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Banned In Boston (And Elsewhere): The American Tragedy Of Censorship

When I was kid, the phrase “Banned in Boston” confused me. I thought of Boston as a liberal, cosmopolitan city. Surely they didn’t censor things there.

They don’t anymore, but they sure used to. About 100 years ago, Boston was in the grip of dour “vice” crusaders who used their religious beliefs to decide what books and magazines people could read and what performances they could see on stage. And it wasn’t alone. Read more

Censorship Challenge: Texas Pastor Seeks Restrictions On ‘Dangerous’ Library Books

Back in the 1990s, some Religious Right activists in Virginia got the bright idea to begin attacking America’s public libraries. The idea was to demonize public libraries in the same way that public schools have been successfully demonized by fundamentalists in some parts of the country.

The effort, dubbed “Family Friendly Libraries,” fell flat. Americans simply weren’t interested in allowing a bunch of far-right Christian fundamentalists to determine what books they or their children could read. Read more

Onward Christian Censors? School District Votes To Ban Book With Strong Language, LGBT Themes

A Delaware school district recently voted to remove a book from a high school’s approved reading list over complaints about profanity. The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily Danforth had been recommended reading for rising freshmen in Cape Henlopen.

NBC’s local affiliate reports that parents objected to the book’s use of strong language, and in a 6-1 vote, the school board agreed. Read more

So It Goes: Mo. School District Reconsiders Vonnegut Book Ban

When members of the Republic School Board of Education in Missouri voted 4-0 to remove Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five from its curriculum, I’ll bet they had no idea the backlash they’d receive.

But it just goes to show, making a stink of things can really go a long way. Thanks to Americans United and our allies (including the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library!), the board has now agreed to reconsider its misguided decision. Read more

Yielding To Censorship: Mo. School Board Bans Books That Are ‘Contrary To The Bible’

Kurt Vonnegut’s novel Slaughterhouse-Five is considered a modern classic. That doesn’t mean it’s a particularly easy read. Indeed, it deals with some fairly heady topics. When I first encountered it in high school, I wasn’t sure what to make of it. But it sure made me think, which, in my view, is what a good novel should do.

Funny thing about that thinking – some people see it as dangerous. And a few of those people sit on the school board in Republic, Mo. Read more

Angels, Demons & Blowhards: It's Only A Movie, Bill, Only A Movie

On Friday morning, I trekked to the Fox News Channel studio in Washington to debate Bill Donohue of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights about President Barack Obama's upcoming speaking engagement at Notre Dame.

I'd prefer to have a civil discussion over these matters, but Donohue has two settings: "Obnoxious" and "Even More Obnoxious," so things got heated right away. Read more

Religious Right Censors' Worst Nightmare: Why We'll Miss Judith Krug

It's pretty easy these days to walk into mostly any public library in the country and check out J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye or John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men. You can do that in a large part thanks to a woman named Judith Krug.

Judith, who ran the American Library Association's Office for Intellectual Freedom since 1967, was a life-long censorship foe who conceived the now internationally famous "Banned Books Week." She raised awareness of book censorship in America and devised strategies to combat it. Read more