Monday, November 30, 2009

Kentucky School Superintendent Exposes False Cries of Censorship; Removes Educationally Unsuitable Books from Curriculum Despite Being on ALA's List for Reluctant Readers

Montgomery County School Superintendent Daniel Freeman is a hero.  He has stood up to false cries of "censorship."  He has put "national anti-censorship groups" in their place (hint, not in Montgomery County High School).  He has acted in the best interests of the children and the local community that pays his salary.  That community ought to give him a public commendation.   Other communities ought to use him as an example of true school leadership.  See: "Book Ruckus Divides Montgomery County Residents," by Jim Warren, Lexington Herald-Leader, 29 November 2009 (404 link removed, try this):

"It's not censorship when you make wise decisions about what can be used in the classroom," parent Cyndi Murphy said.

The challenged books include Twisted, by Laurie Halse Anderson; Deadline, by Chris Crutcher; Lessons from a Dead Girl, by Jo Knowles; and Unwind, by Neal Shusterman.
The titles appeared on suggested book lists compiled by the Young Adult Library Services Association, a division of the American Library Association, for 12- to 18-year-olds who are "reluctant readers."

This is not the first time I've seen the American Library Association's [ALA] recommended books for "reluctant readers" given the heave ho.  For one example, the ALA listed a certain book in "ALA | Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers," and, as a likely result, a librarian ordered that book for hundreds of New York City schools.  Then the parents found out.  See "City's Ed. Boobs," by Carl Campanile, New York Post, Oct. 13, 2003.  That was the end of that. Hundreds of schools removed the ALA-recommended book.

The parents in Kentucky have the right attitude too.  (Hint, consider this for your own communities, especially the "literary quality" of the material in that it is not appropriate for college placement.  In another context, material can be "perhaps not the most literary," as even the ALA has admitted, but that's a separate issue):
Sterling and others note that students in classes where the disputed books were offered could opt out of reading them and select other titles if they chose.

But Nancy Cooper, a parent involved in the protest, contended that in practice many students might hesitate to opt out, even if they found a book objectionable.

"If there is a book and I think my parents won't like it, I'm probably not going to say so because I'm sitting there with my all peers," Cooper said. "You don't want to be the one who is different."

Cooper, who is a teacher, said parents objected, not just to the language and themes in the books, but also to their literary quality. She says she couldn't find any of them on college-bound reading lists.

"The reading levels on these books are fifth-grade and sixth-grade, but we are talking about accelerated, college-bound classes," she said. "It's a matter of what is appropriate in academics.

"We didn't ask for the books to be taken out of the library, or for them to be removed from the book club. We are saying that we think there are more appropriate and better reading materials available for college preparation."


This is what proves the superintendent has a spine and is a hero:
Meanwhile, Freeman, the school superintendent, contends that many who have protested his withdrawal of the books are misinformed.

"They seem to think the books were taken out of the library or that kids aren't allowed to read them, which isn't true," he said.  "I really think some people don't understand what the issue is."

Freeman says that as of now, he has told high school staff and faculty that the challenged books are not part of the approved curriculum, and shouldn't be used in class.

"I wrote the teachers over a month ago and said, 'show me why the books should be in the curriculum and we'll reconsider that decision,"' he said.  "I'm certainly not the world's final authority on what ought to be in a college curriculum.

"But so far I haven't heard a word from anybody about why we should use these books."

Bravo Mr. Freeman!  People who stand up to the "misinformation" are few and far between.  I hope your community recognizes you for the gem you are.

Speaking of misinformation, here are some of those claiming censorship and opposing Mr. Freeman:

Also, the National Coalition Against Censorship [NCAC] is one of the "national anti-censorship groups" to pressure the local community.  See: "Kids' Right to Read Objects to Censorship in Kentucky High School," by Joan Bertin and Chris Finan.  The NCAC promotes pornography usage.  Joan Bertin herself supports censorship of those trying to keep inappropriate material from children, and uses doubles standards and fact changes to support her cause.

The NCAC is authoritative on promoting porn and double standards, not on censorship.  Indeed, the NCAC misinformation conveniently left out Board of Education v. Pico.  "It's not censorship when you make wise decisions about what can be used in the classroom," said parent Cyndi Murphy, and that common sense is the essence of the Pico case from the 1982 US Supreme Court case that Joan Bertin left out.

By the way, teacher Risha Mullins should not be fired.  Neither should she be dropped simply due to this issue.  She sounds like an excellent teacher, based on the various sources I have read.  She could easily follow the new rules while continuing to encourage reading, even with the books removed from the curriculum—no one's censoring or banning anything.  Common sense, no?

I hereby encourage Ms. Mullins to work within the curriculum to continue to promote reading the best she can, then write a story about her experiences doing so.  I am certain her guidance may help many others to meet curricular requirements while encouraging children to read via her innovative means.  If I find out she has written such article, I will update this blog post accordingly.  Brava Ms. Mullins!

NOTE ADDED 30 NOVEMBER 2009:

Author Chris Crutcher is actively involved in this matter.  I thank him for adding a link to my blog post on his own web site.  I'm with select company there, as shown below, so I can only assume he feels I have said something of value.  Might it have been my support for the teacher Risha Mullins and her work to promote reading, including the challenged material?  Please visit "Deadline Banned?" and see what he has to say on this and other matters.  I have always supported authors, so truly, thank you, Chris Crutcher:

NOTE ADDED 3 OCTOBER 2010:

Risha Mullins has written extensively about her experience and critically about this SafeLibraries blog post here: "Censorship at its Finest: Remembering," by Risha Mullins, For the Love of YA (Review & Author Interviews), 2 October 2010.

Here is how I responded in a comment on her blog post:

Risha Mullins said, "A patronizing post on Safe Libraries blog (which now follows my blog) heralded my superintendent as a hero while characterizing me as a misguided teacher with good intentions who didn’t know how to follow the rules: http://safelibraries.blogspot.com/2009/11/kentucky-school-superintendent-exposes.html"

Ms. Mullins, thank you for linking to me and recognizing the blog post and particularly the comments are particularly interesting.

Based on what you said, I reread my own post to be sure I did not say what you said I said. Yes, the superintendent is a hero in a time where people are expected to bow down low and immediately to the American Library Association, the National Coalition Against Censorship, the ACLU, and other external pressure groups.

But I did not see anything negative about you. I did not say or even imply you were "misguided." I did not say or even imply you don't know how to follow rules, rather I said you could easily follow new rules and should not be fired.

