Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

A Lesson in Irony: Chicago Author Banned From Banned Books Talk

Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

Last week, in the midst of the media derecho catapulting the celebration of Banned Books Week, we came upon this article in the Chicago Tribune written by author James Klise.  

Klise manages a high school library in Chicago and is the author of Love Drugged, which Booklist called An excellent novel for classroom and GSA discussion.”Love Drugged was also an ALA Stonewall Honor Book in 2011 as well as a recommended read on the Rainbow List of Recommended LGBTQ Books for Young Readers.

A lover of  Banned Books Week festivities, Klise was thrilled to accept an opportunity to speak on the “Right to Read” for eighth-graders at a school in Kansas. A few days passed, and the librarian came back with some unfortunate news: 

She hated to say it, but I probably was not a good fit for their event after all. She explained that she works in a very conservative community. After some consideration, she and her principal decided that my first young-adult novel, called “Love Drugged,” about a closeted gay teen, might be too edgy for some parents there.

Was I really being dis-invited from participating in a program called “The Right to ...

Join CBLDF at the Alternative Press Expo!

Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

The organizers of the Alternative Press Expo are hoping to break last year’s record-setting attendance with this weekend’s festival, and CBLDF will be on hand to help make that happen! The West Coast’s premier celebration of independent comics, APE 2012 goes down October 13 and 14 at the Concourse Exhibition Center (635 8th Street) in San Francisco, and you’ll be able to find CBLDF at booth #318, where we will have an exciting array of signed premiums and exclusive autograph sessions with APE Special Guest Ben Katchor!

PANELS

SATURDAY, October 13, 12:00 p.m.
CBLDF: The History of Comics Censorship
—Learn the shocking history of comics censorship and how even today comics and the people who make, sell, and read them are still threatened. CBLDF online editor Betsy Gomez tells the sordid tale, from the public book burnings and Senate hearings that led to the Comics Code Authority in the 1950s through the attacks on retailers in the 1980s, artists in the 1990s, and readers today.

SIGNINGS

CBLDF is delighted to host APE Special Guest Ben Katchor for two exclusive signings! Katchor’s illustrations have appeared in Metropolis Magazine, The New Yorker, and his books include Julius Knipl, Real ...

Canada Joins TPP as a Second-Tier Negotiator: Entertainment Lobby Approves, Civil Society Does Not

Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

Despite protests from civil society organizations, but with applause from the entertainment lobby, Canada announced on October 9th that it has officially joined the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement negotiations. Canada joins the TPP not as an equal partner in the agreement but as a “second-tier” negotiator, which means it will have far less input into the agreement than the countries currently negotiating. Some Canadian politicians did find some of the conditions imposed by the USA and other countries unpalatable, but nobody offered any real details as to why.

As a second-tier partner, Canada will have to sign onto sections negotiated over 14 rounds of talks- without seeing the text in advance. Canada’s participation in the TPP talks will begin with the 15th round of negotiations, which take place December 3 – 12, 2012 in Auckland, New Zealand.

In joining the TPP negotiations Ed Fast, Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway, commented:

“Canada is pleased to be formally joining the TPP negotiations (…) Joining the TPP is good news for hard-working Canadian families. Opening new markets and increasing Canadian exports to fast-growing markets throughout the Asia-Pacific region is a key part of our government’s plan to ...

Timeline entry for 2012: Pedagogy of the Oppressed

Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

We’ve so far commemorated the past 30 years of the timeline of banned and challenged books and will end with the year 2012. The featured book is “Pedagogy of the Oppressed,” by Paulo Freire.

Pedagogy of the Oppressed book coverIn 2012, under threat of violating state law and losing state funding, the Tucson (AZ) Unified School District voted to cut its Mexican American Studies (MAS) program. “Pedagogy of the Oppressed” and numerous other books affiliated with the MAS program were found in violation, removed from the curriculum, and stored in district storehouses. Freire’s seminal work, published in 1968 and translated into English in 1970, challenges traditional relationships between teachers and students, calling for an educational environment where learners are not treated as empty vessels for information but rather are respected as active participants in the learning process.

For more information about Banned Books Week, please visit www.ala.org/bbooks.

EFF Opposes US Government’s State Secrets Claim (Again) in Jewel v. NSA, the Warrantless Wiretapping Case

Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

Yesterday, EFF filed its latest brief in the Jewel v. NSA case, aiming to stop the government from engaging in mass warrantless collection of emails, phone calls, and customer records of ordinary Americans. The matter is set for hearing on December 14, 2012 in federal court in San Francisco, on the question of whether these Americans will get their day in court.

Once again, the government is arguing that the courts cannot consider whether the government is breaking the law and violating the Constitution, relying on the state secrets doctrine. The government asserts that, even if no further information is revealed in the litigation, a decision itself is too dangerous. But contrary to the government's claims, as EFF's brief explains, Congress has created multiple legal claims that can be raised against illegal government surveillance, even in the context of national security. Moreover, the Foreign Intelligence Surveilance Act (FISA), section 1806(f) overrides the state secret privilege and provides that the court must decide whether government surveillance is "lawfully authorized and conducted." 

As the brief explains, if the court were to allow the state secrets claim to prevail, the government will have essentially walled off large portions of illegal government conduct from ...

Mass. AG: Town’s No-Swearing Rule Legally Suspect

Tuesday, October 9th, 2012

Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley is recommending that the town of Middleborough change or repeal a bylaw that prohibits public profanity.

The town approved a proposal this summer that would allow police to enforce the 1968 ban by imposing a $20 fine on people who engage in loud swearing in public.

http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2012/10/09/us/ap-us-no-swearing-town.html?hp&_r=0

NCAC Interviews SIDESCROLLERS Creator Matt Loux

Tuesday, October 9th, 2012

Sidescrollers cover

The National Coalition Against Censorship’s blog has a new interview with Matt Loux, whose graphic novel SideScrollers was recently removed from an Enfield, Connecticut, high school’s summer reading list after one resident complained of profanity and sexual references. CBLDF and NCAC have joined with several other organizations to contest the removal, pointing out that the Enfield Board of Education failed to observe its own policies in the matter.

