Saturday, September 27, 2008

Banned Books Week - Sept 27 to Oct. 4

Today begins the 27th annual Banned Books Week celebration which is jointly sponsored by the the American Booksellers Association, American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, American Library Association, American Society of Journalists and Authors, Association of American Publishers, National Association of College Stores, and is endorsed by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress. Whew - what a mouthful!

This event's purpose is to celebrate the freedom to read and is observed during the last week of September each year. ALA compiles a list of books which were challenged, but not necessarily banned, in libraries.

Why not call it "Challenged Book Week?" I'll quote ALA here:

Each year, the American Library Association (ALA) is asked why the week is called “Banned Books Week” instead of “Challenged Books Week,” since the majority of the books featured during the week are not banned, but “merely” challenged. There are two reasons. One, ALA does not “own” the name Banned Books Week, but is just one of several cosponsors of BBW; therefore, ALA cannot change the name without all the cosponsors agreeing to a change. Two, none want to do so, primarily because a challenge is an attempt to ban or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group. A successful challenge would result in materials being banned or restricted.

This is why booksellers, libraries and publishers, and yes, writers, make such a BIG deal about this week every year. We want to make sure books are available for each individual to read and review for themselves. Some books which I find to be pure crap others find to be pearls of wisdom, etc.

If you want more information about what books have been the most challenged in the past year and in the last hundred years, visit this ALA Web Page and research for yourself.

I've included covers with this post from some of the challenged books I've read which have made a lasting impression on me. These are by no means the only books which I've read or which left an impression, but I wanted to share them with you all. Which books left an impression on you? Which books were you surprised to see included?

Happy Banned Books Week! Go out and read a challenged book this week. You'll be glad you did!





51 comments:

  1. I guess it surprises me that people are STILL bothering to challenge things like Of Mice and Men. Does that mean they're oldies but baddies? hehe

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  2. Folks reading this should get some balance. No book has been banned in the USA for decades. Banned Books Week is propaganda used to promote sexually inappropriate books to children by convincing people to ignore US Supreme Court precedent that makes keeping inappropriate material from children "legitimate, and even compelling," let alone common sense. See "National Hogwash Week."

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  3. Safelibraries.org

    Really? Well, I guess it's okay to ban the Bible and the works of Martin Luther then? Both books have been challenged in libraries. Are those the propaganda and sexually inappropriate materials you mean?

    I live in a town where TWO books were challenged in a high school recently. High school students will be expected to think for themselves and live on their own soon. Literary works like Of Mice and Men and Fahrenheit 451 should be required reading as they were when I was a student.

    I work in a library where people will check out books they deem inappropriate and not return them so that someone else is prevented from viewing them. This is reprehensible. No one should take on the role of the "thought police."

    My position is that ALL books should be available and the people who read them can decide for themselves. No adult needs to be "protected" from materials. And children should be supervised by their PARENTS, not by me, or you, or anyone else. It is the parental role to decide what a child may read. Banned Books Week is not hogwash any more than censorship should be tolerated.

    Thank you for commenting.

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  4. Francesca Hawley said, "My position is that ALL books should be available and the people who read them can decide for themselves."

    So her position is that people should ignore Board of Education v. Pico, US Supreme Court. She thinks people should ignore US v. ALA, US Supreme Court.

    Okay. Everyone's entitled to his opinion. But given a choice between the US Supreme Court and Francesca Hawley, I choose the US Supreme Court. I'll bet most others would as well.

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  5. Oh - as to Supreme Court justices - let me give you a quote or two on that...

    "Fear of serious injury cannot alone justify suppression of free speech and assembly. Men feared witches and burned women. It is the function of speech to free men from the bondage of irrational fears."
    -- U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis


    "Our whole constitutional heritage rebels at the thought of giving government the power to control men's minds." Thurgood Marshall, 1969

    "Censorship reflects a society's lack of confidence in itself. It is the hallmark of an authoritarian regime..."
    -- Justice Potter Stewart, dissenting Ginzberg v. United States, 383 U.S. 463 (1966)

    "Restriction on free thought and free speech is the most dangerous of all subversions. It is the one un-American act that could most easily defeat us."
    -- William O. Douglas

    Thus if the First Amendment means anything in this field, it must allow protests even against the moral code that the standard of the day sets for the community. In other words, literature should not be suppressed merely because it offends the moral code of the censor.
    William O. Douglas

    “Any test that turns on what is offensive to the community's standards is too loose, too capricious, too destructive of freedom of expression to be squared with the First Amendment. Under that test, juries can censor, suppress, and punish what they don't like, provided the matter relates to "sexual impurity" or has a tendency "to excite lustful thoughts." This is community censorship in one of its worst forms.”
    William Orville Douglas

    "Freedom of speech means that you shall not do something to people either for the views they have, or the views they express, or the words they speak or write."
    Hugo L. Black, U.S. Supreme Court Justice 1963


    Here are the words of a few past Presidents of the United States on the issue:

    "Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost."
    -- Thomas Jefferson

    "I am opposed to any form of tyranny over the mind of man."
    -- Thomas Jefferson

    We are not afraid to entrust the American people with unpleasant facts, foreign ideas, alien philosophies, and competitive values. For a nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people. ~John F. Kennedy


    "Don't join the book burners. Don't think you are going to conceal thoughts by concealing evidence that they ever existed."
    -- Dwight D. Eisenhower, speech at Dartmouth College, June 14, 1953

    "Books and ideas are the most effective weapons against intolerance and ignorance."
    -- Lyndon Baines Johnson, February 11, 1964

    We all know that books burn, yet we have the greater knowledge that books cannot be killed by fire. People die, but books never die.
    Franklin D. Roosevelt

    “The notion of political correctness declares certain topics, certain expressions, even certain gestures, off-limits. What began as a crusade for civility has soured into a cause of conflict and even censorship.”
    George Bush quotes (American 41st US President (1989-93), b.1924)

    Great minds throughout history have decried censorship - from Winston Churchill to Benjamin Franklin.

