IKE | Banned in the USA
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Banned in the USA

Banned Books

Banned in the USA

“All these people talk so eloquently about getting back to good old-fashioned values. Well, as an old poop I can remember back to when we had those old-fashioned values, and I say let’s get back to the good old-fashioned First Amendment of the good old-fashioned Constitution of the United States&#8212 and to hell with the censors! Give me knowledge or give me death!”
&#8212Kurt Vonnegut

Banned Books Week kicks off today. Whenever someone tells me I can’t do something, it just makes me want to do it even more. If you feel the same way, consider reading one of these fine selections from the Fifty Banned Books That Everyone Should Read.

There are hundreds of challenges to books in schools and libraries in the United States every year. According to the American Library Association (ALA), there were at least 460 in 2009; the ALA estimates that 70 to 80 percent are never reported. BannedBooksWeek.org has a map showing Book Bans and Challenges for the past three years. Here are just a few examples from the site:

    Menifee, CA (2010)
    Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary was pulled from Menifee Union School District because a parent complained when a child came across the term “oral sex. Officials said the distrct is forming a committee to consider a permanent classroom ban of the dictionary.
    Raleigh, North Carolina (2008)
    Peter Mayle’s What’s Happening to Me? A Guide to Puberty was reported as challenged at an elementary school.
    Grants Pass, OR (2009)
    Rita Cosby’s Help the Forest was challenged when school officials removed the book due to concerns about the way the book portrays loggers. The original copies were replaced with revised versions. The Kids Right to Read Project publicized the issue in NCAC‘s blog.
    Clawson, MI (2008)
    Jodi Picoult’s My Sister’s Keeper was removed from classrooms because it was deemed too racy for middle school students. The novel is about a young girl who sues her parents because they want her to donate a kidney to her sister.

Book banning is far too common around the world. We need to be reminded that it can (and does) happen here. If you would like to support the free expression of ideas, PEN is a good place to start.

Books may be banned in the USA, but baby, we were born to read…

David Isaacson
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