Looking Forward to Banned Book Week 2012

I will be celebrating Banned Book Week by participating in this event hosted by Sheila at Book Journey. You should definitely check it out!

For more information on Banned Books Week please click on the following links:
“If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind. Were an opinion a personal possession of no value except to the owner; if to be obstructed in the enjoyment of it were simply a private injury, it would make some difference whether the injury was inflicted only on a few persons or on many. But the peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is, that it is robbing the human race; posterity as well as the existing generation; those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error.”
— On Liberty, John Stuart Mill

29 thoughts on “Looking Forward to Banned Book Week 2012

  1. After I wrap up my current challenges I'm going to reassess my participation in any future events. I feel like I'm saying yes to everything and my regular reading is suffering! I want to remember that I read for pleasure..if it becomes a job I'll be a sad girl. I do LOVE events though!!


  2. Banned Books Week is not just about \”banned\” or banned on a national scale – it's about banning books in schools and in libraries; it's about censoring and expurgating books; it's about fighting back when teachers' jobs are on the line for reading certain books in their classrooms, simply because the subject matter is \”sensitive.\” It's about educating people about HOW to read – it's about teaching kids that just because Mark Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn uses the word \”nigger,\” does NOT mean that Twain is, nor that the book is, racist. Banned Books Week is still very much appropriate, helpful, and necessary to the sadly puritanical approach the USA still takes to education and literature.


  3. P.S. That Safe Libraries website (and comment) is a joke – it's a right-wing political group with only one stringent ideology. I've come in contact with them many times over this very issue. They probably didn't even bother to read your post – they just scan for the topic and comment with the same thing over and over.


  4. Hi Jennifer lovely post and thank you for posting it. ALA has current lists of the books banned and challenged ever year. This in fact is their 30th year of listing and promoting banned books. Adam, you rock – fantastic comments!


  5. Adam, and especially Jennifer Hartling. I am sorry for you that you chose to attack the messenger in comments to a post supposedly supporting freedom of speech. Right wing/left wing is not the issue. Even the \”left wing\” opposes children having access to inappropriate material. See, for example, \”Young Adult Fiction: Wild Things,\” by Naomi Wolf, The New York Times, 12 March 2006.Further, I have a tape recording of an author from the 2010 Top 10 Challenged Book List essentially admitting that the ALA faked its list for its own political gain by putting her book on the list above others challenged more often. You can listen to this yourself. She's a wonderful author and, coincidentally, a librarian. So perhaps you'll now call her a \”joke\” and \”blech\”?You can call me names all you like, but you cannot make the facts go away. The ALA fakes its annual lists. The last book banning in the USA occurred about half a century ago. The ALA uses BBW to label 100% of the people who still dare to complain about books for children in schools and libraries as censors. Even a leading \”progressive\” librarian has opposed the ALA for falsely labeling people as censors. The ALA will not tell people that its own leader and creator of the BBW hoax said if a book does not meet a school's section policy, \”get it out of there.\”I could give the hyperlinks to prove the above, and much more, but they are already in the story you called a \”joke\” and \”blech.\” You are the ones with closed minds if you want to be honest with yourselves.


  6. I did read the article that you shared but it confused me. Are you saying that books aren't challenged or banned in this country? Are you saying that they *should* be? In my opinion parents have the ultimate responsibility for their children. I don't believe educators/librarians (and definitely not the government) should make decisions about what my children can read and/or be exposed to. There was no name calling here, and I do hope that there won't be.