    "You see these dictators on their pedestals, surrounded by the bayonets of their soldiers and the truncheons of their police. Yet in their hearts there is unspoken - unspeakable! - fear. They are afraid of words and thoughts! Words spoken abroad, thoughts stirring at home, all the more powerful because they are forbidden. These terrify them. A little mouse - a little tiny mouse! -of thought appears in the room, and even the mightiest potentates are thrown into panic." ~ Winston Churchill

    "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." ~ Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759 by Benjamin Franklin


    Myself, I think Mark Twain said it best:

    "Censorship is telling a man he can't have a steak just because a baby can't chew it."

    Those are my quotes for the week. Enjoy. :-)

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  6. Wow! You are quick on the quotes!

    Keeping sexually inappropriate material for children from children is not censorship. It may be common sense.

    I doubt any of the people or organizations you quoted would think giving sexually inappropriate material to children was acceptable. Perhaps it was so obvious, they didn't need to say it.

    I agree with all the quotes you provided. But they simply do not apply to sexually inappropriae material for children.

    Even a formar 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."

    Totally different.

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  7. I looked up Board of Education v. Pico, US Supreme Court.

    According to the Cornell Law Web Site: Petitioner Board of Education, rejecting recommendations of a committee of parents and school staff that it had appointed, ordered that certain books, which the Board characterized as "anti-American, anti-Christian, anti-Sem[i]tic, and just plain filthy," be removed from high school and junior high school libraries.

    The students brought suit. District Court found for the Board of Education but the Appeals court reversed the decision and sided with the students.

    The Supreme Court heard the case and agreed with the Appeals court that the Board had overreached its authority

    This is the case you mean right? Hey, I'll go with the supreme court on that one. The School Board should NOT have the right to remove materials over the objections of parents because the Board finds the materials objectionable.

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  8. Which ALA case did you mean?
    Are you referring to:
    United States, et al. v. American Library Association, Inc. et al., 539 U.S. 194, 123 S.Ct. 2297, 156 L.Ed.2d 221 (2003) which upheld CIPA???

    The public library at which I work does not receive federam money and our computers are unfiltered. It is the PARENT'S responsibility to decided whether they want to grant permission for their child to have access to the Internet. Unlike a SCHOOL library, where the job of the librarian is to act in loco parentis, as a public librarian that is NOT my job nor do I want it.

    If you are the parent, parent your child. Knowing the internet is unfiltered, you can choose NOT to allow your child access to the internet. If you say no, they don't surf. Them's the rules.

    There is a vast different between the role of school and public libraries and to discuss them as if they are the same is to compare apples and oranges. Both are fruit, but that's where the similarity ends.

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  9. Yes. That's the case. But you have to read the case more closely. Books that were pervasively vulgar and considered educationally unsuitable could be removed at any time. The parties stipulated to that. The Court accepted the stipulation. Why? Because it was so obvious.

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  10. Yeah - in a school library and with parental approval. Again, we are discussing apples and oranges. And no, I am not, nor would I EVER suggest that sexually explicit materials should be handed to children. Materials are available in the library for all ages. Materials in the children's library area may cover controversial topics but are written for children, not adults. Again, the responsibility for supervision lies with the PARENT of the child,not with the library or librarian.

    Also, libraries do NOT purchase books willy nilly - budgets are too tight. Librarians read book reviews and do research on a book before choosing to add it to a collection. We also make purchases when library readers REQUEST books.

    Collections are not built with the intent to corrupt the youth of this country, the purpose is to educate. If you don't want your child to check out a particular item from a library, then accompany them to the library and review the materials they want to read. A child's parents are the appropriate authority. Not the library or the librarian.

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  11. US v. ALA: "The interest in protecting young library users from material inappropriate for minors is legitimate, and even compelling, as all Members of the Court appear to agree."

    That applies whether a library accepts federal funding or not.

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  12. United States, et al. v. American Library Association, Inc. et al., 539 U.S. 194, 123 S.Ct. 2297, 156 L.Ed.2d 221 (2003)
    The Supreme Court upheld the Children's Internet Protection Act, which requires libraries receiving federal funds for Internet access to install filters so that both adult and child patrons cannot access materials considered obscene, child pornography, or "harmful to minors."
    ****

    That is what you're looking at right? This is specifically referring to Internet use - not books in the library. As we all know, it is only to easy to accidentally find yourself on a porn site from typing in an innocuous search.

    The case was not in reference to anything but the filters on internet computers.

    Or was there another case which you were referring to which specifically said it was okay to remove other materials that were deemed inappropriate. BTW - what do YOU consider inappropriate? Are we talking child porn or Heathers Two Mommies or what?

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  13. "And no, I am not, nor would I EVER suggest that sexually explicit materials should be handed to children."

    So we agree after all.

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  14. I agree that I am not going to hand a 5 year old a copy of Madonna's book Sex, or Jenna Jameson's How to make love like a porn star. However, should our library carry it? If the readers in the library want to read it, then by all means. But then the book belongs in the ADULT section of the library. Not the children's library.

    Just as you wouldn't want your child to see graphic violent pictures of the wounded in VietNam. Or is violence okay - it's just sex that we want to protect kids from?

