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  1. #1

    Banned books week

    The American Library Association has declared Sept 27-Oct 4, 2008 "Banned Books Week: Celebrating the Freedom to Read." As far as I know, the only banned books I've ever read were required reading in school, ironically. Anyone know of any banned books in the genre? Banned anywhere, at any time?

  2. #2
    I'm sure a lot of sci-fi and fanatsy books and other genre novels are banned in different countries, for different reasons.

    But I do recall that Philip Jose Farmer's Image of the Beast might have been banned in certain bookstores and places in the USA when it first came out?

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Jaqhama View Post
    I'm sure a lot of sci-fi and fanatsy books and other genre novels are banned in different countries, for different reasons.

    But I do recall that Philip Jose Farmer's Image of the Beast might have been banned in certain bookstores and places in the USA when it first came out?
    I wouldn't be surprised.

    Which reminds me, it's sitting on my shelf and I should get around to reading it.

    One-a these days.

    Way back when (early '60s?) people asked that The Martian Chronicles be taken out of school libraries. The ostensible reason was the use of the word "damn," but I suspect more it was the bleakness of how the book ends.


    Also, the Harry Potter books are under almost routine scrutiny from some deeply conservative, religious quarters for glamourizing witchcraft and magic. Some of Stephen King's works have been challenged, too. LOTR was burned in New Mexico as "Satanic."

    If you agree that works like Slaughterhouse Five, The Lord of the Flies and 1984 are associational with f/s.f., then they, too, should be added to your list.

    For more comprehensive listings -- although they seem a bit out of date now I look -- try the ALA website.
    http://ala8.ala.org/ala/oif/bannedbo...ooksandauthors

    Randy M.
    Last edited by Randy M.; September 30th, 2008 at 09:10 AM.

  4. #4
    I love banned books. Almost every banned book I've ever read has been a phenomenal read. If you're not pissing at least one person off, you're not doing your job.

    xvart.

  5. #5
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    Are you guys talking about the U.S.A.? I thought book banning only occurred to totalitarian states or muslim countries. Actually I only know that "The God Delusion" by Richard Dawkins is banned there.

    I'd heard that some religious fanatics in America wanted to burn Harry Potter because of the magic in them, LOL, but I thought about like a joke.

    You make me kind of glad to be living in Europe.

  6. #6
    I want to be a princess sic's mom's Avatar
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    Oh no, it's no joke. We have plenty of idiotic people in this country that think our children are so stupid to believe that they can someday go to Hogwarts and become a witch or a wizard. I've have never understood some people wanting to ban certain books. But then I guess it is a form of control and I have never wanted or had the desire to tell others how to think or feel. Does anyone know if there is one central list of banned books? Thinking of going out and finding some new authors for me and the kids to read.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by argon View Post
    Are you guys talking about the U.S.A.? I thought book banning only occurred to totalitarian states or muslim countries. Actually I only know that "The God Delusion" by Richard Dawkins is banned there.

    I'd heard that some religious fanatics in America wanted to burn Harry Potter because of the magic in them, LOL, but I thought about like a joke.

    You make me kind of glad to be living in Europe.
    Banning Books in Europe has happened quite recently.
    My Polish girlfriend of some years ago told me that when she was a teenager and Poland was under Communist Russian control...it was illegal to read Lord of the Rings and many other western sci-fi and fantasy novels.
    Poles had them smuggled in.
    And let's not forget how many books the nazi's banned and burned.
    Times change and people change and ideas change.
    But there's always someone or some party or organisation that believes it has the right to dictate what is 'good' for everyone else.

  8. #8
    I can see the point of banning books like 1984, because they're ideologically dangerous to people with power. I don't agree with it by any means, but I can see why certain close-minded people and religious groups might not want good ideas floating around. It's a lot harder to see why LOTR might need to be banned. The reason I started the thread was because I was wondering what kind of SF books had been banned, and I had forgotten that 1984 was one of them. I looked at the link Randy posted, which of course only lists the top 10 banned books or so of each decade, and some of those are SF books. But not more recent SF books, not so far as I saw on the more recent lists, except for Harry Potter. I wonder why Pullman's Golden Compass wasn't on there, it certainly seems more dangerous than Potter, ideologically speaking.

  9. #9
    sapper-in-chief Whiskeyjack's Avatar
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    boycotting is not banning

    We need to distinguish between banning a book and boycotting a book. A book is banned when it is made illegal to own/purchase it. This requires force of government to ensure compliance. Groups of people may choose to boycott certain books for a host of reasons, whether religious, social, or political. However, the boycotted books are still available (albeit perhaps not at government expense) to those who choose to buy them. It is incorrect to claim a book is banned just because it's not made available to you at government (i.e., taxpayer) expense.

