Wednesday News: Banned Books Week Edition
Top 5 Ancient And Medieval Censored Books To Read During Banned Book Week – As long as people have been writing, others have been banning. From Abelard to Sappho to Ovid and beyond, censorship has been publicly ritualized to emphasize its (alleged) moral and cultural authority.
4. Ovid (Exiled in 8 CE): Although there were many private collections of books in the city, Rome’s public libraries did not open until the late first century BCE. During the reign of Augustus, the Temple of Apollo, the Atrium of Liberty and the Porticus of Octavia thrived as public libraries in Rome; however, the emperor still maintained control over the libraries’ contents. In 8 CE, he banned the poet Ovid to exile (a sentence called relegatio) and kept his racy Ars Amatoria (“The Art of Love”) from public libraries — though his other works appear to have remained available. From his exile on the Black Sea, Ovid wrote: “I come in fear, an exile’s book, sent to this city: kind reader, give me a gentle hand, in my weariness: don’t shun me in fear, in case I bring you shame: not a line of this paper teaches about love” (Tristia 3.3). – Forbes
Texas Prisons Banned My Book About Texas Prisoners – Dan Slater’s correspondence with Gabriel Cardona, who is serving a life sentence in Texas, included books that Slater sent to Cardona, some of which were refused by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, because the TSCJ can – and does – censor books on what would kindly be called an inconsistent (and hypocritical) basis. You should check out the article for the circumstances under which these books are apparently accepted or refused (hint: it occurs in the mail room of the prison), and surprise!, many books on civil rights are deemed unacceptable:
“Criminal schemes” are one of TDCJ’s six grounds for banning a book. Of TDCJ’s other five grounds, two are indisputably sound: books that contain contraband, such as drugs tucked inside the cover; and books that contain information about how to manufacture drugs, explosives, or other weapons. The next two grounds are harder to justify: books that contain sexually explicit images; and books determined to be “detrimental to offenders’ rehabilitation” by encouraging “deviant criminal sexual behavior.” The sixth and broadest ground—a prohibition against books determined to have been written “solely for the purpose” of achieving the breakdown of prisons through strikes, riots, or gang activity—permits the prison to ban pretty much any book about civil rights that uses the word “nigger.” Tragically, it has been used repeatedly for just that purpose. . . .
TDCJ cites use of the N-word to justify banning dozens of books about race from authors as varied as Noam Chomsky, Langston Hughes, Philip Roth, Salman Rushdie, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Studs Terkel, Sojourner Truth, and Richard Wright. Yet, while classics such as H.G. Bissinger’s Friday Night Lights, about Texas high school football, and Roger Kahn’s The Boys of Summer, a history of Jackie Robinson’s Brooklyn Dodgers, have been banned for their discussions of race—i.e. use of the N-word—TDCJ permits prisoners to read many of the most racist books ever written, including Adolph Hitler’s Mein Kampf and David Duke’s My Awakening. – Slate
‘I want to cry. I’m in book heaven.’ How one reading advocate hopes to change the lives of juvenile hall detainees through a library – So how about at least a small antidote to the previous story . . . Zoila Gallegos is a reading specialist at the Los Angeles County Department of Education who teaches at Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall. Dismayed at the horrendous conditions of the juvenile system’s libraries, Gallegos advocated for new library resources for her students, a reminder of Frederick Douglass’s insight that “it is easier to build strong children than to repair broken [adults].” Not to mention the research that strongly suggests that education reduces recidivism.
She brought the idea to James Johnson, the Los Angeles County Probation Department’s superintendent at Los Padrinos, as well, and he quickly agreed. Johnson knew there was a library at Central Juvenile Hall already, although that one is aging and smaller.
Last month, Gallegos watched as officials from the Office of Education and the county probation and library departments unveiled a new library at Los Padrinos with 4,000 books and a full-time on-site librarian. About $1 million in Probation Department funds were set aside to rehab an empty classroom, buy the book collection, and pay the librarian and assistant for the next three years.
A couple of weeks later, the first two minors walked through the door.
“I want to cry. I’m in book heaven,” said Christie, 16, as she looked around at the shelves. – Los Angeles Times
Since the inception of Banned Books Week in 1982, libraries and bookstores throughout the country have staged local read-outs—a continuous reading of banned/challenged books—as part of their activities. Now in it’s sixth year (2016), readers from around the world can participate in the Banned Books Virtual Read-Out by creating videos proclaiming the virtues of the freedom to read that will be featured on a dedicated YouTube channel.