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  15. I love this! I've turned "Francesca Hawley" around! She said, "I agree that I am not going to hand a 5 year old a copy of Madonna's book Sex, or Jenna Jameson's How to make love like a porn star."

    Francesca, do you realize what you have just said? You have just admitted to censorship and book banning, in the false words of the ALA! Francesca censors books! Francesca is a censor!! Francesca would violate the "age" discrimination section of the "Library Bill of Rights"!

    Of course you are not, Francesca. Of course not. Of course I am just illustrating a point. The point is that what the ALA calls "censorship" or "banning" has absolutely nothing to do with actual censorship or actual banning.

    You just proved my original point. Now you will have a better understanding of this:

    "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."

    Francesca, why is there a "thing we know about Banned Books Week that we don't talk about much"? Why can't the ALA just be honest? Like you have. Censorship is a serious issue. Why does the ALA have to include books inappropriate for children to have a fake "Banned Books Week"?

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  16. I love this! I've turned "Francesca Hawley" around! She said, "I agree that I am not going to hand a 5 year old a copy of Madonna's book Sex, or Jenna Jameson's How to make love like a porn star."

    If I handed a young child those materials I would be put away for pedaphila. Hello. Now if a teen asked me to help them find a one of those books, yeah, I'd probably do it. There's a difference between a five year old and a fifteen year old.

    My position has not changed. I would have those books in a public library. It would be a PARENT'S decision to make sure THEIR child didn't check them out if they didn't want them to. If a child came up to the desk with a book (even those books) yep, they could check them out. A child with a card has no restrictions except with regard to internet use. Check outs have been an issue with R rated movies too. A five year old could check out Hellraiser if they wanted to (and the library happened to have it in the collection - which we don't). It is responsibility of that child's PARENTS to determine appropriateness - NOT mine.

    Francesca, do you realize what you have just said? You have just admitted to censorship and book banning, in the false words of the ALA! Francesca censors books! Francesca is a censor!! Francesca would violate the "age" discrimination section of the "Library Bill of Rights"!

    No, I don't censor books. Those books are available in public libraries. And if challenged I would fight vigorously for them to REMAIN in the library.

    Of course you are not, Francesca. Of course not. Of course I am just illustrating a point. The point is that what the ALA calls "censorship" or "banning" has absolutely nothing to do with actual censorship or actual banning.

    Well, yes it does. Because if someone challenges a book and it IS removed, censorship and banning has taken place, which is why libraries, librarians AND the American Library Association vigorously fight these kinds of challenges.
    .....

    Francesca, why is there a "thing we know about Banned Books Week that we don't talk about much"? Why can't the ALA just be honest? Like you have. Censorship is a serious issue. Why does the ALA have to include books inappropriate for children to have a fake "Banned Books Week"?

    The ALA IS honest. You, like many who try to censor others, twist the words. How many times do I need to say, it is the role of the PARENTS to determine what is right an appropriate for their children to check out and read? Banned Books Week is NOT fake. And BTW, it isn't merely ALA who supports this special week. Please note the entire list of sponsors: the American Booksellers Association, American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, American Library Association, American Society of Journalists and Authors, Association of American Publishers, National Association of College Stores, and is endorsed by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress.

    Censorship is wrong. I don't advocate it. We have books in our collection that infuriate me, but they have been requested by library readers.

    One of my favorite quotes was uttered in the movie "The American President" by Michael Douglas' character President Andrew Shepherd. He said, in part:

    America isn't easy. America is advanced citizenship. You gotta want it bad, 'cause it's gonna put up a fight. It's gonna say "You want free speech? Let's see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who's standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours. You want to claim this land as the land of the free? Then the symbol of your country can't just be a flag; the symbol also has to be one of its citizens exercising his right to burn that flag in protest. Show me that, defend that, celebrate that in your classrooms. Then, you can stand up and sing about the "land of the free".

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  17. "There's a difference between a five year old and a fifteen year old." Again, you are correct.

    "V. A person’s right to use a library should not be denied or abridged because of origin, age, background, or views." Again, the ALA is at odds with your common sense statement.

    But let's look at this a little further. What did the US Supreme Court say? It said, "The interest in protecting young library users from material inappropriate for minors is legitimate, and even compelling, as all Members of the Court appear to agree."

    That case agrees with common sense, and agrees with "a difference between a five year old and a fifteen year old," but it is not what the ALA holds and enforces.

    That's the problem.

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  18. If you are making arguments - please cite your documentation more accurately so I can review it for myself. As to the ALA information - you are citing the Library Bill of Rights which is as follows...

    Library Bill of Rights
    The American Library Association affirms that all libraries are forums for information and ideas, and that the following basic policies should guide their services.


    I. Books and other library resources should be provided for the interest, information, and enlightenment of all people of the community the library serves. Materials should not be excluded because of the origin, background, or views of those contributing to their creation.

    II. Libraries should provide materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues. Materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.

    III. Libraries should challenge censorship in the fulfillment of their responsibility to provide information and enlightenment.

    IV. Libraries should cooperate with all persons and groups concerned with resisting abridgment of free expression and free access to ideas.

    V. A person’s right to use a library should not be denied or abridged because of origin, age, background, or views.

    VI. Libraries which make exhibit spaces and meeting rooms available to the public they serve should make such facilities available on an equitable basis, regardless of the beliefs or affiliations of individuals or groups requesting their use.


    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Adopted June 18, 1948, by the ALA Council; amended February 2, 1961; amended June 28, 1967; amended January 23, 1980; inclusion of “age” reaffirmed January 24, 1996.