So I said quite the opposite, and at a time when people who supported the superintendent were opposing you. Instead, I supported both of you. As far as I know, I was the only one doing so. Indeed, that's likely why so many interesting people directly involved in the issue responded to my post. Specifically, I said:

"By the way, teacher Risha Mullins should not be fired. Neither should she be dropped simply due to this issue. She sounds like an excellent teacher, based on the various sources I have read. She could easily follow the new rules while continuing to encourage reading, even with the books removed from the curriculum—no one's censoring or banning anything. Common sense, no?

"I hereby encourage Ms. Mullins to work within the curriculum to continue to promote reading the best she can, then write a story about her experiences doing so. I am certain her guidance may help many others to meet curricular requirements while encouraging children to read via her innovative means. If I find out she has written such article, I will update this blog post accordingly. Brava Ms. Mullins!"

I must say, Ms. Mullins, I have supported you. I will continue to support you. I would appreciate it if you would somehow correct the record where you said I said things that I neither said nor implied. I would really appreciate that. Thank you very much.


NOTE ADDED 5 OCTOBER 2010:

Shockingly, Risha Mullins has self-censored her own blog post!  See: "Censorship at its Finest: Remembering," by Risha MullinsFor the Love of YA (Review & Author Interviews), 2 October 2010, Version 2.  It now contains nothing of the original version.  However, the original post has been intentionally republished here: "Censorship At its Finest: One Teachers Story on How Ignorant Parents are Destroying Quality Education," by treeonthehill, Reddit, 5 October 2010.


NOTE #2 ADDED 5 OCTOBER 2010:

Now Risha Mullins has deleted the entire blog post!  It's gone!  Sad!

Here we have a teacher who was extremely promising and willing to really educate children.  She has suffered an ordeal so bad that she can't even feel free to leave what she wrote about it online.  I urged her to write about her experiences the first time I wrote about her.  Now that she has and she has removed it, I feel even more sadness for her.

Contrast such an excellent, caring teacher with a teacher/librarian in New Jersey who has expressly refused to perform the duties for which she was hired.  Instead, this teacher, Dee Venuto, has decided certain books are so filled with inappropriate material that she can't read them but lets her students read them and decide if they are appropriate!  See for yourself at "School Media Specialist Passes Sexual Content Review to Students; Dee Venuto Says It Is Discrimination to Keep Children From Material Including Lengthy, Vivid Descriptions of a Ménage a Trois," by Dan Kleinman, SafeLibraries, 18 August 2010.


NOTE ADDED 6 OCTOBER 2010:

Risha Mullins has explained her self-censorship in her newest blog post, "This is Not Me Backing Down," by Risha MullinsFor the Love of YA (Review & Author Interviews), 5 October 2010.

Quoting her, "I removed my blog in protest to the hostile, hate-filled rhetoric being sent to my former administration and colleagues in my name. [L]et me beg of you to stop this harassment."

It has been my experience that the free speech advocates are the meanest of the mean bent on pure harassment to shut down the few voices that are not cowed into speaking like them or shutting up.  What Risha Mullins has said is brave yet again since she is a free speech advocate, but one who speaks the truth about the viciousness of those who claim to be for free speech.

As Dan Gerstein said, "The ... elites have convinced themselves that they are taking a stand against cultural tyranny. .... [T]he reality is that it is those who cry 'Censorship!' the loudest who are the ones trying to stifle speech and force their moral world-view on others."

Thank you, Risha Mullins, for making that point crystal clear.

.

61 comments:

  1. It's so important to draw attention to reading, and attract reluctant readers to it,especially boys. In fact, I've recently completed a feature magazine article on this subject that came out in October, "Help for Struggling, Reluctant Readers."

    I grew up as a reluctant reader, in spite of the fact that my father published over 70 books. Now I write action-adventures & mysteries, especially for tween boys, that avid boy readers and girls enjoy just as much.

    My blog, Books for Boys http://booksandboys.blogspot.com is dedicated to drawing attention to the importance of reading.

    Keep up your good work.

    Max Elliot Anderson

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  2. Um... you could use some grammar help. Is the superintendent on the ALA List for Reluctant Readers? Doubtful. And, Max, seriously? "Keep up your good work?" But encouraging removal of books that speak to some young readers? Or is it that you're sure your books qualify? Bet they don't. They're boy adventure stories... surely not literature. The point being, who gets to decide that? Semantics aside, there is value to these books, which I'm certain neither of you has bothered to read. UNWIND is book reminiscent of Orwell. Did you know that? Or are Orwell's books also "not worthy" in your eyes? And why am I guessing my comment won't appear here?

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  3. Ellen Hopkins! I am so happy you have written here. Welcome?

    In answer, I'll just say that our wires must have crossed. While you were writing your post comment here, I was adding something new to the post itself about, among other things, restating my support for the teacher, including her promotion of the challenged materials.

    Max Elliot Anderson! Another author! I am happy you have written here as well. Let me make a live link to your blog, "Books for Boys."

    Look, I oppose the American Library Association or the National Coalition of Censorship misleading communities, as exemplified in the post. But, at the same time, I support authors and I support teachers teaching the love of reading, also as exemplified in the post.

    I realize there are other organizations with which mine can be easily confused, but I hope you see how I differ.

    Thank you, both of you, for writing. Please visit again and comment at any time.

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  4. You know what, Ellen Hopkins? I have seen you writing on other blogs and now here, among other places. I really appreciate that.

    There's tons of talk by people other than the authors involved. It is so good that those authors who do comment take the time to do so. It adds so much to the conversation.

    I have spoken with quite a number of authors (see my blog archives), and each time has not only been an enjoyable experience, but the conversation stays on the Internet and benefits the many others who search for various issues.

    Frankly, I am happy to say I get quite a lot of hits on my blog for people looking to contact author Trenton Lee Stewart. Helping people connect with him makes me feel great.

    So again, Ellen Hopkins, thanks for writing. And if I may ever assist with your Wikipedia page, please let me know.

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  5. In my first message to Ellen Hopkins I said, "I am so happy you have written here. Welcome?" I meant to use an exclamation point, not a question mark. I do need a copy editor!

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  6. Hello Ellen

    Even today, I continue to be somewhat of a reluctant reader. So, no, I haven't read the books you mention. I'm doing better though. My focus is to write the kinds of books that will at least get kids, especially boys, to start reading. The reports I receive from parents, teachers, librarians, and kids, let me know that my work is making a difference there.

    And you're right, I do need grammar help. For that I have a couple of editors who have made a difference in my books.

    As for your comment, I appreciate the passion from anyone who really cares about books and reading as you surely do.

