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Censorship on the shelf?



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October 01, 2008
Each year the American Library Association sets aside one week each year as Banned Books Week. They do so to bring attention to attempts by some of us to regulate what others might read.

The ALA's Office for Intellectual Freedom reports that it has seen 9,700 "challenges," or formal written requests, to remove a book from a library because the content offends or is deemed inappropriate.

The ALA has done this since 1990 and the office suggests the number is probably an undercount since for every challenge reported, four or five are not.

Before Sarah Palin became McCain's choice for vice president, as Mayor of Wasilla, Alaska she asked the town librarian if she would remove controversial books from the library. Palin asked the librarian three times whether she would agree to remove books from the library shelves and when the librarian refused Palin fired her, although eventually she gave the woman her job back when public pressure forced Palin to rehire the librarian.

This is just one example of the trend to anti-intellectualism that has taken over. Combined with the White House's censorship and politicization of science, and a recent survey that found more people can name all five Simpsons than the five freedoms enumerated in the First Amendment.

Since 1990 there have been as many as 50,000 incidents in which a book was forced to justify its existence. Such titles as The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Color Purple, and books in the Harry Potter series were included. These books were challenged because they expressed ideas that made someone uncomfortable. So apparently Sarah Palin has company among those who would censor ideas.

Palin complained to colleagues about a book called Daddy's Roomate, which was described in the promotional material as being "for and about the children of lesbian and gay parents." While she has every right to object to a book's contents she cannot use her position as mayor to force the library to remove books from its shelves.

There have been many instances where censorship has been tried. Perhaps the most celebrated attempt in recent history occurred in Nazi Germany where book burning became a kind of national sport and was quickly followed by the Holocaust.

Ideas have been described as the most potent weapon in history. To censor ideas is a direct assault on the First Amendment itself and so long as one book is pulled from a library shelf anywhere the specter of censorship will continue to haunt our land.

Would be book banners

always think their reason for doing so are justified by good intentions and we all know what well known road is paved by them. Banned Books Week this year is September 27th-October 4th.

Email Eric at

tct@pageone-inc.com

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