    None of these statements are in opposition to common sense. There is a difference between a reader (of whatever age) asking me for a particular book and me pulling a book off the shelf and putting it into their hand when they have not solicited it. Also, children are not proscribed from wandering around anywhere in the library. If they are able to find Madonna's Sex and sit down to read it, I will not run over there and drag it out of their hands and scold them for reading it. That is for their parents to do if they feel the book is inappropriate.

    You quote the Supreme Court here
    But let's look at this a little further. What did the US Supreme Court say? It said, "The interest in protecting young library users from material inappropriate for minors is legitimate, and even compelling, as all Members of the Court appear to agree."

    You quote only a portion of the case and apply it to ALL library materials. This case is only relevant to Internet access per the CIPA regulations and has no reflection on other library materials. The full case law is this:

    The statute’s restrictions satisfy these constitutional demands. Its objectives–of restricting access to obscenity, child pornography, and material that is comparably harmful to minors–are “legitimate,” and indeed often “compelling.” No clearly superior or better fitting alternative to Internet software filters has been presented. Moreover, the statute contains an important exception that limits the speech-related harm: It allows libraries to permit any adult patron access to an “overblocked” Web site or to disable the software filter entirely upon request. Given the comparatively small burden imposed upon library patrons seeking legitimate Internet materials, it cannot be said that any speech-related harm that the statute may cause is disproportionate when considered in relation to the statute’s legitimate objectives."

    Please note this is a discussion of free speech with regard to internet filtering. It is not a legal argument which encourages the blanket removal of any and all "inappropriate materials" from libraries.

    Additionally, you have yet to define what you deem to be inappropriate. Please explain your definition of appropriate and inappropriate materials for children. There is a difference between How to make love like a porn star and Heather has two mommies.

    If a child asked me to help him/her find a copy of Heather Has Two Mommies by Leslea Newman (which is written for ages 2-6) or Daddy's Roommate by Michael Willhoite (which is written for children aged 2-5), I would do so UNLESS the parent said no. After all, as I have said MANY MANY times, it is the parent's responsibilty to parent and not mine.

    Those books are age appropriate to the hypothetical five year old we've been discussing.

    Also, the role of the librarian in different settings is different. In a public library, I don't parent children - although there are times I feel like I have to parent adults who try to get around the system in many annoying ways - refusing to pay fines or whatever. However, it is NOT my role to tell a child what they may read while in the library or check out from the library. That remains the job of the parent.

    The odd thing about your posts is that you blame ALA for lack of intervention, yet you have said NOTHING about the role of parents. I have talked about the role of parents, but you've been strangely silent. Don't you think parents should pay attention to their childrens' reading habits?

    If a parent is concerned about their child and what their child might read, they'd best go sit beside their child and read to them and/or help them pick out books to check out instead of trying to influence what someone else's child will be allowed to read. Parent your own child first and let your neighbor parent his/her child themselves. Unless they ask for your help, they probably don't require it.

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  19. What sexually inappropriate books are you constantly harping about? Harry Potter? Of Mice and Men? Mark Twain? These are all books that people like you have sought to ban on the grounds they are 'bad' for children. Frankly, I don't care what you prevent you kids from reading, but keep your hands and your mind control off of mine.

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  20. What about the children? I'm so tired of this excuse being used to try and advance fear and censorship. As a parent of grown children, I never censored anything they read or listened to. If they didn't understand something, they were never "afraid" to ask and my husband and I always used an age approriate explanation. Banned Books Week is not propaganda, it is a reminder that fear is controlling and knowledge is liberating. I think I'll visit the library today.

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  21. "None of these statements are in opposition to common sense. Actually, when you group them together as a whole, you appear to be correct. But when you learn the practical effect of the word "age" that was added then reaffirmed, then you are wrong. So wrong that even the US Supreme Court had to tell people like you that it was legitimate and even compelling to protect children from inappropriate material. So wrong that libraries like the one in Overland Park, Kansas, had its own Library Bill of Rights based on the ALA's one and the library board of trustees voted to remove the word "age" from their version.

    "You quote only a portion of the case and apply it to ALL library materials. This case is only relevant to Internet access per the CIPA regulations and has no reflection on other library materials." Nice try. So you are saying, am I correct, that it is legitimate and even compelling to keep inappropriate *web sites* from children even though the Court said materials? Nice try.

    "It is not a legal argument which encourages the blanket removal of any and all 'inappropriate materials' from libraries." I agree. But I am not talking about or seeking the removal of material from libraries. That is an incorrect assumption you have made.

    "Additionally, you have yet to define what you deem to be inappropriate. Please explain your definition of appropriate and inappropriate materials for children. There is a difference between How to make love like a porn star and Heather has two mommies." What I deem to be inappropriate is irrelevant. I am using the word, phrase, concept, what have you, in the context of the US Supreme Court cases, etc., using that terminology. So I am talking about the very thing the cases are talking about. No more, no less. I understand how it benefits people like you to go into personal issues like what's personally in my mind, but it's irrelevant, and arguments addressed to my personal interests are irrelevant.

    "The odd thing about your posts is that you blame ALA for lack of intervention, yet you have said NOTHING about the role of parents. I have talked about the role of parents, but you've been strangely silent. Don't you think parents should pay attention to their childrens' reading habits?" You have to remember this is a blog. I don't write everything in the world here. Be that as it may, parents do have responsibility, obviously. Parents should pay attention to a child's reading. However, the ALA claims that, while at the same time misleading parents as to the contents of reading materials. In other words, parental informed consent is impossible where the parents are not informed. For example, the ALA awarded "Looking For Alaska" as the best book of the year in 2006 for children aged 12 and up. The ALA made no mention that the book was pervasively vulgar and contained at least one oral sex scene. I even got the author of the award winning book to admit he would not even give his own book to his own 12 year old if he had one. Yet the book was promoted so heavily on the wings of that award that I even saw it for sale next to "Bob the Builder" at child eye height in the checkout aisle of a grocery store, shiny golden seal of ALA approval and all. Clearly, the ALA is misleading people. Clearly, most parents would not want their 12 year old to read graphic descriptions of oral sex. Or is that "age" discrimination or censorship.

