Tag: banned books
From their website:
The National Coalition Against Censorship, an alliance of fifty-two participating organizations, is dedicated to protecting free expression and access to information by:
- Providing educational resources and advocacy support to individuals and organizations responding to incidents of censorship
- Educating and empowering the public to fight censorship
- Documenting and reporting on current censorship issues
- Expanding public awareness of the prevalence of censorship and suppression of information
- Working to influence judicial opinions about free expression and access to information by submitting amici briefs.
In light of my work (along with former ABFFE intern Alita Edelman) on mapping banned books, some current members of the board nominated me. I’ll be advising them on a variety of issues, including new media, digital native perspectives on censorship and information issues, and so on.
Soon after the WSJ article criticizing the Banned Books Map, I was approached by one of the administrators of the Barnes & Noble Unabashedly Bookish blog community. He wanted me to write about my experiences setting up the map, what I had wanted, and what I thought I could achieve.
The article is now up (and reproduced below the fold). Furthermore, I have a special announcement:
Today, I’m launched the Mapping Banned Books project. As you can read below, the project intends to create a grassroots, ground-up documentation of all the book bans and challenges that go on in the U.S. today. The website is still under heavy development – I’m rolling this out very quickly – but please, check it out, contribute what you can, and help us along the way. I’ll have more in the next few days.
I’m thinking a lot about this banned books project. More to come in the next few days.
As I mentioned, last week the Wall Street Journal published a really exceptionally stupid critique of a) the ALA, b) Banned Books Week, and c) the Google Map of Banned Books that I created with Alita Edelman from ABFFE’s records of book bans and challenges.
I contacted their letters editor, who today ran an edited version of my rebuttal bookended by a lengthier piece from the President of the ALA. Because their letters page is impermanent, I’m posting the full thing here below the fold.
And with it, the LA Times features our “Mapping Banned Books” mashup. The Lake County Record-Bee had a nice piece too, as did trueslant, the School Library Journal, the National Coalition Against Censorship, and The Nation.
I am, of course, devastated that the WSJ doesn’t think too highly of it. But I suppose you can’t please everyone.
Banned Books Week (BBW): Celebrating the Freedom to Read is observed during the last week of September each year. Observed since 1982, this annual ALA event reminds Americans not to take this precious democratic freedom for granted. BBW celebrates the freedom to choose or the freedom to express one’s opinion even if that opinion might be considered unorthodox or unpopular and stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of those unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints to all who wish to read them. After all, intellectual freedom can exist only where the freedom to express oneself and the freedom to choose what opinions and viewpoints to consume are both met.
The ABFFE has a list of the most challenged books from years past. These are real books that real Americans are trying to ban from real libraries. For most of the books, they provide background information, including where and by whom the book was challenged. There is also a PDF of the most challenged books over the last year or so. No news yet on the most challenged books from 2009, but I’m told that’s coming.
Some of the challenged books are old standbys of censorial aggression – your Huck Finns, your Harry Potters, your Brave New Worlds, and so forth. Some are new to me, like the potentially adorable “Uncle Bobby’s Wedding”, which apparently documents the struggles of a small guinea pig as she learns to adapt to her uncle Bobby getting gay guinea pig married. Others just confuse, bemuse, amuse, and unsettle me, such as the challenge to Esther Drill’s Deal With It, a sex-education novel for girls which was challenged on the grounds of being – and I am not making this up – “happily nonphallocentric.”
These are enlightened times.
Anyway, I’ve created a Google Map to map out the book challenges. I think it might be an interesting exercise to visualize whether there are hotspots of censorship in the country. Anyone can edit the map, so if you’d like to help, feel free to join in. You can either refer to the ABFFE’s detailed list or add your own, but please supplement them with corroborating evidence!