Banned Books Week Is Almost Here!

From a Jonah Goldberg column at the USA Today website:

Already, news outlets are dusting off familiar stories about the scary climate of censorship in the land. Indeed, it's a staple of nearly every major newspaper to at least let the American Library Association air its dire warnings about the growing threat to the freedom to read. Last year, on the eve of Banned Books Week, the ALA's official magazine, American Libraries, ran a story headlined, "Book banning alive and well in the U.S."

"What do books from the Twilight series, To Kill a Mockingbird and Catcher in the Rye have in common?" asked the magazine, "All have faced removal from library bookshelves in the United States within the past year."

It's a storyline the American left in particular seems to desperately want to be true. Recently, an American writer penned a lengthy online piece for the British newspaper The (London) Guardian headlined "The Tea Party moves to ban books." The left-wing activist group Think Progress announces, "Censorship On The Rise: U.S. Schools Have Banned More Than 20 Books This Year."

No, not true

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.

more . . .

If you really want to test just how much your local librarians absolutely hate censorship, try getting them to stock Salvo on their magazine shelf! This issue alone has articles on evolutionary logic, the realities of sex, and how it's anti-science to just declare that DNA is full of junk. We even have a piece critiquing those disgruntled homely girl marches. It's enough to make any "freedom-to-read" loving librarian go grabbing for the nearest metal bucket and a box of matches.

Some funny comments about Banned Books Week over at Strange Herring:

Don’t ever put me on one of these committees, because I would throw out all manner of books from school and public libraries, and I possess a collection in my home that is probably larger than that of most universities.

For example, why should children be exposed to Green Eggs and Ham? What happened to the First Lady’s war on obesity? And no high school kid should ever have to read Tess of the D’Urbervilles. It’s just wrong. And I’d rather a 12-year-old read Slaughterhouse-Five morning noon and night before enduring anything by James Fenimore Cooper.

Which reminds me: the masterwork of that other Cooper hater, Mark Twain,  Huckleberry Finn, should be swapped in unredacted for anything by Maya Angelou, and I’d make every high school kid read Black Boy by Richard Wright and Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison before they even saw a copy of To Kill a Mockingbird.

And why is One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich only rarely on these “College-Bound” or “Suggested Reading” lists? Yeah, some 18-year-old is going to spend his or her summer reading Beowulf or Charles Kuralt’s America (great jumping dust bunnies!). The Giver is a must-read, but Solzhenitsyn is what — biased against alternative group lifestyles?

HT: Strange Herring

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