|Clean Reader: Bowdlerizing Since 2015|
This sort of thing makes me roll my eyes. Yes, the n-word is offensive, but it's there for a reason in Huckleberry Finn. Taking out the words that offend changes the meaning and the effect of the book.
|Won't someone think of the children?|
Like someone who has just eaten from the Tree of Knowledge, the person who borrowed the Eric Carle book strategically covered the innocent nude figures with homemade leaves. Not only did they ruin a copy of a children's' book—which are surprisingly expensive—but they crossed the line I draw in the metaphorical sand when it comes to censorship. My issue here is that this person made the decision about what other people should be protected from. Further, I believe that making a big deal about something like nudity creates an issue out of nothing.
At this point in the censor spectrum, I am annoyed. What sends me over the edge is this story from Kansas. The Kansas State Senate voted at the end of February to pass:
A bill making it easier to prosecute teachers and school administrators for distributing materials deemed harmful to minors passed the Kansas Senate on Wednesday.
Senate Bill 56, which passed 26-14, removes a provision from current statute that protects schools against such prosecution. It keeps the protection in place for universities, museums and libraries.The law makes it theoretically possible to send teachers to jail for assigning books that are "deemed harmful." Harmful is not defined. Leaving the law vague opens the door to a very scary place. The law was originally intended to protect children from being exposed to pornography—another term that doesn't have a legal definition. My first thought is, "Does this happen often enough that there needs to be a law against it?" I can understand wanting to protect children from pornography, but it's such a slippery term. The article from the Kansas City Star that I linked to at the top of this paragraph goes on to report that, "Earlier in the week, Rep. Joseph Scapa, a Wichita Republican, called a book by Toni Morrison, a Nobel Prize-winning author, pornographic." This is the problem. One person's pornography is another person's essential American author.
I need to wrap this post up soon, because I can feel myself starting to slide into gibbering fury.
Stories like these—Clean Reader, defacing library books, jailing people for "distributing materials deemed harmful to minors"—are the reason why librarians still carry a torch for intellectual freedom. They are why I point out that the children's books in my library are where visitors can find most of the books on ALA's "Frequently Challenged Books" list and give presentations about book banning and censorship. They are why I share information via Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr to other librarians and readers.
* One of my favorite sources of information about what's happening in the daily lives of librarians and libraries.