    Max Elliot Anderson

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  7. There are so many parts to deal with here. I guess I'd like to comment on Superintendent Freeman's assertion that none of these books will help students when they go to college, that they are for "reluctant readers." For one thing, a lot of students going to college are also reluctant readers. Also, the issues focused on in many of these books are issues kids will face in college. I challenge Dr. Freeman to become a bit more informed regarding what many college professors expect from their students. I speak at colleges and universities all the time and my books, including Deadline, are part of many curriculums. I know that to be true of several of the other books mentioned here. I'm tempted to inundate your community newspaper, or some of these conservative blogs with testimonies from those professors. I'm also tempted to inundate you with emails and other responses from kids who have gone to college or who are headed to college, claiming that some of these books have "saved my life" or "given me a whole new perspective on how important, and short, life is."

    Mr. Freeman's assertion about college bound kids and curriculum for college bound students is either disingenuous or misinformed. I ache for the old conservatism. My father was a World War II bomber pilot, a patriot and a conservative to his core. He was far better read than Dr. Freeman (for one thing, he read MY books) and there was nary a classic from which he couldn't quote. He was on the school board from the time my older brother started school until the time my younger sister graduated. And he would have run a nail through his eye before he would have allowed this kind of censorship. And it IS censorship. Agreed, Dr. Freeman did not BAN a book if the books are still available to all kids in the school library, but he did censor. In the old days, conservatives invited ideas. They weren't afraid to discuss and debate issues that made them uncomfortable. They also heartily believed in the separation of church and state, for the good of the church AND the state.

    All in all, this is pretty sad stuff. The one thing I would recommend Dr. Freeman do, if he thinks Deadline is pornographic (which he as much as called it - without reading it, I'm afraid) is make sure none of my other books is ever used in his school's curriculum, though in several states, two are on the canon of books that should be read before college and an excerpt from one is actually used in standardized testing.

    Most of what I say is doubly true about Laurie Halse Anderson's books. Walk into any freshman comp class in any college and ask for a show of hands of those who have read SPEAK.

    Here's an alternative look at what is good for college bound kids: Read everything you can get your hands on.

    Chris Crutcher

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  8. Dr. Freeman? If you see this, will you respond to Chris Crutcher's comment?

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  9. Mr. Crutcher, I applaud you. You're well thought out response is brilliantly realized. Dr. Freeman seems to jump on the bandwagon and is caving into parent pressure.

    As the parent of a college-age teen, and a five-year old, I encourage them to read what they want. I would/could never censor/ban or disallow anything in my household.

    For these teens that are subjected to this, these are books that are to make you think about life, choices that are made and how turning one corner can create a world of difference.

    To the parents', it's time to realize that the world has changed. Bad things happen. People write about it, to show that all-in-all there are bad things in human nature. We see it on the news all the time. It's in the newspapers and on tv shows. This is the world we live in.

    I'm just a measly blogger, but I understand my constitutional right to freedom of speech and to read what we want.

    These books teach a lesson. A moral lesson.

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  10. I wasn't talking about YOUR grammar, Max. I was talking about the headline on this blog. Sorry for the misunderstanding! And I did see your support of the teacher, SafeLibraries. I do appreciate that. I still believe it's wrong to judge books by Amazon blurbs or even reviews, which are subjective. Without reading a book, how can you label it as "unworthy," even for AP students? Too often, adult readers turn up their noses at young adult literature, which some don't even believe IS literature. There has been an amazing renaissance in YA over the past ten or fifteen years. But without actually reading it, how would Dr. Freeman, et al, know? I would challenge him to do so. He might even find something he likes... something he himself deems worthy of the term "literature."

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  11. Oh! The title! I see your point, Ellen, and thanks again for writing.

    I never judged the books. Actually, I encouraged the teacher to keep teaching them.

    But, you said, "There has been an amazing renaissance in YA over the past ten or fifteen years." I suppose that depends upon the meaning of "amazing renaissance." I ask you to provide reliable sources to support your statement. I have reliable sources that say the exact opposite:

    "Why Teachers Love Depressing Books," by Laura Miller, The New York Times Book Review, 22 August 2004 p12(L) col 01.

    "Racy Reading; Gossip Girl Series is Latest Installment in Provocative Teen Fiction, and It's As Popular As It Is Controversial," by Linda Shrieves, Orlando Sentinel, 6 August 2005. [ALA justifies substandard reading material. I suppose now that kids have experienced sex "at a safe distance," no one should be surprised about this: "The Cuddle Puddle of Stuyvesant High School," by Alex Morris, New York Magazine, 6 February 2006.]

    "Judging a Book by Its Cover: Publishing Trends in Young Adult Literature," by Cat Yampbell, The Lion and the Unicorn; Sep 2005; 29:3; Children's Module, The Johns Hopkins University Press, pp348-372, at p350-351. [Pay site, but I have relevant text, if requested.]

    "Young Adult Fiction: Wild Things," by Naomi Wolf, The New York Time, 12 March 2006.

    "Page Burners: Sex and the Teenage Girl; What Goes On Between the Covers Is Now What Goes On Between the Covers of New Fiction Aimed at Young Adults," by Tania Padgett, Newsday, 4 April 2006.

    And see my recent blog post, "It's Not Censorship, It's Parenting! -- Best Explanation Ever for What's Wrong With the American Library Association and its Effect on Public School Libraries."

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  12. I appreciate the commentary about this issue and acknowledge that many of the views and arguments are not without merit. I am an avid reader and I recognize the value in being well read, although there may be chasms in each individual's interpretation of what materials qualify as making one "well read."

    Obviously an author wants his or her books to be read, and if our students feel strongly about reading titles that are not included in the English curriculum, the books are available to them and they are welcome to read them.

    An English class cannot read every book published, and our school district needs to focus on making sure the program offered is academically challenging. It is not an issue of approving or disapproving of a specific book. We should follow the rules (which are in place) of an approved course of study to ensure that school curriculum plan goals and objectives are being attained, including advance approval of classroom materials. This, among other things, provides an opportunity to share a list of materials that will be used with parents prior to their children enrolling in a class.

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  13. Chris Crutcher, Max Elliot Anderson, Ellen Hopkins, would you care to respond to Dr. Freeman's comment?

    Thank you for commenting, Dr. Freeman. From my point of view, what you have said further proves you are a gem for your community.

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  14. I think a distinction needs to be made between books that are suitable for a curriculum and books that are great reading.

    For instance, I see the argument for removing Huckleberry Finn from a school curriculum, but I would fight hard for it to remain in the School Library.

    The main difference, of course, is that students will have expectations to have read a book within a curriculum - it's "opt out" at best and not without considerable work on the parents/students part.

