To commemorate Banned Books Week 2011, the present board of the Charlton (MA) Public Library voted to override an earlier board and shelve a particular version of Eve’s Diary by Mark Twain. The seductive line drawings were apparently too much for one library board member to cope with back in 1906. As usual, Twain gets the last laugh.
But the censors are still out in force: since 1982, some 11,000 books have been challenged.
Here’s the list of top 10 most challenged books for 2010. I admit surprise at seeing Barbara Ehrenreich’s book there, but political correctness has apparently been working overtime. (To soothe my own political sensibilities, I wish my local library wouldn’t stock a certain right-wing radio announcer’s magazine. But, as The Onion once said, “If we don’t protect freedom of speech, how will we know who the assholes are?”) There is also an interesting map of book challenges over the last few years. It’s disheartening to see the cluster along the Eastern Seaboard – the original 13 colonies (and Florida).
I have no objection when a librarian rules that the Kama Sutra doesn’t belong on the same shelf as Blueberries for Sal (the author’s last names aren’t even close alphabetically). But when adults are not permitted to read the Kama Sutra because it would offend someone’s sensibilities, then things have gone too far. Don’t protect me from myself.
In the coming year, read what you want, and fight those who would prevent you or others from doing so.