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Does Banned Books Week Really Matter Anymore?

29 September 2015

From Publishing Perspectives:

September 27th through October 3rd is officially Banned Book Week.

And with that, the American Library Association has released its list of the most banned books of 2014:

  1. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie
    Reasons: anti-family, cultural insensitivity, drugs/alcohol/smoking, gambling, offensive language, sex education, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group, violence. Additional reasons: “depictions of bullying”
  2. Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi
    Reasons: gambling, offensive language, political viewpoint. Additional reasons: “politically, racially, and socially offensive,” “graphic depictions”

. . . .

“The ALA promotes the freedom to choose or the freedom to express one’s opinions even if that opinion might be considered unorthodox or unpopular and stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of those viewpoints to all who wish to read them.

“A challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group. A banning is the removal of those materials. Challenges do not simply involve a person expressing a point of view; rather, they are an attempt to remove material from the curriculum or library, thereby restricting the access of others. As such, they are a threat to freedom of speech and choice.”

. . . .

But at Slate, Ruth Graham argues that “Banned Books Week is a Crock.”

Why? “No one bans books anymore. We won!”

Looking at the recent case of a Jackie Sims, the mother of a 15 year old son in Knoxville, Tennessee who objected to the assignment of Rebecca Skloot’s critically acclaimed The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks because she thought the book was “pornographic,” and wanted it “taken out of the hands of all the students in the district,” Graham writes that:

” … the brouhaha got a boost from the approach of Banned Books Week, an annual event promoted with much fanfare by the American Library Association and other organizations. This year’s event began Sunday and runs through the end of the week, with parties and “read-outs” all over the country. It’s a cause that’s easy to support; Banned Books Week is well-intentioned, and it’s unquestionably run by the good guys. In the battle between a prudish mom and freedom, it’s not hard to pick sides. But in feeding off of conflicts like Sims vs. the school board, Banned Books Week also traffics in fear-mongering over censorship, when in fact the truth is much sunnier: There is basically no such thing as a “banned book” in the United States in 2015.

“The statistics certainly sound alarming. Since Banned Books Week was instituted in 1982, the event’s website informs us, 11,300 books have been challenged. In 2014 alone, 311 books were banned or challenged in schools and libraries in the United States, with many more cases unreported. It would be easy to assume that the literal banning of books is still a routine occurrence in the United States.

“But take a closer look, and there’s much less for freedom-loving readers to be concerned with. The modifier ‘banned or challenged’ contains a lot of wiggle room, for one. A ‘challenge,’ in the ALA’s definition, is a ‘formal, written complaint, filed with a library or school requesting that materials be removed because of content or appropriateness.’ By that definition, Sims’ one-woman freak-out in Tennessee qualifies as a ‘challenge,’ despite the fact that it posed no real threat to Skloot’s book, let alone the ‘freedom to read.’”

Link to the rest at Publishing Perspectives

Books in General

57 Comments to “Does Banned Books Week Really Matter Anymore?”

  1. Heh, all banned book week does is help promote the books they don’t want people looking at.

    Hmmm, maybe I should add more sex/gambling/blood to my stories — just think of the boost these guys could give them! 😉

    • youd have to add homosexual sex amongst teens, and gambling about who could draw a better bomb-making diagram [illustrated in book], and blood would have to be cutting craze setting off an epidemic in children. For sure you would have pwp: parents with pitchforks.

      But just sex/ gambling/ blood alone… too tame. Actually readers far far too jaded.

  2. Legacy Pub bans books all the time.

    Oh, wait. They call it curating.

    Dan

  3. Did it EVER matter?

  4. Considering how often books are challenged and banned in this country, Texas especially, yes, Banned Books Week is still relevant.

    • Here’s a quote from the About page of bannedbooks.org:

      “There were 311 challenges reported to the Office of Intellectual Freedom in 2014, and many more go unreported.”

      Three hundred and eleven challenges reported in a country with a population of 300 million breaks down to one report for every one million people.

      If you prefer, we can break it down by libraries. The American Library Association estimates there are 119,487 libraries in the U.S. (ALA website, ALA Fact Sheet 1). That translates to one challenge for every 384 libraries.

      There is no attempt to even to even guess how large a number “many more” represents, but let’s be pessimistic and assume only ten percent of challenges are ever reported. That assumption gives us 3110 challenges each year, or one challenge for every 38.4 libraries or one challenge for every 100 thousand people.

      Note that these are challenges. There is no indication–even in ALA literature–that any books were actually banned or removed from circulation. Yet it’s still called Banned Books Week. I guess the far more truthful name of Challenged Book Week is neither alliterative nor likely to draw any real attention.

      These are the actual facts (along with a bit of extrapolation on my part) concerning “how often books are challenged and banned in this country.” It’s not actually often at all.

      • Believe or not, Henry, yes, I read their website, including the list of books that were challenged and/or banned.

        However, I can name five incidents in the Houston metropolitan area alone. (It helps that they have pretty active and vocal writer/parents.)

        Here’s one case. The hoopla was started by the public school librarian, who is an employee of the state (i.e. the government). The Teen Lit Festival ended being cancelled because so many authors backed out.

        http://blog.chron.com/bookish/2010/08/censorship-cloud-over-cancelled-teen-lit-fest/

        • Sorry I’m late responding, but work left me little time to check back until now.

          Your reply doesn’t actually contradict anything I wrote. You say you can name five incidents in the Houston metro area alone. That’s five incidents for a population of more than six million, which averages out to slightly less frequent than the national average of one reported incident per million people.

          Are incidents like the canceled teen lit fest unfortunate? Absolutely, though you note that the actual complaint began with a librarian who recruited parents to her cause. This is the complete reverse of the usual narrative associated with Banned Books Week.

          I’ll readily admit the only thing I know about this incident is what I read at the link you provided, but the article clearly states no actual books were banned or removed from libraries. I’m also tired of authors claiming they’ve been censored because they aren’t allowed to speak at some event. The right of freedom of speech does not also give someone the right to a venue for that speech.

          That aside, my point remains that these incidents are rare, which I made in response to your claim that they happen “often.” Nothing in your response invalidates what I’ve written. If you chose to go with the “eternal vigilance is the price of freedom” argument, I wouldn’t have disputed you. Unfortunately, neither you nor the ALA take that approach.

  5. I took a class on censorship once. I had expected to discuss governments forbidding the publishing or purchasing of books. Instead it was more about publishers not liking particular scenes and asking the writer to remove them.

    Unless a writer is actually being dragged off to a gulag or getting shot or has their kid taken from them for “re-education” there’s not much point in caring about “banned” books anymore. Book bannings are no longer a window into societal mores, now they’re just examples of lone nuttery: the claims against “Persepolis” are utterly baffling.

    Having your book banned is just a marketing tool now.

    • Jamie, you said it all. Have seen it at every school board meeting: One nuttery family or church against whatever book. You are right.

      And I can guarantee ‘banned books’ is a marketing ploy today to highlight a few books, let people march about wearing ‘i read banned books’ buttons, etc.

      Frankly I’d rather support PEN who still supports writers who have been imprisoned for their writings. Taslima Nasrin comes to mind, always.

  6. All I have to say is that every kid should read, “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.” Amazing book and written with rare honesty.

  7. I think that Banned Books Week is important. Sure, with all the various streams of information out there, even if a book is banned, it’s still easy to get hold of a banned book, if you really wanted a copy.

    But Banned Book Week serves a purpose, to remind us that out there exists those people (nutters and obsessively controlling folks) who firmly believe that it is their duty to police what other people are reading. Not just their own children, mind you, but ALL people’s children. And everybody else in the world, as well.

    Maybe Banned Book Week seems like a joke in this day and age, but you do not want folks like that ever getting foothold into any position of power about what you can and cannot read.

    The claims about the books that have been banned are baffling (“someone is naked in this book!” or “someone is smoking in this book” or “someone is doing something naughty in this book”), which just points to the huge amount of crazy that goes into the list of Banned Books. I guarantee there’s a book on that list that is one of your favorites – and if the People Who Ban ever, ever, ever have their way, nobody will ever be allowed to read it again.

    So as long as someone attempts to ban “Gone With The Wind” or “The Call of the Wild” or “The Lord of the Rings” or “In Cold Blood” or “Brideshead Revisited” then my hackles will be raised and my attention will be focused on making sure that nobody, but nobody tells me or anyone else what we can and can’t read.

    The fact that anybody even tries to do this in this day and age? That’s just crazy, and you always need to be on the lookout for crazy.

    • This so much. Just because it seems like books are being banned now-a-days, doesn’t mean we should forget it ever happening. That allows it to creep back in.

    • But Banned Book Week serves a purpose, to remind us that out there exist those people… who firmly believe that it is their duty to police what other people are reading.

      I fully agree.

      “No one bans books anymore. We won!”

      For now, perhaps we did. But freedoms require constant champions, because there is always someone waiting to take them away.

    • I think you have a point Christina, about those who wish to silence others, esp innocent others.

      However, the books banned by writer-millionaires, is just a bit much. Sherman Alexie is a millionaire, as was Maya Angelou before she died, as are most of the ‘banned’ book authors.

      Again, I’d rather have a ‘never published because banned by publisher day,’ and would rather hear from those who have been suppressed and silenced, rather than hey-o another round of buying books for already rich authors.

    • …you always need to be on the lookout for crazy.

      Thanks, Christina. That’s it in a nutshell.

      The sister-in-law who recommended Harry Potter to me when my son was born refused to let her own kids read the rest of the series after she hooked up with her second husband, who doesn’t believe kids should have fun.

  8. I think it matters. As long as people are still attempting to impose their beliefs on their communities and keep books out of the hands of young readers, it matters.

  9. Um, didn’t New Zealand recently ban a book, making it illegal to sell? Banned Book Week seems perfectly relevant…and often misapplied.

    • The misapplication is why I don’t take it seriously. If “Banned Books” were applying the event to situations like the government of New Zealand banning a book, that would be one thing. If librarians and school boards and principals were removing books they didn’t like, that would be one thing. But I think it’s telling that they’re including incidents of some random person’s mom protesting a book. That alone devalues their purpose.

      You see that sort of thing happen with advocacy groups, when a problem goes away the organization doesn’t, and then they start defining the problem downward until no one takes them seriously anymore.

  10. So all attempts to limit the selection at school libraries are by definition bad? I’m a bit stunned by this.

    Is it okay for elementary-school libraries to have a wide selection of skin mags displayed at the front desk, because complaining about it is censorship?

    Yes, there needs to be a tension here. Yes people will try to enforce their very narrow restrictions on the broader world because that’s what they passionately believe. There’s an epic sea of content out there between Saw III and Lord of the Rings, and it is the joint job of the library and the parents to navigate that ocean. You have to have two sides to the discussion. The one-sidedness of the perspective I’m seeing here, that 100% of complaints are unfounded and bad for the diversity of ideas, this is troubling. I think that school libraries are a particularly difficult task to curate, because, while we expect good parents to be aware of the media their kids are consuming at home, young readers like I was will check out two books from the school library each morning and return them before getting on the bus in the afternoon. Parents are forced to trust that the material available really is reasonably age-appropriate.

    Bringing it back into a closer-to-home context, I think that writers need to be aware of their audience, if that is not a mature audience, and be aware of the vote that they are casting in this conversation by choosing to include (or not include) the content that they select. I don’t think that you should not be allowed to publish your book, if you get it ‘wrong’. But I do think that, in writing for a younger audience, you take on the responsibility to at least consider it, and that parents have the right to express their opinion of whether or not you have crossed a socially-accepted boundary.

    • What’s ‘age-appropriate’?

      I was about ten when I got an adult library card. I could then read anything I wanted from the city library. Why should anyone else have been telling me what I shouldn’t read?

      The rest of us shouldn’t have to suffer because some parents are unable to do their job. Constant pandering to whiners is one of the reasons our society is in such a mess.

      • We have too many trying to childproof the world rather than world-proofing their children.

        These same (IMHO poor/weak minded) parents ‘teach’ their children what ‘should’ upset/traumatize them.

        Reminds me of the story of someone at a livestock show buying a lamb and then giving it to the now crying little girl that had raised it from the day it was born. A week later they saw the little girl again and asked how the lamb was.

        “It was delicious!” she told them.

        She had been happily crying because of how much her lamb had gone for — not because she was going to lose it.

        World proofing a child means them being able to raise/shear/kill/clean/cook that lamb — not pretending that the meat at the market never grazed on grass.

        The same for ideas or thoughts, telling them not to do/think/read simply means they won’t be ready for it when real life throws it in their face.

        ETA a missing ‘it’ 😉

        • I so agree with this, from years of bitter experience in the real world, which is nothing like I was taught it would be when I was a child.

    • I also have to wonder about the age-appropriate notion; I think skin mags are an extreme case that would not really apply outside of extreme scenarios. I doubt schools would provide minors reading material that would require an ID to buy in the first place; that might literally be a crime (IANAL).

      But for everyday matters? I was stunned to read about the trigger-warning crowd protesting some stories about Greek mythology. These were college students claiming to be traumatized by the same tales I read as a 4th grader. These books were in the school library, and no one thought anything of it. You can’t guess anymore, so just go with a “reasonable person” standard and let the chips fall where they may.

      I read all kinds of books my parents wouldn’t have necessarily selected for me. They didn’t know. It didn’t matter. They did their jobs, and I could measure the books against what they taught me.

      If I thought a book or movie would give me nightmares, I decided on my own to avoid it. So, I never read Stephen King before high school, when a friend convinced me he didn’t write gore on every page. I didn’t need my parents to make that decision for me, I knew myself well enough. Kids tend to find their own levels. Something that’s above them will rarely appeal to them and will likely confuse rather than harm them.

      Honestly, I think kids should be given more credit.

      • Agree. There is a substantial movement on college campuses to ban books from the curriculum because some student feels offended or traumatized by them.

      • The point of bringing up the extreme case that should never come up is to point out that there are cases that we all consider too extreme to be anything other than stupid. There is a legitimate point where we all agree again, which means that there must, by definition, be a gray middle ground where we don’t. No one thinks that a squid-porn section is going to pop up at your third-grader’s library. Because the people who won’t stand by quietly for on-page rape scenes in fiction directed at 8-year-olds would never stand for it, and neither would anyone else. The fact that there are so few complaints mostly means to me that libraries are doing a great job hitting your ‘reasonable person’ threshold, but it doesn’t mean that everyone can go to sleep and just assume that all librarians/curators everywhere will do a great job.

        This is totally different from what’s going on with college students. We expect college students to be adults, and to deal with life, including the sticky bits. We would never say to your 7 year old ‘here’s the remote, honey, watch whatever you want’ and wander off into another room at 10pm, figuring that they’ll find their own level and not watch anything damaging. Unless you really are arguing that parental control and supervision for television consumption in very young children is helicopter parenting.

        • “This is totally different from what’s going on with college students. We expect college students to be adults, and to deal with life, including the sticky bits.”

          And there’s the problem. Their parents were so loving they kept their kids from ever seeing or hearing anything ‘bad’. They hit ‘adult’ age having never seen it — and having no idea how to deal with it.

          Back when I was in middle school (’70 or so) the old guy next door was getting rid of his playboy collection. This lead to four pre-early teens papering their walls with centerfolds and quoting funny jokes. Dad was amused and mom tried to ignore it. By the time such things ‘mattered’ the centerfolds had been down a while — we’d seen ’em, wasn’t bothered one way or another.

          When a kid runs into something new, helping them understand it does more for them than trying to hide it, or saying ‘it’s bad’. Sadly too many parents don’t want to teach their kids about things — and don’t want the schools doing it either, and heaven forbid they figure it out on their own …

          ETA

          While I was doing Uverse tech support, I had this early twenties girl call in in a panic because the four year old she was babysitting had managed to get the TV on a ‘porn retail’ (which takes most adults a while to figure out how to rent them)

          The kid of course didn’t know/understand anything except that these weren’t the cartoons she was looking for. The so-called adult though was almost funny with how upset she got over what the kid might have seen.

          ‘We’ train our kids to what’s ‘okay’ and ‘not okay’ — they learn by ‘our’ reactions to things. Let’s train them so that nothing can knock them down …

        • We would never say to your 7 year old ‘here’s the remote, honey, watch whatever you want’ and wander off into another room at 10pm, figuring that they’ll find their own level and not watch anything damaging.

          When Richard Branson was 7, his mother dumped him out of the car three miles from home, and told him to find his own way back. When Admiral Farragut was 10, he joined the Navy, and fought in naval battles. When he was 12, he was put in charge of a prize ship, to sail it back to port. When I was 12–way before GPS and cellphones–the teachers gave me a compass and map at the school gate, and told me to meet them at a campsite twenty miles away.

          While I wouldn’t advocate putting squid pr0n in school libraries, believing that what kids read or watch on TV can damage them is kind of wussy, by historical standards.

    • I’d agree Chloe, that children and their parents are special. And the culture would love to gut and gobble them all up moneywise. And I agree that boundaries be set for the vulnerable.

      Also, I can say I dont know, having worked in the public moderate to low income and last ditch schools, a single child who was ‘coddled’. Life is tough. Having children is a rough road in this culture of excess and noise and it’s not the kids saying buy me buy me, its the corporations who hope to stun kids and their parents with their expensive bs that takes all further from the spirit and soul of things that matter.

      On a planet in which some would like 99% entertainment/infotainment/time passing vs 1% meaning, I’d have to resist vehemently and charge [ and know well many many grown kids and g-kids to prove it], that teaching about helping others and this needful world is true education.

      Teaching about how all things go wrong, how they can be made better, comes way before ‘the need to read’ some rich author’s YA book.

      Too, i think of the countries I’ve been in, where the children cannot go to school: war, killed dead on way to school not an if, a when, a given. I think of the children who cannot go to school for they were born of a caste/ class that is not allowed. I think of the parents who want with everythingin them to send theirkids to school, but there is no public school system, only school for the children of the wealthy.

      I think of what books I’d like children in other parts of the world to read as first readers. It certainly isnt the swill that passes as pop culture in north america, rather it would be other works, by certain north american and writers from the americas, but also from many authors across the entire world.

      And I think of persons in parts of our earth who are shot dead for possessing books at all. I think of our own nation, where a black person possessing a book [or learning to read] was considered a subversive act to be punished by laying open their flesh to infection and to death.

      I think of the current list of ‘banned books.’ Of dead authors who wrote them. Of the living millionaire-authors who wrote them. And I agree… the focus ought be changed entirely.

  11. I’d have more sympathy for the Banned Book Week displays and promotions if they included works that have been banned by national governments, rather than by libraries and school boards. Thus far all the displays I’ve seen feature only locally blocked titles, rather than, oh, “The Gulag Archipelago.”

  12. Yeah, it’s important if you live in a place where reading certain books will get you killed.

  13. I think it still matters. There are concerted group efforts to not only remove books from schools, but to remove them from our homes. There are people who truly only want everyone to be able to read one book: their bible.

    These same people want your television and movie viewing restricted. They want you to be unable to marry the person you love. They want you to work for minimum wage and starve, with no healthcare.

    If you believe they aren’t out there, then we need to talk about who is truly being coddled.

    • There are people who truly only want everyone to be able to read one book: their bible.

      Others don’t want the bible read at all because their religion says it has been corrupted.

    • Just asking… name one book that is banned in the United States of America.

      • Alexie’s Part Time Indian has been banned four times in four states since it was published in 2007.

        • I think Nate, prob been banned by local school boards, not in the entire state. But maybe you’re right. Hadnt heard of that tho.

          Alexie is with Hachette: trust they make hay while sun shines on every challenge to Alexie’s book. Alexie is also on the board as staunch member of Authors’ Guild for the last many years, and that means arm in arm with the Against Censorship money’ed orgs.

        • “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” by Sherman Alexie, Ellen Forney, and Ellen Forney, published by Hachette, is available at my local Barnes and Noble, located at the Florida Mall… on the shelf to buy it today. Not banned in the United States of America.

          To the best of my knowledge, there are no books banned from being purchased or owned in the USofA. Banned books week is a marketing ploy.

          • The problem with your reinterpretation of the word “banned” is that it has always been used to describe bans by public libraries and by school districts.

            Mark Twain’s Huck Finn was banned by libraries shortly after it was published, and we’re still using the same terminology.

            So yes, there are banned books here in the US today.

      • Here’s a partial list of places where the Harry Potter series has been challenged, both successfully and unsuccessfully:

        http://www.d.umn.edu/~csigler/PDF%20files/PotterChallengeList.pdf

        Bruckner Elementary in Bridgeport, Michigan (close to Saginaw) was the first school to ban HP. The school closed in 2005.

        • It was also burned in a number of locations in 2006.

        • Harry Potter is available for purchase in almost every book store in America. Not even close to being banned in the United States. In fact, I own a hard cover copy of each book in the series (doubles of some because my daughter bought it) and not one bought on a black market to hide it from authorities.

  14. The Kanawha County Text book wars. I was one year out of a school in West Virginia where I had received a pretty decent education involving both classics and modern writing including some controversial writers such as Kerouac, Sylvia Plath and Freud. Had a fantastic Senior English teacher.

    Anyway Alice Moore, the wife of a evangelical preacher who was a member of the school board managed to whip up a fuss in 1974 about what appeared in the new text books. This power struggle resulted in schools bombed, school buses shot gunned, a miner’s strike and someone actually shot during a protest. Alice Moore took off for North Carolina, which seemed pretty cowardly given that as far as I remember the majority of the violence was coming from her supporters.

    This time of year when the libraries put out their tables of banned books, I remember that year. Don’t fool yourself, it could happen again.

    • It is happening. But community and high school libraries aren’t where it’s happening. The action is on college campuses.

      Students are demanding books that offend or trigger them should be banned from the curriculum, pamphlets that offend them should be banned from distribution, and speakers who advocate ideas the students find uncomfortable should be banned from the podium.

      Alice Moore as a millenial? In 1974, Moore was offended by books assigned in class. In 2015, college stiudents are offended by books assigned in class.

      At the same time, the UN Commission on Human rights keeps pushing a worldwide ban on publications deemed to defame religion.

      Maybe the displays this week could feature a series of unversity pennants and the UN logo? We don’t have to look back to 1974 when we have 2015, and we don’t have to look to West Virginia when we have New York.

      A TPV posting from a few days back is a good reminder:

      “You must understand that our civilization is so vast that we can’t have our minorities upset and stirred. Ask yourself, What do we want in this country above all? People want to be happy, isn’t that right?…Colored people don’t like Little Black Sambo. Burn it. White people don’t feel good about Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Burn it. Someone’s written a book on tobacco and cancer of the lungs? The cigarette people are weeping? Burn the book. Serenity, Montag. Peace, Montag. Take your fight outside. Better yet, to the incinerator.”

      Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

      • You are conflating banned books with other actions.

        After things calmed down in W.Va. a compromise was reached that allowed some books complained of to be made available to students only with parental permission– that was mainly in the coal fields.

        • No. It is the same thing. People get offended, and want to ban books. They meet with various levels of success. There’s not much difference between the coal fields and campuses. They both want to ban what offends them.

  15. I argued vociferously against the Ruth Graham piece, pointing out some cultural developments that this reductionist clickbait article conveniently overlooked. What Graham failed to see was how the Knoxville, TN case actually represented a shift in what “banned books” are now: imperious individuals and groups that don’t specifically identify with a Moral Majority are now the ones leading the censorship. They have succeeded in removing books from stores and schools and it all neatly dovetails with regrettable expressive developments in free speech (see Charlie Hedbo/PEN, trigger warnings, and outrage culture on social media).

    http://www.edrants.com/in-defense-of-banned-books-week-a-call-to-expand-the-debate/

  16. Don’t even get me started on censorship. I have been fortunate in that while I have had people question materials no on has cared enough to carry the complaint through the process.

    One of my favorite complaints was from a mother who 2 weeks before had proudly told me they never worried or cared about what their son read and then came in practically screeching that Pike and Stine was all he seemed to read didn’t I have anything else why was I letting him check this stuff out. I took her to the shelf and pulled down book after book to show her what we had and perhaps she could come in with her son some time. And then there was the oh so helpful but shy censor who magic markered every last curse word in the library copy of Forrest Gump.

    • You remind me of a book I found where someone had gone through with white out and covered every reference to the deity and even mild scenes of affection. That must have taken hours because it was a really thick historical romance from the 80’s.

      My parents were not great readers when I was a child, probably too busy, and they never had any idea what I was reading. To give them great credit, they never tried to stop me from reading except at meal times.

      • I hate it when it happens to one of my library books, I really do but sometimes you just have to smile and remember it could always be worse.

        I had similar parents growing up and I have always been grateful to them – although my mom did get together with a teacher around the 4th grade to say I might need to spend more time working at my (incredibly huge) math deficiencies instead of reading so much.

      • In Saudi Arabia, every copy of western magazines had black censor tape placed over ads and stories that are considered unIslamic by the Mutawwa (religious police.)

        They claim such ads and stories are offensive to God.

        It all has to be done by hand, so they had to have hundreds of guys going through each and every imported copy and blacking stuff out.

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