In the interview, Loux discusses his effort to make the characters and dialogue in Sidescrollers seem realistic:

I started writing it during my late teens so I guess that’s just how I talked back then. I don’t swear nearly as freely these days…. Writing natural-feeling dialog is very important to me. I work hard to achieve a comfortable flow in all of my stories…. I quickly discovered that no matter the age group, you must write what feels natural to yourself and the characters you created. When you start to really understand your characters and how they would react in situations, that’s when it all falls into place.

Loux also weighs in on the issue of book ratings, which he feels have not stifled his expression as an author and artist:

...

CBLDF and the Schulz Library Join Forces for the First Amendment!

Tuesday, October 9th, 2012

The Center for Cartoon Studies and the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund are pleased to announce the permanent addition of a “Banned Comics” section to the school’s Schulz Library. The move is both in recognition of the library’s first Banned Books Week in its new location and the first anniversary of the CBLDF acquiring the Comics Code Authority’s infamous “seal of approval.”

The new section will highlight the long history of censorship in comics and raise patrons’ awareness of enduring First Amendment struggles by grouping popular yet oft-challenged landmarks, such as Maus, Watchmen, Bone, Blankets, The Sandman, Fun Home, and Stuck Rubber Baby; displaying an oversized reproduction of the now-defunct CCA seal alongside the works it abolished; and promoting the CBLDF with official signage and brochures.

It’s almost impossible to overstate the impact the Code had on American comics, so it was a symbolic triumph when the CBLDF obtained its seal last year. We’re excited to celebrate this anniversary with our friends at the Fund and inform the Cartoon Studies community about the ongoing defense of our freedom of expression.

Imagery (c) 2011, 2012 the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.

———

The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund...

New Senate Report: Counterterrorism "Fusion Centers" Invade Innocent Americans’ Privacy and Don’t Stop Terrorism

Tuesday, October 9th, 2012

The Department of Homeland Security’s 70 counterterrrorism "fusion centers" produce "predominantly useless information," "a bunch of crap," while "running afoul of departmental guidelines meant to guard against civil liberties" and are "possibly in violation of the Privacy Act."

These may sound like the words of EFF, but in fact, these conclusions come from a new report issued by a US Senate committee. At the cost of up to $1.4 billion, these fusion centers are supposed to facilitate local law enforcement sharing of valuable counterterrorism information to DHS, but according to the report, they do almost everything but.

DHS described its fusion centers as "one of the centerpieces of [its] counterterrorism strategy" and its database was supposed to be a central repository of known or "appropriately suspected" terrorists. In theory, local law enforcement officers, in conjunction with DHS officials, conduct surveillance and write up a report—known as a Homeland Intelligence Report (HIR)—for DHS to review. If credible, DHS would then spread the information to the larger intelligence community.

Yet, the Senate report found the fusion centers failed uncover a single terrorist threat. Instead, like so many post-9/11 surveillance laws passed under the vague guise of “national security,” the system ...

HTTPS Everywhere 3.0 protects 1,500 more sites

Tuesday, October 9th, 2012

EFF has a long-term mission to encrypt as much of the Web as possible — in fact, to encrypt all of it. We have been making quite a lot of progress.

HTTPS Everywhere, the browser extension we produce in collaboration with the Tor Project and an awesome community of volunteers, is now used by more than 2.5 million people around the world.1 Today we released version 3.0 of HTTPS Everywhere, which adds encryption protection to 1,500 more websites, twice as many as previous stable releases. Our current estimate is that HTTPS Everywhere 3 should encrypt at least a hundred billion page views in the next year, and trillions of individual HTTP requests.

Install HTTPS Everywhere today to protect your communications from prying eyes, your cookies from identity thieves, and your reading habits from censors.

(Version 3 for Firefox)

We try hard to ensure that HTTPS Everywhere doesn't interfere with the sites it protects. But from time to time, the HTTPS versions of sites are buggy. If you see a page that seems to ...

Clamor for Activists’ Freedom

Monday, October 8th, 2012

Two women who have been championing lands rights in Cambodia have been languishing in jail for more than a month on charges which human rights groups say are part of a broader government effort to silence and punish community organizers in the country.

Yorm Bopha and Tim Sakmony, prominent housing rights activists, were arrested in early September after taking part in protests against forced evictions at the Boeung Kak Lake and Borei Keila development sites in Phnom Penh.

But they face charges unrelated to the protests, such as beating up a thief and making a false declaration, which rights groups say do not require pretrial detention at all.

Almost daily protests are held by local rights groups in Phnom Penh to highlight what they call a violation of the duo’s fundamental and constitutional rights.

International nongovernmental groups meanwhile have taken the plight of Yorm Bopha and Tim Sakmony to Cambodia’s foreign donors, asking they that demand Prime Minister Hun Sen’s government drop all charges against the two and release them immediately.

“We are concerned that the legal actions being carried out against Bopha and Sakmony are in fact motivated by their involvement in land-related advocacy campaigns on behalf of the ...

Otaku: Japan’s Favorite Scapegoat — and Tourist Draw

Monday, October 8th, 2012
Otaku Encyclopedia

Source: AkibaToday.com.

Japan has long had a checkered relationship with its subculture of otaku, a word whose nuances cannot easily be translated to English but which more or less means “geeks whose hobbies border on the fanatic” (Ito). More often than not, these hobbies include consuming, collecting, and obsessing over manga, anime, and video games. Add in the fact that some otaku — though by no means all — specialize in sexually explicit hentai, and you have a ready-made target that sensationalist media can blame for all manner of problems. Although in the past 20 years otaku have gone from “symboliz[ing] for media commentators the downfall of Japanese society itself” (Galbraith, 210) to being appropriated as “Japan’s first, originated in Japan, human cultural export” (Meredith, 38), there is still some tendency to stereotype them as potential criminals and even call for censorship of their preferred reading and viewing.

The word otaku was first used to describe anime and manga enthusiasts in the early 1980s (Galbraith 214), but Japan’s real national conversation about the subculture began inauspiciously in 1989 with the so-called “Otaku Murderer.” Tsutomu Miyazaki mutilated, molested, killed, and ate parts of four girls who were between the ages of ...