    A book in a library is "opt in," so issues of offending etc. are less contentious.

    I think it's also very problematic to take a book that is 'unsuitable' in a one community context and apply it to all communities. Where I went to school, Margaret Laurence's _The Diviners_ was a standard in the curriculum for Grade 13 (Ontario had Grade 13 at the time), and, in my view, it was totally appropriate for the community, despite the sexual content. Romeo and Juliet, taught in Grade 10, was also appropriate in my view, despite the expressed sexual violence as well.

    I do not envy Daniel Freeman's position as there are alot of views in play and alot of difficult decisions to be made and alot of pressure to make the 'right' decision -- which is always the 'wrong' decision from at least one party's point of view.

    I do have concerns generally, however, that the old guard should make reading decisions for the new generation. What is 'literary' is under a lot of scrutiny now and really always was. A great article in the Atlantic (http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200107/myers) puts the storytelling of Stephen King over the 'literaryness' of Annie Proulx, for instance. The popular Canadian Writer, Robertson Davies, always attacked the tendency for some 'literary' authors to attempt to 'bamboozle' the reader. In the end, the question is whether we want a society of 'people who've read certain appropriate books' or a society of readers that can comprehend what they read and let a great book put their imagination into high gear.

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  15. We don't fight for intellectual freedom to get our books read, as Dr. Freeman intimates. In fact he does us a great favor with his censorship efforts, because a whole bunch of folks who would never know our names or our work, now know our names and of our work. We fight for intellectual freedom because this is America and each of us understands that when one book, ANY book, comes into the crosshairs of the censors, and the killing shot is fired, ALL books are then fair game. So let's be clear. Every time you censor me, I sell more books. That's not the fight.

    I've used the word "disingenuous" three times now in responding to Dr. Freeman's defenses of his actions. In light of his post here, I'm afraid I have to use it once more.

    Here is a direct quote from Dr. Freeman's letter to the Book Review Committee in regard to DEADLINE. "Quite frankly, I am dismayed that we would select material with vulgar language and content that I would not even expect to find in the most popular adult magazines. I want the high school instructional program to move quickly to eliminate this material from our English program." That belies his statement in his last entry to this blog: "It is not an issue of approving or disapproving of a specific book." I'm sorry Dr. Freeman, but this isn't about books that will or won't help kids in college; none of us, you included, is smart enough to know that for the great population that is headed into higher education. This about offending your personal sensibilities. I understand that's a powerful accusation, but this business of wrapping one's personal biases in the cloak of academic appropriateness, gets to be transparent. You might remember that the teacher in question was using DEADLINE to help kids understand some complex themes in BEOWULF.

    No one in this conversation is asking anyone to take the "classics" out of the curriculum, though many of them (I refer to Chaucer here, or Shakespeare) contain vulgar language and content that I WOULD expect to find in the most popular adult magazines of their times. Sexual themes, violent themes, bawdy themes, among other more tame ones, are the stuff of the human condition. When we fear to talk about them, we increase, rather than diminish their danger. You seem to show such disdain for the people you were hired to serve.

    Again, I could inundate you with letters from professors in higher education all over the country that give a very different view from yours about what is and isn't appropriate for kids going off to college. If you'd like to see some of them, just say the word.

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  16. This blog post has been receiving huge numbers of hits thanks to the ALA YALSA message below, and I really love this: "DO NOT MISS the action at this blog."

    Thank you, Kelly! But mostly, I am happy to provide a forum for this important discussion. I hope others join in.

    * From: kellymil...
    * To: yalsa-bk...
    * Subject: [yalsa-bk] Mt. Sterling, Kentucky challenge, MORE
    * Date: Wed, 02 Dec 2009 15:52:27 -0500

    If you love Intellectual Freedom and ESPECIALLY if you're following the book challenge in Mt. Sterling, Kentucky featuring DEADLINE, TWISTED by Laurie Halse Anderson and books by Jo Knowles, Neil Schusterman and Sonya Sones, DO NOT MISS the action at this blog. CC's response at the bottom is A** KICKING. He responded to the Superintendent, Daniel Freeman's post (in defense of his challenge). But so are Ellen Hopkins posts [1, 2].

    http://safelibraries.blogspot.com/2009/11/kentucky-school-superintendent-exposes.html

    Kelly Milner Halls

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  17. As a member of YALSA's Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers, I feel the need to speak up.

    Reluctant readers take many forms; some are IB/AP students who are overwhelmed by their workload, others are burdened by jobs, extracurricular activities, and the general difficulties of life. They are jocks, preps, gays,cheerleaders, nerds, geeks, goths, skaters, gamers, and kids on the fringe.

    The committee is charged with the task of finding books that will appeal to these kids.

    Some of these kids have never read a book! For us to appeal to them we have to come up with highly visual selections, such as Frank Warren's PostSecret. We call this a gateway book. It puts a book in their hands and the act of turning pages leads them to read more books. We have seen students read books like these and 4-5 months later are reading literature by Langston Hughes and others.

    Our selections are made by gathering feedback from reluctant readers. We field test extensively and attempt to put a book on the list for every kind of kid.

    Literary quality is not part of the selection criteria on this list. We look for books that are self-selected, shared with friends, have a great cover, a riveting opening, and some good white space on the page.

    My experience as an educator of more than 20 years has shown over and over that the more kids read, the better they comprehend and ultimately achieve.

    Today's kids are accustomed to grittier dramas and highly sensationalized reality television. They are drawn to books like A Child Called "It" and other misery tomes because it allows them to feel better about their lives. Ellen Hopkins' books draw them in and they keep coming back for more.

    The truth of the matter is that what they read is inconsequential, the fact that they are reading leads to achievement.

    I taught the classics as a freshmen English teacher. It was tough. Yet, if you mix in contemporary books the themes are readily accessible. Kids do not relate to Pip being knocked around by Mrs. Joe in Great Expectations because of the time period. But pair it with Rage: A Love Story by Julie Ann Peters or Push: A Novel by Sapphire they can surely understand the challenges Pip faced.

    The bottom line- students need to read.

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  18. Since my YALSA-BK post was unexpectedly posted here, let me clarify. I simply meant to convey that Mr. Crutcher's post was very powerfully written.

    And I appreciate the debate that has unfolded on your blog very much.

    Kelly Milner Halls

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  19. Quoting Dr. Freeman: "We should follow the rules (which are in place) . . ." Yes, you should. It is my understanding that a challenge against these materials was filed and the materials were upheld by a committee. Therefore, the process ended, according to the "rules." How unfortunate that you did not follow your own advice.

