Monday, September 29, 2008

Celebrating The Freedom To Read

This is Banned Book Week, an annual event that takes on an additional pungency this year because of the woman who could be a heartbeat away from the presidency.

While the evidence that Sarah Palin tried to get books banned from the Wasilla, Alaska, public library when she was mayor is circumstantial, it is nevertheless compelling. As The New York Times reported:
"The new mayor also tended carefully to her evangelical base. She appointed a pastor to the town planning board. And she began to eye the library. For years, social conservatives had pressed the library director to remove books they considered immoral.

'People would bring books back censored,' recalled former Mayor John Stein, Ms. Palin's predecessor. 'Pages would get marked up or torn out.'

"Witnesses and contemporary news accounts say Ms. Palin asked the librarian about removing books from the shelves. The McCain-Palin presidential campaign says Ms. Palin never advocated censorship.

"But in 1995, Ms. Palin, then a city councilwoman, told colleagues that she had noticed the book Daddy's Roommate on the shelves and that it did not belong there, according to Ms. Chase and Mr. Stein. Ms. Chase read the book, which helps children understand homosexuality, and said it was inoffensive; she suggested that Ms. Palin read it.

" 'Sarah said she didn't need to read that stuff,' Ms. Chase said. 'It was disturbing that someone would be willing to remove a book from the library and she didn't even read it.'

" 'I'm still proud of Sarah,' she added, 'but she scares the bejeebers out of me.' "
The American Library Association, which sponsors Banned Book Week, lists these 10 books as the most frequently challenged:
(1.) And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson/Peter Parnell. Reasons: Anti-Ethnic, Sexism, Homosexuality, Anti-Family, Religious Viewpoint, Unsuited to Age Group

(2.) The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier. Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Violence

(3.) Olive’s Ocean, by Kevin Henkes. Reasons: Sexually Explicit and Offensive Language

(4.) The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman. Reasons: Religious Viewpoint.

(5.) The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. Reasons: Racism.

(6.) The Color Purple by Alice Walker. Reasons: Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language.

(7.) TTYL by Lauren Myracle. Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group.

(8.) I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou. Reasons: Sexually Explicit.

(9.) It’s Perfectly Normal by Robie Harris. Reasons: Sex Education, Sexually Explicit.

(10.) The Perks of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. Reasons: Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group.

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