Friday, June 03, 2005

Books are dangerous

Don't miss this fascinating article on censorship in a small Minnesota school district.

The clash in the NYT story was about a scene in which a boy is aroused -- not touched or otherwise engaged in any physical activity -- by other boys. The kids who read the book about a boy's experience in a juvenile detention center were 11th graders. 11th graders! Do you think any 17-year old kid in America today is shocked by that? Have you watched anything on cable lately?

In too many cases, I think, conservativism has come to mean reactionary, antiquated, and naive.

We're going to be hearing more about these book-banning efforts across the country in the coming years:

According to the American Library Association, which asks school districts and libraries to report efforts to ban books - that is, have them removed from shelves or reading lists - they are on the rise again: 547 books were challenged last year, up from 458 in 2003. These aren't record numbers. In the 1990's the appearance of the Harry Potter books, with their themes of witchcraft and wizardry, caused a raft of objections from evangelical Christians.

Judith Krug, director of the library association's office for intellectual freedom, attributed the most recent spike to the empowerment of conservatives in general and to the re-election of President Bush in particular. The same thing happened 25 years ago, she said. "In 1980, we were dealing with an average of 300 or so challenges a year, and then Reagan was elected," she said. "And challenges went to 900 or 1,000 a year."

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