Timeline entry for 2011: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

Saturday, October 6th, 2012

We’re highlighting year 2011 on the timeline of banned and challenged books. The featured books is “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian,” by Sherman Alexie.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian book coverIn 2011, the Richland (WA) School Board voted to prohibit “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” for all grades, though the initial complaint came in regard to its use for ninth-grade English classes. The following month, after public outcry and after board members and district committee members read the novel, the book was declared to be “outstanding” and the decision to ban it was reversed. “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” explores complex issues of race, class, and identity and has come under fire for its violence, sexual content, and language. It won the National Book Award for Young Peoples Literature in 2007.

For more information about Banned Books Week, please visit www.ala.org/bbooks.

A Tale of Two Countries: New Zealand Apologizes for Illegal Domestic Spying, While US Still Refuses to Acknowledge NSA’s Warrantless Wiretapping

Friday, October 5th, 2012

Imagine this: A government, faced with public evidence that its foreign spy service was conducting domestic surveillance on its residents—instead of claiming the information is somehow secret and the people responsible are above the reach of the law—admits in public and in the courtroom that it violated basic rights.

That is exactly what happened last week in New Zealand in the controversial copyright infringement case surrounding Megaupload and its founder Kim Dotcom. At the same time in the US, the government is faced a very similar scenario: overwhelming evidence the National Security Agency (NSA) has illegally spied on Americans. However, not only has the government refused to admit any wrongdoing, it is actively trying to prevent courts from coming to any conclusions.

As EFF has previously reported, the case against Megaupload and Dotcom has been controversial from the start. Dotcom was arrested in New Zealand, while the U.S. government seized Megaupload’s property and executed search warrants on its leased servers based on claims of alleged copyright infringement the day after SOPA was declared dead by Congress. The military-style raid by the New Zealand police was criticized as over-excessive. And the loss of access to the servers has ...

50 State Salute to Banned Books Week: Indiana, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin

Friday, October 5th, 2012

We’ve featured 25 states so far for the 50 State Salute to Banned Books Week, and will continue to feature more over the next week. Today’s featured videos come from Indiana, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin.

Indiana’s Mooresville Public Library created a trailer for Banned Books Week 2012. Check out their playlist of Banned Book Trailers they produced over the years.


The Red Balloon Bookshop in St. Paul, Minnesota created this special video in honor of the 50 State Salute:


The playlist for Pennsylvania features Pennsylvania Library Association president, Debbie Malone, Pennsylvania Library Association chapter councilor, Alexia Hudson Ward, and Pennsylvania librarian, Carrie Gardner:


Cranston Public Library in Rhode Island celebrates the “30th Anniversary of the Freedom to Read” with a montage dedicated to the appreciation of said freedom:


University of WI-Milwaukee School of Information Studies
features students, faculty, and staff for the 50 State Salute:

Check out ala.org/bbooks for more information about Banned Books Week.

EFF Condemns Arrest of Prominent Cuban Bloggers

Friday, October 5th, 2012

EFF is deeply concerned to hear of the arrest of Cuban dissident blogger Yoani Sánchez, along with her husband, journalist Reinaldo Escobar, and blogger Agustín Díaz. According to reports, the trio was arrested in the eastern province of Bayamo, where they had traveled to attend the trial of a Spanish political activist facing vehicular homicide charges in the crash that killed democracy activists Oswaldo Payá and Harold Cepero. The purpose of Carromero's visit to Cuba was to meet with human rights activists.

The official reason for their arrest is currently unknown.  Global Voices has compiled reactions to the arrests from Cuban bloggers.

Sánchez has become one of Cuba's most prominent bloggers over the years, winning several awards and being named to TIME Magazine's 100 Most Influential Peoplein 2008. Due to Cuba's tight restrictions on Internet use, she has often relied upon networks outside of the country to publish her posts. Sánchez has repeatedly been denied permission to leave the country.We join the Committee to Protect Journalists in condemning the arrest of the three bloggers and call on Cuban authorities to release Sánchez, Escobar and Díaz immediately.

YouTube Upgrades Its Automated Copyright Enforcement System

Friday, October 5th, 2012

From its inception, YouTube’s algorithmic copyright cop, Content ID, has been rife with problems — at least from the user’s perspective. Overbroad takedowns, a confusing dispute process, and little in the way of accountability turned the “filter” into an easy censorship tool. On Wednesday, however, YouTube announced several changes that should help users fight back against bogus takedowns, and help prevent those takedowns in the first place. 

The Content ID system works by scanning videos on the site for content matching one or more of the over 10 million registered samples that partners have provided to YouTube. In the case of a match, it follows the "business rules" set by the assigned rightsholder, which can include blocking or "monetizing" the upload. If a rightsholder has requested a block, viewers see the familiar error message that indicates that the video has been pulled for copyright reasons. If the business rules are set to "monetize" the video, YouTube gives the rightsholder a portion of the revenue generated from ads run alongside the video.

Users could always dispute Content ID claims, but the process was confusing and there was no means to challenge a denial. Now, an eligible user (a ...

Authors speak out against censorship for the Banned Books Virtual Read-out!

Friday, October 5th, 2012

This year’s Banned Books Virtual Read-out has featured wonderful writers such as Stephen Chbosky, Sara Paretsky, Dr. Carmen Tafolla, Dori Hillestad Butler–not to mention the honorary co-chair and journalist extraordinaire, Bill Moyers. Today we feature a compilation video created by the Association of American Publishers (AAP). This video features various authors speaking out against censorship and book banning as part of AAP’s What Are You Reading? campaign at BookExpo America 2012. A list of all participating authors can be found below. Watch the video for their thoughts on book banning and censorship!


We also would like to feature a bookstore and library that hosted a virtual Read-Out featuring many other authors.

City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco, CA caught many authors reading passages from banned or challenged books, including Lawrence Ferlinghetti, who reads from Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, by James Joyce; and John Waters, who reads a passage from Lady Chatterley’s Lover, by D.H. Lawrence.  (Note that Wednesday marked the 55th anniversary of Ferlinghetti’s acquittal in the landmark obscenity case over Allen Ginsburg’s Howl, which Ferlinghetti published.)


