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A discussion on censorship through the Pelham Public Library, Fonthill, Ontario. Between February and June 2007, take the "Banned Book Challenge." A comprehensive list of "banned book" sites and resources for the novel "Fahrenheit 451" by Ray Bradbury can be found on the sidebar.
Statistics for Fahrenheit 451: Banned Books
Number of Readers that added this blog to their MyJacketFlap: 14
In a letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty, dated July 16, 2010, the British Columbia Library Association expressed "concern over the unprecedented curtailment of civil liberties that took place at the June 2010 meeting of the G20 in Toronto."
Numerous concerns are expressed which can be read in the pdf version of the full letter. A particular concern are the allegations that a number of journalists were arrested and detailed in the course of doing their jobs. "The media play a critical role in preserving democracy by bearing witness and documenting events."
Other concerns included the mass arrests of people who "appear to have been arrested while exercising their constitutionally protected rights to freedom of assembly, association, and expression; some were random, uninvolved passers-by." The BCLA concludes that if these arrests were carried out as a method of preventative detention, they have "infring[ed] on important Charter rights with respect to due process" and that the effect was that "many individuals felt unable, or afraid, to exercise these rights."
BCLA urges the Government of Ontario to review the impact of Ontario Regulation 233/10 on intellectual freedom, including the people’s right to express their intellectual position, and its impact on the media’s right to report multiple perspectives on major international events happening within Canada.
There are a number of areas the BCLA would like to see addressed in an inquiry including "the impact of security measures on the Charter rights of citizens to freedom of assembly, association, expression, and due process."
BCLA represents over 800 library staff from all types of libraries, predominantly public and academic libraries. One of the purposes of the Association is to promote and foster the role of libraries and library workers in British Columbia through advocacy, education and leadership. A key aspect of this purpose is to ensure that the role libraries play in policy issues, ranging from literacy to intellectual freedom to copyright to equitable access to information, is communicated to the appropriate level of government.
It will be interesting to see if other provinces' library associations follow suit.
In the aftermath of the G20 Summit in Toronto, Canada, a number of people are calling for an independent inquiry into the actions that led up to the arrests of over 1,000 people. Well-respected human rights organizations such as Amnesty International have voiced concerns "about possible police excesses, including reports of journalists being arrested or constrained in the course of covering confrontations between police and demonstrators." Their voice is joined by many others who want answers to why "excessive acts of vandalism and other violence were carried out and on the other hand thousands of individuals felt nervous and uneasy about exercising their right to engage in peaceful protest." Read Human Rights in Canada for a full account of their position.
freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication
freedom of peaceful assembly
Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.
Everyone has the right to be secure against unreasonable search or seizure.
Everyone has the right not to be arbitrarily detained or imprisoned.
Everyone has the right on arrest or detention
(a) to be informed promptly of the reasons therefor; (b) to retain and instruct counsel without delay and to be informed of that right; and (c) to have the validity of the detention determined by way of habeas corpus and to be released if the detention is not lawful.
CJFE calls upon the police to respond to questions from reporters about their treatment of journalists. Serious questions of public policy and civil liberties are raised by the number and diversity of reports of detainment and attacks against journalists. Merely urging individuals to file complaints about their treatment is an inadequate response from politically accountable security forces. We support the numerous calls for an inquiry into police tactics and security arrangements for the summit, conducted openly with its conclusions made public. Any such inquiry must include a thorough examination of police treatment of journalists covering the events.
There was a controversial use of the Public Works Protection Act which was passed without being put before legislature. Prior to the Summit, police believed that act gave them the power to search anyone within five meters of the security fence. It was later revealed that the
Thank you to everyone who registered for the "Banned Book Challenge" in 2010. A total of 31 people pledged to read 354 books between February and June 2010. Registration is now closed but watch for the Banned Book Challenge to return in February 2011 (Freedom to Read Week in Canada). Feel free to submit book reviews or links in the comments below or email them and I will post them.
Watch for Banned Books Week in the US from September 25 − October 2, 2010. If you need a challenge to help focus your reading, Bibliobabe has a comprehensive list of other book challenges.
A previous post explained how Ulysses "Seen," a graphic novel based on Ulysses, the James Joyce novel was modified to meet Apple's policy concerning cartoon nudity. In the case of this graphic novel, Apple has revised their policy, in order to include the original art work, according to a Yahoo News story from June 16, 2010.
A MacWorld article reprinted from Macworld UK has information about a newly released comic book adaptation of Ulysses, the epic by James Joyce, entitled Ulysses "Seen". It is available from the U.S. iTunes Store and has been rated 17+ by Apple. The original, uncensored version is available for download from the Ulysses "Seen" website.