    My husband is the perfect example of why these materials belong in a college prep curriculum. He NEVER read a book until college. Yes, that's right, he made it all through high school and into college without reading a single book. The book that finally drew him in? The Fab Five by Mitch Albom--the story of U of M's famed freshman recruits. Deadline by Crutcher, although big in theme and ideas, centers around football. I bet he would have eaten it up in HS and been better prepared for the reading load in college having exercised his abilities a bit in HS. In addition, he would have been able to participate in discussions about the big ideas in the novel, topics such as one's own mortality--something that is difficult, even impossible, for some adults.

    You see, good literature builds bridges which lead students to THINK. Ultimately, educators need to be preparing students who can think and innovate. As I'm sure you know, you're educating them for careers that do not yet exist. Instead of sheltering them, expect them to read, think critically, and discuss the materials at hand. Encourage your teachers to build these bridges from excellent YA to excellent classics, to ideas much larger than any literature. Your students are poorer for the bad decisions you have made thus far.

    I'm glad my children don't attend your school where they would be denied delivery of excellent content based on your personal judgment of the books. I'm hoping that you will take the time to READ these books instead of quoting random "offensive" lines taken completely out of context. You may just find that they get you thinking.

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  20. Unfortunately, the definition of literary merit as it pertains to Advanced Placement English classes seems to be "so boring no one would read it unless we forced them to." I hated most of the books we read in my AP English class and only stayed in the class so that I could place out of college English and never read based on the public consciouness's definition of literature ever again.

    We read several books that I could have objected to in regard to appropriateness. For example, The Awakening was touted as an excellent feminist novel despite celebrating suicide as an exit method. And my school was extremely conservative. We had a parent object to a book because it used the word virgin despite the book having no sexual content at all.

    These advanced students can very accurately be portrayed as reluctant readers especially if the only stuff on offer is "literature" of "merit." I would never have read most of the assigned books on my own because they were boring, long and had nothing to do with real life as far as I could and mostly still do see.

    If the teacher was using more modern books to exhibit and better explain the themes in the works on the curriculum, then she was doing a much better job at engaging her student than my teachers ever attempted. I would have adored having another option to reading the Inferno or Tale of Two Cities; the first of which I object to for multiple reasons including his constant whining and hypocrisy.

    And who gets to decide that some of these old, decrepit classics are need to read material? Obviously someone who was forced to read them in school as well and feels the need to inflict that same pain on the next generation. I will admit that some YA books are fluff or completely pointless, but that's my opinion. I'm sure that some English professor somewhere could make up all sorts of literary merit arguments for just about any book offered up; just like someone did for those stupid classics that everyone insists that everyone else should read.

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  21. I found out today that Dr. Freeman is contacting the employers of people complaining about his pulling the books in question. I saw a letter today from Dr. Freeman wanting to know why a fax was sent about the books. It was signed by Dr. Freeman himself.

    So, now he is trying to put pressure on people through their employers to keep quiet.

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  22. Opal, if that's true, get a copy of the letter and make sure the Mt. Sterling and Lexington newspapers hear about it, and receive copies. Do not let anyone get away with such intimidation tactics. It's obscene.

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  23. Opal, I doubt that's true. I see a well organized effort to get the guy. Just look at that email from Kelly Milner Halls, what she says there, then she realizes it went public, so she attempts to correct herself in a comment here. Look at the Crutcher site urging people to speak up. Look at other sites telling people to write here. There's a total imbalance.

    Freeman's comment is professional and accurate. Besides, he's right. Removing material from a curriculum just to improve the class is not censorship.

    Along comes you, Opal, and you say the guy is acting totally out of character, with no proof whatsoever, supposedly doing something no one would do anyway.

    I think you, Opal, are just part of the smear machine. I have been watching this blog and the imbalance but had to speak up to your vicious smear. I'll bet a lot of us agree with Dr. Freeman but don't say anything for fear of vicious smears like yours. Opal, your censorship is working.

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  24. So, now I'm a liar. When is the truth a smear campaign? I was shown the letter by my boss. It was on the superintendent's letterhead with his signature. I'm going to ask her about sending it on to the paper. Perhaps we can scan it an post it online. Oh, wait, you'll probably accuse me of forging it.

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  25. While it would be futile and unproductive to attempt to respond to every differing opinion or piece of misinformation, I will offer a couple of comments.

    With regard to the statement that I contacted employers of people who complained about books being pulled, I have no idea what that is referencing. I have neither the time nor the inclination to do so. I did respond to a fax that I received that was addressed to me, but had no identification, other than Athens Library in the fax line across the top. It appeared to be an excerpt from a case about books being pulled from a school library. I sent the following letter:

    To Whom It May Concern:

    I received a fax today (see attachment) from Athens Library regarding school library books. The intent of the fax is unclear. It references removal of books from the school library, as well as First Amendment rights. Neither of these would appear to be relevant to the Montgomery County School District. To my knowledge, we have not removed books from the library and I am unaware of a violation of First Amendment rights.
    If there is a specific concern, please provide additional information and it will be considered accordingly.

    And, yes, I did sign it.

    The other point I would make is that not all students in our school system are reluctant readers. Simply deciding that as long as students are reading the content or reading level is unimportant, is not fair or in the best interest of every student.

    I have no interest in favoring "old classics" over modern works. My goal is for our school system to provide the best education possible for our students.

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  26. Dr. Freeman,

    Thank you so much for responding. I apologize that pseudonymous and anonymous commentators have chosen to smear you in an apparent libelous attempt to censor you. Remember what Dan Gerstein said, "The ... elites have convinced themselves that they are taking a stand against cultural tyranny. .... [T]he reality is that it is those who cry 'Censorship!' the loudest who are the ones trying to stifle speech and force their moral world-view on others."

    Dr. Freeman, I give you tremendous credit not only for doing what is right, but also for standing up to the false smears and handling them with amazing professionalism.

    It is amazing how supposed intellectual freedom advocates are so quick to deny a voice to those with which they disagree. And seeing they cannot oppose you on the facts, they will literally make up things then attack the person, as we saw here.

    The former acting director of the ALA's so-called Office for Intellectual Freedom has made things up and attacked me personally as well. I will be blogging on this soon.

    Censorship is a serious issue. It bothers me when censorship is trivialized with false claims that removing material from course curricula is censorship. Meantime, true censorship is overlooked.

    Chris Crutcher is well intentioned. But he fails to see the difference between censorship and selection. A school selects what is appropriate for the students in a particular class, or at least it should.

