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ALA / Banned Books Week 2006

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ALA / Banned Books Week 2006

Postby gailr » Tue Sep 26, 2006 3:39 am

It's that time of year in the US again: Banned Books Week
"Free People Read Freely®"

Banned Books Week: Celebrating the Freedom to Read is observed during the last week of September each year. Observed since 1982, this annual ALA event reminds Americans not to take this precious democratic freedom for granted. This year, 2006, marks BBW's 25th anniversary (September 23-30).

BBW celebrates the freedom to choose or the freedom to express one’s opinion even if that opinion might be considered unorthodox or unpopular and stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of those unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints to all who wish to read them. After all, intellectual freedom can exist only where these two essential conditions are met.


I thought this might be of interest to those who value literacy and the power of words. I've observed this week since its inception and have found interesting both which ideas/books/authors are challenged each year, and which are challenged year after year after year...

-gailr

"...The Director General invites you to examine the planisphere hanging on the wall. The varied color scheme indicates:
the countries where all books are systematically confiscated
the countries where only books published or approved by the State may circulate
the countries where existing censorship is crude, approximate, and unpredictable
the countries where the censorship is subtle, informed, sensitive to implications and allusions, managed by meticulous and sly intellectuals
the countries where there are two networks of dissemination: one legal and one clandestine
the countries where there is no censorship because there are no books, but there are many potential readers
the countries where there are no books and nobody complains about their absence
the countries, finally, in which every day, books are produced for all tastes and all ideas, amid general indifference.

Nobody these days holds the written word in such high esteem as police states do... "

-Italo Calvino
Italian novelist (1923–1985)
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Postby bnjtokyo » Tue Sep 26, 2006 6:08 am

Just how do we celebrate "Banned Book Week"? Bake a cake or rent a video of "Fahrenheit 451"? I suppose we could just slip a copy of "How to Eat Fried Worms" in between Norman Rockwell and Will Rogers autobiography.
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Postby Bailey » Tue Sep 26, 2006 8:58 am

In this country if one holds opposing political views one is castigated, denigrated and ostracised, not banned, but what's the diff.

mark apolitical-for-a-reason Bailey

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Postby Perry » Tue Sep 26, 2006 9:23 am

bnjtokyo wrote:Just how do we celebrate "Banned Book Week"? Bake a cake or rent a video of "Fahrenheit 451"? I suppose we could just slip a copy of "How to Eat Fried Worms" in between Norman Rockwell and Will Rogers autobiography.


I would say, invite Salman Rushdi to a banquet in his honor.
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Postby Bailey » Tue Sep 26, 2006 9:58 am

Excellant idea Perry, this world is ruled by strong opinions, backed by threats of violence, backed by violence.

mark only-has-weak-opinions Bailey

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Postby skinem » Tue Sep 26, 2006 12:43 pm

Not quite banned books, but related...
As the internet becomes more and more the "book" of choice for people, its' influence is more and more important. One thing that drove that point home this week was the military coup in Thailand. One of the things that was done as part of the takeover was to sever Thailand's physical connections to the internet thus preventing communication via that route.
China routinely controls (or attempts to) what is available on the net.
Not book banning, but the goals, intent, effect, and mindset is the same.

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Postby Palewriter » Tue Sep 26, 2006 2:12 pm

Not that I'm a supporter of banning books by any manner of means, but isn't the ALA's site more devoted to challenged books rather than banned ones? There's a ways to go between a challenged book and one that's actually forbidden by any library. Similarly, there's a ways to go between books that libraries choose not to carry and truly banned books (such as Ulysses before 1933).

There appears to be a fuzzy line between "freedom of speech" and "freedom to borrow a book from a public library for nothing." Only the first right, I think, is covered by the First Ammendment. I guess public libraries can choose what books they do or don't want to carry, or at least those who foot the bill (taypayers, mostly) can.

Personally, banning a book is one surefire way of getting me interested in promptly reading it. Burning a book would seriously pi$$ me off.

Luckily, unlike the Thais and Chinese, I live in a free country where I can say "I'll read what I damned well please. Ain't no business of the gummint."

-- PW
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Postby Perry » Tue Sep 26, 2006 4:47 pm

The “10 Most Challenged Books of 2005” reflect a range of themes. The books are:

“It's Perfectly Normal” for homosexuality, nudity, sex education, religious viewpoint, abortion and being unsuited to age group;
“Forever” by Judy Blume for sexual content and offensive language;
“The Catcher in the Rye” by J.D. Salinger for sexual content, offensive language and being unsuited to age group;
“The Chocolate War” by Robert Cormier for sexual content and offensive language;
“Whale Talk” by Chris Crutcher for racism and offensive language;
“Detour for Emmy” by Marilyn Reynolds for sexual content;
“What My Mother Doesn't Know” by Sonya Sones for sexual content and being unsuited to age group;
Captain Underpants series by Dav Pilkey for anti-family content, being unsuited to age group and violence;
“Crazy Lady!” by Jane Leslie Conly for offensive language; and
“It's So Amazing! A Book about Eggs, Sperm, Birth, Babies, and Families” by Robie H. Harris for sex education and sexual content.
Off the list this year, but on for several years past, are the Alice series of books by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, “Of Mice and Men” by John Steinbeck and “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” by Mark Twain.



I am not crazy about the Captain Underpants Series; but you may find it interesting that my son got some of these when he was around 7 (he is 9 now) from the school book fair.
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Postby Bailey » Tue Sep 26, 2006 7:38 pm

Palewriter wrote:. Burning a book would seriously pi$$ me off.

-- PW

I dunno, at 451 degrees Fahrenheit that's a lot of warmth to overlook with high natural gas prices.

