. Question everything. That is one problem that I usually have with Christians, they are always trying to protect their children from others beliefs. I was so surprised and thankful to find myself agreeing with Christians earlier in this thread. I think intelligent design is silly, but really I don't know. How could I? If schools want to teach that possibility along with evolution fine. I don't believe in facts because they can change, just read the structure of scientific revolutions. I think there is one item above all else that should be taught to children and that is

Critical Thinking

I even disagree that porn should be banned. As a feminist you might find that surprising but just because I believe that woman shouldn't be degraded doesn't really stop someone else from believing that woman are scum. Of course, if laws are broken during the time of the picture... etc extenuating circumstances... then it can be removed from Public funding but as long as no laws, created by the society, are broken people should be able to read/look at whatever they want. Banning books is a slippery slope, why go there at all.

Maio 17, 2007, 4:21pm

I have a question.

Who does legal porn victimize?

Maio 18, 2007, 7:35am

I have another question: what is "porn"?

(Beyond, of course, "I know it when I see it.")

Maio 18, 2007, 8:31am

I have another question. How do you define "children"? I serve a k-12 school district, that also serves as a public library. (We are extremely rural - long ways to another public library.)

There are some things I don't think appropriate for kindergarteners, but highly appropriate for teenagers. Am I guilty of sliding down the slippery slope? I don't think so. I don't try to "protect" my teens and tweens, but what about the little ones? My own daughter, who began reading around the age of 3, picked up Go Ask Alice when she was in 3rd grade. I told her to put it back and try it when she was older, which she did. I don't consider that interfering with her development of critical thinking. I consider that waiting until her critical thinking skills were a little more advanced.

Sometimes it seems to me our society swings too far between two extremes. We either assume everyone can evaluate for themselves no matter how young, or else we try to protect everyone long after they are old enough to decide for themselves.

Maio 18, 2007, 10:34am

I read Go Ask Alice in 4th grade! How wonderful that you would bring it up. I thought all drugs were horrible and I didn't understand why anybody did them. Then I found out later the book was a fake and started to question everything I had ever learned.

I think it really depends on the maturity of the child which means that the parent has to make the decisions for their own situation. Deciding anything based on age or making blanket statements will always leads to problems.

As far as what is porn, I would say it is writing, drawings, photography or video that is sexual and someone finds morally wrong.

Maio 18, 2007, 10:41am

But fikustree, who decides what is "morally wrong"? Or "sexual" for that matter?

Editado: Maio 20, 2007, 12:52pm

the viewer decides if something is morally wrong. That, to me, is why it should always be allowed. People need to make their own decisions about what to feed their brain. This should not be something the government should be involved in, which, since we are talking libraries with public money, they are involved.

Maio 20, 2007, 3:48pm

When men on the chess board
Get up and tell you where to go
And you've just had some kind of mushroom
And your mind is moving, whoa
Go ask Alice
I think she'll know
When logic and proportion
Have fallen sloppy dead
And the White Knight is talking backwards
And the Queen is off her head
Remember what the doormouse said
Feed your head
Feed your head
Feed your head.

Maio 31, 2007, 9:56am

ok, geneg, if you're going to post the airplane, you should put a warning on the page. i still hallucinate every time i hear (or, as it turns out, read) them.

plus my boos just heard me shout

"wow man".


ahh, the things we managed to live through. ..

Maio 31, 2007, 10:02am

and speaking of banning books, i was at barnes & noble one christmas season, maybe a few years back, when wouldn't you know it, the phone rang next to the register. since no one was around, i picked up and said hello. a woman on the other end of the line asked if we had a newt gingrich book ...

imagine my joy when i told her we didn't allow his books in our store. at first she didn't believe me but i told her, as a retail store, we had every right to pick and choose what we'd sell.

i almost had her convinced when the salesperson came by and asked me if she could help. i of course told her "nahhh, i got this one. thanks."

i wish i could go back to that store. who'da thunk they had no sense of humor?

Maio 31, 2007, 10:04am

Excellent story Tim_Watkinson. You can answer my phone anytime.

Maio 31, 2007, 6:13pm

I think everbody should read everything they can by Newt Gingrich, as well as have access to everything he's ever said on the radio and TV.

Then they'd know what a walkin', talkin', puffed-up, smug, flaming fill-in-the-blank he is.

But Tim's story is pretty funny.

Editado: Jun 9, 2007, 8:24am


Great story, Tim. And your comment, nohrt4me, reminds me of a joke I read not long ago...

Q: What's the difference between Rush Limbaugh and the Hindenburg?
A: One's a flaming Nazi gasbag, and the other is a dirigible.

Jun 22, 2007, 8:24am

what's a newt gingrich?

sounds like the name of the leading leprechan to me.

i think all books produced that have sexual depictions in them should be banned from all public view. This way kids could learn about sex the way I did -- by mom and uncles taking me to bed when i was five years old, and also out in back of the school where the older kids would have me such their lollipops for a dollar.

Jul 5, 2007, 9:26pm

#82 -- the problem with telling parents that is that most parents who don't want for their child to read a certain book aren't readers themselves and wouldn't know what they'd want their child to read. Case in point: my parents.

My parents weren't readers when I was growing up (my dad still isn't) and that actually worked to my advantage, as I devoured books unsupervised and unquestioned unless the book had a randy title or cover (which was rare for me). My mother once questioned my reading of Harry Potter thanks to her ridiculous book-banning friend, and I just shrugged it off. My dad always hating my reading because he couldn't understand it. Once, he told me to trash all my books (99% of which were bought by my saved allowance) and my mother helped me to store it at that same crazy friend's house instead, and her young daughter happened to go through the box and read a book that just mentioned sex, for which I got in trouble. Other than that, though, my reading was my only window outside the little authoritarian world in which I existed.

Jul 8, 2007, 12:37am

Mom's comment is priceless:
"The book had a bunch of very bad language in it," Diana Verm said. "It shouldn't be in there because it's offending people. ... If they can't find a book that uses clean words, they shouldn't have a book at all."

Fev 27, 2008, 9:36am

At 17, nhrt4me wrote "Just finished reading "Huck Finn" and I disremembered the end. Jim is free at the end of the book. So why did I think he was still enslaved?"

No doubt because even today so many people want to put him under lock and key.