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A Chair, A Fireplace & a Tea Cozy
Inside A Chair, A Fireplace & a Tea Cozy

Turning A Light On Book Banning

Book banning happens in secret. The saga of Revolutionary Voices in New Jersey is one example.

Risha Mullins is an English teacher. Her heartbreaking saga of the emotional, personal, and professional consequences of book banning is recounted at her blog, For the Love of YA

Comments sometimes heard about book banning include “the author is lucky because book sales go up!”  or “this gets more people reading the book so it is a good thing!” Mullins provides an emotional, detailed account of the hell that professionals endure during such challenges. Rarely do we hear from the librarians and teachers who have to live with the challenges and the consequences, which — depending on the school or library they work for — can include being personally and professionally targeted, attacked, bullied. It’s something that happens behind closed doors; something that, as employees, they may be unable to legally or ethically talk about.

Mullins bravely opens that door in Censorship at its Finest: Remembering.

Some people may wonder why #speakloudly has gotten so much attention, so much passion, when challenging books is hardly new.

My personal opinion is that, as Mullins’s account shows, book banners have been successful at labeling young adult books as “soft pornography,” using that as a lead pipe to attack. “You’re giving our children PORN,” and everyone says, “how terrible,” and the book goes away. Wesley Scroggins made a tactical error in using Speak as his example of filthy pornography, because it created the opportunity for people to turn that attack back on the person making it. “You think rape is porn? What’s wrong with you?!”

Wesley Scroggins also went public. When I first read his editorial, I wondered, what is wrong with this paper that they gave Scroggins a soap box? (And to get a clear picture of what Scroggins wants done in public schools, read his full 29 page complaint dated June 2010.)  Having read Mullins’s account, I have a new theory. I think the paper did this to turn the spotlight on what was going on. And turn the spotlight it did!

One final thing. CommonSenseMedia continues to use its “established child development principles” to let parents know that Speak is only appropriate for ages 17 and over, and that rape is categorized as sex.

Edited to add: Sarah Ockler takes on the Authors Make Money From Book Banning Myth.

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About Elizabeth Burns

Looking for a place to talk about young adult books? Pull up a chair, have a cup of tea, and let's chat. I am a New Jersey librarian. My opinions do not reflect those of my employer, SLJ, YALSA, or anyone else. On Twitter I'm @LizB; my email is lizzy.burns@gmail.com.

Comments

  1. Michelle says:

    Thank you for all these wonderful resources. I’d seen the post by Risha Mullins floating around in references on Twitter but haven’t had the opportunity to read it until now. What a horrifying way to be treated. It boggles my mind how closed-minded people can be.

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  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Liz Burns, Liz Burns, Liz Burns, Susan Thomsen, Jo Knowles and others. Jo Knowles said: RT @LizB: turning a light on book banning: http://blogs.slj.com/teacozy/2010/10/03/turning-a-light-on-book-banning/ [...]

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