Issue 98, Summer 2005

  • Forever, Judy Blume’s 30-year old novel, beloved by teens, still shocks some adults. In Pasadena, Texas, a parent’s complaint resulted in the book’s removal from all school libraries in the district. And in northern California, a 6th grader was charged with sexual harassment (!) for bringing her copy of Forever to school to lend to a friend. The matter was dropped when NCAC intervened.
  • Seniors at Sierra Vista High School in Las Vegas, Nevada must have been confused when their English teacher took away books they were still reading: Kent Haruf’s acclaimed novel, Plainsong. At issue was a brief sexual passage. Without submitting challenges to the novel to a review committee, the assistant principal ordered teacher Gerald McGee to “collect all the books, box them up and put them away immediately.”
  • In Oklahoma, gay-themed books for kids are not okay. The state legislature passed a resolution advising public libraries to move all gay-themed books-even picture books-to the adult section. The resolution is non-binding, but the sponsoring legislator has threatened to withhold funding from non-complying libraries. Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, and some in Congress have joined the bandwagon, with similar legislation in the works.
  • A First Amendment Center survey shows that 63% of Americans oppose a constitutional amendment to prohibit flag burning and desecration-up from 53% in 2004.
  • The American Society for Aerospace Science won’t allow Iranians and citizens of other embargoed nations to publish papers or attend future conferences under their auspices despite the lifting of such bans by the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, known as OFAC (CN96). The Institute claims it is banning such exchanges for security reasons. Iranian scientists have strongly protested.

New and Noteworthy:

  • Speaking Freely: Trials of the First Amendment, by Floyd Abrams (Viking Penguin).
  • 120 Banned Books, Censorship Histories of World Literature, by Nicholas J. Karolides, Margaret Bald & Dawn B. Sova (Checkmark Books). An updated version of 100 Banned Books.
  • Freedom of Speech, A Reference Guide to the United States Constitution, by Keith Werber (Praeger).
  • Into the Buzzsaw, Leading Journalists Expose the Myth of a Free Press, by Kristina Borjesson, foreward by Gore Vidal (Prometheus Books).
  • The Design of Dissent, by Milton Glaser & Milko Ilie, forward by Tony Kushner (Rockford Publishing).