    Pabrown said, "Frankly, I don't care what you prevent you kids from reading, but keep your hands and your mind control off of mine."

    Paris Brandon said, "What about the children? I'm so tired of this excuse being used to try and advance fear and censorship. As a parent of grown children, I never censored anything they read or listened to."

    Regarding Pabrown and Paris Brandon, "The ... elites have convinced themselves that they are taking a stand against cultural tyranny. .... [T]he reality is that it is those who cry 'Censorship!' the loudest who are the ones trying to stifle speech and force their moral world-view on others." By Dan Gerstein, an independent consultant, former communications director for Joe Lieberman and a senior strategist for his presidential campaign. Pabrown and Paris Brandon, you are on solid ALA grounds. The de facto leader of the ALA herself said she was sick and tired of people trying to turn libraries into safe places for children. This in the context of a library that made, and because of her still makes, Playboy magazine available to children. Yes, to children. That library is the basis for SafeLibraries.org.

    The ALA is an old and venerable institution doing good work. I am a member, or was depending on when my dues are due, but in this particular niche part of the ALA, the ALA is seriously misguided, to say the least.

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  22. These days if a 12 year old asks you about oral sex and you don't give them a credible explanation you are playing with fire. If you think 12 year olds don't know or think about sex you are playing with fire. Keeping sexual knowledge from children this age is in my opinion one of the reasons teen pregnancies are once again on the rise. Possibly because of restricting knowledge due to the enforced "abstinence only" sex education forced onto an education system by an administration who holds the purse-strings. People who shelve books in a store are fulfilling a job requirement. They aren't responsible for what my child reads. I am.

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  23. You know, Fran's post was pretty damn innocuous, all things considered, to have attracted an internet troll. It's our first troll here at the Diner, how exciting!

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  24. Writer and Cat said...

    "You know, Fran's post was pretty damn innocuous, all things considered, to have attracted an internet troll. It's our first troll here at the Diner, how exciting!"

    That was rude. You have a blog that invites others to comment. They comment and you call them trolls. That is just rude.

    My comments here have been legitimate, and people here are obviously interested in having a conversation on the topic. If the others don't want to talk any more, I'll quit, but so far you, "Writer and Cat," are just plain rude.

    "Fran's post was pretty damn innocuous...." You prove my point about a lack of balance -- you accept propaganda as if it were "innocuous." Then you use ad hominem argument designed to ensure the propaganda remains effective. Those whom you choose to attack are then called "trolls" so no one will discuss anything further with them. And you think of yourself as a free speech advoacte?

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  25. Why, yes, I am a rude person. However, one can verify that we believe in "free speech" here at the Diner because we have not interfered with your ability to comment. Blogs like this are not public forums, exactly. They are more like private homes into which guests are invited.

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  26. Which her right, under Free Speech.

    Sorry, SafeLibraries, I don't think you even bothered to read the Banned Books list. If you read the post, it was stated none of the books were acutally banned, but challenged. Many of them are children's favorites, like Harry Potter or Judy Blume. Or classics like Mark Twain or Of Mice and Men. None of the books on the list are pornographic, nor do I think you will find anyone here who would agree that this is 'propaganda to promote' giving explicit material to children. If you could point to a specific book, maybe, and make yourself more clear? Otherwise, you're completely missing the point.

    We have the right to have books in our libraries, and decide for OURSELVES (and our OWN CHILDREN) what's appropriate. Not you, not my neighbor, and NOT SARAH PALIN.

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  27. "Sorry, SafeLibraries, I don't think you even bothered to read the Banned Books list. If you read the post, it was stated none of the books were acutally banned, but challenged."

    I'll admit the ALA often uses the wording "challenged." To that extent, the ALA is being totally accurate.

    But it is called "Banned Books Week," not "Challenged Books Week." And the ALA has a ready excuse for this that in the end says if the challenge was successful, then the book was banned. So successfully challenged books are considered "banned" by the ALA although that "banning" may have been legal under the law:

    "Each year, the American Library Association (ALA) is asked why the week is called “Banned Books Week” instead of “Challenged Books Week,” since the majority of the books featured during the week are not banned, but “merely” challenged. There are two reasons. One, ALA does not “own” the name Banned Books Week, but is just one of several cosponsors of BBW; therefore, ALA cannot change the name without all the cosponsors agreeing to a change. Two, none want to do so, primarily because a challenge is an attempt to ban or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group. A successful challenge would result in materials being banned or restricted."

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  28. So list for me the books on the current challenged list you think are too explicit for children? There are many that weren't WRITTEN for children, so why would they read them in the first place?

    I can't think of too many small children that want to read "Catcher in the Rye" or "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings". As far as I know, those are age-inappropriate and wouldn't be IN an elementary or middle school library. And as far as public libraries go, they'd be in the adult section. As Francesca said, it's not the libraries job to police what children read - it's their parents job. We need more parenting and less blaming others who shouldn't be responsible for other people's children in this country.

    So I'm still baffled as to what's got your panties in a bunch.

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  29. Remember, anything about me personally is irrelevant. What "got my panties in a bunch" is irrelevant as well.

    What's relevant is how the ALA continues to make "age" discrimination the rule when the US Supreme Court has so clearly spoken out against this.

