From Viva Banned Book Week by Nicole Belle:
That there is actually a week reserved for the championing of banned books, in America of all places, both saddens and heartens me. Saddens me because of the necessity, heartens me because it fights back against narrow-minded intolerance. This, then, the last week of September, from September 27th to October 4th, is Banned Books Week, a time when libraries and bookstores in every state put up displays of books to highlight the problem of censorship and celebrate our nation’s right to the freedom to read whatever we damned well please. Since Banned Book Week was launched in 1982, more than a thousand books have been under pressure by those who would suppress the works of my fellow novelists and writers, because of sexual content, or slang, or violence, or profanity, or racial or religious objections, or political issues; from time-honoured classics to trashy airport novels. In the top ten books to be challenged last year alone, it is absolutely ludicrous that one of them should be The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. Some of the books challenged bugger belief: An illustrated edition of Little Red Riding Hood was banned in two California school districts in 1989, because the book shows the heroine taking food and wine to her grandmother, the school board citing concerns about alcohol consumption by children. Roald Dahl’s wonderful classic James and the Giant Peach was removed from a school in Florida because it contained the word ‘ass’, and placed in restricted access in libraries in Virginia because the book encouraged children to ‘disobey their parents’. In Eureka, Illinois, Geoffrey Chaucer’s 600-year-old masterpiece, Canterbury Tales, was dropped from an advanced literature course in a senior preparatory high school class for… get this… objectionable ‘sexual content.’ How insane is that?
In Gainesville, Hall County, Georgia, the Chestatee Public Library board hadn’t even taken a final vote on whether or not to remove Nancy Friday’s Women on Top from the shelves when someone decided to take the matter into their own hands, borrowed it and ‘accidently’ destroyed it. The board did, however, vote not to replace it. Me, I’m tempted to send them a replacement copy, gratis.
It’s not just schools and libraries; bookstores are also deciding what you, the customer, should and should not be allowed to read. Tim C. Leedom’s The Book Your Church Doesn’t Want You To Read was banned from Barnes & Noble in San Diego in 1995 because it was ‘too controversial for the bookstore’s conservative clientele.’