NCAC, Free Speech Groups Criticize M.D. Library’s “Porn” Ban

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NEW YORK, NY, 06/11/2012 – The National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC) united with other freedom of expression organizations again today on behalf of E.L. James’ best-selling erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey (Vintage), this time in Harford County, Maryland.

In a joint letter (below) issued to the county library’s board, NCAC has arrayed co-signers representing publishers, authors, booksellers and journalists from across the nation to urge Harford County to reconsider the thinking behind its generic ban on “porn,” a subjectively and selectively defined category.

“There is no justification for the wholesale exclusion of books with sexually explicit content, whether called ‘erotica’ or ‘pornography’,” the letter states.
The letter goes on to point out the great interest and demand for the book, noting that it “clearly fits within…Selection Criteria as a book of ‘contemporary significance’ that ‘will create public demand.’” It also notes that the book is already currently available to e-book readers across the state.
Furthermore, the letter underlines the murky line between selection and exclusion, citing Professor Lester Asheim’s essay “Not Censorship But Selection” on the American Library Association web site. (http://www.ala.org/offices/oif/basics/notcensorship)
Today’s letter features the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, Association of American Publishers, PEN American Center, American Society of Journalists and Authors and The Independent Book Publishers Association as co-signers with NCAC.
NCAC publicly opposed the removal of Fifty Shades of Grey in Brevard County, FL in May, writing three letters to public officials there. After reading NCAC’s letters, the library reconsidered their decision and once more allowed the books to circulate. There are now almost 500 holds on 15 copies of the book.

Joint Letter Harford County