Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Bible Makes "Most Objectionable Books" List

                According to the American Library Association, the Bible is now on its latest list of books most objected to at public schools and libraries. It has been targeted nation-wide, primarily for “the legal issues it raises,” but also for “the sex and violence it contains,” a recent Associated Press report states.
                James LaRue, director of the Office for Intellectual Freedom for the American Library Association, says “You have people who feel that if a school library buys a copy of the Bible, it’s a violation of church and state. And sometimes there’s a retaliatory action, where a religious group has objected to a book and a parent might respond by objecting to the Bible.” The ALA released its annual top ten listing of “challenged” books recently, part of its “State of Libraries Report” for 2016.
                LaRue emphasized that the library association does not oppose having Bibles in public schools per se’, and Office for Intellectual Freedom Guidelines state that the Bible "does not violate the separation of church and state as long as the library does not endorse or promote the views included in the Bible." The ALA favors including a wide range of religious materials, from the Quran to the Bhagavad Gita to the Book of Mormon. LaRue said that the association does occasionally hear of complaints about the Quran, but fewer than for the Bible. That’s heartening.
                The Bible was sixth on the list of most objected to books for 2015.  The list was topped by John Green's "Looking for Alaska," which has been cited for "offensive language" and strong sexual content. The list’s runner-up, challenged for obvious reasons, was E L James' erotic romance "Fifty Shades of Grey." If “Looking for Alaska,” a multiple award-winning book published by the Penguin Young Readers Group, beat out “Fifty Shades” in this category, it must be quite the read! Apparently, though targeting the young reader, it covers topics such as sexual conquest, drinking, smoking and suicide. No wonder it gets near universal rave reviews from the kiddies! I would hope that “Fifty Shades,” which was aimed at the mature female audience, did not adorn any high school library bookshelves. Given today’s climate, however, I’d probably be disappointed. It was likely adapted for use as a learning to read reference book for first graders in select California school districts. “See stockings run. See Christian c--.”
                "I Am Jazz," a transgender picture book, was No. 3, followed by another transgender story, Susan Kuklin's "Beyond Magenta." The list also includes Mark Haddon's "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time," Alison Bechdel's "Fun Home," Craig Thompson's "Habibi," Jeanette Winter's "Nasreen's Secret School: A True Story from Afghanistan" and David Leviathan's "Two Boys Kissing.”
                “Habibi “ equates Islam with Christianity. One reviewer called it “Erotic, grotesque, and profoundly moving.” In “Two Boys Kissing”…two boys attempt to set a world record for the longest kiss.
                LaRue noted that "Many of the books deal with issues of diversity, and that often leads to challenges.” The association bases its list on “news reports” and on accounts submitted from libraries. A challenge is defined as a "formal, written complaint filed with a library or school requesting that materials be removed because of content or appropriateness." The ALA believes that for every challenge brought to its attention, four or five others are not reported. Based on its own definition, I’m not sure how this can be the case. He says the association does not know the number of books actually pulled from libraries and/or schools in 2015.
                Incredibly, LaRue said he was “concerned” by proposed legislation that would have mandated schools to warn parents if their children were to be assigned books with sexually explicit content.  Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe recently vetoed the measure. A Fairfax (Virginia) County mother had protested the use of Toni Morrison's Pulitzer Prize-winning "Beloved" in her son's high school senior class. The 1987 novel set in the post-Civil War era includes scenes depicting sex, rape and bestiality. I mean, doggone it, who doesn’t like a little bestiality now and again? I think it’s the cat’s meow, don’t you? Or are you a horse’s ass? Or maybe one of those close-minded, intolerant, xenophobic, homophobic, male chauvinist pigs?
                "We see the danger of censorship moving from the school library into the English classroom," LaRue concluded.

                Holy cow. The only thing that’s censored is conservative thought.

                In 2015 America, for the first time, the Bible is on a list of “objectionable books,” alongside those extolling or exploring kiddie-porn, sado-masochism, transgender “rights,” homosexuality, suicide, and bestiality.

                We are at a remarkable point in Western history. Perhaps the breaking point.

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