Censorship DeShea Jones LSIS 5505-OL1
What is censorship? • A change in the access status of material, based on the content of the work and made by a governing authority or its representatives, including: exclusion, restriction, removal, age/grade level changes. (ALA 1996)
History of Censorship in Children’s Materials • Been around since children’s books began • During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries the American curriculum in schools was limited to family, church, work, and country, all of the core American values (Saykanic, 2000).
History of Censorship in Children’s Materials Continued • By the mid-twentieth century most school textbooks ignored the topics that were not cookie cutter, like immigration, unions, minorities, the role of women, and the poor. • With the curriculum pertaining to what the ruling class thought was ideal complaints were very uncommon. • Many of the textbooks and other materials that were used had a hidden agenda because the materials were racist and sexist. (Saykanic, 2000)
History of Censorship in Children’s Materials Continued • Fortunately, since that time, there has been great progress made in the materials that schools use.
Why do people censor? • Religion • Morals • Language • Sexual Content • Racial Material • Political Substance • Philosophical basis • Based on their own personal viewpoint (Saykanic, 2000)
Who Censors? • Parents/Guardians/Families • Administrators • Communities • Librarians • Students (Saykanic, 2000)
Challenged, Censored, and Banned Book • Challenged- abook becomes a challenged book when someone questions the content of the book. The book then goes before a committee where they judge whether the book should be kept on the shelves or taken out of the library. The book usually stays in the library until the decision is made. • Censored-is “when someone alters or blacks out a book’swords or visual images because they disapprove of the message.” • Banned- a book “that has been removed from a library or classroom because an individual or committee doesn’t think that patrons should have access to it.” (Scales, 2007, 30)
8 Forms of Censorship • The individual or group making the selections can be one-sided, or biased • Teachers or librarians exclude books because they fear how the community might react • Pages or words might be altered because of fear of the reactions • Certain books can be excluded from required book lists
8 Forms of Censorship (5) Materials that are removed as a direct result of pressure from the community (6) An “authority” required that certain books are to be left out of the collection (7) The deliberate omission of materials to ensure the collection has one viewpoint (8) Funding can be reduced to limit the amount that would be spent on controversial materials (Saykanic, 2000)
The Three S’s Sexuality, Swearing, and Satan • These are the three main reoccurring complaints about books • Sexual content objections of books can range from the characters kissing, having sex, rape, and homosexuality. • The language can be curse words, but also just words that they feel are indecent, like mentioning body parts. • Satanism is a topic that many fundamentalist Christians use, but it is not limited to just fundamentalists Christians. If a book mentions wizards and witches there is a high probability that it will be challenged. (Saykanic, 2000)
1st Amendment Right • Freedom of the press • Librarians should protect their patrons’ “right to read” (Scales, 2007) • Problem arises because do kids have the same rights as adults? • Contrary to what many believe students do have First Amendment rights that have been recognized in court.
Court Cases • In the landmark case of Tinker vs. Des Moines Independent Community School District (1969) the Supreme Court ruled that students are people and have First Amendment rights that the state must respect. • Board of Education vs. Pico (1982) found that the school did not have the right to ban certain books and that for students to use their First Amendment rights the students must have the right to receive ideas. (Chmara, et al., 2004)
ALA Bill of Rights (Policies that relate to censorship) I. Books and other library resources should be provided for the interest, information, and enlightenment of all people of the community the library serves. Materials should not be excluded because of the origin, background, or views of those contributing to their creation. II. Libraries should provide materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues. Materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval. III. Libraries should challenge censorship in the fulfillment of their responsibility to provide information and enlightenment. IV. Libraries should cooperate with all persons and groups concerned with resisting abridgment of free expression and free access to ideas. (Library bill,1996)
ALA Code of Ethics • “In a political system grounded in an informed citizenry, we are members of a profession explicitly committed to intellectual freedom and the freedom of access to information. We have a special obligation to ensure the free flow of information and ideas to present and future generations” (Code of ethics, 2008).
When should materials be restricted? • The only reason that materials should be restricted is if they are obscene, include child pornography, or are detrimental to minors (Whelan, 2009).