The Memphis Public Library in Memphis, TN invited local authors to their WYPL TV studio to ...

Nudity a Frequent Target for Book Challenges

Friday, October 5th, 2012

A frequent cause for the contention when it comes to comic books and graphic novels has been the age-old, yet incorrect, idea that all comics are for children. In this light, it is not hard to discern why books featuring even brief glimpses of nudity have been challenged, including Maurice Sendak’s In the Night Kitchen, Daniel Clowes’ Ice Haven, and Akira Toriyama’s Dragon Ball series.

In the Night Kitchen

Released in the early 1970′s, In the Night Kitchen features several nude illustrations of Mickey, the male, child protagonist of Sendak’s book. Some libraries banned the book, while other librarians, seeking a compromise that would prevent controversy and keep the book on the shelves, painted diapers or underwear over Mickey’s genitals.

Sendak’s editor, Ursula Nordstrom, sent a letter to a librarian who had actually burned their library’s copy of In the Night Kitchen:

I am indeed distressed to hear that in the year 1972 you burned a copy of a book. We are truly distressed that you think it is not a book for elementary school children. I assume it is the little boy’s nudity which bothers you. But truly, it does not disturb children! [...] I ...

ROCK COMIC CON: The Ultimate NYCC After Party Benefits CBLDF!

Friday, October 5th, 2012

REBEL-NYC, New York City October 12th, 2012

Excitement continues to build as ROCK COMIC CON rolls out what promises to be the major party event of convention week during New York Comic Con.

This year, ROCK COMIC CON is partnering with the COMIC BOOK LEGAL DEFENSE FUND to create the ultimate Nerd Rock music party experience. ROCK COMIC CON is a perfect place for Heroes, Zombies, Jedi Knights and Fans of all kinds to get their “Nerd” Rock on and help support freedom of speech through the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.

‘Nerd Rock’: [nurd 'rok] a genre of music that tends not to take itself too seriously, often referencing “geek” pop culture, comic books and video games with significant doses of irony and humor.

ROCK COMIC CON features an array of national acts; hard rocking and musically adept nerd bands, including Schaffer, the Dark Lord, a New York City-based rapper and comedian with material best-suited for brainy and/or drug-addled audiences. With manic energy and a verbose vocabulary, STD skewers such topics as religious zombies, sci-fi sex fantasies, grammar snobbery and obsessive cat-enthusiasts. STD has released three full-length albums and toured the country with mc chris, MC Frontalot ...

Timeline entry for 2010: ttyl

Friday, October 5th, 2012

We’re now onto 2010 of the timeline of banned and challenged books. Today’s featured book is “ttyl,” by Lauren Myracle.

ttyl book coverPublished in 2004, “ttyl” was the first book written entirely in the format of instant messaging – the title itself is a shorthand reference to “talk to you later” – and is the first book in Myracle’s “Internet Girls” series for young adults. It was challenged, but retained, in 2010 at the Ponus Ridge Middle School library in Norwalk, CT. Critics labeled its style as “grammatically incorrect” and objected to its language, sexual content, and questionable sexual behavior. “ttyl” ranked as ALA’s most frequently challenged book in 2009 and 2011.

For more information about Banned Books Week, please visit www.ala.org/bbooks.

Robie Harris Speaks Up On A Career’s Worth Of Challenges

Friday, October 5th, 2012

Robie Harris knows more than most people about book banning. Her children’s books on sexual health and family life are perennial standards on challenged and banned lists across the country, accused of being everything from age-inappropriate to “obvious child pornography.” This month, Harris opened up in essay for PEN.org and in an interview with Kirkus Reviews about the emotional roller coaster of book challenges.

Harris tells Kirkus contributor Jessa Crispin about the first time her book It’s Perfectly Normal was challenged:

I was totally surprised by how upset I was and for days wondered why I ever wrote a book that was causing a librarian to spend weeks defending it and defending her own professional judgment.

…Children, even our very young children, do not live in bubbles. They live in the real world… How can we hold back writing about powerful feelings, or not include certain information children crave and have the right to know, simply because we are afraid?

It’s Perfectly Normal is an illustrated children’s book that focuses on the development and sexual health of adolescents. It’s pedigree is impressive: The New York Times named it a “Notable Book of the Year,” the San Francisco Chronicle named it ...

50 State Salute to Banned Books Week: Kentucky, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, and Vermont

Thursday, October 4th, 2012

Today as part of the 50 State Salute to Banned Books Week, we feature libraries and librarians in Kentucky, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, and Vermont!

The Kentucky Library Association features librarians from across Kentucky in their video for the 50 State Salute:


Gail Zacharia, chair of the Intellectual Freedom Committee for the New Hampshire Library Association reads a passage from Peyton Place:


Oklahoma Library Association
‘s Intellectual Freedom Committee chair, Julia McConnell, reads a passage from Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck:


And the Vermont Library Association wants to show you how they celebrate the freedom to read with this video:


We hope these videos will inspire you to create one of your own to be featured in the Banned Books Virtual Read-Out! We encourage you to continue to send videos for the 50 State Salute via this online form.

 

SOPA Is Dead, Says MPAA’s Chris Dodd, But What Comes Next?

Thursday, October 4th, 2012

Earlier this week, Chris Dodd, a 30-year veteran of the Senate and now chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), spoke in San Francisco at an event aimed at addressing “the shared future of the content and technology industries.” It's a testament to the continuing impact of January's blackout protests against Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) that Dodd should frame the discussion this way, and his conciliatory words during the talk struck a refreshing tone. But given that less than a year ago he was the nation’s leading advocate for a bill that would have censored large parts of the Internet, there’s still a long way to go.

Dodd made many positive comments during his speech, voicing strong support for freedom of speech online and calling on the content industry to move away from criminal actions against file-sharers. He also conceded that SOPA and PIPA are “dead,” and when pressed by EFF in discussion afterwards, he was emphatic that his organization no longer wanted to pursue legislation as the solution to the problems purportedly facing the content industry.

