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September  30

Banned Books Week

Bannedbooksweek2004_2Want to be subversive? Read a Harry Potter book to your kid. According to the American Library Association, the Harry Potter series is second on the list of the "Ten Most Challenged Books of 2003." We found this out yesterday at the Montclair Public Library which, in addition to celebrating Ban Books Week through Oct. 2, is celebrating its 100th birthday this year.

The Ten Most Challenged Books of 2003:

1. Alice series, for sexual content, using offensive language, and being unsuited to age group.
2. Harry Potter series, for its focus on wizardry and magic.
3. "Of Mice and Men" by John Steinbeck, for using offensive language.
4. "Arming America: The Origins of a National Gun Culture" by Michael A. Bellesiles, for inaccuracy.
5. "Fallen Angels" by Walter Dean Myers, for racism, sexual content, offensive language, drugs and violence.
6. "Go Ask Alice" by Anonymous, for drugs.
7. "It's Perfectly Normal" by Robie Harris, for homosexuality, nudity, sexual content and sex education.
8. "We All Fall Down" by Robert Cormier, for offensive language and sexual content.
9. "King and King" by Linda de Haan, for homosexuality.
10. Bridge to Terabithia" by Katherine Paterson, for offensive language and occult/satanism.

September 30, 2004 in Controversy | Permalink


How dare those "Parents" try to keep books gloryfying Satanism and Drug use out of the middle school library!

Just who do they think they are!

Next, those pushy parents will want to ban books extolling romantic notions of teen suicide from the high school library.

What kind of people think THEY know better how to raise their children than the ALA!

I am outraged!

Posted by: Right of Center | Sep 30, 2004 10:23:57 AM

We are raising a nation of sheltered wimps.

Posted by: Miss Martta | Sep 30, 2004 11:05:44 AM

Too bad the ALA won't take a position on *jailed* librarians in Cuba.

Here is what the Village Voice (the right-wing Republican rag that it is) says:

"The governing council of the American Library Association, an organization on the list, disgraced itself in January when it overwhelmingly rejected an amendment to a final report at its mid-winter meeting telling Castro to let the librarians out. Apparently there are members of the council who romanticize Fidel, as do some Hollywood celebrities. "


Posted by: Right of Center | Sep 30, 2004 11:26:36 AM

more ALA fun:

"Yet the most shocking, perhaps, of the ALA's many wrongheaded statements about Cuba came from outgoing president Maurice J. Freedman. He maintained, in the New York Times and elsewhere, that the independent librarians could likely have been 'paid agents of the U.S. government.'"


Posted by: Right of Center | Sep 30, 2004 11:31:08 AM

Attempts (and successes) at banning books are as old as our republic (OK, older.) Luckily the pendulum of public opinion always seems to swing back to laissez-faire.

I can't understand the whole satanism thing with the Harry Potter books... seems like old-fashioned fantasy to me, no worse in that way than Spenser's Faery Queene or the ten million book in the same vein since then (just finished Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrel--recommended.)

Of the other books, I was required to read Go Ask Alice and Of Mice and Men while I was growing up in the NJ school system. I wish they had banned them then, but I did learn that drugs screw up your life and so does being dirt-poor. How educational.

True, kids are impressionable, and I remember reading Ayn Rand and Herman Hesse while I was a teenager and finding them both pretty convincing. If I find my kids reading that kind of thing, then I'll worry. I'm not going to worry about them trying to play quidditch off the deck or taking George as a role model.

Posted by: MiloG | Sep 30, 2004 12:04:51 PM

Milo, Don't get your knickers in too much of a twist according to the ALA themselves there have only been 6,364 'challenges' Between 1990 and 2000. 636 per year!

*Hardly* a big problem, wouldn't you say?

I'd bet more than that number think CBS is a credible souce of news and the republic still stands!

It is just ALA's contribution to the "They so Evil!" moniker put on conservatives in order to make liberals feel all warm and fuzzy about themselves.

Hell, I am surprised that so FEW people have problems with the books to which their children have access.

Posted by: Right of Center | Sep 30, 2004 1:26:05 PM

Sorry, but we live in a world where 90% of the things you did in gym class a decade ago are now disallowed. For people to think that dodgeball ruined the lives of children and made them into "wimps" is almost a joke. Let's be realistic and stop turning everyone into a coddled little person.

Posted by: Tom | Sep 30, 2004 1:34:16 PM


Pretty much what I said... not a problem. People will always publicize their efforts to impose their morality on others and others will always resist. Nothing new.

I'll worry when they succeed.

Posted by: MiloG | Sep 30, 2004 1:37:09 PM

Tom - I don't understand... you think that dodgeball was a good thing? Why?

Continuing to use dodgeball as the metaphor for things people have successfully complained about and had changed since you were a child: it's not that big a deal whether kids play dodgeball or not, I guess, but if dodgeball sucked and many parents thought so, why not change it? It didn't really develop athleticism so it seems there was more downside than upside. What's wrong with making the world marginally better?

But do you really think ridding gym of dodgeball (and the like) is in the same league as good old unamerican censorship?

Posted by: MiloG | Sep 30, 2004 5:08:26 PM

ROC's posts on the ALA and Cuba make the issue appear very simple. I did some checking and here is a link to the ALA with more info on the topic.

The nub of the issue seems to be the status of the independent "librarians." It is unclear whether the "librarians", who refer to themselves as "political dissidents" and not librarians, are funded by the US as part of our policy against Castro. The ALA did adopt a resolution calling for freedom of access to information.

I don't know enough about the issue to reach a conclusion but there is more to it than ROC suggests.

Posted by: planet43 | Sep 30, 2004 6:07:53 PM

My bad. The link showed properly in the preview but not in the actual post. Try again.


Posted by: planet43 | Sep 30, 2004 6:10:50 PM

Planet, So it matters who is handing out the Information?

Freedom of information is freedom of information, regardless of the 'hander-outer' of the information or the source of his/her paycheck. No? Castro and the ALA should let the *reader's* of the information decide if is is propaganda or not!

Castro doesn't because he is a tryant dictator. What is the ALA's excuse?

In the ALA's case they only support "librarians" with what? the correct politics?

Doesn't sound very progressive to me.

Posted by: Right of Center | Sep 30, 2004 8:35:25 PM

Somebody said: "...I am surprised that so FEW people have problems with the books to which their children have access."

I don't think that it's the books that are the problem - they make kids think (and that's a good thing, to me); it's the televison, and worse, the movies that numb the formidable potential of their sponge-brains.

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