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Book Banning Week Takes On Added Meaning This Year With Sarah Palin On GOP Ticket

September 27, 2008

“Do your parents know you are reading this book?”

That question from Mrs. Tunks, a middle school teacher of mine, was as close as book censorship ever came my way.  I still recall the stair steps in my old schoolhouse where she pointed at my copy of “The Throne Of Saturn” by Allen Drury, and while looking at it sounded her prudish alarm, though for what reason I could never understand.  Other than the fact is was 600 pages, and ‘kids’ were not supposed to read anything other than the Nancy Drew series, provides no real explanation for her remark.  The fact my parents encouraged me to read, as it kept me interested in all sorts of things, did not seem to settle her skeptical mind as to why that book would intrigue me.  A space adventure between the United States and the Soviet Union was high drama for my 6th grade mind, and I guess for lots of adult readers as well, or it would never have been published.  I finished that book, and kept Allen Drury as a writer I have long enjoyed into my adult years.

Today the hard copy edition of that book sets on my shelf as not only a reminder of a good read, but also to underscore a long held belief of mine.  No one should be censoring reading material for libraries, or as in the case above, inquisitive minds. 

This week, September 27-October 4, is Banned Books Week, and it takes on more importance as Sarah Palin, the Republican Vice-Presidential candidate who attempted to have books censored while mayor of Wasilla, Alaska might actually be elected to a national office.  The idea that  someone who strives for one of the nation’s highest offices, would attempt a chilling display of book censorship at some point in life, and finds no remorse about it is stunning.

The books that Sarah Palin seemed to find offensive were ones such as “Daddy’s Roommate” that took a humane approach to the issue of homosexuality.  But when one looks at the titles of those that have drawn the ire of some ‘concerned citizens’ around the nation, it is easy to see why there is no room to allow censorship to have any chance to win.  Not even in Wasilla with Sarah Palin.  Why should someone like Ms. Palin have any right to deny someone else the right to read a book, or have a copy of a book placed in a library?

Limiting ideas and stopping the flow of information is so very foreign to me.  Every educated person understands the slippery slope that censorship creates, and the harm that it does to both individualism, and society as a whole.  The fact that some churches, such as Christ Community Church of Alamogordo, New Mexico, had an actual book burning in 2002as a reaction to the release of a Harry Potter book may seem just weird to most people.  But for me the fact that anyone would even suggest such a thing in the 21st century in America is frightening and most alarming.  To know that people actually attended is numbing.

I am shocked by the Republicans for endorsing Sarah Palin, and trying to downplay her shameful role of banning books in Wasilla.  If we do not stop at every instance the act of censorship we will find that we are on that slippery slope where others like Ms. Palin will always find some topics not to be ‘safe’ or ‘pure’ enough to be placed on the local library book shelves.

The list below are the books from this past year (2007) that have gained national notice as ones that have frightened the pathetic ones who wish to censor for the majority.  Look at the list, and then work to prevent censorship, or stop those who promote censorship, from ever winning.

The “10 Most Challenged Books of 2007” reflect a range of themes, and consist of the following titles:

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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3 Comments leave one →
  1. mark permalink
    September 29, 2008 10:47 AM

    When we were at the San Francisco Zoo a couple weeks ago, we were watching the penguins at feeding time, and the keeper was talking about the pairs that were parenting. She said a male couple had raised a chick this year, and a mother in front of us looked down at her daughter and said “just like Tango.” A pretty neat moment.
    And, they also noted that one of the penguin couples was two females!

    The “10 Most Challenged Books of 2007″ reflect a range of themes, and consist of the following titles:
    1) “And Tango Makes Three,” by Justin Richardson/Peter Parnell
    Reasons: Anti-Ethnic, Sexism, Homosexuality, Anti-Family, Religious Viewpoint, Unsuited to Age Group

  2. September 28, 2008 10:48 AM

    The beauty of a book is one can put it down if one disagrees with it. There seem to be two very simple solutions to books.
    #1. Shelve it in the correct area. Example: “The Color Purple” is an excellent read but it does not belong in the same area as “The Giving Tree”. I applaud many libraries across our nation for not only creating a “children’s section” but a “young adult’s section” as well.
    #2. Parents need to BE RESPONSIBLE. As a parent, “the buck (or book in this case) stops here”. Regardless of whether or not a library has separate areas, parents are ultimately responsible for their children. This means it is MY responsibility to discuss the topics of books with my children. The worst I could do is discourage reading. The best I can do is to encourage critical thinking. Occasionally, I do tell my daughter (who reads above her grade/age level) she is not ready to read a book yet. More often, we read books together. This means my seven year old read the entirety of “The Chronicles of Narnia” as a six year old. What a wonderful opportunity to learn new vocabulary. “Mom, what’s a “parliament? This chapter is “Parliament of Owls.” “Why is Caspian’s uncle mean?” Again…READ WITH YOUR CHILD! Ask open ended questions. Encourage your child to discuss and think about what they read.

  3. ponderings08 permalink
    September 27, 2008 11:39 PM

    Awesome blog! #7 is one of my favorite books. I cant believe how many people ARENT worried about this fact. Maybe banned books week will help open a few peoples eyes.

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