Monday, September 22, 2014

The Freedom to Read

This week is the 32nd annual Banned Books Week, celebrating our freedom to read!!!



Here in the Pesky Library, we are highlighting a few graphic novels from our collection that narrowly escaped censorship.


 "There is more than one way to burn a book. And the world is full of people running around with lit matches." — Ray Bradbury, "Fahrenheit 451"

Sometimes, it seems hard to believe that censorship is not a thing of the past, but, oh no, far from it! Some of these repeat offender authors could swap notes with a good deal of those Salem witches! Take Judy Blume for instance, she is one of the most frequently challenged authors of the 21st century.  Her books have drawn fire from parents ever since the 80s for their frank depiction of puberty and sexuality.

Comic books are often targeted for censorship because of the visual nature of the genre and the stereotyped notion that comics are only for young children. They are generally marked for "adult content" and "language". It would seem as though one would be hard pressed to find many young adult books that don"t push the envelope in those categories.

So, who do we have to thank for one of the great American privileges of being able to read what we see fit?

The American Civil Liberties Union

Founded in 1920, the ACLU has opposed censorship in all its forms. From books and radio to film, television, and the Internet, the group has consistently fought to make sure Americans have the right to say, think, read, and write whatever they want, without fear of government retaliation .

Here is a list of some of the major victories in regards to censorship:
  • In 1926, the ACLU defended H.L. Mencken when he was charged with distributing copies of his banned magazine, American Mercury. 
  • In 1952, in Joseph Burstyn, Inc. v. Wilson,  the Supreme Court  struck down film censorship laws for good. 
  • In 1978, the union challenged the government's power to suppress radio broadcasts of George Carlin's "Seven Words You Can't Say On Television." 
  • And in 1997, in Reno v. ACLU, the court held that Internet speech is entitled to full First Amendment protection.


The ACLU is passionately committed to the First Amendment values that keep our society open.


What do YOU think about censorship?

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