Tag Archives | Censorship

Americans Ban Books on Poverty and Class

Not only are some Americans trying to remove books on sex and religion (not to mention evolution) from schools and public libraries, now they’re going after books dealing with poverty and class, reports the Guardian:

Late last month, for the 32nd year in a row, Banned Books Week was marked across the US. Spearheaded by the American Library Association’s (ALA) Office for Intellectual Freedom, the annual salute to the freedom to read has become a fixture. It aims to counterbalance perennial challenges to the content of books and efforts to get them banned, usually from schools and libraries.

The ALA collects information on which books are objected to and reports on prominent recurring themes that tend to generate moral or ideological indignation. Subjects such as religion, race, gender, sexuality and allegations of sexually explicit content or offensive language frequently top the list.

Berkeley Heights NJ public library books and shelves

More worrying, however, is the recent rise in efforts to get books banned that cover poverty and social class.

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Sick-Outs and Walk-Outs: Students and Teachers Escalate Fight Against Censorship of History

Students from Columbine High School protest proposed changes to AP History curriculum last week. (Photo: John Lebya/@presto89/Twitter)

Students from Columbine High School protest proposed changes to AP History curriculum last week. (Photo: John Lebya/@presto89/Twitter)

More updates on the attempted censorship of history in school districts Jefferson County, Colorado.

via Deirdre Fulton at Common Dreams:

A passionate coalition of teachers and students in Jefferson County, Colorado are continuing their fight against censorship this week, employing some of the very tactics the conservative school board wants to eliminate from history textbooks.

Seventy-two of 102 teachers at Golden and Jefferson high schools called in absent on Monday, forcing both schools to close for the day; teacher “sick-outs” also closed two high schools on September 19.

Meanwhile, several dozen students from Carmody Middle School walked out of classes on Tuesday morning, marking the first time younger students have joined an ongoing protest by teachers and high schoolers against proposed changes to the district’s history curriculum. Hundreds of students from the majority of the county’s 17 high schools have staged walk-outs and protests over the last two weeks.

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Censors At Work

CensoredHave you ever really thought about the historical role of the censor? Here’s a lengthy and academic look at censorship, adapted from the conclusion to Robert Darnton’s Censors at Work: How States Shaped Literature and published in the New York Review of Books:

What is censorship?

If the concept of censorship is extended to everything, it means nothing. It should not be trivialized. Although I would agree that power is exerted in many ways, I think it crucial to distinguish between the kind of power that is monopolized by the state (or other constituted authorities such as religious organizations in some cases) and power that exists everywhere else in society. Censorship as I understand it is essentially political; it is wielded by the state.

Not that all states impose sanctions in the same way. Their actions might be arbitrary, but they clothe them in procedures that had a tincture of legality.

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Discussions of Michael Brown’s Death Banned in Illinois School District

Office for Emergency Management. Office of War Information. Domestic Operations Branch. Bureau of Special Services. via Wikimedia Commons

Office for Emergency Management. Office of War Information. Domestic Operations Branch. Bureau of Special Services. via Wikimedia Commons

Why do people actually think stifling discourse about polarizing current events is the key to a good education?

via AlterNet:

When faced with tragedies like the shooting of Michael Brown and the community unrest that followed, there are many hard questions to be asked. Why did this happen again? Who should be held accountable? How do we prevent such injustices?

But among the hard questions, few are so pressing, or essential, as this: What do we tell the children?

For educators, that question weighs heavily, and in the Brown case all the more so because Brown’s death occurred just as the new academic year begins.But in Edwardsville, Illinois, the answer is chilling: What do we tell the children? We tell them nothing.

From the local CBS affiliate in St. Louis:

A new directive has been issued in Edwardsville schools: Don’t talk about Ferguson or Michael Brown in class.

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Greenpeace ‘Save the Arctic’ Lego Movie Pulled from YouTube

500px-LEGO_logo.svgCopyright or censorship? Or both?

Jon Queally writes at Common Dreams:

UPDATE (1:02 PM EST): Statement sent by Greenpeace to its member regarding the banned video:

It looks like LEGO and its corporate pals are more offended by a video than by the idea of Shell’s plan to drill for Arctic oil. Despite the real risk of a terrible and unstoppable oil spill in icy, pristine waters, Shell is determined to  plunder every last drop of oil it can.

Just like it’s not OK for a tobacco company to market to children, an oil company has no place promoting its brand on kids’ toys. So that’s why we’re asking LEGO to show the world – and our children – that an ethical company won’t work with Shell.

LEGO said last week that it’s “determined to leave a positive impact on society and the planet”.  So are we! That’s why we’re working together to protect our oceans, rainforests and the Arctic.

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Can You Point Out The Flaws In This Recent Article On Tiananmen Square?

NY Book review - Tiananmen 2014 This is an exercise for the public to learn how to distinguish between honest journalism and agenda based writing. To the right is an embedded screenshot of an article on The New York Review of books (20 May, 2014) title ‘Tiananmen: How Wrong We Were’ by Jonathan Mirsky. There are a number of common sense flaws (lack of logic) in the following report that allow people to tell that the author was making up the story. Can you detect those flaws. I left a short comment to point out one of the most prominent flaws, and was deleted minutes later. Before you check for the answer at the bottom of this article, please read the content in this embedded screenshot from the article, and try to identify the flaws yourself to see how good a detective you are...
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An Assault from Obama’s Escalating War on Journalism

state of warIn a memoir published this year, the CIA’s former top legal officer John Rizzo says that on the last day of 2005 a panicky White House tried to figure out how to prevent the distribution of a book by New York Times reporter James Risen. Officials were upset because Risen’s book, State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration, exposed what — in his words — “may have been one of the most reckless operations in the modern history of the CIA.”

The book told of a bungled CIA attempt to set back Iran’s nuclear program in 2000 by supplying the Iranian government with flawed blueprints for nuclear-bomb design. The CIA’s tactic might have actually aided Iranian nuclear development.

When a bootlegged copy of State of War reached the National Security Council, a frantic meeting convened in the Situation Room, according to Rizzo. “As best anyone could tell, the books were printed in bulk and stacked somewhere in warehouses.” The aspiring censors hit a wall.… Read the rest

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Trigger Warnings On Classic Literature Are One Small Step From Book Banning

160px-Gatsby_1925_jacketPersonally I completely agree with Jen Doll, who adds that so-called “trigger warnings” are “one giant leap for censorship. Why add a ‘spoiler alert’ to the pain – and healing – inside the act of reading itself?,” writing at The Guardian. Any differences of opinion, disinfonauts?

There’s a discussion that’s been heating up for a while in various corners of the internet, and now at a number of US colleges, about how we take in information, and whether that information should be treated with what essentially constitutes a warning label – so long as it’s likely to impact anyone in an unfavorable way due to their personal background, emotional state and/or life experiences. We call these emotional disclaimers “trigger warnings”, alerting a consumer that the content within might offend or cause distress.

“This is triggering” (and therefore requires a trigger warning) is a phrase you might see in the comments section of an online article that addresses racism, rape, war, anorexia or any number of subjects about which a discussion may not leave the reader with a care-free, fuzzy sort of feeling.

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