It is described by Apple this way:
Robert Berry's comic adaptation of the 1922 edition of James Joyce's epic novel, ULYSSES accompanied by a page-by-page reader's guide, dramatis personae, and pop-up translations of non-english passages. The reader's guide is enhanced with discussion groups and links to online information sources, photos, videos, and other assorted bric a brac allowing you to dive as deep as you like into the world of Ulysses. If you've always wanted to read ULYSSES, but have been intimidated by its size and density, this is a great way in and is a great new way in its own right to experience literature.
Ulysses "Seen," the comic novel was not made available until Apple's demand for cuts was met. All cartoon nudity had to be removed because of Apple's strict guidelines, something Rob Berry and Josh Levitas, the creators of the web comic had not counted on. They had expected to cover areas with "fig leaves" or pixelate certain areas but Apple's policy did not allow for that, so the images were cropped for the iPad.
Images from Rob Berry and Josh Levitas' comic adaptation of Ulysses.
There is still time to sign up. The challenge goes until June 30. Set your own goal and let us know about it. I will publish any reviews, etc. as they are sent to me.
A comment today indicates that one of our participants has accomplished reading 38 challenged books to date. Great work. I set myself the modest goal of four and have completed them. I love the challenge of reading books I may not have otherwise chosen for myself.
In it, Gaiman reminisces about the Bradbury, the builder of dreams, as he reviews the many Bradbury volumes he has read and how they have influenced him and shaped the world. Gaiman refers to Bradbury as "The man who gave us a future to fear, one without stories, without books," an obvious reference to Fahrenheit 451.
Bradbury at his best really was as good as we thought he was. He built so much, and made it his. So when the wind blows the fallen autumn leaves across the road in a riot of flame and gold, or when I see a green field in summer carpeted by yellow dandelions, or when, in winter, I close myself off from the cold and write in a room with a TV screen as big as a wall, I think of Ray Bradbury . . .
According to "Name Confusion Gets Kid's Author Banned from Texas Curriculum," an article in the Dallas News, the Texas Board of Education removed Bill Martin from the grade three curriculum because they believed he had written books for adults that contain "very strong critiques of capitalism and the American system."
The book on Marxism, entitled Ethical Marxism, was actually written by Bill Martin, a philosophy professor from Chicago.
Pat Hardy, the member of the school board who made the motion to exclude Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do you See? received a warning about the author's supposed political tendencies from another member of the school board who had not read the book.
Michael Sampson, Martin's co-author on 30 children's books stated that Hardy's motion is "a new low in terms of the group that's supposed to represent education having such faulty research and making such a false leap without substantiating what they're doing."
My first thought upon reading this article was, "So what if he wrote 'very strong critiques of capitalism and the American system?'" Does that somehow negate the value of this children's book, used by many primary school teachers to teach colour? The reason for banning this book smacks of McCarthyism. The importance of reading the book being challenged is proven by this incident.
Check out the video of Bill Martin, Jr. reading Brown Bear, Brown Bear, then the spoof read by daddytypes.
To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Anne Frank House museum a special exhibit of nearly all of Anne Frank's diary went on display Wednesday April 28. 2010. According to a recent article in the Globe and Mail, this is the first time for nearly all of the diary to be displayed at the house where she wrote it during the two years the Jewish teenager was in hiding from the Nazis.
The original red plaid diary in which Anne began writing on her 13th birthday has been at the museum for several years but it covers just six months of the 25 months she hid with her family and four other Jews in a concealed canal-side apartment in Amsterdam.
Now on display, are the three parts of the diary, a book of short stories she wrote called “Tales from the Secret Annex,” and a notebook of her favourite quotations. Two other school exercise books and other pages were stored at the Netherlands War Documentation Center, the government war archives.
The diary chronicles Anne's life and coming of age from June 12, 1942, until August 1, 1944. The house was raided three days later and its occupants deported to Germany. Anne died of typhus at age 15 in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in March 1945, about two weeks before the camp was liberated.
Anne also wrote 360 loose pages written on flimsy paper, mostly revising earlier diary entries with the intention of publishing it after the war. Because of the papers' fragile state, the museum said it will display 40 sheets at a time and rotate them.
The diary and other papers have all been studied, published and in some cases reproduced in replicas. But it will be the first time visitors see nearly the full collection in Anne's own hand in one place.
“The generation of people who experienced the war and Nazi persecution of the Jews is shrinking fast,” said former Prime Minister Wim Kok at the church ceremony. “Their stories must be kept alive and passed on to new generations. The Anne Frank House is one of the places where that happens.”
