Maren Williams

About Maren Williams

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So far Maren Williams has created 4 blog entries.

Censorship is Great Publicity for Fun Home and Many More

By |2020-01-06T00:07:36-05:00December 18th, 2014|Blog|

Six months after South Carolina lawmakers finally reached a sort-of-compromise following a protracted debate over the use of LGBT-themed books in summer reading programs at state colleges, one Charleston-area writer looked back last week to reflect on a bright spot in the debacle. As so often happens with any challenge or ban, Charleston City Paper contributor Leah Rhyne pointed out, legislators’ efforts against Fun Home and Out Loud: The Best of Rainbow Radio almost certainly worked in the books’ favor as more South Carolinians opted to read them out of curiosity or solidarity. In a column at Lit Reactor, Rhyne admits that she herself was not familiar with Alison Bechdel before state legislators attempted to defund the College of Charleston’s summer reading program because Fun Home was the chosen book last year. Now, however, Rhyne owns a copy which is patiently waiting on her to-be-read shelf. Indeed, Rep. Garry Smith who sponsored the legislation likely won more than a few new readers for the book with his insistence that it “could be considered pornography.” Of course, Fun Home and Out Loud are far from the only banned or challenged books to experience this phenomenon. Rhyne pointed to an analysis of […]

Connecticut Inmate Sues for Access to Art Books

By |2020-01-06T00:07:34-05:00October 31st, 2014|Blog|

A Connecticut prisoner is suing the state after he was denied access to three art books and another on childbirth, all of which appear to meet the guidelines for books that should be allowed under a Department of Correction policy designed to bar pornography from prisons. Dwight Pink Jr was convicted of murder along with six other charges in 2002 and is currently serving a 50-year sentence at the Cheshire Correctional Institution. Earlier this year he tried to have four books sent to him in prison: Atlas of Foreshortening: The Human Figure in Deep Perspective; Art Models 7: Dynamic Figures for the Visual Arts; Shameless Art: 20th Century Genre and the Artists that Defined It; and Gentle Birth Choices. Although a prison ban on books featuring “sexual activity or nudity” was instituted in 2011, all four of these books appear to fall into categories that are theoretically exempted from the ban: “materials which, taken as a whole, are literary, artistic, educational or scientific in nature.” Former Connecticut Correction Commissioner Leo Arnone enacted the ban in 2011 “to improve the work environment for prison staffers, especially female staffers, who might be inadvertently exposed to pornography.” Regardless of Pink’s intended use for […]

Books and Content Ratings Don’t Mix

By |2020-01-06T00:07:10-05:00October 14th, 2014|Blog|

When books are challenged in schools and libraries, it’s not uncommon for complainants to invoke content ratings for other media, as in “if this were a movie, it would be rated R.” From there, some parents take what seems to be the logical next step: advocating for comprehensive content ratings for books, as we saw just this week in a Dallas-area school district. But a recent article by iO9’s Lauren Davis demonstrates once again why book ratings are not such a good idea and would inevitably lead to censorship. Davis focuses on Common Sense Media, the independent non-profit which rates all sorts of media from books to movies to music on an age-appropriateness scale from 2 to 17. Although CSM’s ratings are not displayed on products, as MPAA and ESRB ratings are on movies and video games, they and other independent ratings systems applied to books are sometimes cited by parents who want a certain book removed from a classroom or library. But CSM itself does not intend for its ratings to be hard and fast blanket rules for all children, as evidenced by the fact the each rating also covers a slightly younger age range in which “some content […]

NCAC Members Warn Waukesha Board Against “Red-Flagging” Books

By |2020-01-03T14:52:55-05:00October 8th, 2014|Blog|

As the school board in Waukesha, Wisconsin prepares to consider challenges to three books, CBLDF has joined six other member organizations of the National Coalition Against Censorship to urge that the books be retained in the curriculum and not “red-flagged” for content. In a letter sent to the board yesterday, NCAC members cautioned that such flagging “will inevitably discourage the use of these books in the classroom, depriving students of valuable educational experiences.” The three challenged books are Looking for Alaska by John Green, The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, and Chinese Handcuffs by Chris Crutcher. Consideration Committees made up of teachers and school administrators already recommended making no changes to the status of the books, but the challenges have now been appealed to the school board as allowed by district policy. Looking for Alaska and The Kite Runner are both assigned reading in some classes, although students and parents always have the option to request an alternate assignment; Chinese Handcuffs is held in school libraries but not assigned in any class. According to the letter by NCAC Executive Director Joan Bertin, the Waukesha school district has received requests to implement a content-flagging system for “books that deal with sex, […]

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