You Can’t Read That! is a periodic post featuring banned book reviews and news roundups.
Arizona School Book Banning Update:
Tucson Unified School District’s banned Mexican-American Studies Program goes extracurricular. Interested students can now discuss outlawed subject matter and read forbidden books in off-campus classes while earning college credit, thanks to exiled teachers and public support! People will find a way, it seems.
The scary part of this thoughtful essay on self-censorship: that if libraries lose public funding and become commercially sponsored, they’ll succumb to pressure to remove or censor controversial books. You can see the self-censorship dynamic in action at PBS, which is now more dependent on commercial sponsorship than it is on public funding. Here’s a two-part article about PBS censoring content:
Nice one. Click to see the whole cartoon.
Interesting look at the other side: the Illinois Family Institute’s reaction to the reinstatement of the briefly-banned book The Perks of Being a Wallflower in a Chicago area middle school.
The current scandal over NSA domestic surveillance may have little relationship to book banning or censorship, but it has a lot to do with librarians and the American Library Association, who were the first to challenge the government’s post-9/11 attempt to snoop into our reading habits.
In honor of librarians and the ALA, then, a great quotation from Kurt Vonnegut:
And on the subject of burning books: I want to congratulate librarians, not famous for their physical strength or their powerful political connections or their great wealth, who, all over this country, have staunchly resisted anti-democratic bullies who have tried to remove certain books from their shelves, and have refused to reveal to thought police the names of persons who have checked out those titles.
So the America I loved still exists, if not in the White House or the Supreme Court or the Senate or the House of Representatives or the media. The America I love still exists at the front desks of our public libraries.
Of course, not everyone likes librarians or the ALA. I mentioned Dan Kleinman and his SafeLibraries organization in a previous post. Lately he’s been using Twitter to push the notion that people looking at porn on library computers is a widespread phenomenon, somehow linked to commie librarians and the ALA. Here are three Dan Kleinman porn-scare tweets, all posted on the same day:
And here’s another one, explicitly making the librarian/ALA link:
Notice the lack of links or photos of library users looking at porn? It’s not that I don’t believe Mr. Kleinman, but I’d like to see some proof. So I challenged him last night:
He retweeted my challenge to his own followers, so we’ll see what happens. Next time I’m at my library I’ll check out the computer room. If I see anyone looking at porn, I’ll take photos and put them on Twitter, Facebook, and my own YCRT! posts. I actually agree with Mr. Kleinman on this one: people should not be allowed to use library computers to look at porn … not because I think porn should be outlawed, but because I don’t think it’s right to force it on others in a public place like the library.