Issue 82, Summer 2001

  • 12 librarians at the Minneapolis Public Library filed a sexual harassment complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission protesting unfiltered computers where patrons can access pornography. The EEOC issued a probable cause finding, but this would not be legally binding if the case went to court. Stay tuned.
  • Corpus Christi, the Terrence McNally play depicting a gay Christ-like figure, is under attack at Indiana University-Purdue University, Fort Wayne. Protestors intend to file a law suit if the play is not banned. The University won’t cave. “We still believe that the First Amendment and academic freedom apply,” said Chancellor Michael Wartell. For more info, click here.
  • A production of John Steinbeck’s classic, Of Mice and Men, was canceled by the principal of Dacula High School near Atlanta, GA after the cast refused to cut profanity and racial language from the play—an option that student Matt Maher likened to “taking a Sharpie to Picasso.” The Belladonna Repertory Company donated its theater for the students to produce the play, uncensored.
  • In Santa Fe, New Mexico, calls to censor “Our Lady” by Alma Lopez at the Museum of International Folk Art brought 1200 people to debate the question. The painting depicts the Virgin of Guadalupe with a bold expression dressed in bikini-like garb, and has been criticized as sacreligious by some Roman Catholics. The Committee on Sensitive Materials continued, but shortened, the exhibit.
  • Senator Mitch McConnell’s staff director Tamara Somerville “makes no bones about it, we do censor.” The occasion for her candid remark was an art exhibit sponsored by the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, scheduled to be shown in a Senate office building. The “objectionable” paintings were by Laura Ferguson, whose scoliosis inspired her depictions of skeletal nudes. Rather than censor the exhibit, the AAOS chose to move the entire exhibit to the Millennium Art Center.
  • The perennial bill to amend the constitution to ban flag “desecration” was introduced in Congress in time for the 4th of July fireworks. For the past several years it has failed by only one or two votes. As Thomas Jefferson said, “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.”
  • In Oscaloosa, Kansas, kids won’t be able to attend a Harry Potter reading at the public library. The library canceled the reading after some residents complained.
  • New and Noteworthy:Not In Front of the Children, “Indecency,” Censorship, and the Innocence of Youth, Marjorie Heins (Hill & Wang, 2001) explores the fascinating history of “indecency” laws and other restrictions supposedly aimed at protecting youth. Teaching Banned Books, 12 Guides for Young Readers, Pat R. Scales (American Library Association 2001) includes strategies for teaching frequently challenged novels to encourage critical thinking.