Mark your calendars for the seven days between September 29 and October 6, because the ACLU is celebrating Banned Books Week, the Shark Week of censorship. At 7 p.m. October 3, author Chris Finan reads from his ponderously titled From the Palmer Raids to the Patriot Act: A History of the Fight for Free Speech in America at the Kansas City Public Library's Central Branch, 14 West 10th Street.
Hey – come to think of it, somebody else is celebrating Banned Books Week. I know it was someone important. Damn. Who was it?
Your grandma is totally celebrating Banned Books Week. I hear she’s reading To Kill a Mockingbird, and she thinks she is sticking it to The Man. When she pictures The Man, he’s strutting around the town square, riffling through a roll of hundreds and flaunting his silken finery.
Click here for the American Library Association’s list of the 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990 to 2000. If you leave out the actual interesting titles, such as The Joy of Gay Sex and The Anarchist Cookbook, it looks pretty much like the Summer Reading Club lists published by the library. Totally innocuous. It’s like a list of banned celebrities that includes Tom Hanks.
I’m a literate man. I read big fat maximallist novels by testosteronal authors, often while I am doing sets of abdominal crunches and drinking protein shakes. I’m against the suppression of free speech the same way I’m against institutional racism and Soylent Green – the energy bars and the movie. Reading is good for your brain and your muscle tone, and according to the TV, Reading Is Fundamental. But you are not sticking it to The Man when you read Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. You are only sticking it to yourself. Plus, books were a totally bad influence on this kid:
This year, Ray Bradbury issued a terse denial that his Fahrenheit 451 is about the suppression of free speech, insisting that it is actually about the supplanting of literature by television. Which means that his book is less about human rights and more about which media delivery vehicle Ray Bradbury likes and which one he doesn’t. Since this kind of makes Ray Bradbury into The Man, I am going to protest his anti-television polemic by watching 30 Rock and the Ultimate Fighting Championships.
-- Chris Packham