Monday, September 28, 2009

Banned Book Week Sham

The American Library Association has released it's list of supposedly banned books for 2009. I say "supposedly," because typically, the books haven't been "banned" in any normal sense of that word.

When the ALA uses "banned," it means "complained about." As in, parents who don't like their 5-year-olds having And Tango Makes Three read aloud to them (particularly since gay penguins do change their minds). But "Complained Books Week" doesn't have the same Nazi ring to it, so the ALA would rather lie about what is actually happening in school libraries.

And, in fact, the number of complaints for the Top 10 Complained books doesn't seem to be all that many, if you ask me. Just 4,016 complaints have been lodged on areas ranging from "sexually explicit material" to "violence" in the past seven years. That averages to 573 complaints a year, which is far less than libraries receive for not having enough computers for the homeless to look at porn or enough issues of Cosmopolitan available.

How on earth can anyone take the whole "banned" book thing seriously when books aren't, in fact, banned in the U.S. at all? It's not like you can't get a copy of Uncle Bobby's Wedding at or Barnes and Noble. But the same people screaming about censorship have no problem with conservative books being unavailable.

"Our experience has shown that when they don't like your book, they do not hesitate to make sure that that book never makes it to their library or bookstore," (Spence Publishing Company executive Mitch Muncy) asserts, "only they don't call that banning books. They refer to that as 'selection criteria.'"

Complained About Book Week is a publicity stunt by the ALA to persuade Americans that, somehow, books are being taken out of libraries for their "objectionable" content by zealots. But the truth is that you can find The Perks of Being a Wallflower and Bless Me Ultima everywhere, and if your library doesn't have its own copy, I'm sure there's some PBS viewer ready to donate.