mad anthony

Rants, politics, and thoughts on politics, technology, life,
and stuff from a generally politically conservative Baltimoron.

Saturday, August 28, 2004

Burn this!

In it's usual way, Slashdot is making a mountain out of a molehill. The are discussing the ALA's list of most frequently banned books. Except for the fact that they aren't actually banned books, but rather challenged books - which means that someone has asked that they be banned, not that they are. I can ask that the the olympic dance team mud wrestle, but it's not going to happen.

From reading the ALA's website, you notice that the people who most often challenge books are parents. To me, that seems to make the ALA's cry of censorship, of book challenges as some sort of attempt to keep unpopular political ideas down, ring false, as does a look at the actual list. There are a bunch of books on their that parents wouldn't want their kids reading, or wouldn't want them to read at a certain age. The impression I get from the ALA is that they feel they know better than parents what kids should read.

The funny thing is that all library books are on some level censorship - chances are the people who order books at the library are going to order more copies of books by authors they like and by people they agree with, and aren't going to order books by people they dislike. That bias gets passed on to the readers. My guess is most librarians tilt left, which is why most libary books seem to as well.

One other interesting thing from the ALA website - one of the most challenged books of 2003 - number 4 - is one that I would argue is exactly the kind of book that should be challenged. It's Michael A. Bellesiles' Arming America, a book that was literally made up and passed off as serious reseach, which got the author fired from Emory University. More info here, here and here.


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