Banned Books Week is soon upon us!

Worse. At least one of them is a star that sacrificed itself in the battle against evil. So, we have a character that’s a witch AND has committed suicide.

Never mind that whole if-you-die-you’re-s’posed-to-stay-dead, NOT-come-back thing.

Don’t forget however that these books are only banned to the extent that certain school libraries, based on criteria from the local school boards, do not carry them. For some reason this seems to only happen in the deep south. (Hmmm…)

However, thanks to the Mallification of America anyone can wander down to Borders or Barnes and Noble and find these books still on the shelves.

This post in no way is meant to be seen as a justification of the banning of reading materials of any type. Whomever participates in such activities should be sentanced to having to listen to their children read allowed from smutty romance novels in my opinion.

I would’ve been ten or eleven when that book came out. It always took me a little while to find Waldo on that page. :smiley:

aloud… :smack:

Good on Judy Bloom, by the way, for making it onto the list so many times. I think that it says a lot about an author’s skill and quality that she can be so banned.

It bothers me a lot that some folks think that some books need to be banned, but the actual banning itself doesn’t worry me so much. There is no surer way to guarantee that a book will be widely read than to attempt to ban it.

Incidentally, if any of you are ever at a community meeting where book-banning is being proposed, read a few excerpts from the Song of Solomon (the original, not the Toni Morrison book of the same name), and express indignation that such a lurid work is allowed in public libraries. Watch the book-burners try to backpedal when they realize just what book you’re talking about (obviously, this only works with a certain segment of book-banners).

And now a word from the cranky right-winger:

I’ve got a really narrow definition of “censorship.” It means that the government (or some agent thereof) is preventing adults from reading something. I look at this list and see something entirely different: In nearly every case, it’s parents at some local high school deciding that a library selection is age-inappropriate. I’m not sure I’d call that “censorship,” and frequently, I’m not even sure I’d call it “bad.”

Put yourself in their position: The school library has the space and budget for X-number of books, and some process of selection is involved. Should parents be excluded from that selection process? I submit they should not.

Let’s say further that the librarians have a fixed agenda against “dead European white males.” They’re gutting the classics* and replacing them with books about the pernicious influence of (insert your religion here, especially if you’re Christian); books about how and why to practice what you percieve as Devil-worship; books about how stifling the nuclear family is and handy alternatives to it; books designed to undermine the values you hold to the children you’re responsible for.

I can’t defend every choice on the “Top 100 Banned Book” list, but most of them are no mystery and none of the books are unavailable elsewhere. I also believe that parents should be more, not less, involved in the book selection process.

Back in the early 60s, my brother–attending a Catholic school in Topeka–noticed that the Harvard Great Books shelf was missing two volumes, one by Darwin and one by Marx. He raised a ruckus, crfied “censorship,” was sent to the principal’s office, and my father was called in. On hearing the situation, my dad turned to my brother and said “If you want those two books back in circulation, I’ll back you 100 percent. But there’s a hitch: You’ll have to read them and write reports on them to my satisfaction, not the teacher’s.” My brother quietly let the matter drop.

*AFAIK, every acknowledged “classic” was banned at some point. If Judy Blume ever enjoys the same literary reputation as Charles Dickens or Alexandre Dumas, she has some book-burning bluenose to thank.

From previous years’ discussion of this topic, it seems that people barely ever come up with more than about five challenges to any one given book within the last generation. In other words, this is a fairly arbitrary list based on a few loners taking shots at books once in a while, rather than an indication of what books are actually facing a groundswell of opposition.

I agree with what you’re saying to a certain extent, but not every book on that list is on that list because they were banned from school libraries. For example, I find it hard to believe that a significant number of high schools carried Madonna’s Sex (#19 on the list). I think a fair number of these books have been banned from public libraries, which is fucked up.

But why should people with that view point be allowed to dictate what books are available to my kids? (Well, my hypothetical kids, anyway.) What if I want my kid to be exposed to those ideas, but the same bluenoses who keep those books out of the school library are also keeping them out of the public library?