The diary has been translated into dozens of languages, has been read by millions of people and is on the curriculum of many schools.
The cramped apartment, with two stories and a small attic, was restored and opened to the public on May 3, 1960, by Anne's father, Otto Frank, the only survivor among the eight Jews who hid there.
The museum now includes the front of the building, where Otto Frank once had a warehouse and office, and a new building next door. It receives about 1 million visitors a year, compared with 9,000 the first year.
In 1983, members of the Alabama State Textbook Committee called for the rejection of The Diary of Anne Frank because
Brian Henry, a parent and the writer of the article believes that although 'one book by itself is never going to make any child any sort of bigot. Along with other things though, yes, it could.' He add that schools should be 'a politics-free zone.'
What is your source for concluding, "Every school board in the province that has independently examined The Shepherd's Granddaughter has concluded that the book is problematic?" Are you the parent who is asking that this book be removed from the OLA Forest of Reading list and are filing a formal complaint?
May I ask if you have read the book? I will admit that I have not. I am awaiting an Inter-library loan and will read it. However, I am opposed to banning books on principle. Many of the same criticisms of The Shepherd's Granddaughter were leveled at Three Wishes: Palestinian and Israeli Children Speak prior to having it removed from Toronto schools. I have read this book and found it to be balanced and fair.
Schools cannot be "a politics-free zone," in my opinion, if we are to raise healthy, well-rounded, critical thinkers. There is a huge difference between addressing controversial issues and promoting political agendas. The Toronto District School Board policy, which you cited states that controversy is part of life. You imply that some parties have a political agenda which they are promoting through "slipping" The Shepherd's Granddaughter into the Red Maple Award Program. I do not see what the author, the Ontario Library Association, or the Ontario schools would have to gain by promoting a political agenda through a novel for children.
As for making sure a book is "good" before encouraging children to read it, I searched a number of reviews. You are welcome to read them in their entirety. The links are included.
A challenge to a graphic novel series written for children is ironic because it is so close to Free Comic Book Day. A recent story in the Minnesota Sun explains that parent Ramona DeLay was shocked that Jeff Smith's popular "Bone" graphic novel series has illustrations related to drinking, smoking, and gambling, activities the DARE program taught him not to do. She had filed a request to have the materials reconsidered for inclusion in the library. She objected to the book's portrayal of gambling, alcohol and tobacco use, and "sexual situations between characters" and indicated that she wanted the book "withdrawn from all students."
JS: [Laughs] I'm laughing because it doesn't seem like you could really find those things. To a degree. In general, the characters in Bone are all adults and there are not a lot of strange activities like that, but there are storylines, some of the unsavory characters will try to pull scams, try to rig bets and things, and it always goes wrong. So no one is rewarded for doing any unsavory behavior in Bone, and it's difficult for me to see how anyone could think Bone would encourage kids to do unsavory things. Also, none of the main characters do these things. My conclusion is that some people aren't smart enough to read comic books.
He explains why his character was smoking.
The smoking in Bone, it's kind of like a time capsule thing. I started Bone in 1991. In 1988 there was a big movie, Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and there was a baby smoking a cigar [in that movie]. So a cigar to me was like a Groucho Marx vaudeville prop, it was an anachronism. When I created the dragon, it was not the evil it is now. When I quit smoking in the middle of Bone, the cigarette just disappeared from the dragon's mouth.
According to a Wikipedia article, "Bone has received numerous awards, among them ten Eisner Awards and eleven Harvey Awards. In 2005, Time chose the 1,342 page compilation as one of the 10 best English language, graphic novels ever written."
The review board has voted 10 to 1 to allow the series to remain, according to Boneville.com.
Why not celebrate Free Comic Book day by adding a challenged comic book or graphic novel to the Banned Book Challenge? How many challenged books can you complete in one month?
The Shepherd's Granddaughter, a children's novel about a Palestinian teen growing up outside of a Palestinian village in the West Bank in the midst of the Middle East conflict, was written by Canadian author Anne Laurel Carter. The book is told through the child Amani's voice. As with Three Wishes, the controversy came long after the publication of the book and was highlighted by its nomination by the Ontario Library Assocation for the Red Maple Award, a program intended to foster reading skills for students, in this case for grades seven and eight.
The Jewish Tribune cited negative comments made towards Jews on Goodreads.com.
Critics feel the novel — told from the Palestinian viewpoint with characters' opinions about the conflict ranging from peaceful resistance to militancy, with Amani choosing non-violence — could result in discrimination.
