The American Library Association (ALA) observed its “Banned Books Week” in mid-September, but only after representatives from Focus on the Family had condemned it as a fraud. At a Chicago news conference held Sept. 16, Focus on the Family called upon the ALA to “stop the name-calling, stop the hysteria and stop deceiving Americans through its agenda-driven promotion of ‘Banned Books Week.'”
Though the ALA promotes “Banned Books Week” as a campaign against censorship, Focus on the Family argues that most of what the ALA calls “censorship” is really the legitimate expression of parental concerns about the age-appropriateness of certain materials in schools.
“There is no book-banning conspiracy taking place in America today,” insisted Tom Minnery, vice president of public policy for Focus on the Family. “‘Banned Books Week’ is nothing more than an effort to bully any parent, teacher or librarian who may disagree with the ALA’s agenda.”
Of the 122 so-called incidents of “censorship” reported in the past year, the ALA report listed only one in which a library removed material from its collection – and that was because of the library’s own policy against carrying pornography. That case involved Anne Rice’s sexually explicit Sleeping Beauty trilogy, which attracted attention after a 12-year-old girl checked out the audio version, assuming it was affiliated with the classic fairy tale.
A total of 17 reported incidents of “censorship” involved public libraries, and only one other incident among those resulted in action – a New Jersey public library moved six sexually-explicit books.
The bulk of the incidents took place in schools, and involved parents raising objections concerning the age-appropriateness of some material. In 60 percent of those incidents, no actions were taken in response to parental objections. In another 34 percent of the school incidents, a book was removed or deleted from a mandatory reading list.
The press conference featured an appearance by Lisa Clinton, a Florida parent who is labeled as a censor by the ALA. Clinton told the story of her 8-year-old daughter’s experience in the third grade, where she was forced to remain in class and had her ears stuffed with cotton by a teacher who was reading horror stories aloud to her students.
– E.P. News