    We must also understand the dynamics involved in selection bias, whereby some books are selected while other books are not selected for inclusion in a library. Every library will select some books for purchase/inclusion in its library, while not selecting certain other books. This is a necessary thing, given budgetary and storage space issues. The librarian (or library committee) is entitled to use community standards (and opinions of community members) when selecting the books to be purchased, since it is community tax dollars which fund the purchases. The failure to select any given book should not be taken as proof of censureship (though it could perhaps be the result of prejudices), since it may merely represent the result of a committee's honest, deliberative process in allocating scarce resources (a la Economy 101 class). Examples of selection bias can be seen in most libraries, where, for example, racially-charged books (e.g., "Race, Evolution, and Behavior") or religiously-charged books (such as "Truth about Muhammad") may not be displayed prominently (if they're available at all) due to concerns about content. Meanwhile, other books (such as those about manmade global warming or evolution) might be prominently displayed if the books match the viewpoints of the librarian. If books arguing against the concept of manmade global warming or against evolution are not similarly displayed in a prominent place in the library does that imply censureship by the librarian, or merely good judgment about a scientific issue that is "settled"? Librarians, like everyone else, have opinions and world views which will affect their decision-making. To assume that only one side of a political or social issue engages in such selection bias is to be naive. And it would not be a positive thing to grant librarians peremptory authority on book selection that lies beyond any possible review process or challenge by concerned citizens on how best to spend limited resources for the good of the community. After all, how many books about homosexuality or creation science does a library's children's section need, anyway?

    And for what it's worth, despite all this talk about "banning" books, I can't think of any book that is currently banned in the United States (excepting maybe some photography books containing child exploitation). If anyone knows of one, please let me know.
    Last edited by Whiskeyjack; September 30th, 2008 at 06:46 PM. Reason: spelling and some points added

  10. #10
    Administrator Administrator Hobbit's Avatar
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    I can't think of any book that is currently banned in the United States
    Is Catcher in the Rye still banned? (Or is it just boycotted in some places?)

    Mark / Hobbit
    Mark

  11. #11
    sapper-in-chief Whiskeyjack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hobbit View Post
    Is Catcher in the Rye still banned? (Or is it just boycotted in some places?)

    Mark / Hobbit
    I read it at the Jesuit (Catholic) High School I attended in Indiana, in 1970. I don't remember checking out my copy from a locked vault under armed guard. I doubt there's anyone around these days who's still boycotting it (though they've probably moved on to irritating people about other things).
    Last edited by Whiskeyjack; September 30th, 2008 at 06:13 PM. Reason: removed link as superfluous

  12. #12
    Administrator Administrator Hobbit's Avatar
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    Thanks, Whiskeyjack. Of course, some books can be available and then banned, but I take your point.

    This link may be useful for some.

    Included in that list of a genre nature, Slaughterhouse Five and Cats Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut, Lord of the Rings by some little-known author , and Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs.

    Mark / Hobbit
    Mark

  13. #13
    sapper-in-chief Whiskeyjack's Avatar
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    Thanks for the link, Hobbit. None of those books are currently illegal to own/possess in the US. Over the last century some local jurisdictions (remember: the US has a federal system of government) did indeed ban certain books and materials. Any such ban would be easily overruled in a federal court today as being contrary to the First Amendment to our Constitution. And as the list showed, many people and groups did indeed buy copies of books to then burn them in a public display of resentment -- a waste of money, to be sure (Tolkien satanic?). But if that's what these people want to spend their after-tax income on, and that's how they want to express their opinions, then go for it, since public protests and bookburnings are also rights protected under the First Amendment, as long as the books belong to the people burning them (and they don't set my house or your store on fire in the process!). One man's right to read a book and promote it is also another's right to not read it and to boycott it. It becomes tyranny when the government takes up one side and bans the other, or refuses to protect the minority from oppression by the majority.
    Last edited by Whiskeyjack; September 30th, 2008 at 06:17 PM. Reason: wording

  14. #14
    Administrator Administrator Hobbit's Avatar
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    I suppose that the 'banning' (or at least 'challenged' books) seem to be based on actions taken by libraries/librarians, who I presume have the right of yea/nea in their own local jurisdictions? (I'm not blaming librarians, btw. Their work is often undervalued and underestimated, IMO.)

    We had a similar thing here in the UK where local councils could agree to show (or not) films. In one place in the UK the Monty Python film The Life of Brian has only just been given permission to be shown after 30 years after its release. Some places still have it banned.

    But we are getting away from the topic in hand, a little.

    What books would members like to read (of a genre nature) in honour of highlighting banned books?

    Mark / Hobbit
    Mark

  15. #15
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    This blog entry by Neil Gaiman discusses Banned Books Week.

    Importantly, it links to the list of most challenged books in 2007, which has some great links on it too.

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