The Jewish Tribune recently wrote an article entitled, "Could This Book Turn Your Child Against Israel" which cites hurtful comments made toward Jews on Goodreads.com. Brian Henry, a parent and the writer of the article believes that although "one book by itself is never going to make any child any sort of bigot. Along with other things though, yes, it could." He add that schools should be "a politics-free zone."
B'nai Brith Canada believes the book "demonizes" Israelis and portrays Palestinians as innocent.
At least one Toronto trustee wants The Shepherd's Granddaughter gone from schools. James Pasternak, a trustee with the Toronto District School Board was quoted by CanWest as saying,
The book is really inappropriate to be presented in this way, in a school setting. It doesn't present a balanced or fair reflection of that conflict zone. It's a biased book that borders on political propaganda.
Sheila Ward, also a Toronto trustee has said she expects people will accuse her of censorship but that she would "move heaven and Earth to have The Shepherd's Granddaughter taken off the school library shelves." She added, "If it means I will no
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If you want to read more about censorship, "Blowing Up My Mind!" covers "Book censorship, tidbits, thoughts and stories from a bookworm & lifelong learner." It looks as if it is updated very regularly. I will be adding this as a permanent link.
The top 10 titles most challenged titles of 2009 were:
TTYL; TTFN; L8R, G8R (series) by Lauren Myracle Reasons: Nudity, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group, Drugs
And Tango Makes Three by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson
The Perks of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Reasons: Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit, Anti-Family, Offensive Language, Religious Viewpoint, Unsuited to Age Group, Drugs, Suicide
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Reasons: Racism, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group
Twilight (series) by Stephenie Meyer
Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Religious Viewpoint, Unsuited to Age Group
The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger
Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group
My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult
Reasons: Sexism, Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Religious Viewpoint, Unsuited to Age Group, Drugs, Suicide, Violence
The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things, by Carolyn Mackler
Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group
The Color Purple by Alice Walker
Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group
The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
Reasons: Nudity, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group
The new books to the list are Twilight (series) by Stephenie Meyer and My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult.
The titles dropped from the list were:
His Dark Materials Trilogy (Series) by Philip Pullman
Scary Stories (Series) by Alvin Schwartz
Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya
Gossip Girl (Series) by Cecily von Ziegesar
Uncle Bobby’s Wedding by Sarah S. Brannen
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
Flashcards of My Life by Charise Mericle Harper
How has the list compiled? According to the ALA,
For nearly 20 years, the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) has collected reports on book challenges. A challenge is defined as a formal, written complaint, filed with a library or school, requesting that materials be removed or restricted because of content or appropriateness. In 2009, OIF received 460 reports on efforts to remove or restrict materials from school curricula and library bookshelves.
The Official Google Blog has an update on Google's approach to the cyber attack Google exposed. The announcement made by Google on January 12, 2010 to stop censoring search results has been covered in a previous blog entry. Follow-up entries can be found here and here.
On March 22, 2010, Google stopped censoring search results in mainland China. Searches conducted through Google.cn are being redirected to Hong Kong servers which will deliver uncensored results. According to the Google blog, "the Chinese government has been crystal clear throughout our discussions that self-censorship is a non-negotiable legal requirement." Google believes they have found a legal solution but one that is precarious since China could decide to block access to Google at any time. Google has created a web site to report daily on which Google services are available in China.
Sify News reports that AP reporters have been testing different search words and findings vary widely.
Thenextweb.com describes Google's move to use Hong Kong servers as a "subversive move" which may be damaging to the company. China has reacted to Google's move by blasting it through the state-run People's Daily. The Chinese government stated that Google's
...collusion with the U.S. intelligence and security agencies is well-known…All this makes one wonder. Thinking about the United States’ big efforts in recent years to engage in Internet war, perhaps this could be an exploratory pre-dawn battle.
Meanwhile support for Google continues to be shown through the numbers of Chinese people leaving flowers on the sign outside of Google China's headquarters.
For Chad Catacchio’s take on the situation, check out the video.
The Baltimore City Paper has published a tribute to Judith Krug.
You may not know this librarian's name but in the US, she fought for free speech and the freedom to read. According to the article by Anna Ditkoff, Krug's mother found her young daughter reading a book about sex with a flashlight one night. Her mother reacted by asking her to turn on the light so she didn't hurt her eyes.
Krug adopted her parents' philosophy with her own children.