    Yes, topics such as dealing with rape such as in Laurie Halse Anderson's book Speak may be important for some children to read, but if the book is not appropriate for the subject matter being taught, then the book should not be in the curriculum. This is so obvious to anyone who is not trigger happy with the censorship brigade.

    All these years Cuban librarians have been censored and their books burned and the ALA has done little to help them, quite the contrary. Yet let you remove a book from the curriculum of a certain class and suddenly you are the villian of the NCAC and others, like "Opal" in comments above.

    So thanks once again, Dr. Freeman, for doing what is right by you and your community and not letting the censorship police bully you as they bully others again and again.

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  27. Folks, this blog has received more rave reviews, again with capital letters:

    "Here a blogger lionizes the principal who stood staunch in the face of the challenge. DO read."

    Yes, thanks! See "Defense of Reading!," by Karen Stearns, YALit21, 8 December 2009.

    On a different topic, I made an easier URL for everyone to use. Try:

    http://tinyurl.com/DanielFreeman

    or, to put people at ease:

    http://preview.tinyurl.com/DanielFreeman

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  28. Will Dr. Freeman be at today's rally?

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  29. Anonymous, thanks for commenting. If you went to the rally, will you tell us here what happened? Anyone else want to contribute?

    Here's info on the rally from Kelly Milner Halls:

    "Teen Rally For Free Speech," by David Macinnis Gill, Clay & Wattle, 18 December 2009.

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  30. The following post is from a former ALA Councilor:

    "Age Appropriateness and IF," by Rory Litwin, Library Juice, 3 February 2009.

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  31. If Dr. Freeman cares so much about the students, why did he miss the free speech rally? Control and care are not the same thing.

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  32. NOTE ADDED 3 OCTOBER 2010:

    Risha Mullins has written extensively about her experience and critically about this SafeLibraries blog post here: "Censorship at its Finest: Remembering," by Risha Mullins, For the Love of YA (Review & Author Interviews), 2 October 2010.

    Here is how I responded in a comment on her blog post:

    Risha Mullins said, "A patronizing post on Safe Libraries blog (which now follows my blog) heralded my superintendent as a hero while characterizing me as a misguided teacher with good intentions who didn’t know how to follow the rules: http://safelibraries.blogspot.com/2009/11/kentucky-school-superintendent-exposes.html"

    Ms. Mullins, thank you for linking to me and recognizing the blog post and particularly the comments are particularly interesting.

    Based on what you said, I reread my own post to be sure I did not say what you said I said. Yes, the superintendent is a hero in a time where people are expected to bow down low and immediately to the American Library Association, the National Coalition Against Censorship, the ACLU, and other external pressure groups.

    But I did not see anything negative about you. I did not say or even imply you were "misguided." I did not say or even imply you don't know how to follow rules, rather I said you could easily follow new rules and should not be fired.

    So I said quite the opposite, and at a time when people who supported the superintendent were opposing you. Instead, I supported both of you. As far as I know, I was the only one doing so. Indeed, that's likely why so many interesting people directly involved in the issue responded to my post. Specifically, I said:

    "By the way, teacher Risha Mullins should not be fired. Neither should she be dropped simply due to this issue. She sounds like an excellent teacher, based on the various sources I have read. She could easily follow the new rules while continuing to encourage reading, even with the books removed from the curriculum—no one's censoring or banning anything. Common sense, no?

    "I hereby encourage Ms. Mullins to work within the curriculum to continue to promote reading the best she can, then write a story about her experiences doing so. I am certain her guidance may help many others to meet curricular requirements while encouraging children to read via her innovative means. If I find out she has written such article, I will update this blog post accordingly. Brava Ms. Mullins!"

    I must say, Ms. Mullins, I have supported you. I will continue to support you. I would appreciate it if you would somehow correct the record where you said I said things that I neither said nor implied. I would really appreciate that. Thank you very much.

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  33. What sickness of the mind and soul causes people to believe things like this? How did "Christianity" become a cult of hate? And what happened to separation of church and state?

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  34. Excellent job reinforcing the stereotype of Southerners being ignorant child-like mouth-breathers.

    I am so glad my parents moved to more-sane Connecticut (a state the subsidizes KY with her Federal taxes, BTW) where I was encouraged to read challenging books with material that our more close-minded and backwards citizens would consider "pornographic".

    Well done. Kentucky needs ditch diggers.

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  35. This is not heroic. This is not Christian. This is not American. Parents do not get to decide that certain things can or can't be taught. You're free to teach them what you want on your own time. But our children are free to learn.

    This man makes me ashamed to be a Kentuckian. If I were currently working in Kentucky, I would volunteer my time as a member of the Kentucky bar to challenge this in federal court.

    I could go on and on about how un-American this is and about how ridiculously little sense it makes. But I have a feeling that would fall on deaf ears.

    Anyone wishing to challenge censorship policies like this, there are some fantastic pro bono legal organizations that will help you to assert your--and the students'--constitutional rights.

    On the bright side, at least those of us who educated ourselves know that efforts like this man's are futile. Despite the best efforts of such people, your children will, on the whole, be wiser than you were. Even if you try your hardest to keep them as willfully ignorant as you are.

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  36. Andrew, thanks for commenting.

    It take it from your comments that the American Library Association is not heroic, unChristian, unAmerican, doesn't want children to learn freely, makes people ashamed, should be challenged in court, is ridiculous, makes little sense, is censorious, violates constitutional rights, and wants children to remain ignorant. After all, it was the ALA's de facto 40 year leader who said:

    "On rare occasion, we have situations where a piece of material is not what it appears to be on the surface and the material is totally inappropriate for a school library. In that case, yes, it is appropriate to remove materials. If it doesn't fit your material selection policy, get it out of there."

    "Marking 25 Years of Banned Books Week," by Judith Krug, Curriculum Review, 46:1, Sep. 2006.

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  37. How about you just keep your religious beliefs to yourself instead of trying to censor other peoples right to read what they choose?

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  38. I believe this is what most would call a, "crock of shit." The Stuper-excuse me, Superintendent had forsaken a teacher that actually elevated interest in reading of high schoolers; a task not easily done in the United States. He bowed to the asinine, inane whims of parents who never even read the source material and ganged up on this poor woman. He is a coward and should be removed from his position. We wonder why American education is plummeting. Reasons like this.

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  39. Shockingly, Risha Mullins has self-censored her own blog post!  See: "Censorship at its Finest: Remembering," by Risha Mullins, For the Love of YA (Review & Author Interviews), 2 October 2010, Version 2.  It now contains nothing of the original version.  However, the original post has been intentionally republished here: "Censorship At its Finest: One Teachers Story on How Ignorant Parents are Destroying Quality Education," by treeonthehill, Reddit, 5 October 2010.

