Issue 78, Summer 2000

  • Creationism: Denial of Supreme Court review leaves standing a 5th circuit decision that a Louisiana school district’s use of a “disclaimer” about evolution is unconstitutional because of its religious intent.
  • Good news from Lancaster, Massachusetts: The school board voted unanimously to keep Robert Cormier’s The Chocolate War after protests from some eighth-grade parents. The highly-acclaimed, widely taught book is frequently challenged for its realistic description of bullying, of dehumanizing institutions, and for language and sexual references. “I feel like I have done something right,” Cormier says. “There wouldn’t be all these concerns about an ineffective book.” His comment echoes experience. It is mostly good literature that is challenged.
  • Michigan artist Jef Borgeau, whose exhibit at the Detroit Institute of Arts was cut short by the Director after three days (Censorship News 76), was charged with “obscenity” for displaying a version of the exhibit at a Pontiac gallery as part of a symposium on censorship, taste and morality. Police ticketed Bourgeau and threatened him with arrest after an individual took offense at images by artists like Balthus, Sally Mann, Rembrandt, Mapplethorpe, and Picasso. The charges were later dismissed, ostensibly because Bourgeau covered the gallery windows. Bourgeau cited the chilling effect on artists. “It’s critically important to have the right of free expression without the fear of prosecution.” Borgeau and the ACLU, which defended him, are considering suing the city for violating his civil rights.
  • Award-winning author Arkansan Bette Greene was recently disinvited from speaking at Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas. Greene, author of The Drowning of Stephan Jones, about the murder of a gay man, has ideas that are “different from the ideas of Harding University.” For more, click here.
  • Just in time for Banned Books Week:Tell It Like It Is!, NCAC’s video on censorship of children’s books, is now available through Carousel Film & Video, phone (800) 683-1660, email carousel@ The 15-minute film, produced for NCAC by Lora Hays and Chris Pelzer, features authors Judy Blume, David Klass, Robert Lipsyte, Betty Miles, Walter Dean Myers, Jacqueline Woodson and Rachel Vail along with children and others who describe the chilling effect of censorship on writers and readers. Contact Carousel for preview copies.

    The Long Island Coalition Against Censorship has published a new updated edition of Censorship in Schools and Libraries, available to public, school, and college libraries. The exhibit depicts U.S. censorship in the past 100 years including efforts to censor the Harry Potter children’s books. Click here to email for info, or write to LICAC, PO Box 296, Pt. Washington, NY 11050.