Dear Writers, Readers, Publishers, Civil Libertarians, and U.S. Citizens:
The ALA's Banned Books week is September 25-October 2.
To Kill a Mockingbird is #4. Huckleberry Finn is still on the list.
The Harry Potter books are the most banned books of the 21st century.

...For more info check the link:
http://ala.org/ala/newspresscenter/news

 

These are books that were successfully banned around the country.  Most on the list seem to be adolescent books dealing with sexuality and/or alternative lifestyles.  The only "Crime" novel that I can recall from the list with immediancy is In Cold Blood.

 

Librarians, of course, believe in the "Freedom to Read" and oppose censorship.  We think patrons should be free to censor their own reading choices and parents (not librarians) should be the ones to monitor or allow what their own children read. Books should go on the shelves based on consistently applied (written) Board policies and procedures.  Decisions should not be based on popular opinion.  Policies should also include fair and accessible avenues for challenging books. 

 

I know several interesting stories of banned books, starting with the first controversial banning of The Grapes of Wrath in Bakersfield after its publication.  The growers said the book was "a pack of lies,"

yet there were 125 people on the waiting list for the book.  The book was not returned to that library's shelves until the 1960s.  There have been other idealistic, brave, principled librarians around the country who successfully confronted censorship.  Unfortunately, there must be many more who, pragmatically, (perhaps, for the greater good) need to keep their jobs and maintain the good will of their communities.  (As you cynical crime novelist must know is a realistic scenario.)

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We should also not forget that librarians stood up vocally against some of the more restrictive sections of the Patriot Act, such as the ability of the government to access library records of books borrowed.
Correct. But, none of the invasions of privacy predicted ever ocurred. Prior to the Patriot Act, the rule was, to paraphrase, "Just because someone checked out a book about making Malatov cocktails, didn't mean they made and threw one." So the law was that library records were private. The Patriot Act opened those records to law enforcement. This was somewhat amusing since such evil deeds and destructive acts could now be discussed on the Internet. It was doubtful terrorists were going to get their information from the local public library shelves and doubtful such library's collection contained such information. The Librarians who opposed those provisions of The Patriot Act were foolish.
However, brave librarians did stand up in the 50's against labeling and restricting access to information deemed "Communist." Access to information on the Internet has changed the need for the old policies.
"It was doubtful terrorists were going to get their information from the local public library shelves and doubtful such library's collection contained such information."

Even less reason for the government to need to see them. Whether the G takes action on a new law or policy is far less important than the existence of the policy for misuse years into the future, when everyone else has forgotten about it except those who wish to abuse it.
Until the late 1990s, in Texas it was still a hanging offense to be caught with wire cutters on your saddle. Nevertheless, that law was never abused. The librarians who "Raised Cain" about the Patriot Act did so because of their Anti-Bush agenda. Laws that have never been enforced usually don't get repealled. I happen to appreciate the protection we receive from law enforcement agencies and think they are nice, devoted people who love their country.There are many radical librarians around. However, if you are interested in an opposing opinion, you might read the Annoyed Librarian's in Library Journal.
Cherry picking an individual law and saying it was never abused isn't much of an argument. (Just because no one has been hanged for carrying cutters lately doesn't mean the law hasn't been abused, either. The threat of a charge can also be an abuse.) I know people in law enforcement, and like them, but let's be honest, law enforcement takes in a cross section of people from various backgrounds. (As it should.) We all know there are local and state cops and feds who may be willing to bust someone chops over a minute violation of an "outdated and unenforced" law, or just make things miserable for someone because the other person talked to his girlfriend, cut him off in traffic, or pissed him off in some other way.

These occurrences aren't frequent, as the overwhelming percentage of those in law enforcement are conscientious and fair. But it happens, and the fewer opportunities left available for it to happen, the better.
Hey Joyce - I can understand why someone would want to ban In Cold Blood. The others you mentioned, I don't see it. I guess perspective is everything. Thanks for the awareness tipoff.
If you go to the article (referenced in the first post) there is a link listing the top banned books and the reason they were challenged. For example, I believe To Kill a Mockingbird and Huckleberry Finn were both banned because they depict racism. The Harry Potter books have been banned for promoting witchcraft.
Thanks for your interest.

BTW: That final line in my last post should read: Annoyed Librarian's column in Library Journal.
In Twain's own time, I believe, a major objection to Hucleberry Finn was its depiction of a white-black friendship. The objections have changed, but the novel still manages to anger the excessively orthodox of every generation. Maybe that's one reason why it's such a great book.
To the extent that Huck Finn gets removed from libraries, it's almost entirely because of Twain's liberal (as in frequent) use of the "n" word. But it's a complete misreading of the book to suggest that it's somehow racist. In fact Twain was one of the first, if not the first, white American writers with the courage to write a friendship between a black and white character, and one in which the black character is fully humanized--Jim is a real, three-dimensional character, not some rank 19th-century stereotype. In fact Huck Finn is a scathing critique of the racism of the antebellum south--a must read both as literature and as a historical document. It's a shame that people are so threatened by its language.
Righto!
This is a question for everyone, not just Joyce. At what point would you be in favor of banning a book? When it's obscene? As the quote goes, "I know obscenity when I see it." But who gets to make that call?
Never.

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