And, really, if your family values can be undermined by reading a book, I think that says a lot more about the “values” you’ve instilled in your children than it does about the literature they’re reading.

I agree that parents should be more involved in what books (and movies, and TV, and music) their kids are consuming. What I have a problem with is when parents try to regulate what other people’s kids are reading.

But, really, that ideal only works if you assume that all parents are acting in the best interests of their children. That’s not always the case. A book about, say, surviving a physically or sexually abusive parent could save a kids life, if he can find a place where he or she can read the book without their abusive parent knowing about it. But such books are often pulled from library shelves because the sexual and/or violent content is “inappropriate” for children.

How depressing.

And now a word from a librarian! :smiley: I’m not sure how your definition of censorship doesn’t apply. An individual is trying to influence the government to prevent other people from reading something. Elementary schools, high schools, and libraries are government institutions, sponsored by the state, paid for by tax dollars. I don’t want a small self-righteous minority controlling those institutions. It’s not a partisan issue. Liberals are the ones banning Huckleberry Finn and fundamentalists are the ones banning Harry Potter. Either way, it infringes on my rights as an adult, as a parent, and as a member of the community.

Parents sit on school boards, and are elected by other parents.

If I were a parent, I would not want someone else’s parent to be making the decisions for what my kid should and should not read. I want the widest range of materials possible to choose from so that I can decide what my child wants to read. I don’t want you censoring my materials. “The material is available elsewhere” is doesn’t work for me. I want that material available in a library. That’s what libraries are for, in my opinion.

If I were your librarian, I would say, “There are probably some books in here that you and your child would like to read, let’s seek those out together, so that you can leave with the materials you want, without infringing on another person’s ability to leave with the materials they want.” Neither the people FOR the dead white European males nor AGAINST the dead white Euroepan males should win.

Yup, that’s exactly how it works, except that the loner could be replaced by a conspiracy.

I’m trying to find cites to support what I learned several years in library school and I’m having trouble… but here goes: Book banners are often very organized outsiders with an agenda, who mobilize parents–it’s not often started by the parents, but preys on parents’ reactions. Specific towns with specific characteristics are targeted–Cities like New York are far too big, who is going to care? And small towns–what is there to win, really?

Actually, there are loners, too, who sometimes get their points made through attrition and persistence. When someone reads filthy passages from books at council meetings for 15-20 years, the council sometimes gives in just to shut him up. And then the problems begin.

Want to give examples? I will. I can’t find a single book on that list I would ban. Most, I would recommend to parents for their children. Many, I was forced to read in school, and their only scarring feature was tedium.

Go Ask Alice - I read it in 4th or 5th grade, and it had a significant impact on my later choice not to do drugs or have sex with skanky people.

Harry Potter - Challenged because of a false perception that the book promotes the occult. Is being duped by an urban legend really an appropriate reason to ban a book?

Anything “Gay” aimed at Elementary Schools - Banal and unoffensive and conformist. They barely manage to make the claim that gay people exist, and do manage to show that gay people are the most boring people in the world. Some gay scholars lament the “cleansing” of gay literature to the point of blandness, all in an effort to not offend people. It’s tragic that it’s still not enough to stop the hate.

To be fair, I support limiting access to Internet pornography in the library, because it creates a hostile working environment for librarians. When people masturbate in public and sexually harass librarians, everybody loses their privileges. :frowning:

Since it’s Cafe Society, the obligatory Buffy quote:

Upon preview, Miller makes these points far more eloquently. Many challanges do involve the public library, even when children’s books are involved.

That’s exactly why the ALA stands for allowing children to access all materials without parental consent. And exactly why the ALA is accused of supporting pedophilia. One scenario–A kid reads a book and gets out of a very bad situation. Two–A kid reads “Final Exit” and learns the proper way to slit his wrists. Both have happened. I personally believe that allowing the second in order to allow the first is absolutely necessary (and that’s usually the policy), but it’s a horror that’s hard to face. I would sympathize with people who believe removing the book removes the problem, if that were ever actually true.