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  30. Thank you for directing us to the ALA Web site. As they wrote:

    Censorship can be subtle, almost imperceptible, as well as blatant and overt, but, nonetheless, harmful. As John Stuart Mill wrote in On Liberty:

    “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

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  31. Remember, anything about me personally is irrelevant. What "got my panties in a bunch" is irrelevant as well.

    What's relevant is how the ALA continues to make "age" discrimination the rule when the US Supreme Court has so clearly spoken out against this.

    ****

    This is a copout - plain and simple. If you are trumpeting this on high like you are part of the heavenly choir, knowing why you have an ax to grind is highly relevant.

    Perhaps you have confused CPPA, COPA, and CIPA. I'll explain for you:

    Ashcroft v. Free Speech Coalition (Child Pornography Prevention Act)
    The Child Pornography Prevention Act (CPPA) expanded the definition of child pornography. CPPA criminalized the creation of what is called “virtual child pornography,” or “morphed” child pornography. Under CPPA images that appear to depict children but do not, including images of youthful-looking adults or images that are computer-generated would be illegal. ....
    The Child Pornography Prevention Act affected only those who create films and images. It did not affect libraries. The Freedom to Read Foundation, however, joined an amicus curae (friend of the court) brief in support of certain First Amendment arguments.

    Ashcroft v. ACLU (Child Online Protection Act)
    Congress passed The Child Online Protection Act (COPA) to replace the Communications Decency Act. (The Communications Decency Act was held unconstitutional in a 9–0 decision by the Supreme Court in 1997.) COPA prohibits the transmission of any material over the Internet deemed “harmful to minors,” if the communication was made for a commercial purpose....Because COPA addresses only material sent over the Internet for commercial purposes, it does not directly affect libraries. FTRF joined an amicus curae brief in support of the parties’ First Amendment argument.

    ALA v. United States (Children’s Internet Protection Act)
    The Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) requires libraries and schools to install filters on their Internet computers to retain federal funding and discounts for computers and computer access. Because this law directly affected libraries and their ability to make legal information freely available to their patrons, the American Library Association and the Freedom to Read Foundation filed a lawsuit to overturn CIPA, but the Supreme Court on June 23, 2003, in a 6–3 decision, upheld the constitutionality of the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA). Although it does not make the loss any easier to bear, the decision in United States v. American Library Association was a plurality decision. [According to “The Modern Problem of Supreme Court Plurality Decision: Interpretation in Historical Perspective” by Adam S. Hochschild, “problems arise when there is less than a clear majority speaking for the Court—when the leading opinion of the Court is a plurality opinion. A Supreme Court plurality decision holds ambiguous precedential value. . . . [A] plurality opinion, which represents the rationale of less than half of the Justices, is . . . problematic. A majority opinion may command more authority than a plurality decision, but precisely what authority does a plurality decision command? In other words, how should courts apply a plurality decision to subsequent controversies involving similar issues?]

    Justices Kennedy and Breyer, who joined in Reinquist’s conclusion, but not the reasoning behind it, may have given ALA “loopholes” to move forward.

    The decision indicates that CIPA is constitutional for children, but not for adults. Kennedy was very specific in his opinion, saying he would not have voted to uphold CIPA if he had not been assured that CIPA does not apply for adults.

    During the U.S. Supreme Court argument, Solicitor General Theodore Olsen opened his remarks by saying that anytime an adult patron wants unfiltered access to a computer, he or she may ask a librarian to disable the filter, and the librarian will do so. His statement was contrary to what CIPA states, which is that a librarian “may” disable a filter “for bona fide research or other lawful purpose.”

    Kennedy also implied it is now incumbent on the filtering companies to develop a disabler that is both easily and quickly applied; he further implied that if the filtering companies do not do this, ALA may have a cause of action against the filtering companies. Kennedy also said that while CIPA may be constitutional on its face, it may not be constitutional in an “as applied” library setting.
    *****
    I found this information on:
    http://www.ala.org/ala/aboutala/offices/oif/ifissues/issuesrelatedlinks/cppacopacipa.cfm

    You are twisting the decision and trying to make it absolute when clearly NONE of these cases are absolute. The world is NOT black and white - welcome to grayscale.

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  32. CPPA: The case was as you say about the virtual depiction of child pornography. I have to scratch my head why the American Library Association got involved in this, other than its razor-thin excuse. I am aware that the pornography industry is a big donor to the ALA, so maybe that has something to do with it.

    COPA: COPA was found unconstitutional precisely because, as the ACLU expert said, filters are over 95% effective and no longer block out health-related material.

    CIPA: You went to great lengths about the 6-3 plurality decision, but I was talking about this:

    "The interest in protecting young library users from material inappropriate for minors is legitimate, and even compelling, as all Members of the Court appear to agree."

    Key words: "as all Members of the COurt appear to agree." All Members. 100%. Unanimous. All of them said it is "legitimate, and even compelling" to "protect[] young library users from material inappropriate for minors." The ALA, on the other hand, says it is censorship, it is a violation of the child's First Amendment rights. BBW is used to enforce the ALA's view.

    As between the ALA and the US Supreme Court, their messages are 180 degrees apart on this issue, and I believe the US Supreme Court has the correct position. I'll bet 99% of the rest of the world does as well. I'll bet you agree as well, but haven't yet realized how the ALA continues to act in violation of US v. ALA on this particular point.

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  33. No, it's directly relevent. It's not personal, but you made a statement and now refuse to back it up. You're quoting this and that, but specifically have not yet identified ANY books on the current list that meet the criteria for 'sexually inappropriate' books that are actually FOR children.