In 1967, she became the founding director of the ALA's (American Library Association)Office for Intellectual Freedom and two years later helped create the Freedom to Read Foundation, a group that provides funding for legal aid in First Amendment cases. In 1982, Krug founded Banned Books Week to promote awareness. In 1996, she battled an attempt to censor the internet in libraries, taking the legal fight all the way to the Supreme Court. In 2001, Krug and other librarians led a vocal fight against the Patriot Act which endangered the privacy of patrons' library records.
She lost her fight to stomach cancer this past April at the age of 69.
Since I am the creator of banned book lists each year, yesterday and today's "Unshelved" comic strip seemed to be perfect posts. Check out Unshelved archives for more or subscribe to one of the comic strips to receive it daily. Their blog includes many book reviews and other topics of interest to book lovers.
Take the Banned Book Challenge. Set your own goal between February and June. Use the online form or email me your first name, country, and number of banned or challenged books you will read. Check the sidebar for my lists of banned books.
According to MSNBC, historians in Germany are hoping to reprint Hitler's "Mein Kampf," My Struggle in English. Although it is available throughout the world, including on the Internet and at Pelham Public Library in Canada, this memoir has been banned from being republished in Germany since the end of WWII. Possession of the book is not illegal but the purchase of old copies is carefully regulated, limiting the sales except for research purposes.
The copyright will run out in 2015. Presently a government body holds the right to the memoir but once the copyright runs out, the door will be open for anyone to republish it, including neo-Nazi groups. Historians want to publish an authoritative annotated edition to thwart these groups from appropriating and glamorizing this infamous work.
According to the article, "Edith Raim, a historian at the Munich institute, envisions a thorough, academic presentation that places Hitler's work in historical context. She says that would be the best defense against those who might want to use the book to advance racist or anti-Semitic agendas."
The Bavarain Finance Ministry which had opposed a similar proposal two years ago believes it can keep the publication of "Mein Kampf" banned under laws against incitement to hatred beyond 2015.
The issues to balance out are respect for Jewish victims of Hitler's regime vs. the opportunity to demystify the work. Some concerns have been raised about who will annotate the volume and whether this is really necessary.
It is time once more for our Banned Book Challenge. Choose a goal for the number of challenged or banned books you can read between Feb. and June. Let us know about your goal on our form, so we can keep track. Not sure what to read? Check out our suggested reading and the many links on the right side bar.
In Canada, we are in the middle of Freedom to Read Week. Find out more on the Freedom to Read website. Let us know what you have been doing to recognize this week in the comments. The Freedom to Read kit is available for free download. It features an in-depth history of the censorship of comic books and many other interesting articles.
There is still lots of time to enter the Banned Book Challenge. Choose a goal for the number of challenged or banned books you can read between now and June. Let us know about your goal on our form, so we can keep track. Not sure what to read? Check out our suggested reading and the many links on the right side bar.
Common Sense Media is a non-partisan, not-for-profit organization "dedicated to improving the lives of kids and families by providing the trustworthy information, education, and independent voice they need to thrive in a world of media and technology." Their "Common Sense Beliefs" can be found with their Mission Statement.
Concerns about Common Sense Media's ratings being included on Barnes & Noble's site, according to a Publisher's Weekly article are that "they seemed to emphasize negative subjects like sex, violence, drinking, and drugs over subject matter."
My belief that parents should be well informed of what their children are reading is conflicting with the idea that a third party is being trusted to rate books for their children. The criteria used in rating are Social Behavior, Sex, Violence, Consumerism, Drugs, and Language. In Judy Blume's Are you there God? It's me, Margaret, Social Behaviour has been flagged "iffy" because some characters lie. It is flagged "iffy" under "Sex" for "mentions of Playboy, kissing, menstruation, bras, emerging sexuality," not any mention of sexual intercourse. This is Meg Cabot's take on the Blume rating.
Because taken out of context, the warning that Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret contains “Playboy, kissing, menstruation, bras, and emerging sexuality” makes this wonderful, beloved book about a sixth grader who does nothing racier than stuff her bra with cotton balls and worry about disappointing her family sound like it’s about…well, Playboy, kissing, menstruation, bras, and emerging sexuality!
I was curious to see how Judy Blume's Forever was rated. I found a better balanced view of the book on Common Sense Media because they included "The Good Stuff" -- information on the message and role models in the book.
Enter the Banned Book Challenge. Choose a goal for the number of challenged or banned books you can read between now and June. Let us know about your goal on our form, so we can keep track. Not sure what to read? Check out our suggested reading and the many links on the right side bar.
Take the Banned Book Challenge. Choose a goal for the number of challenged or banned books you can read between Feb. and June. Let us know about your goal on our form, so we can keep track. Not sure what to read? Check out our suggested reading and the many links on the right side bar.