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  40. The people in charge of this censorship would make great North Koreans.... Censoring what you don't think people should read is never the answer. I'm ashamed to call you Americans... I guarantee that your children watch movies or television shows that are way worse then the books mentioned (with or without your approval)... Teaching is a hard enough profession without having everyone ramming their philosophies down your throat. If these parents would have actually stepped up to the plate they could have encouraged their children to read a different book instead of expecting the administration to act on their behalf. It's always easy to put all the blame on the teachers when you're a poor parent.

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  41. Looks like you'd greet the Taliban with arms wide open. Their censorship policy is very similar to yours.

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  42. NOTE #2 ADDED 5 OCTOBER 2010:

    Now Risha Mullins has deleted the entire blog post!  It's gone!  Sad!

    Here we have a teacher who was extremely promising and willing to really educate children.  She has suffered an ordeal so bad that she can't even feel free to leave what she wrote about it online.  I urged her to write about her experiences the first time I wrote about her.  Now that she has and she has removed it, I feel even more sadness for her.

    Contrast such an excellent, caring teacher with a teacher/librarian in New Jersey who has expressly refused to perform the duties for which she was hired.  Instead, this teacher, Dee Venuto, has decided certain books are so filled with inappropriate material that she can't read them but lets her students read them and decide if they are appropriate!  See for yourself at "School Media Specialist Passes Sexual Content Review to Students; Dee Venuto Says It Is Discrimination to Keep Children From Material Including Lengthy, Vivid Descriptions of a Ménage a Trois," by Dan Kleinman, SafeLibraries, 18 August 2010.

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  43. I see Risha Mullins's original blog post and all comments have been republished here.

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  44. MRS.MULLINS IS AN AMAZING TEACHER. I am 15 years old and I find it hard to read sometimes and if only I could have been in Mrs.Mullins book club. :(

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  45. Even the name "SafeLibraries" implies you're trying to censor those books you feel would make a library "unsafe", as if a book has ever made a child unsafe.

    March right on in the fight with your Christian reactionary compatriots. The rest of us will keep going to the library and see the ALA for what it is - a body that just wants people to read.

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  46. Andrew, thanks for writing. SafeLibraries opposes book censorship. Further, I advise communities how they are being misled by the ALA, I do not "try to censor books I feel make a library unsafe."

    As for the religious angle of yours, I fail to see how religion affects this at all, except to the extent people like you can use it to ridicule others and avoid the issues. People of all faiths or no faith do not want to expose children to inappropriate material. And it's perfectly legal to protect children from such material. As the US Supreme Court said in a case the ALA lost big, "The interest in protecting young library users from material inappropriate for minors is legitimate, and even compelling, as all Members of the Court appear to agree." Common sense, no?

    Lastly, the ALA is not "a body that just wants people to read." How would you explain why the ALA did nothing about book burning in Cuba? Explain why the ALA guides libraries to systematically exclude books about ex-gays--didn't you say the ALA "just wants people to read"? Explain why the ALA censors Robert Spencer of JihadWatch. Explain why the ALA rarely invites conservatives to its meetings and ridicules them if they do.

    Andrew, you are welcome to blindly follow the ALA. I hope you will keep an open mind, however, that things may not be what they seem. As George Orwell said, "In a time of universal deceit telling the truth is a revolutionary act."

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  47. NOTE ADDED 6 OCTOBER 2010:

    Risha Mullins has explained her self-censorship in her newest blog post, "This is Not Me Backing Down," by Risha MullinsFor the Love of YA (Review & Author Interviews), 5 October 2010.

    Quoting her, "I removed my blog in protest to the hostile, hate-filled rhetoric being sent to my former administration and colleagues in my name. [L]et me beg of you to stop this harassment."

    It has been my experience that the free speech advocates are the meanest of the mean bent on pure harassment to shut down the few voices that are not cowed into speaking like them or shutting up. What Risha Mullins has said is brave yet again since she is a free speech advocate, but one who speaks the truth about the viciousness of those who claim to be for free speech.

    As Dan Gerstein said, "The ... elites have convinced themselves that they are taking a stand against cultural tyranny. .... [T]he reality is that it is those who cry 'Censorship!' the loudest who are the ones trying to stifle speech and force their moral world-view on others."

    Thank you, Risha Mullins, for making that point crystal clear.

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  48. "It has been my experience that the free speech advocates are the meanest of the mean bent on pure harassment to shut down the few voices that are not cowed into speaking like them or shutting up."

    It is not the voices that are being attacked. It is the actions. If the parents simply expressed their view and it ended there, it wouldn't be a problem, but books were actually removed from the curriculum, which is outrageous and spurs these groups into a frenzy.

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  49. I am also amazed at what this debacle has showed of how cowed the student body is. I graduated class of 2000 and we would have never stood for this nonsense. Moo Moo Book Club indeed.

    To all young adults reading this: Get out there and support your teachers that are trying to do good. Your voice is the most important of all involved. It is your education that is being destroyed.

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  50. Aaron C., I love your passion. If you wish, I will allow you to write a guest post on my SafeLibraries blog. Interested?

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  51. ""It's not censorship when you make wise decisions about what can be used in the classroom,""


    Totally disagree with this statement.

    When parents get books banned, it IS censorship. I'm surprised a lot of the classics don't offend them. Perhaps it is because the classics are more difficult to read/comprehend in comparison to YAs.

    Does life offend these parents? Do they live in a bubble? These YA books are dark and gritty for a reason; they explore the harsh realities of life and offer ways to cope with those difficult trials. Life isn't full of unicorns shitting out rainbows. There is rape. There is war. There is death. And what's worse is that all of these things do indeed happen to innocents. By banning the books that battle these issues head on by providing ways to cope, parents are trying to control and shelter their children/teenagers. Parents are silencing them.

    What I would love to know is whether or not these parents have actually read any of the books they compared to "soft pornography." Have they actually read -- not scanned, READ -- any of the books they insisted were banned? My bet is they haven't, just like good old Scroggins. They take one or two lines out of context and then bash the books because it contained one line about sex. Prove me wrong, I dare you.

    It is sad when parents pull garbage like this. They ostracized a wonderful teacher who encouraged her students to think for themselves. I hope these students are presented with these wonderful books in the college setting. I hope they don't grow up as ignorant as their parents.

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  52. If you don't want to read a book, just don't read it. If you don't want your children to read a book, don't allow them to read it. Could it get any simpler? Why should I not be allowed to read a book just because other people find it "offensive"?

