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The Tally Ho

Monday, September 26, 2005

Don't burn that book!

Mimazu has just reminded us that today is the start of the ALA's "Banned Books" week. Reading over the list of 100 most frequently challenged books of 1990-2000, I notice that seven of them (to my knowledge) are instructional books on sex and puberty aimed at young adults. (At least another six are YA fiction on the same topics, and four are nonfictional instruction on those topics for adults. This is just a count of books that I've read or are aware of; I didn't go Googling. And I didn't count any Judy Blume books I haven't read, although I'm guessing they would increase the total.) Most of these challenges are from school libraries, who seem to be taking "abstinence-only" to a new level.

Inexplicably, number 88 on the "banned" list is "Where's Waldo?" by Martin Hanford. Is this the book I think it is, with the cartoon guy in the red and white shirt? Why would anyone want to ban him? Someone clue me in, please.

From Eisenhower at the Dartmouth commencement in 1953, a snippet of speech entitled "Don't Join the Book Burners".
Don't think you're going to conceal faults by concealing evidence that they ever existed. Don't be afraid to go in your library and read every book, as long as any document does not offend our own ideas of decency. That should be the only censorship.

How will we defeat communism unless we know what it is, what it teaches, and why does it have such an appeal for men, why are so many people swearing allegiance to it? It's almost a religion, albeit one of the nether regions.

And we have got to fight it with something better, not try to conceal the thinking of our own people. They are part of America. And even if they think ideas that are contrary to ours, their right to say them, their right to record them, and their right to have them at places where they're accessible to others is unquestioned, or it's not America.

—Dwight David Eisenhower

Sadly, we seem to have not gotten the message, if Robert Fisk can be believed; some parents in Colorado are even trying this at home. Poke around the ALA website awhile, then see if you can find something scandalous to read.

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