But let's not forget that he serves as the chairman and CEO of one of the ...

Megaupload User Will Get His Day in Court

Thursday, October 4th, 2012

Some good news for Kyle Goodwin and Megaupload users: the Court stated today that it will hold a hearing to find out the details about Mr. Goodwin's property - where it is, what happened when the government denied him access to it, and whether and how he can get it back. The Court has asked Mr. Goodwin and the government to each propose a format for the hearing, which remains unscheduled at this point.

Today's news is one more step toward getting innocent users their rightful property back - something that is long overdue. We are glad that Mr. Goodwin will finally get to make his case in court and we look forward to helping the judge fashion a procedure to make all of Megaupload's consumers whole again by granting them access to what is legally theirs.

Carmen Tafolla for the Banned Books Virtual Read-Out!

Thursday, October 4th, 2012

Happy day 5 of Banned Books Week! Today, we present Carmen Tafolla, Poet Laureate of San Antonio (TX) and the author of Curandera, a book of poetry banned in the Tucson (AZ) Unified School District in 2012. For more information on the Tucson situation, please read ALA’s Resolution Opposing Restriction of Access to Materials and Open Inquiry in Ethnic and Cultural Studies Programs in Arizona. You may also view the video from the program “Ethnic Studies Under Fire: The Role of Librarians, Publishers, Teachers, and Activists” at the 2012 ALA Annual Conference. Part of Tafolla’s Virtual Read-Out Video features a segment from that inspiring program.

Watch this video and more on the Banned Books Virtual Read-Out YouTube channel.

What Gets a Book Banned in Texas? How Bone & More Were Taken Off The Shelf

Thursday, October 4th, 2012

Each year, the ACLU of Texas contacts the 1,000+ school districts in the Lone Star State to find out why books are banished from classrooms, library shelves, and reading lists. For 2011-2012, they were excited to find that book challenges are down, but the fight is far from over. In “Free People Read Freely: The 16th Annual Report in Celebration of Banned Books Week,” Texas ACLU Executive Director Terri Burke writes in her forward:

Although I continue to be surprised at some of the books that are challenged and the reasons why, I am happy to report fewer books were banned last school year. In many cases, those that were banned or restricted were in elementary school libraries where their content was considered too mature for younger children. The books weren’t denied to older students.

According to the report, the results of challenges in Texas schools ran the gamut:

Some schools indicated they “restricted” these books from the elementary schools, either moving to a higher grade level or restricting only for the child whose parents protested its use. Some chose to ban the challenged books all together.

The 2011-2012 school year saw the following books removed from shelves:

Dark Rivers ...

Honest Teen Life Stories Among Frequently Banned & Challenged

Thursday, October 4th, 2012

Nothing gets a parent quite so anxious as their child’s teen years. Burgeoning adulthood comes with sexual awakening and an introduction to smoking, drinking, and any number of other vices. For many parents it can seem easier to limit a teen’s exposure to any hint of these problem areas, and from this attempt at protective insulation has sprung a veritable swarm of book challenges and bannings.

Blankets

Blankets is the semiautobiographical story of author Craig Thompson’s upbringing in a religious family, his first love, and how he came to terms with his religious beliefs. Its depiction of Craig’s memories of life with his brother and his later relationship with fellow Christian camper Raina includes several scenes of nudity and some sexual activity.

In October, 2006, the board of the Marshall Public Library, of Marshall, Missouri, held a hearing to consider a challenge from Louise Mills, who requested Blankets be pulled for its “obscene” drawings. In a letter to the trustees, co-signed with the National Coalition Against Censorship, the CBLDF discouraged the censorship of Thompson’s work, citing the legal definition of obscenity, the presence of sexual themes and nudity in acknowledged classic literature and art, and the critical acclaim ...

Timeline entry for 2009: The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Thursday, October 4th, 2012

We’re more than halfway through Banned Books Week and now onto year 2009 of our timeline. Today we feature “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” by Stephen Chbosky. Chbosky also participated in the Banned Books Virtual Read-Out this year with this video.

The Perks of Being a WallflowerIn 2009, “The Perks of Being a Wallflower was challenged on the Wyoming, OH high school district’s suggested reading list and restricted to juniors and seniors at the William Byrd and Hidden Valley high schools in Roanoke, VA. In a complaint that grew to include scores of young adult titles and attracted significant media attention, it was also challenged at the West Bend, WI Community Memorial Library as being “obscene or child pornography.” The library board ultimately voted to retain the book, “without removing, relocating, labeling, or otherwise restricting access.” Published in 1999, “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” contains references to drug use, homosexuality, and suicide, and has drawn comparisons to “Catcher in the Rye” as an iconic novel of adolescent alienation.

For more information about Banned Books Week, please visit www.ala.org/bbooks.

Tereska Torrès, Writer of America’s First Lesbian Pulp Novel, Dies at 92

Thursday, October 4th, 2012

French writer Tereska Torrès, 92, died at her home in Paris last Thursday. Author of many novels and memoirs, she is best known for her book Women’s Barracks, which was challenged by the House Select Committee on Current Pornographic Materials and banned in Canada.

Women’s Barracks is a fictionalized account of Torrès’s service in the women’s division of the Free French forces in London during World War II and was published in the United States in 1950. The book portrayed the breakdown of conventional mores of young people in uniform at a time when they couldn’t be sure they’d live to see then next day.

“Ursula felt herself very small, tiny against Claude, and at last she felt warm… She placed her cheek on Claude’s breast. Her heart beat violently, but she didn’t feel afraid. She didn’t understand what was happening to her. Claude was not a man; then what was she doing to her? What strange movements! What could they mean? Claude unbuttoned the jacket of her pyjamas and enclosed one of Ursula’s little breasts in her hand.”

Tame by today’s standards, passages like these were considered shocking. The House Select Committee on Current Pornographic Materials condemned the book ...

Fight Censorship With Retail Therapy and ComicsPRO!

