Monday, January 19, 2009
An Ancient Tradition
The Beulah (North Dakota) School Board voted 4-3 to ban the book Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil from the local high school library.
The vote came as a result of a complaint by Keith Bohn, a Beulah vocational agriculture teacher (okay, there are a lot of jokes there but I'm piously passing them up), and Kathy Bohn, a school janitor, because:
... their son brought it home as part of an accelerated reading program.
Keith Bohn said he didn't read the entire book, but found it unsuitably and graphically pornographic after reading some chapters and portions of it.
None of the Beulah School Board members have read the book, though some researched it, said board chairman Phil Eastgate.
Part of the procedure to remove a book is to establish a review committee of five people and ... surprise! ... they all read the book! ... and they unanimously recommended that the book remain in the library!
Beulah High School librarian Kathy Cline was chairman of the book review committee.
She said she refused to remove the book when the Bohns asked her to, instead referring them to the school's procedure.
"It's my job to keep it out there for anyone to read. I'm not willing to pull a book off the shelf because someone doesn't like it," she said. ...
Cline said the review committee looked at the American Library Association's Freedom to Read statement: "Parents and teachers have a responsibility to prepare the young to meet the diversity of experiences in life to which they will be exposed, as they have a responsibility to help them learn to think critically for themselves."
Apparently, encouraging "critical thinking" only applies when it comes to science.
Eastgate, the board chairman, who voted to remove the book, is at least having second thoughts:
He's planning a special meeting soon when the board may look at something different than an "in or out" decision. One option is to move "Midnight" and other books to a restricted section that requires parental consent for students to read, he said.
Yeah, heaven forefend that teenagers go to a library to get something their parents don't want them to read!
After all, that's what the internet is for!