    That was your argument, show me. This week is about challenged books, period. If you noticed, not all of them are children's books, though a good deal are. So your argument that the ALA is using this week as propaganda to promote sexually inappropriate books to children is a man made of straw, unless you can show me otherwise.

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  34. "No, it's directly relevent. It's not personal, but you made a statement and now refuse to back it up. You're quoting this and that, but specifically have not yet identified ANY books on the current list that meet the criteria for 'sexually inappropriate' books that are actually FOR children.

    "That was your argument, show me. This week is about challenged books, period. If you noticed, not all of them are children's books, though a good deal are. So your argument that the ALA is using this week as propaganda to promote sexually inappropriate books to children is a man made of straw, unless you can show me otherwise.
    "

    Alright, alright. I'll give you an example from the real world. My views are irrelevant. It will be in the words of a library director who moved a book intended for children from a children's section to an adult section.

    I-Team: Book Dispute Flares in St. Louis County

    If the link doesn't work, I might be able to find another. Just tell me.

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  35. LOL. I'm laughing. Yes, I am. First of all, the book was moved, not removed. Second of all, it wasn't the book, IMO, it was the library that got it wrong. MOST books are divided into middle grade (ages 8-12) and Young Adult (ages 13-18). That this library chose to make their 'teen' section begin at age 11 was their mistake.

    Teens are 'teens' when they have a 'teen' in their age - thirteen. So that was a facepalm moment for me. The child should not have been looking for books in that section, but it is the library that messed up. He should still be in the juvenile/children's section.

    Second, I agree with the library director - PARENTS HAVE TO KNOW WHAT THEIR CHILDREN ARE READING. It's not up to libraries to police the reading habits of children, but parents. That parent got all upset, but all she had to do was tell her child she couldn't read it. End of problem. The library was NOT promoting the material to children, only mislabeling their sections to include children too young for the material in it.

    The book still was not removed from the library.

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  36. As to the moving, I said that. So I don't understand your surprise.

    As to "Young Adult (ages 13-18)," you have once again proven you use common sense. You see, the ALA calls 12 year olds "Young Adults," and that disagrees with your own definition, let alone they're not even being teenagers yet. Yet that oral sex book I mentioned a ways back was for "Young Adults" aged 12 and up, according to the ALA.

    So thanks again for further illustrating that the ALA is out of touch on this "age" discrimination issue.

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  37. There is no "age discrimination" issue except by you. The solution is simple. Parent your child. You decide for your child until you deem otherwise - or until they rebel against parental authority- probably about age 11 or 12.

    You want to lay the blame on ALA when the responsibility lies with the parents. ALA says the responsibility lies with the parents, that library director said it was the parents' responsibility and I agree.

    The irony here is that if I went over to your child and told them they could NOT read something approved of by you, you would probably try to get me fired for overreaching my authority. Instead you want to come into my library and tell the children there what they can and can not read regardless of what their parents decide.

    Because of your closed mind, the straw man can never win.

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  38. You said, "There is no 'age discrimination' issue except by you." Apparently, you have read or retained nothing of what I wrote. Nothing about the US Supreme Court. Nothing about Overland Park, KS. Nothing about what the former ALA Councilor said.

    Why don't we just agree to disagree. Although I think you agree with me more than you are willing to admit, as I pointing out again and again.

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  39. Yes, we can agree to disagree.

    I am perfectly cognizant of what the Supreme Court has to say, but I am not required to agree with the Court.

    The Supreme Court is not an infallible entity and decisions are often revisited and reversed depending on the construction of the court (conservatives - as predominate now- or progressive constitutionalists). I hope to see a return to the progressive constitutionalists in the coming years. A Court which recognizes the importance of not trying to control the thoughts of others through censorship and fear would be a good thing.

    I do not agree with you that children should be "protected" from information. Only parents have that authority over their children. I am happy to step back and let parents make those decisions.

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  40. BTW - you STILL haven't given me the NAME of that ALA councilor you quoted. I'll be happy to contact him/her directly to learn more about what they had to say if you can provide me a name.

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  41. Jessamyn West. The link is here: "Banned Books Week is Next Week."

    You said, "A Court which recognizes the importance of not trying to control the thoughts of others through censorship and fear would be a good thing." I'll forgive you for not knowing that that same Court went left on most of its cases that term, US v. ALA being one of its exceptions. And if you think the Court was "trying to control the thoughts of others through censorship and fear," then I have legitimate (and even compelling) concerns about what you mean by "a return to the progressive constitutionalists."

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  42. I don't think you really understand what censorship means. Challenged books were those that people wanted completely removed from the library, not moved to the appropriate shelves. Censorhip is the prohibition from anyone reading the book. If the book is still in the library, people can read it. Being age inappropriate doesn't make it censored.

    You said: "Why does the ALA have to include books inappropriate for children to have a fake "Banned Books Week"?

    Because NOT ALL THE BOOKS ON THE LIST ARE FOR CHILDREN. This is not a 'children's banned books week'. There are many books for older teens and adults on the list!

    And I don't get the age discrimination. There's a difference between not allowing a child to read a book written for adults and forbidding someone to be in the library because of their age. THAT would be age discrimination. Everyone is free to look at the books. Everyone is free to check OUT the books. It's up to parents to decide what's appropriate for their children to read. Librarians aren't out there handing 'naughty' books to minors.

    I just really don't understand your argument. It makes zero sense.