Thursday, October 4th, 2012

Banned Books Week, the national celebration of the Freedom to Read is underway! Comic Book Legal Defense Fund is a sponsor of Banned Books Week, and we have been joined in the celebration by members of ComicsPRO! The comics retailer trade association has been hosting displays and events all week to raise awareness of the comics that have been banned and challenged. You can show your support for banned books by visiting these retailers!

No matter where you are, you’re sure to find a Banned Books Week display near you. Let’s take a look at what ComicsPRO retailers are doing to show their support for banned comics:

California

Corner Store Comics — Banned comics display

Colorado

Muse Comics + Games — Banned comics display plus thank you gifts for shoppers who sign up for CBLDF Membership!

Louisiana

BSI Comics — Banned Comics Party on October 5! The store also features a Banned Books Week display and discussion group, a CBLDF membership drive, and an auction!

Maryland

Big Planet Comics — Banned Comics Display & CBLDF Member Drive!

Mississippi

Southern Fried Comics — Banned Comics shirts and display. For every $5 donation, customers will be entered in a ...

A Dark Day for the Philippines as Government Passes Cybercrime Act

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012

The government of the Philippines today has passed the troubling Cybercrime Prevention Act. The Act covers a range of offenses, but—as we wrote last month—is particularly problematic because of a libel provision that criminalizes anonymous online criticism.

In addition to criminalizing online libel, Section 19 of the Act would also allow the country’s Department of Justice to block access to “computer data” that is in violation of the Act; in other words, a website hosting criminally libelous speech could be shut down without a court order.

Activists in the Philippines believe that the Act is unconstitutional and are petitioning the country’s Supreme Court to declare it so.  In their submission, the petitioning groups (including the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines, the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility, the Philippine Press Institute, among others), write:

In this case of first impression, this Court is asked to rule on a statute that, if allowed to stand, will set back decades of struggle against the darkness of “constitutional dictatorship” and replace it with “cyber authoritarianism”. It is fitting that the words of the President’s own platform be the backdrop against which the looming darkness is to ...

50 State Salute to Banned Books Week: Delaware, Maine, Michigan, and Nebraska

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012

We hope you are having fun reading your favorite banned/challenged book as well as having fun producing videos for the Banned Books Virtual Read-out! All the videos submitted via this form will be featured on the Banned Books Week Virtual Read-Out channel on YouTube.

We also hope you will consider joining us by participating in the 50 State Salute to Banned Books Week. We are still waiting for participation from some states. Check out the map to find out if your state has submitted a video. If no video is listed, please consider making one or encourage your friends to make one.

Today’s featured videos for the 50 State Salute come from Delaware, Maine, Michigan, and Nebraska:

Hannah Lee reads a passage from Shel Silverstein’s A Light in the Attic for Delaware Library Association’s video. Check out the video to find out why it was a target of censors in Delaware:

Maine’s submission for the ALA 50 State Salute comes to us from Walker Memorial Library staff members, board members and the Westbrook, ME community:

Ann Arbor District Library in Michigan submitted this video for the 50 State Salute, which features poet and publisher Mariela Griffor on censorship (note: they’re ...

Banned Books Week Reminds Us That, Even on College Campuses, Censorship Happens

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012
Fahrenheit 451 Cover

FIRE is commemorating Banned Books Week in accordance with the American Library Association this week.

From the ALA website:

Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. Typically held during the last week of September, it highlights the value of free and open access to information. Banned Books Week brings together the entire book community -- librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types -- in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular.

While it's tempting to think that college students are completely safe from book censorship, remember: It was only four years ago, in 2008, that a student employee, Keith Sampson, was found guilty of "racial harassment" for reading a book. Sampson's case reminds us that book censorship doesn't always have to be as cut-and-dry as removing as them from libraries. Censorship is always damaging to the exchange of ideas. It is especially important on college campuses to recognize this fact.

In college, assigned reading is obviously crucial. However, the freedom to read controversial material is just as important. You cannot learn if you cannot read, and you cannot freely exchange ...

Read the ACLU of Texas’ Banned Books Report

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012

The ACLU of Texas published their 16th annual Banned Books Report for the occasion of Banned Books Week this week and it both looks amazing and has great content. In addition to detailed information about books that were challenged and banned across the state in 2012, the report has a great interview with writer and activist Tony Diaz. Diaz joined NCAC and ALA on KPFA radio’s Project Censored Program last week to discuss the egregious book ban and dismantling of the Mexican-American studies program in Tucson, Arizona.


Sara Paretsky for the Banned Books Virtual Read-Out!

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012

Throughout Banned Books Week, we will continue to feature videos from both the Banned Books Virtual Read-Out and the 50 State Salute to Banned Books Week. Today we present Chicago writer, Sara Paretsky, best known for her V.I. Warshawski detective novels, who honors the life of Anne Frank by reading a poem written by Chilean poet, Marjorie Agosin in her video for the Banned Books Virtual Read-Out! Anne Frank: Diary of Anne Frank, has been banned or challenged due to being pornographic and a “real downer,” according to Banned Books, Challenging Our Freedom to Read, by Robert P. Doyle. (For more information, check out the frequently challenged books section of the ALA website).

Watch this video and more on the Banned Books Virtual Read-Out YouTube channel.

Remembering Banned Authors: Maurice Sendak

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012

Millions of enchanted readers were saddened by the passing of beloved children’s book author Maurice Sendak at the age of 83 in May. His books, the most well-known being Where the Wild Things Are, captivated the imaginations of readers both young and old with their sometimes dark, fantastical stories.  Because of the nature of his tales, many critics and censors marked his work as inappropriate or too dark for young children.
Most notably, his 1970 book In the Night Kitchen, was one of the most challenged books in the 1990s because it features a young boy who, in his dream world, falls out of his clothes and into a bowl of cake batter. 

Just a few months ago, Stephen Colbert interviewed Sendak onThe Colbert Report, discussing, among other things, the sexual content some have projected onto his works.

Wondering why Sendak drew the protagonist of In the Night Kitchen naked, Colbert said: “Boys wear pants.”

“Not when they’re dreaming,” Sendak replied, smiling.

See our May response to Sendak’s death here.