  7. Okay, @Jennifer Hartling, good questions. Books are challenged but they are never banned (in the USA, and with the Internet it's kind of impossible now). If the challenge/review process is proper and successful, the book removed is not banned. Rather, it was removed after following proper procedure. Even the creator of Banned Books Week said if a book does not meet a school's selection policy, \”get it out of there.\” Certainly no one is going to call her a \”censor.\”If the challenge/review process is not proper but still successful, the book removed is not banned, rather, it was removed in error and the challenge/review process should begin anew. Now censorship is a serious issue. And parents claiming books having witches should not be read by children is also a serious issue. But they are separate issues. As a former ALA Councilor said, \”It also highlights the thing we know about Banned Books Week that we don't talk about much — the bulk of these books are challenged by parents for being age-inappropriate for children. While I think this is still a formidable thing for librarians to deal with, it's totally different from people trying to block a book from being sold at all.\”So when the ALA commingles the two, it weakens true efforts to oppose true censorship, and it stigmatizes people as \”censors\” who are merely filing materials reconsideration policies. The ALA recommends use of these policies, but if you do, you lead with your chin and the ALA punches you out as a \”censor.\” As I said before, even a self-described progressive librarian decried the ALA for doing this.Yes, parents have the ultimate responsibility for their children. However, citizens vote for school board members to make decisions pertaining to public schools and educational material contained therein. There would be little need for a school board if it has no responsibility because only the parents do. They would be no need for US Supreme Court decisions like Board of Education v. Pico if parents my the decisions, not the school boards. Schools make decisions as to what children read all the time. That's what they do. Problems arise when they abdicate that responsibility. When they say only parents can make such decisions, they are saying they refuse to do the job for which they were elected. As a result some students get burned badly (like the one in tears after a school showed embarrassing pictures of her parents who opposed the perks of a wallflower book) and citizen groups spring up to fill the void. Had the school board effectively administered its duties, or were it to follow material reconsideration review processes without labeling people as censors, there would very few problems.{PART 2 IN NEXT COMMENT}


  8. {PART 2}The ALA is right to recommend schools use materials reconsiderations policies. It is wrong to call each person who does a censor. And it is wrong to fake lists that make people think there's a problem when there is not.By the way, \”And Tango Makes Three\” topped or almost topped the ALA Top 10 list for 5 years running. Only after I exposed another fraud that it was faking did the sixth (and seventh?) year not include the book anywhere at all on the list. It's gone. Because I exposed how the ALA faked the list regarding that book, and I did so in that case by calling the ALA and getting the full details from the man who compiled the list, then publishing what I learned. The list said ATMT was challenged \”dozens\” of times across the USA in 2010. The truth? 4. 4 times. The top book on the list of 10 books was challenged 4 times. That is a non-news event if I ever heard of one. And the book no longer appears on the ALA list after its half decade run. To the extent my criticism has forced the ALA to be more truthful, that is good.And that's my goal, to stop the ALA from misleading communities. ALA should just be honest instead of manipulative. Then the organization would not have detractors like me. Until such time as the ALA stops misleading communities, I will continue to point out what the ALA is doing.Lastly, I'm no longer the only one doing this. For example, now the author of the Children's Internet Protection Act is advising communities that the ALA is misleading them. So please keep an open mind. Reading books is a laudable goal. Falsely labeling people as censors so you can push your own way on a community is not. To the extent Banned Books Week gets people to read books, that's good. To the extent it browbeats people into submission, that is bad.


  9. So, because a book hasn't been explicitly banned by the U.S. government in 50+ years is reason not to talk about it anymore? The fight to freedom of expression was a long and difficult one, and it is one which could move backwards at any moment. Of course there are people who would like to say: \”Oh, that was history; let's not talk about that anymore.\” Why? Because by not talking about something, its significance lessens and the road to changing laws again, in order to strictly censor or ban material that some people find offensive in some way, becomes easier. The fact of the matter is that books are being challenged and censored all the time. An expurgated edition of Mark Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was just released in the last few years, changing all instances of the word \”nigger\” to the word \”slave,\” among other things. Why? Because the word \”nigger\” is offensive and because parents were uncomfortable explaining the word and its meaning to their children. But this is the very point of the book. ALA's Banned Books Week, at the very least, keeps this conversation alive – and if Mark Twain and the greatest American novel are still, in this decade, being censored, then the conversation should be very much alive.


  10. Wow! Thanks Jennifer for starting this interesting and heated discussion about BBW; thanks also to Adam and Safelibraries for adding information and opposing perspectives. I would probably be one of those parents asking for age restrictions on books, but I do agree with Adam that it's a crime to edit the original text of a piece of literature. That's like permanently altering one of Picasso's paintings or erasing all references to slavery out of our history books. The conversation about challenges needs to stay alive.By the way, on a lighter note, thank you Adam for a great new word: expurgated.


  11. Good discussions! There are definitely lines for our kids – books they aren't quite ready for – but many of the books people want banned completely flabbergast me. I sometimes wonder if they've actually read them. When I told my daughter I didn't want her to read the Twilight series until she was 12. I would sometimes find her hiding in the library reading as much as she could until I found her! Then, when I finally relented, she read the whole series in a week and told how dumb she thought they were. Make me think. I don't like to ban books, just try to teach correct principles and let them govern themselves 🙂


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