Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Differing Perspectives on Banned Books Week 2011

"Banned Books Week is just hype." USA Today
The problem: None of this is remotely true. Banned Books Week is an exercise in propaganda. For starters, as a legal matter no book in America is banned, period, full stop (not counting, I suppose, some hard-core illegal child porn or some such out there). Any citizen can go to a bookstore or Amazon.com and buy any book legally in print — or out of print for that matter.  
When the American Library Association talks about censorship of books, it invariably refers to "banned or challenged" books. A "banned" book is a book that has been removed from a public library or school's shelves or reading lists due to pressure from someone who isn't a librarian or teacher. In practice, this means pretty much any book that's pulled off the shelves of a library can be counted as "banned." Even so, that's very rare, which is why the ALA lump "banned" and "challenged" together. Moreover, it's crazy. If the mere absence of a book counts as a "ban," then 99.99% of books have been banned somewhere.... 
[Follow this link to USAToday.com for the rest of the article] 

"'Banned Books Week' worth the hype." Peoria Journal Star
I winced this morning when I read Jonah Goldberg’s column about Banned Books Week, which takes place this year Sept. 24-Oct. 1. 
Titled “Banned Books Week Overhyped Propaganda,” the opinion piece pokes fun at the annual effort by the American Library Association to throw a spotlight on attempts to force school and public libraries to remove books from the shelves that some people consider controversial. 
For Goldberg, this effort is a bunch of lefty nonsense. There really is no danger of books being banned in the United States, he writes. This is just an effort to bully parents who are concerned about what books their kids may have access to....
[Follow this link to PJstar.com for the rest of the article]

"Banned Books Week celebrates freedom to read." USA Today
Librarians have always supported a parent's right to decide what his or her family should read. But in our democracy, other families should be able to make different choices for their own families, not dictated by a particular political or religious viewpoint. 
We need to remember that when one book is removed, this act of censorship affects more than one person or family. It affects the entire community. We need to remember that public libraries serve everyone, including those who are too young or too poor to buy their own books or own a computer. 
Contrary to commentary writer Jonah Goldberg's assertion, librarians and library users celebrate Banned Books Week as a testament to the strength of our freedom in the United States. We celebrate the freedom to read because we all know that we are so fortunate to live in a country that protects our freedom to choose what we want to read. If you doubt this, just ask anyone from a totalitarian society. That is why we draw attention to acts of censorship that chill the freedom to read.... 
[Follow this link to USAToday.com for the rest of the article]

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