Banned Book week runs from September 26 to October 3rd this year. Call me naive, but I always thought Wisconsin was a rather progressive state, we’ve worked for the advancement of human rights, workers’ rights, and so on. So color me surprised when I discovered that ignorance and prejudice are alive and well here in Badgerland. The list below shows some of the book challenges here. (All information was found on BannedBooksWeek.org.)
1) What My Mother Doesn’t Know by Sonya Sones
Banned in Spring Hill, Wisconsin (2007)
Reason it was banned: The book was restricted to just the 7th and 8th grade students after some narrow-minded, prudish parent wanted the book removed from the library and the accelerated reading program because it deals with (shocking!) masturbation, groping and sexual fantasy.
2) The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, Geography Club by Brent Hartinger, Baby Be-Bop by Franscesca Lia Block, among many others
Banned in West Bend, Wisconsin (2009)
Reason they were banned: The of content was viewed by some puritanical community members as obscene or harmful to minors, although I’m sure they couldn’t offer any evidence supporting this backwards belief. Many of the challenged books had OMG! LGBTQ (which I believe stands for Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgender/ and the Q is either Queer or questioning. I’m not sure which) themes. On May 18, 2009, the West Bend Common Council, in their divine stupidity, voted not to reappoint four members of the Library Board because of their views and adherence to library policy. The National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC), American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression (ABFFE), the Association of American Publishers (AAP), and PEN American Center joined to urge the council to reconsider their moronic decision and retain the books. The American Library Association (ALA) also issued a letter and statement. Additionally, the Christian Civil Liberties Union filed a legal claim whining that its plaintiffs suffered mental and emotional damage from the mere presence of these books in the library’s young adult section. Somehow, I guess, the books send out this vibration that effects prudes. On June 2, the West Bend Library Board, in a display of enlightenment, voted unanimously to retain the books in its YA Zone, without removing, relocating, labeling, or otherwise restricting access. Though no subsequent challenges were submitted, the library has faced ongoing pressure to remove or restrict access to online content and library materials for young people. Coverage of the West Bend case can be followed on the NCAC blog, Blogging Censorship.
- Library Fight Riles Up West Bend
- Interview with Maria Hanrahan, founder of West Bend Parents for Free Speech
- Letter Opposing West Bend Decision Not to Reappoint Library Board Members
3) The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
Banned in Oshkosh, Wisconsin (2007)
Reason it was banned: The book was removed from shelves by some idiotic and misguided librarian in both middle and high schools in Oshkosh because she happened to hear the news about the controversy, and one wonders if she actually read the book. Ironically, the school district’s policy reads: “The primary objective of the library media program is to implement, enrich and support the educational program.” Enrich, by banning books?
4) Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging: Confessions of Georgia Nicolson by Louise Rennison
Banned in Menasha, Wisconsin (2008)
Reason it was banned: The book was put on limited access at the Maplewood Middle School in Menasha after a stuffy, tight-laced parent objected that the book offensive. Once again one priggish person fucked things up for everyone. The book was retained, but board members voted unanimously(which showed none of them had any balls) to adopt procedures that would make students wanting the book to have to jump through parental consent hoops.
5) Vibe magazine
Banned in Randolph, Wisconsin (2009)
Reason it was banned: Vibe Magazine, which provides coverage of urban music and fashion, cars, and electronic gadgets, was removed from the Randolph High School library after the school’s principal, Tom Erdmann, who it would seem is secretly afraid of anything black, complained about the magazine’s gang violence and activity. The Kids’ Right to Read Project (KRRP) sent a letter.
So let’s all celebrate banned books week by showing intellectual enlightenment and freedom: Read a Banned Book.
By doing so you’ll be giving the cerebral finger to all those mindless, kneejerk puritans who would deny the world of any writing that doesn’t fit their narrow worldview.