Issue 80, Winter 2000/2001
- We will miss Robert Cormier who died in early November—a luminary among authors of young adult fiction, whose brilliant writing holds continuing appeal for teenagers and adults. Cormier’s highly acclaimed works are frequently challenged because of their realistic portrayal of the problems teenagers face, and of the hypocrisy and cynicism of many adults. I Am the Cheese, an award-winning young adult novel, was the impetus for banning 64 classical books in the Panama City schools in Florida in 1985 (Censorship News 26, 29). The Chocolate War, another frequent target of the censors, recently survived a challenge in a school district close to Cormier’s home town in Massachusetts, prompting him to say, "I must have done something right. There wouldn’t be all these concerns about an ineffective book"(CN 78).
- In Denver, Colorado, the Tattered Cover Book Store will appeal a court order requiring the store to provide information to police about a customer’s purchase of books about drug-making. Independent book store owner Joyce Meskis, a vigorous defender of First Amendment rights, has brought suit to protect customers’ privacy so that they will not be afraid to buy controversial titles. "That would be a tragedy for us, for them and for free speech….Reading a book is not a crime," said Meskis. NCAC has joined in an amicus brief in support of Meskis’ position in the case.
- The panic initiated by the school shootings in Littleton, Colorado continues to affect not only school discipline but chills curriculum as well. In Long Island, New York, the Port Washington schools dropped Julia Alvarez’s In the Time of the Butterflies for its crude drawing of a hand-made bomb. The highly-acclaimed novel about three sisters active in the resistance movement against the dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo was taught in the 10th grade until a school board member questioned whether the illustration could "trigger violence." Students Charlotte McCorkel and Myung-Hee Vahulas got it right when they wrote to their local newspaper: "…If the controversial portion of this book or any other book is discussed in context, then we as students are most capable of putting it in perspective."
- Vote for us again, but puh-leeze, no chads or dimpled ballots! Working Assets has again designated NCAC as a donation recipient for the year 2001. It’s a wonderful way to make a contribution for those of you who use Working Assets for your long-distance phone calls, credit cards, or Shopforchange.com. If you use all three, you can vote three times and triple your First Amendment clout at www.workingassets.com/voting.