I noticed one of my favorites, Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo A. Anaya, on the list. Now I know why some folks would object. Obviously it’s because the protaganist has a crisis of faith and a Curandera is treated as a hero. But really, this is one of the most spirtual and one of the best coming of age novels ever written. I highly recommend it.

The solution to this problem is to give the libraries more space and budget. If my local public library, or the library at the school my hypothetical children went to, didn’t have the budget to buy a copy of a book I felt should be available to them, I would not hesitate to personally buy that library a copy of that book. Or a hundred books. The only justification for a library not carrying a book is if nobody wants to read it, in which case, of course, a ban is unnecessary.

Sex . . . violence . . . witchcraft . . . offensive language . . . jeez, doesn’t anybody ever ban a book just because it sucks?


Want to give examples? I will. I can’t find a single book on that list I would ban. Most, I would recommend to parents for their children. Many, I was forced to read in school, and their only scarring feature was tedium.

Go Ask Alice - I read it in 4th or 5th grade, and it had a significant impact on my later choice not to do drugs or have sex with skanky people.

Harry Potter - Challenged because of a false perception that the book promotes the occult. Is being duped by an urban legend really an appropriate reason to ban a book?


Your defense of Harry Potter is a great argument for banning Go Ask Alice. Alice purports to be the diary of an actual (albeit anonymous) girl, but it’s a fairly well-documented fraud. Is being duped by an urban legend really an appropriate reason to recommend a book? If it’s billed as the fiction that it is, fine. But by that standard, it’s literary crap. I’m glad it discouraged you from sharing needles and having unprotected sex with skanky people, but surely there are non-fraudulent ways to steer a kid away from sex and drugs.

Can we start with Bless Me, Ultima and The Catcher in the Rye?

And another from the same episode (which is brilliant, btw):

Buffy: And maybe the next time I need to stop the world from getting sucked into Hell, I won’t be able to because the anti-Hell sucking book isn’t on the approved reading list!

Well, that’s stupid. Why apply a standard to two books that you don’t apply to the rest? Your brother would have been in the right even if he himself had no interest in reading the books in question and just wanted them to be available should someone else want to look at them.

Found an interesting website that explains why each of the books on the list were banned. Turns out that the Anastacia Krupnik series was due to: ‘profanity and underage drinking’!

Where does the site explain why each book was banned? I couldn’t find that.

What on Earth are you going on about now? Where did Rysler indicate that she thought the book was non-fiction? Where did she recommend it because it was non-fiction? How is that remotely similar to people who are trying to ban Harry Potter because they believed something they read in the frikkin’ Onion?

Wait, so if it were a real story, it’d be a good book, but because it’s fictional, it’s crap? The book is either true or not true, and it is either crap or not crap, but the two categories don’t have any bearing on each other.

We’re reading The Catcher in the Rye right now in English class. Apparantly every book we’re going to read this year was at some point banned, which hopefully should make more an intresting selection of books.

Look here. Clicking on the timestamp for each entry brings up a page that includes a quick summary of the book and why it was challenged. Going by that page, I can fill out the rest of the books on Atticus’ list:

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck - “Offensive language, racism, violence, unsuited to age group”
Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson - “Occult/Satanism, violence”
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle - “Offensive language, undermines religious beliefs”
The Witches by Roald Dahl - “Promotes witchcraft”
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood - “Sexual themes, offensive language”
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison - “Sexual themes, offensive language, racial themes” (Racial themes? What the hell does that even mean?)
Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes - “Sexual themes”
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley - “Drugs, sex”
The House of Spirits by Isabel Allende - “Sexual themes, offensive language”
Where’s Waldo? by Martin Hanford - “Nudity”
How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell - “Inappropriate to age”
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee - “Uppity nigra”
(Okay, the last one is actually “Sexual themes, offensive language, racial themes,” although somehow I suspect that my reason is a lot closer to the truth)

Oh, and Solonor’s opinions on why each of those books should be banned are a hoot, too.