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Postby gailr » Tue Sep 26, 2006 9:36 pm

PW is correct that the ALA site lists challenged books; challenging is the first step to removing a questioned work from school or public library shelves. Then there is a series of public hearings before a decision is handed down on whether a parent may censor his/her own children or everyone's children.
Palewriter wrote:Personally, banning a book is one surefire way of getting me interested in promptly reading it.
This is the inevitable reaction to challenging a book; does anyone remember a modest little series about a boy wizard by some Brit no-one's ever heard of? I thought not... :wink: Would HP have reached dizzying success and a rabidly devoted fandom if not for frequent, hysterical denouncements by people who proudly announce that they haven't read them but heard what they teach...

Judy Blume and JD Salinger are also guilty of taking a very accurate adolescent pulse, which alarms those who wish to prepare children for adulthood by keeping them in a state of perfect ignorance. (My personal favorite: bowdlerized bibles. The KJV may be divinely inerrant, but it's indecent, dadgummit.) :lol:

At the same time, I have to admit that I am pleased that so-called gentlemen's magazines are not displayed as aggressively as, say, Time, Renaissance, Architectural Digest...

bnjtokyo wrote:Just how do we celebrate "Banned Book Week"?
However you wish. I like to choose a new book from the list (often one for young people, which I can buy additional copies of for the kids in my family). It's also an opportunity to reflect on my own sense of what is and is not appropriate censorship, and why...

-gailr
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Postby Palewriter » Tue Sep 26, 2006 10:12 pm

An insightful reply, as always, gailr.

Anthony Burgess once wrote that his favorite method of reviewing new dictionaries was to see whether or not they included the 'naughty' words. If not, then he'd simply consign them to the woodpile. Not a bad shibboleth, really.

I find parents generally to be a rather tiresome, often hypocritical breed.

-- PW
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Postby Stargzer » Wed Sep 27, 2006 2:37 pm

Palewriter wrote:An insightful reply, as always, gailr.

Anthony Burgess once wrote that his favorite method of reviewing new dictionaries was to see whether or not they included the 'naughty' words. If not, then he'd simply consign them to the woodpile. Not a bad shibboleth, really.

I find parents generally to be a rather tiresome, often hypocritical breed.

-- PW


Are you staring in the mirror? :lol:

I wouldn't have given Catcher in the Rye to my daughters when they were in fourth grade, but high school was fine. I think it was In the Night Kitchen that some places banned because of a "nude" scene. Not much to see as I recall.

When there's a baby shower at work, I buy the honoree (Uh, we do have them for dads, too!) a copy of one of the late Shel Silverstein's books such as The Light in the Attic or Where the Sidewalk Ends to pass on. You can't have too much silliness in your life, especially as a child.

Let us all bow our heads and remember the unicorn song. :D
Regards//Larry

"To preserve liberty, it is essential that the whole body of the people always possess arms, and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them."
-- Attributed to Richard Henry Lee
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Postby gailr » Wed Sep 27, 2006 11:30 pm

Stargzer wrote:I wouldn't have given Catcher in the Rye to my daughters when they were in fourth grade, but high school was fine.

Catcher in the Rye was a favorite; I read it and Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead before high school. So many interesting ideas to not bring up around the dinner table... :lol:

Stargzer wrote:I think it was In the Night Kitchen that some places banned because of a "nude" scene. Not much to see as I recall.

I credit my love of Shakespeare to Sr. Marcella (5th grade) who required written permission from my parents before I could lay my eyes on his works. (Although I didn't get most of his jokes until years later.) :lol:

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Postby Palewriter » Thu Sep 28, 2006 12:16 am

Stargzer wrote:I wouldn't have given Catcher in the Rye to my daughters when they were in fourth grade, but high school was fine.


No mirrors are allowed in the house, Stargeezer. :-)

Fourth grade may be a tad early for Catcher, though more for the ideas than the possibly corrupting influence. However, my view is that kids are frequently able to handle "difficult" books a lot better than their parents can handle their handling them (if you see what I mean).

I stand by my view of "most" parents. I am one myself. Indeed, a grand one. :-)

What possible harm could "Catcher" do compared to the oceans of pornographic and semi-pornographic, vicious and violent material flooding the Internet for any fourth-grader to see? I think the focus now should not merely to be to shield them from it, but to teach them how to deal with it intelligently for what it is. Crap.

A similar issue is when people worry that an availability of condoms will promote more teenage sex, rather than understanding that an availability of condoms might possibly prevent fatal diseases and unwanted teenage pregnancies. But that should probably be another discussion thread in another forum. :-)

-- PW
"Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention to arrive safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming: Wow!!! What a ride!"
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Postby Stargzer » Thu Sep 28, 2006 11:39 am

Palewriter wrote:
. . . What possible harm could "Catcher" do compared to the oceans of pornographic and semi-pornographic, vicious and violent material flooding the Internet for any fourth-grader to see? I think the focus now should not merely to be to shield them from it, but to teach them how to deal with it intelligently for what it is. Crap.



Yes. I often feel the same about guns. Gun SAFETY should be taught early on in schools. For several summers I went to a Boy's Club day camp in Washington, DC. They had a room with a canvas backstop for BB guns. There was a distinct range discipline you followed; not picking up the weapon until told to, firing when told to, and policing the BBs at the end when all the guns were down.

Palewriter wrote:
. . . A similar issue is when people worry that an availability of condoms will promote more teenage sex, rather than understanding that an availability of condoms might possibly prevent fatal diseases and unwanted teenage pregnancies. But that should probably be another discussion thread in another forum. :-)

-- PW


A few years ago in Baltimore they had a billboard campaign. It was a picture of a chicken wearing large sneakers. The caption said, "What do you call a guy who fathers a child and walks away?" I hope a few got the message.
Regards//Larry

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