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  43. Thank you for providing Jessamyn's link. Please note she also says the following:

    "My plan is to spend this year’s Banned Books Week reflecting on the nature of intolerance, predjudice and flat-out anxiety, motivators that causes people to want to control the ideas and issues that other people can have access to. Libraries and schools are two places that this happens in the public sphere, but we all know there are many more. So buy a bracelet if you want to, but don’t kid yourself that you can shop your way out of this problem. You can’t buy a ticket to freedom, not one that works anyhow."


    Her complaints are in the user-unfriendliness and the overly legal language ALA uses to explain Banned Books Week. I don't get anything from her post suggesting the week is in any way fake or should not be celebrated.

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  44. I'm working on my Banned Books week post today.

    Please note that the Supreme Court case that SL is always referring to, US v. ALA, resulted in mandated filtering for libraries that receive federal funding which is the extent of what the case was attempting to determine. There is no legal basis for any other mandated filtering in libraries in the US besides local legislation (if there is any) and this decision. What the Supreme Court may have said about what public libraries should be considering otherwise does not have the force of law nor should it.

    There have been ample cases to legislate mandatory filters nationwide in the interests of some sort of "decency" that have not been successful because they are generally trumped by First Amendment rights. Any other interpretations of US v. ALA are merely interpretations and are not legally enforceable and this goes for the "legitimate and compelling" pullquote. This statement is not legal precedent and should not be forwarded as legal precedent.

    The American Library Association has decided that intellectual freedom and the right to read for all patrons is itself a compelling value for public libraries.

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  45. Christine said, "Being age inappropriate doesn't make it censored." That is exactly what I have been saying. Again, we agree. It is exactly NOT what the ALA is saying. That's my point.

    Francesca said, "I don't get anything from her post suggesting the week is in any way fake or should not be celebrated." Reread her quote. Jessamyn clearly favors BBW, but I have known her to be 100% honest, including admitting the problem with BBW. It is that very problem that makes BBW propaganda.

    Librarian said, "What the Supreme Court may have said about what public libraries should be considering otherwise does not have the force of law nor should it. .... Any other interpretations of US v. ALA are merely interpretations and are not legally enforceable and this goes for the "legitimate and compelling" pullquote. This statement is not legal precedent and should not be forwarded as legal precedent." Now that's funny, really!

    The US Supreme Court's statements on libraries "does not have the force of law nor should it." But the ALA's "Library Bill of Rights" does!! Ha. HAHA! HAHAHAHAHHA! The "the 'legitimate and compelling' pullquote" is irrelevant but the ALA saying it is age discrimination for a librarian to keep a child from any material whatsoever, that's relevant! hahahahahahaha!

    Everyone: This being a blog chat, the conversation may be confusing at times. Clearly it would be much better to actually speak with one another. I'm trying my best to respond under these conditions, and so are you. Thank you all.

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  46. So, what, in plain English, do you think the ALA IS saying?

    The point of this week, as I understand it, is to celebrate all the great books that have for some reason or another been challenged and/or threatened with being banned from the public library. To stand up against censorship and point out that it cannot be tolerated, or else we will lose not only great literature, but freedom.

    That's what I'm celebrating.

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  47. Well, what I think the ALA is saying is irrelevant. What the ALA is actually saying is important.

    For example, parents in Howell, MI, wanted to remove a book from public school claiming it contained, among other things, bestiality. The ALA got involved, letting the community know that the parents were racist since the author was black. As a result, the bestiality book is still available to children.

    In Oak Lawn, IL, children still have access to Playboy magazine in the public library because the ALA got involved to oppose the community and say they were sick and tired of people trying to turn libraries into safe places for children.

    I could go on and on with examples of this kind of ALA activity, but this is a blog and I just don't feel like taking the year it would take to do this.

    Do you think parents trying to remove a book containing bestiality from public school are racist because the author is black?

    If the author were white, would the ALA allow the community to remove the bestiality book from the public school?

    What does the color of the author have to do with the content a community may deem sexually inappropriate?

    Is the ALA not racist for raising this racism excuse as a means to ensure the children maintain access to the bestiality book?

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  48. Which book do you claim features bestiality? Titles please. You continually make claims without naming names (of people or book titles). Details please.


    You say:
    Well, what I think the ALA is saying is irrelevant. What the ALA is actually saying is mportant.

    I've got to tell you this makes NO sense to me. Based on this statement I don't think you know what ALA is saying since you won't explain how you interpret whatever quotes you're referring to.


    As to the Playboy thing - you know a five year old is NOT gonna wander over to the adult magazine section and pull this off the shelf and I can guarantee you it is NOT shelved in the children's area of any library with which I am familiar. So again, responsibility lies with the parent and NOT the library. And if you don't want your thirteen year old to look at him, I suggest you accompany him to the library.

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  49. Okay, parents have the right to forbid their children to read a book. This was a high school - I had thought you were talking about younger children.

    That said, we had all kinds of books in my high school library - it's where I got my love of Stephen King. That one parent or group of parents objects does NOT give them the right to tell MY child what they cannot read.

    Effectively that's what's happening when someone tells the library to remove books. You don't like it, don't read it. You don't want your child to read it, tell them NO. But when you 'ban' a book,then you're telling ME what I can and cannot read, and you don't get to do that.

    The ALA, while their motives may be skewed in this instance, are in the right. One man's smut is another's literature. Having not read this particular Toni Morrison book, I can't comment on the context. What about Lord of the Flies? We read that in 10th grade. Or Catcher in the Rye? Challenged before, now required reading in many High Schools.

    And for Playboy - that's where parental guidance comes in. The public library is for the PUBLIC. All of it, not just certain subsets. If you have a library for everyone, you need to be for everyone. I'm sure it's not stocked beside the children's book section or within view of the children. Just because it's in the building doesn't mean they're going to look at it.

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