Here's an excerpt from my piece:
Now, if the vast majority of challenges to books involve parents, centre around books available in schools, and deal with such issues as sexual explicitness, offensive language, or the unsuitability of the books for a specific age group, then I think we're no longer talking about book-banning or censorship. I think we're talking about parenting.
The attitude of the ALA is that a parent only has the right to censor or control what his own children read. He doesn't have the right to request the removal from the school library or classroom shelf those books which he finds obscene or dangerous to morality, because someone else might prefer for his children to read those books. The school alone has the final say in what books are appropriate for the children under its care to read, and if a child reads at school a book or books which his parents absolutely forbid at home--well, then, perhaps the parents' values are too narrow and restrictive to begin with.
Here's the dilemma for parents, though--there was a time when we could trust schools and libraries to support, for the most part, the same values we ourselves held, and to abide by community standards of morality and decency. There was a time when it would have been just as unthinkable to the librarian or the school teacher as to a parent that a book for children would have contained the following things:
These are some of the objectionable content found in just five of the ten most frequently challenged books for 2008. Given that most challengers are parents and most challenges involve books in school libraries or school classrooms, I'd be much more worried about society if books like these were never questioned at all.
- --Graphic language about sex, drinking, drugs; laced with profanity and written in "chat speak" (TTYL by Lauren Myracle)
- --Violence, implied sex, anti-religious and anti-Christian messages throughout; God is literally killed (His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman)
- --Prostitution, witchcraft, voodoo, devil worship (Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya)
- --Homosexuality, drugs, suicide, sex, nudity (The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky)
- --Sex, drugs, alcohol, eating disorders, profanity, smoking (Gossip Girl series by Cecily von Ziegesar)
Please do go and read it! I'd be especially grateful if any of you felt inclined to leave comments at the MercatorNet site (though as always comments are welcome here, too).
Thanks so much!