Banned Books Week set to roll in U.S.
The American Library Association’s Banned Books Week gets under way this Saturday (September 24). The annual campaign aims to highlight, as the ALA puts it, “the benefits of free and open access to information while drawing attention to the harms of censorship by spotlighting actual or attempted bannings of books across the United States.” (The Canadian version, Freedom to Read Week, runs in late February.)
This map plots out a bunch of cases from the last four years, in which individuals or groups have tried to get a book pulled from library shelves. Parents and pastors seem to have been particularly freaked out about classics like The Catcher in the Rye—mostly for portraying sex and swearing, rather than for talking anyone into shooting a famous person.
Standout moments include Beulah, North Dakota’s attack on the hard-core-porn landmark Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, as well as the irony-deaf parent in Nampa, Idaho, who was outraged by profanity in Adam Selzer’s How to Get Suspended and Influence People, a novel for young readers about the dangers of censorship.
There was also an attempt made in Kanawha County, West Virginia, to remove two novels from the sight of impressionable students: The Prince of Tides and Beach Music, both by ruthless sleazesmith Pat Conroy. It’s my favourite, mainly because of the name of the high school in question: Nitro. Yes, Nitro High. (What merch!)
And if you scroll up to Alaska, you’ll see only one case marked, in which a book was blamed for stirring up hormones in Fairbanks. But, of course, there was another widely noted censorship controversy in that state, between Wasilla’s head librarian and the town’s now-famous mayor: