And Now A Cone… er, Moment of Silence, and a Moment To Remember Who We Are

As pointed out by filkertom, voice actor and comedian Don Adams has passed away at the age of 82. Farewell to Maxwell Smart, Tennessee Tuxedo and Inspector Gadget.

Also pointed out by Tom, it’s Banned Books Week. You know who’s on the list of most challenged authors last year? Maurice Sendak. MAURICE FLIPPIN’ SENDAK. Sheesh. However, J.K. Rowling isn’t on the list anymore.

Most frightening is that on the list of most targeted books last year was one specifically for having a ‘political viewpoint’: Michael Bellesiles’ “Arming America”. Yes, I understand there are some questions about the scholarship behind this work, but books should never, never be questioned for their political content.

Here’s your list of Most Challenged Books, and Most Challenged Authors of 2004. Go out and read one of ’em. Be seen reading it.

Books Authors
1. The Chocolate War
Robert Cormier
Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
2. Fallen Angels
Walter Dean Myers
Robert Cormier
3. Arming America: The Origins of a National Gun Culture
Michael Bellesiles
Judy Blume
4. The Captain Underpants series
Dav Pilkey
Toni Morrison
5. The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Stephen Chbosky
Chris Lynch
6. What My Mother Doesn’t Know
Sonya Sones
Barbara Park
7. In The Night Kitchen
Maurice Sendak
Gary Paulsen
8. King & King
Linda de Haan and Stern Nijland
Dav Pilkey
9. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
Maya Angelou
Maurice Sendak
10. Of Mice and Men
John Steinbeck
Sonya Sones

4 comments so far

  1. nsingman on

    There aren’t many questions left about “Arming America,” since it’s been pretty conclusively debunked, and its author proven a fraudulent “researcher.” However, that’s completely irrelevant, as you allude.

    I’d go further, though. No book should ever be banned by the government. Period. True or false, right or wrong, good or bad, tasteless or cultured, brilliant or imbecilic – censorship is always wrong.

    • The Rev Dr Sherwood Forrester on

      The only acceptable censorship is self-censorship. You have the absolute right to decide what you want to read or not read. You have absolutely no right to make those decisions for anyone that is not your legal responsibility (i.e., your minor child(ren)/ward(s)).

      People have the absolute right to be wrong. Otherwise, Rush Limbaugh would never have been published, would never have gotten on the air. And until someone finally sues the snot out of him for slander, he has the right to lie as much as he wants on his radio show. But my right to shut him up starts and stops with my ability to reach for the tuning dial and/or off switch on my radio.

      Political censorship is the most offensive, and the deadliest to our system, of all. If he committed slander, there are legal remedies to that. But there’s no legal recourse against sloppy scholarship, outside of being thoroughly proven wrong in the open marketplace of ideas. In principle, anyway, there should be nothing more career-ending to an academic than to be proven utterly and completely wrong and incompetent, and that’s the appropriate punishment. Besides, how many people would have heard of this guy if there hadn’t been an effort to get him cansored?

      • nsingman on

        Apologies for not being clear. Whenever I speak of censorship, I am only referring to the externally-imposed, coercive type. Otherwise, I think we’re generally in agreement, though I think I’m more of a free expression purist than you are (e.g., were I on a jury, I’d never vote for a conviction on any slander or libel case).

        • The Rev Dr Sherwood Forrester on

          Well, there are public-safety limits. I don’t think there is a right to falsely shout ‘fire’ in a crowded theater. The state’s interest in the safety of the general public there outweighs the individual’s right to speak one’s mind.

          Similarly, while one can be as wrong as one wants to be, there is no generalized right to deliberately defame someone else, especially falsely–and the rights of the government and government officials to make statements about private citizens must be more proscribed than those of citizens to make statements about the government and government officials. I have more right to say Dubya is an idiot than he has to say that I’m one, because I don’t speak with the presumed imprimatur of the State–although if I’m going to say he’s an idiot, or a liar, or some-such, I should have some basis other than fundamental disagreement over policy.

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