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  53. "SafeLibraries opposes book censorship."

    If that is your position, then what exactly is the purpose of this blog?

    "'Banned Books Week' [BBW] is the ALA creation it uses to lead the deceptive and disgraceful effort to ridicule people."

    Why are you against "Banned Books Week" if you oppose censorship??

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  54. Anonymous said, "If you don't want to read a book, just don't read it. If you don't want your children to read a book, don't allow them to read it. Could it get any simpler?"

    You make it sound simple. However, the law allows adults and schools to keep children from inappropriate material. Common sense also says to keep inappropriate material from children. It's obvious. It doesn't get simpler than that.

    Another Anonymous asked me the purpose of my blog since I oppose book censorship. The purpose is written at the top of the blog: "Educating people and politicians about who controls public libraries. Citizens should, not the American Library Association. If your local library is applying ALA policy instead of local law/policy, learn from this blog what can be done to reverse that."

    He also asked why I oppose BBW if I also oppose censorship. The ALA that created BBW makes a mockery of censorship, that is why. It screams censorship when adults keep inappropriate material from children, but it is does nothing when, for example, Cuban libraries are jailed and their books burned.

    I only wish the ALA would act in an honest fashion in opposing censorship, but it does not. Did you know the last book banned in the USA was in 1963? Does the ALA tell you that? No.

    Did you know the ALA creator of BBW said, "On rare occasion, we have situations where a piece of material is not what it appears to be on the surface and the material is totally inappropriate for a school library. In that case, yes, it is appropriate to remove materials. If it doesn’t fit your material selection policy, get it out of there."? Did you know that quote does not appear on the ALA site? Why? The ALA has all sorts of material about how it is age discrimination to keep any material whatsoever from children, even making that part of its "Library Bill of Rights," but nowhere can you find that quote from its own leader. Why?

    BBW is a farce put on by the ALA to promote its political goals. I wish there was a major legitimate organization that legitimately opposed actual censorship. There's none of which I am aware. So I am totally consistent in opposing censorship while at the same time opposing BBW.

    Think for yourself. Maybe you will agree BBW is not the right vehicle to hop on to oppose censorship. Unless, of course, you think the ALA should use BBW to ridicule hundreds of people simply for following ALA advice to file claims under ALA-directed materials reconsideration policies.

    One more thing, this just in from the Annoyed Librarian: "Why the OIF Can't be Taken Seriously, by Annoyed Librarian, Library Journal, 6 October 2010.

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  55. Tory [Book Faery] said, "They take one or two lines out of context and then bash the books because it contained one line about sex. Prove me wrong, I dare you."

    Tori, you better sit down for this. I agree with you completely. I recommend people read the entire book before filing any complaint. Further, when I hear about people who have submitted a list of dozens of books that must be removed, I have to roll my eyes.

    But just because someone does not dot every i and cross every t should not mean his complaint should discarded without serious review. Think about the ALA. There's an organization that has decades and decades of experience in how to handle book challenges. Contrast that with some mom or pop. Such people have no experience, let alone decades. It would be unfair to dismiss them out of hand for any defect in their submission.

    Think of a court room. Lawyers are trained and practiced when they appear before the court. Pro se parties, on the other hand, are not. Do judges toss out their cases forthwith for not dotting every i and crossing every t? Of course not.

    The same should go for people who file imperfect complaints. They should be appropriately guided and given a chance to amend their complaints accordingly.

    So, for example, if someone files a complaint regarding dozens of books that they have not read and just got off some, say, GLSEN web site, then that person should be asked to read each book and file a separate complaint if they still feel that would be appropriate.

    You see? I'm being reasonable. It is not reasonable to toss out what people say because they did not say it perfectly. And on the other hand, it is not reasonable to expect a review of dozens of books that just happen to be on a list but with which the person has no other knowledge.

    And ultimately a committee of some kind makes a decision, not the complaining parent. It is wrong to blame parents for banning or censoring books. They just raise the issue. It is up to the committee on what action is taken.

    Besides, removing books in accordance with Board of Education v. Pico is neither censorship nor banning. Neither is complying with what the creator of Banned Books Week said, that if a book does not meet the school's material selection policy, "Get it out of there."

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  56. So, for example, if someone files a complaint regarding dozens of books that they have not read and just got off some, say, GLSEN web site, then that person should be asked to read each book and file a separate complaint if they still feel that would be appropriate.

    100% agree with you here. If these parents actually sat down, read the books, and gave some reasoning behind why they did not approve of the content, then I wouldn't get so mad. At least they actually took the time to see for themselves whether or not these arguments are just. At least they can form a sound argument based upon their interpretation of the text.

    Do I agree with books being banned from classrooms? No, I don't believe it's right. If one or two parents are uncomfortable with the subjects in said books, but everyone else is okay, why should all of these other students be deprived?

    Not reading these books makes the parents look bad, and makes the school administration look even worse (assuming they too have not read the titles in question).


    You see? I'm being reasonable. It is not reasonable to toss out what people say because they did not say it perfectly. And on the other hand, it is not reasonable to expect a review of dozens of books that just happen to be on a list but with which the person has no other knowledge.

    Yes, I agree that is reasonable. If we all simply dismissed cases due to one party being unable to eloquently express their concerns, we would have a lot of problems in our country. One does not have to state their argument perfectly, but one should have the common sense to examine the material further before causing such a ruckus.

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  57. "The ALA that created BBW makes a mockery of censorship, that is why. It screams censorship when adults keep inappropriate material from children, but it is does nothing when, for example, Cuban libraries are jailed and their books burned."

    Keeping one's own house in order is surely more useful than inveighing against policies in countries where you have no influence, no? This is the American Library Association we're talking about, practices in American libraries should be their primary concern.

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  58. Evan Waters, thanks.

    I agree with your statement, "Keeping one's own house in order is surely more useful than inveighing against policies in countries where you have no influence, no? This is the American Library Association we're talking about, practices in American libraries should be their primary concern."

    In case you were not aware, the ALA steps into foreign matters and matters having nothing to do with librarianship all the time, much to the chagrin of many of its members. See, for example, "American Library Association Shamed," by Nat Hentoff, Laurel Leader-Call, 2 March 2007.

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  59. Your patronizing, acidic attitude toward Risha Mullins is exactly what she faced the months before she lost her job and was under the perpetual duress of being bullied by her peers and her employer. This is censorship.

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  60. Elizabeth, thanks for writing. I believe you have me confused with someone else. And I hope you enjoyed the very interesting comments here made by many interesting people, authors, etc.

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