Labor Camp for Choir Leader

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012

A protesting evictee who led the singing of revolutionary, Mao era anthems in the Chinese capital has been sentenced to one year in labor camp, as the authorities clamp down on ordinary people seeking to complain about the government ahead of a crucial leadership transition.

Yao Yuling, who was detained by police in mid-August as she sang "red songs" outside the People's Supreme Procuratorate in Beijing, was handed a year's "reeducation through labor," in a notice seen by her family this week.

"It was one year," her sister said in an interview on Wednesday. "The notice was issued by the Nanhu police station in Nanjing [dated] Sept. 26, and it says that the decision was made by the reeducation-through-labor committee of Nanjing."

She said the authorities had sent no written notification to Yao's family, although they had been allowed to view the document.

"We asked them for it, and they wouldn't give it to us," Yao's sister, Yao Xiumei, said.

"They tried to get my sister to sign it, but she refused to sign. They wanted me to sign it but I told them there was no way were going to do that," she added.

Yao was singing the songs ...

14 Questions for the Presidential Candidates to Answer at Tonight’s Debate

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012

Tonight at 9 pm eastern, President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney will participate in the first of three presidential debates before the election on November 6th. Both Democrats and Republicans gave a general nod to Internet freedom in their party platforms for the first time this year, but we have yet to hear many specifics from either candidate.

Below are 14 questions—three for President Obama, three for Governor Romney, and eight for both candidates—we’d like to see answered in detail. Also, do not forget to go here and register to vote for Internet freedom on November 6th.

Questions for ...

Alan Moore, America’s Most Challenged

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012

Alan Moore is a legend of the comic book industry, recognized as one of its best writers. He has won numerous awards for his works, including for his run on Swamp Thing, Watchmen, Batman: The Killing Joke, and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, among others. Widely acclaimed both within the industry and without, Moore’s work is frequently subject to library challenges. From Watchmen to the more recent challenge against Neonomicon, let’s take a look at some of the challenges to Moore’s work.

Watchmen

The Watchmen series (with Dave Gibbons) likely needs little introduction to CBLDF blog readers. The alternate history in which a group of retired crimefighters investigate and attempt to stop a plot to murder them has been praised by critics and fans alike since its 1986 debut. It received Kirby Awards for Best Finite Series, Best New Series, Best Writer, and Best Writer/Artist; Eisner Awards for Best Finite Series, Best Graphic Album, Best Writer, and Best Writer/Artist; and in 1988, a Hugo Award. It was instrumental in garnering more respect and shelf space for comics and graphic novels in libraries and mainstream bookstores, and in ...

The Incredible True Story of Joe Shuster’s NIGHTS OF HORROR

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012

Nights of Horror No. 7 Joe ShusterIn 1938, Superman took flight from the drawing board of a teenage boy named Joe Shuster into the pages of Action Comics. However, by 1954 Joe had fallen on hard times: He was no longer drawing Superman; he had lost a lawsuit to get his creation back; and his latest book, Funny Man, was a miserable flop. That is where the story takes a strange turn — one that leads to bondage, censorship, the Boy Hitler of Flatbush Avenue, The Supreme Court, and a German-born psychiatrist named Wertham. What follows is the amazing true story of Joe Shuster’s Nights of Horror and the Brooklyn Thrill Killers. Beware: It is not for the faint of heart.

Coincidence is a device commonly applied in fiction, and especially in comics. The X-Men’s car just happens to break down in front of Magneto’s hidden base. Peter Parker and Aunt May just happened to apply for a loan when Dr. Octopus robs the same bank. Or that time Batman and Superman just happen to be assigned the same cabin on a endangered cruise ship.

Superman #76, May/June 1952

Readers are willing to suspend their disbelief, all the while knowing that such coincidences do not exist in the real world.

...

Timeline entry for 2008: Gossip Girl (series)

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012

Happy Day 4 of Banned Books Week! Throughout the week, we will continue to highlight one book from our timeline of banned and challenged books each day. Today we feature the year 2008 and “Gossip Girl” (Series) by Cecily Von Ziegesar.

Gossip GirlThe “Gossip Girl” series of young adult novels detail the lives and loves of privileged New York high school students. First published in 2002, they did not generate significant controversy until the 2007 premiere of a popular television series based on the books. In 2008, “Gossip Girl” was challenged at the Leesburg (FL) Public Library because of sexual innuendo, drug references, and other adult topics. Parents, churches, and community leaders called for the novels’ removal, along with numerous other “provocative” books available to teens at the library. City commissioners voted to separate all books based on age groups. “Gossip Girl” and other books for high-school readers were subsequently moved to a separate area in the library stairwell.

For more information about Banned Books Week, please visit www.ala.org/bbooks.

Virtual Read-Out: KING & KING

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012

Here’s another selection from the Banned Books Week Virtual Read-Out, an officially sponsored YouTube channel that compiles videos of people reading their favorite banned and challenged literature. In this one, college student Rachel reads an excerpt from King & King by Linda De Haan and Stern Nijland.

The children’s book about a prince whose true love turns out to be another prince has been frequently challenged since its English-language publication in 2002. It was moved to the adult sections of libraries in Wilmington, North Carolina, and Shelby County, Indiana. In 2005, more than 80 Oklahoma state legislators pressured the Oklahoma City Metropolitan Library System to restrict the book and several others with LGBT themes. Despite opposition from library staff, the Library Commission voted to place the books in a parenting section, which was only accessible to adults. The decision has apparently been reversed since that time, as the library’s catalog now shows King & King shelved in the general Easy Reader section.

We noticed that there aren’t very many videos of people reading comics in the Virtual Read-Out. If you’re feeling inspired, you can submit a video of your own! You can find the criteria here and video submission information ...

The Mayor Who Failed to Censor Comics

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012

Mayor M.E. Sensenbrenner (Source: The Columbus Dispatch)

A historical milepost article on The Columbus Dispatch website, an Ohio-based periodical, revisits September 28, 1954, when the city’s mayor composed a panel to review the censorship of comics.

