Friday, May 14, 2010

We Don't Need Your Stinking Books

And another book banning situation. This time in my home state of New Jersey.

As always, my initial reaction to book banners is "who died and made you god of what other people cannot read?" It's actually scary to think that people live in such a bubble of belief, that they know best for the entire world, including me and you.

As reported in the Philadelphia Inquirer:

"The day after members of a Burlington County [New Jersey] conservative group successfully petitioned to have a book on teenage homosexuality labeled obscene and removed from a high school library, organizer Gerry Grabinski was ebullient.

The local chapter of talk-radio and television personality Glenn Beck's nationwide conservative watchdog network, Burlington County 9.12, had won a minor political coup Tuesday night, and Grabinski was hopeful its larger message would gather momentum as a result

The books that will destroy the minds of teenagers:

Revolutionary Voices, edited by Amy Sonnie

Love & Sex, edited by Michael Cart

The Full Spectrum: A New Generation of Writing About Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning, and Other Identities

All three were challenged; Revolutionary Voices: A Multicultural Queer Youth Anthology is the one that was pulled from school library shelves. And the group is now expanding its focus to other high schools.

It's almost reassuring, that the group is so obvious in its antiGLBTQ focus, as opposed to other groups that pretend its the "damn" in the book rather than the lesbian best friend that is the reason a book is challenged. At least they are upfront: no GLBTQ books. I am also interested that those who may say, "we want less government interfering in our lives" in other circumstances want to interfere in others lives, using the government (here, the school board) to make that happen.

Here's the thing: you don't want your teens reading "those" books? That's between you and your teen. If they go against your wishes and read them anyway? That's a parenting issue, and the solution isn't to make the books go away.


Over in the UK, the Guardian reports on School ban on gay anthology challenged by US free speech organisations.

The Courier Post report.

Philadelphia Inquirer column, Working to Shelve Students' Book Choices

The Star Ledger report

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© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy


Alison's Book Marks said...

Liz, thank you for bringing this to my attention!

Alison's Book Marks said...

Steven Goldstein, chairman of the gay rights group Garden State Equality, said he doesn't have a problem with removing a book over graphic content.

"We would be outraged if this ban were based on a discriminatory double standard targeting books featuring gay people or another specific group," Goldstein said. "But based on the information we have so far, that doesn't seem to be the case here."

Normally, I too would be outraged at the banning of any books, but it seems like everyone came to a mutual decision on this one. I guess if teenagers in that school district wanted to read the book, they could get it at the county library, but not in the school library.

As we all's the banned books that become the most enticing to read anyway. Chances are, teens are now going to seek out the book when otherwise they might not have. The printed word is not in jeaopardy in this case.