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[Net-Gold] Book Banning Efforts Bring on Title Fights

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  • David P. Dillard
    Date: Sun, 30 Sep 2007 15:46:50 -0700 (PDT) From: Sue Fraser Reply-To: Net-Gold@yahoogroups.com To: Net-Gold
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 1, 2007
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      Date: Sun, 30 Sep 2007 15:46:50 -0700 (PDT)
      From: Sue Fraser <xcschild@...>
      Reply-To: Net-Gold@yahoogroups.com
      To: Net-Gold <Net-Gold@yahoogroups.com>
      Subject: [Net-Gold] Book Banning Efforts Bring on Title Fights

      Book Banning Efforts Bring on Title Fights

      by Stevenson Swanson

      NEW YORK - The story seemed like a surefire hit for children. A pair of
      penguins take care of an egg that isn't theirs and then raise the baby
      penguin, after it hatches, as their own.How heartwarming. And who doesn't
      love penguins?

      Plenty of parents, it turns out, when both penguin parents are male.

      That plot twist earned And Tango Makes Three the distinction of being
      the most challenged book of 2006, according to the Chicago-based American
      Library Association, which compiles an annual list of titles that have
      been targeted by efforts to remove them from public and school libraries.

      Tango, by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell, and other controversial
      titles from the 2006 list, such as two by Nobel laureate Toni Morrison and
      Cecily von Ziegesar's popular

      Gossip Girl series, will be the center of attention in the coming week
      at readings and other literary events nationwide as part of Banned Books
      Week, organized by the library association and other groups, including the
      American Civil Liberties Union.

      In Chicago, the week kicked off Saturday with readings from books on the
      most-challenged list in Pioneer Court on Michigan Avenue.

      Last year the number of challenges ranging from written complaints to
      full-blown hearings jumped to 546, more than 30 percent higher than in
      2005. Such annual fluctuations are not unusual, said Judith Krug, head of
      the library association's office for intellectual freedom.

      Despite the higher number of challenges, the vast majority of efforts to
      ban specific books came up short: only 29 titles were removed from library
      shelves last year. Among the titles that disappeared from some libraries
      were Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse, The Bluest Eye by Morrison and
      Forever by Judy Blume.

      But even one removal is one too many for Krug.

      You're taking choice away, she said. If it's removed, no one in
      that library or school has the opportunity to read that book.

      Supporters of bans

      Organizers of efforts to have books removed from public libraries or
      reading lists in schools say that their efforts are aimed at keeping
      graphic material, such as obscene language, out of the hands of children.

      The library association has been very successful in spreading their
      message that anything goes, said Dan Kleinman, who runs the Web site
      SafeLibraries .org, which calls for greater parental say in the books used
      in schools and available to children at libraries. Banned Books Week is
      ��propaganda to convince parents to allow school boards and libraries to
      continue making inappropriate material available, he said.

      Kleinman cited the decision by the school board in the southwest Chicago
      suburb of Oak Lawn to keep a book on a summer reading list for 8th graders
      despite its use of profanity and description of adolescent sexual desires.
      The board issued an apology for not notifying parents of the contents of
      the novel, Fat Kid Rules the World.

      Challenges involving books aimed at children or young adults make up at
      least 75 of every 100 efforts to have a title removed, Krug said.

      Absolutely, parents should have the right to decide whether their
      children should have access to a book, but that right ends where my nose
      begins, said Krug, meaning that others might think that same book was
      appropriate for their children.

      Objections to books come from all points on the political spectrum, she
      said. If the issue is homosexuality, the challenge is likely to come from
      religious conservatives, but if the issue is racism, the complaint is more
      likely to come from the left, because they're concerned about
      eliminating isms Krug said.

      In past years, Mark Twain's use of an offensive term for blacks landed
      The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn on the most-challenged list. Twain
      is missing from the newest list. Offending themes

      So is Harry Potter. The Potter series, which concluded this year with the
      seventh book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, tops the list of
      most challenged titles from 2000 to 2006, but no new Potter book was
      published in 2006. Objections have been raised to various titles in the
      series because of their frequent violence and because some opponents
      maintain that author J.K. Rowling's stories about her young wizard hero
      promote Satanism.

      One of the most common themes running through the titles of this year's
      top 10 challenged books is homosexuality, cited as grounds for objection
      in four books, starting with ��And Tango Makes Three.

      Simon and Schuster, the book��s publisher, described ��Tango�� as intended
      for 4- to 8-year-olds, but parents in many communities, included Shiloh in
      Downstate Illinois, have complained the age range is too young for a story
      about a same-sex couple, whether two-legged or two-winged.

      The huge majority of parents would avoid this book if they knew it was
      brainwashing their children to support and experiment with homosexual
      behavior, said Randy Thomasson, president of the California-based
      Campaign for Children and Families.

      The library association refused to disclose how many challenges have been
      mounted against Tango, citing the group's confidentiality policy. But
      despite the challenges, the book was not removed from any library last

      Parnell, a playwright and TV writer, and Richardson, a psychiatrist, got
      the idea for their book after reading a newspaper story about the zoo

      We felt that there was an opportunity in this story to talk about
      different kinds of families, said Parnell.

      To Krug, the way to avoid conflicts is for a library's board to set clear
      standards for what it will acquire; but including books that deal with all
      manner of subjects is one of the most important functions of a library.

      Libraries are one place in the community where everyone is represented
      on the shelves, she said.


      The entire article can be read at the above URL.

      Sue Fraser

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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