Monday, September 28, 2009

Do these Lederhosen make me look fat?

Magic in books A little follow-up to yesterday's entry about Banned Books Week. Someone who runs a site called Safe Libraries felt the need to leave a comment with a bunch of links about why they think Banned Books Week is kind of stupid. Why do people do this? It's obviously something I feel very strongly about, and do they think I'm going to suddenly say, "You know what? You're right. It was a mistake for me to write about Banned Books Week. I take back everything I wrote." I've left it up, though, in the interest of fair play, and because they didn't post anonymously.

The gist of the articles that I skimmed were that "banned" is a misnomer, and very misleading on the part of the ALA, as no books have been "banned" in the U.S. for years. Technically true. You know why? Because of those of us who say that it is wrong to do so and because it is unconstitutional. The challenges are still happening, but increasingly unsuccessful because I feel that the majority of people believe that no book should be removed from library shelves because of others' objections. Let me say it again: if you don't want your kid reading a particular book, do what you can to keep them from reading it--that is your right as a parent. I've got news for you, though. Kids will do whatever they can to find ways to push the envelope and to learn about things you don't want them to learn. I speak from experience, because I was once a kid. I still remember sitting in a Study Hall with my friends Kathy and Steve, looking up synonyms for "genitals" in the thesaurus. If I recall correctly, our favorite was "meat," and it gave us the giggles so bad we could hardly breathe. (Now it makes me laugh that it seemed so hilarious at the time!) Sheer silliness...but trying to stop kids from figuring out such things is like trying to empty the ocean with a sieve. They'll find ways.

The main goal of Banned Books Week, as I see it, is to draw attention to a long history of censorship and remain vigilant that such challenges are defeated. My friend Tim left a comment that included this: "That is the real danger of all this book banning - the chilling effect it has on librarians, publishers and authors." I would add "attempted" before book banning, but he is right. If an author is successfully challenged and their book is removed from library circulation, they may experience a spike in sales due to the "forbidden" factor ("The controversial best-selling book BANNED by the Hicksville Public Library!"), but might that banning not affect the way they write their next book, resulting in self-censorship and a dampening of the creative spirit? Might a publisher hesitate to take on a book because of past controversy? Or a librarian decide to not order the author's next book for the library because there was such a hassle with the previous one?

As I wrote yesterday, an attempt to restrict books is an attempt to restrict ideas. If that is your goal for your own family, good luck with that. One individual or group has no right to restrict books from others. End o' story.

I was looking at the list of banned classics last night, and it was astounding. Many of these books were banned in the 20's and 30's and beyond, and were still being challenged as recently as the 80's. It's interesting reading, especially some of the reasons and the wording used in the challenges:

  • blasphemous
  • undermines morality
  • obscene
  • smut
  • trash
  • filth
  • the use of 'damn' and 'whore lady', a "filthy, trashy novel" (To Kill a Mockingbird)
  • "demoralizing inasmuch as it implies that man is little more than an animal" (Lord of the Flies)
  • indecent, "does not represent traditional values" (Of Mice and Men)
  • teachers "can choose the best books, but they keep choosing this garbage over and over again" (One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest)
  • burned in Alamagordo, N. Mex. (2001) outside Christ Community Church as "satanic" (Lord of the Rings)
  • "filthy, trashy sex novel" (A Separate Peace)

Jeez, everybody's a critic, huh?


Lederhosen So, I'm celebrating Banned Books Week, and it's a cool and blustery fall day here at Nutwood. What to do, what to do?

Break out the Lederhosen, Helmut, we're goin' to Oktoberfest!

Das ist richtig, Ken und I will be heading over zu Granite City Food und Brewery diesen Abend für eine "Mug Club" party. Wir essen brats und sauerkraut (at least I will...Ken kann nicht stand sauerkraut, but Ich liebe the stuff), und they'll be tapping their new fall Bier called, appropriately enough, Oktoberfest. Ich feel ein yodeling fit coming on!


  1. Stinky sauerkraut :o)

    Careful, I might let out a yodel or two.

  2. eat enough kraut and the yodel might come from the netherlands....


  3. That's hilarious! But even more hilarious would be if you would (please!!!) take your Flip Video camera to the Octoberfest and take a little movie of you yodeling! Do it!

  4. That happened to be a show I was up late enough to have watched!!

    I read your post about banned books. Couldn't pull anything together that made sense to leave a comment on. When it is about the 'tiny brained folk', it seems like shooting fish in a barrel.

  5. I just spit pizza on the screen after reading Miss Alaineus'

  6. Hi Beth,
    I skimmed the Safe Libraries site and sort of choked on their statement that "children are not safe in public libraries." Is that their aim ... to keep kids out of public libraries?!?" If so, perhaps they're afraid some wayward teen might come across a computer in the reference section and use it to -- dare I say it? -- crash or "censor" the Safe Libraries site. Seriously, I agree with you: Parents should be responsible for monitoring their kids' media consumption.

  7. Oranizations like the Safe Libraries need to find a real cause to stand up for. LOL

  8. Beth thanks again, Here you are I have never met you, we are from possible different ends and you still able to manage to carry on your message without shouting. Your narrative, your point of view, your sampling brings a completion to a very important point. I love the Yodeling video. I will love to do that. But what I love most about your perspective is what is been missing in this hole attempt to uphold knowledge with the pathetic excused of saving the children. As you know I am dyslexic, so books are not my first resource for knowledge, but like you I used to look for dirty magazines to watch them copulate. The dialogue was meaningless to me, But to see them act out sexually was amusing to me even tough they were straight. I was 9 years old and the mags were under my parents mattress. You want to know something else if they were to find out that I was looking at their porn collection they would have whip me, Lucky for me I staid quiet. Mind you my parents were big in the church so we all pretended that the mags were not even there.

  9. Beth, I think that your terminology in your initial post on book banning was accurate. While there hasn't been a wholesale ban on books in the U.S. on a national level in quite a few years, books continue to be removed from the shelves in schools and libraries on a local level. These book bannings rarely make national news. The challenge is local and the local school board or library decides whether to remove the books from the shelves. As you ably point out, it is a subterfuge to allege that the banning is done to protect children. Parents certainly may control what books their children read but they have no business limiting my children's access to material that I am comfortable with them reading. (No, I haven't suddenly reproduced but that's how I would feel if I had children.)

    I love Craig Ferguson. He can teach me to yodel any time!

  10. Hi Beth. My mom was a teacher, so books were always a big deal in my family. We went to the library every week to get new books and my mom and I would read three to five books a piece each week. I agree with you that parents should be responsible for monitoring their children and what they read. They can't expect society to make their job as a parent easier. You and Ken enjoy Oktoberfest!

  11. So basically, they don't all out ban anymore, they just carefully shift, stock, sort and put the questionable books on the highest shelf.....
    Safe libraries huh. I had no idea there were unsafe libraries, but now I know!!
    The things I learn everyday....
    I bet there are more then a few of us who would pay up to watch a video of you yodeling~

  12. Having been an avid reader all my life, I would kill to read a 'banned' book. To me, "To Kill a Mockingbird" has always been the best book ever written. Just sayin...some people's children.

    I heart Craig Ferguson. Just wish he was on before 12:30am.


I'm funny how, I mean funny like I'm a clown, I amuse you?