In assembling the panel, Columbus mayor M.E. Sensenbrenner noted that the FBI and behavioral psychiatrists, such as Fredric Wertham (known for the persecution of comic books in Seduction of the Innocent), believed comics led to juvenile acts of violence. Sensenbrenner decided to assemble a committee with the goal of banning the medium.

From the Dispatch article, by By  Gerald Tebben:

Safety Director George O. Doyle, who appointed the 13-member committee at the mayor’s request, said the committee would consider proposing an ordinance to ban sex, crime and horror comics. The committee included parents, religious leaders and magazine distributor Scott Krauss.

The proposal included a justification for the censorship: “Many of our newsstands have become flooded with books, magazines and pocket novels prominently featuring acts which depict crime, violence, obscenity, lewdness and acts which convey sexual impressions.”

Though the push for censorship and outlawing of comics was supported by the Columbus city council, it lacked support from the public. Ironically,  Sensenbrenner’s proposal flopped despite nation-wide admonition of comics ...

50 State Salute to Banned Books Week: Idaho, Iowa, Kansas & Texas

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012

We’re delighted to share videos from Idaho, Iowa, Kansas and Texas for the “50 State Salute” to Banned Books Week. To view more videos from other states, check out the “50 State Salute” map.

Idaho Library Association presents their submission to the 50 State Salute with this video:

Kelly Fischbach, director of the Carroll Public Library in Carroll, IA and the chair of the Iowa Library Association’s Intellectual Freedom Committee, discusses how her library celebrates Banned Books Week:

Two videos have been submitted as part of Kansas’s playlist. Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library features The Hunger Games, in this video:

See also the Lawrence High School (Lawrence, KS.) video montage featuring works of art inspired by a banned book or author.

Last but not least are video submissions from Texas. Sherilyn Bird, president of the Texas Library Association, reads a passage from Shel Silverstein’s A Light in the Attic for the 50 State Salute:

Also featured on the Texas playlist is a video created by Wylie High students representing the Smith Public Library in Wylie, Texas:

Check back daily during Banned Books Week for more videos for the 50 State Salute and the Banned Books Virtual Read-Out.

Robert Shibley on ‘Cam & Co.’ Tonight with Morgan Freeman!

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012

In case you missed it, FIRE released a new video yesterday that's making quite an impact! In it, Sam Houston State University student Morgan Freeman tells the shocking story of the free speech wall she organized along with four campus groups: how a professor literally cut out an anti-Obama comment with a utility knife and, when campus police supported the professor, how her group came to FIRE for help.

Tonight at 10:20 p.m. Eastern time, Morgan will share her story live on the NRA News show "Cam & Company." FIRE's Senior Vice President Robert Shibley will join her to talk about her case and the state of free speech on America's college campuses. You can listen for free on NRA News online or on delay, starting at midnight, on SiriusXM Patriot satellite radio. Be sure to tune in!

FIRE in the News: Watch Clips of ‘Stossel,’ ‘Red Eye’ Featuring FIRE Cases!

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012

It's been a big television week for FIRE. Last Thursday, I appeared alongside Campus Freedom Network members David Deerson and Derek Spicer on an episode of the Fox Business Network show Stossel, filmed at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC). We had a great discussion of speech codes at UNC and civility codes at North Carolina State University. If you missed it on Thursday, you can watch the segment online now.

And last night, the late—night Fox News show Red Eye w/ Greg Gutfeld featured a segment about FIRE's latest video, featuring student Morgan Freeman of Sam Houston State University and a professor's vigilante censorship of a "free speech wall" she organized. If you haven't seen Red Eye before, prepare yourself—a mix of comedy, parody, and sometimes inappropriate humor, it's not your typical news network fare. 

Order ‘Unlearning Liberty’ Today and Save 34%!

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012

On October 23—just three weeks from today—FIRE President Greg Lukianoff's new book,Unlearning Liberty: Campus Censorship and the End of American Debate, will hit bookshelves across the country. The book has been available for pre-order online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble since June, and the price has been steadily increasing. (FIRE doesn't control that, by the way!) Unlearning Liberty is currently on sale for 34% off on Amazon and 35% off on Barnes & Noble's website, but the discounts won't last long. Pre-orders will arrive at your doorstep on October 23, and ordering now will guarantee your savings. Remember: all royalties from the book go directly to FIRE in support of our mission.

Here is what Christina Hoff Sommers, FIRE Board of Advisors member and resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, had to say about the book:

American universities have been described as islands of intolerance in a sea of freedom.Unlearning Liberty is a meticulous and inspiring guide on how to liberate the islands!

Help prevent this generation of college students from turning into castaways. Help liberate the islands—pre-order Unlearning Liberty today!

George R.R. Martin Supports CBLDF For Banned Books Week!

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012

WC18George R.R. Martin, the celebrated creator of GAME OF THRONES and WILD CARDS  is celebrating Banned Books Week by supporting the important work of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund!  This is his special message about what he’s doing to help, and how you can join him in making a difference!

It’s Banned Books Week, and there’s nothing I hate more than banning books (no, not even the New England Patriots and Dallas Cowboys), so I’m doing my little bit with a fundraiser for the COMIC BOOK LEGAL DEFENSE FUND.

The CBLDF is a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting the rights of free speech and free expression in comics books, graphic novels, and related fields. My own roots as a “funny book” fan go all the way back to the letters of comment I published in FANTASTIC FOUR, AVENGERS, and other Marvel comics back in the early 60s. I also attended the very first comicon, and won my first writing prize for an amateur prose superhero yarn (an Alley Award, which I never received, sob), so comics are a medium dear to my heart… as anyone who has ever read my own long-running WILD CARDS series of ...

Free Access to the Missourian’s Challenged Books Report

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012

Not long ago, The Missourian published its excellent J-student project of tracking and reporting on book challenges and bans across the state of Missouri.  This week, the newspaper — which uses a subscriber access model — will be allowing all visitors to read and access the reporting, for free! Click here to read about what types of books were challenged in Missouri, for what reason and what the results of those challenges were.  The results might surprise you!

In 2010, the Kids’ Right to Read Project defended Sherman Alexie’s novel The Absolutely True Story of a Part-Time Indian when it was banned in Stockton, Missouri.