Selection vs. Censorship Source: http://www.uky.edu/CommInfoStudies/SLIS/510/censorship.doc
Self Censorship • Most librarians claim they do not practice censorship, but many do. • It is difficult to document self-censorship because librarians do not talk about it • Recently the School Library Journal conducted a survey to see how rampant self-censorship truly is. • The results showed that 70 percent of respondents would avoid buying controversial materials because they are afraid of how the community might react. (Whelan, 2009)
Self Censorship Other reasons why librarians avoid certain titles: • Reaction from administration (29 percent), the community (29 percent), and students (25 percent). • 23 percent of respondents said they do not purchase certain books because of personal opposition • Almost half (49 percent) of respondents said they had dealt with a book challenge. • Once a librarian has gone through a challenge it is difficult to keep it from affecting them in the future. (Whelan, 2009)
More Examples of Censorship • Librarians are also practicing censorship if they move materials to a restricted section or apply a ratings tag to books like movies have. • In public libraries if a librarian moves materials from the children’s section and places them in the adult section that is also censorship. • There are also excuses that librarians come up with to avoid purchasing books, like saying there is not enough money, they do not have enough shelf space, it does not go with the curriculum, or they do not have any of those types of student. (Whelan, 2009)
Role of the School Librarian • The idea of in loco parentis, or in place of parent, makes it difficult for school librarians to judge what their role and responsibilities are exactly. • The only part of in loco parentis that applies to librarians is that they are liable for the safety and health of the students that are in their library. • However, in loco parentis does not carry over to censorship and selecting what students can and cannot read. (Whelan, 2009)
Role of the School Librarian Continued • The role of the school librarian does not involve being a filter for materials. • Librarians serve too many children to keep track of which children cannot check out certain materials. • The parent should be responsible for telling the student what they can and cannot check out and deal with the child if they break the rules. (Scales, 2009)
Role of the School Librarian Continued • “A trained media specialist is expected to choose a range of titles that best suits the curriculum and meets the reading needs of students-and that involves making judgment calls” (Whelan, 2009) • Librarians should base a material on the reviews, its literary merit, the curriculum of the school, and whether they believe the students will gain something from the book.
Strategies for dealing with censorship • Know your parent agency and its rules. • Know your rights. • Know your readers’ rights. • Know the law of the parent organization. • Have a challenge policy/procedure in place and know how to use it. • Don’t worry – it happens to every library • Don’t be defensive – listening is key.
Challenged Books Statistics • Over the past nine years, American libraries were faced with 4,312 challenges. • 1,413 challenges due to “sexually explicit” material; • 1,125 challenges due to “offensive language”; • 897challenges due to material deemed “unsuited to age group”; • 514 challenges due to “violence” • 344 challenges due to “homosexuality”
Top 10 Banned/Challenged Books: 2000-2009 1. Harry Potter (series), by J.K. Rowling 2. Alice series, by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor 3. The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier 4. And Tango Makes Three, by Justin Richardson/Peter Parnell 5. Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck 6. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou 7. Scary Stories (series), by Alvin Schwartz 8. His Dark Materials (series), by Philip Pullman 9. ttyl; ttfn; l8r g8r (series), by Myracle, Lauren 10. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky Source: http://www.ala.org/ala/issuesadvocacy/banned/frequentlychallenged/challengedbydecade/2000_2009/index.cfm
Banned Books Week • Held during the last week of September (September 25−October 2, 2010) • Banned Books Week (BBW) is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment. • Highlights 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 books featured during Banned Books Week have been targets of attempted bannings.
Censorship Resources • Freedom Forum www.freedomforum.org • National Council for Teachers of English http://www.ncte.org/positions/statements/dontletitbecome • ALA’s Banned and Challanged Books http://www.ala.org/ala/issuesadvocacy/banned/index.cfm
Citations • Censorship vs. Selection Handout. University of Kentucky, http://www.uky.edu/CommInfoStudies/SLIS/510/censorship.doc • Chmara, T., & Mach, D. (2004). Minors’ rights to receive information under the first amendment. American Library Association, http://www.ala.org/ala/aboutala/offices/oif/ifissues/issuesrelatedlinks/minorsrights.cfm • Code of Ethics of the American Library Association. (2008). American Library Association, http://www.ala.org/ala/aboutala/offices/oif/statementspols/codeofethics/codeethics.cfm • Library bill of rights (1996). American Library Association, http://www.ala.org/ala/aboutala/offices/oif/statementspols/statementsif/librarybillrights.cfm • Saykanic, D. (2000). Censorship of library books in school media centers today. Information Analysis; Opinion Papers. Retrieved October 20, 2010 through ERIC database. • Scales, P. (2007). Ain’t that a shame. School Library Journal, 53(9), 30. Retrieved October 20, 2010, from Library Literature and Information Science database. • Scales, P. (2009). Better safe than sorry. School Library Journal, 55(3), 22. Retrieved October 20, 2010, from Library Literature and Information Science database. • Whelan, D. (2009). Dirty little secret. School Library Journal, 55(2), 27-30. Retrieved October 20, 2010, from Library Literature and Information Science database.