The New England Watch and Ward Society, a private organization that included many of Boston’s most elite residents, petitioned against printed materials they found objectionable, sued booksellers, pressured law enforcement and courts. made allegations of obscenity against the authors, and inspired the Boston Public. Copies of the library’s most controversial books, including those by Balzac and Zola, will be locked in a restricted room called Hell.
In the 1920s, Boston had such a reputation for banning books that authors deliberately printed their books in the hope that the inevitable ban would get them publicity elsewhere in the country.
Schools and libraries become battlefields
Even as social customs loosened in the 20th century, school libraries remained the scene of a controversial battle over what information would be available to children in a time of social progress and modernization of American society. Parents and administrators confront fiction and nonfiction during school board and library committee meetings.
The reasons for the proposed sanctions were varied: some books challenged long-standing accounts of American history or social norms; Others were considered problematic because of their language or their sexual or political content.
During the era of Jim Crow laws, the South was a particular focus of book censorship. The United Daughters of the Confederacy made several successful attempts to ban school textbooks that did not offer a favorable view of the South’s losses in the Civil War. tried to ban rabbit weddingGarth Williams’ 1954 children’s book depicting a white rabbit marrying a black rabbit, as opponents felt it encouraged interracial relationships.
(related: A brief history of the beginning of the fight against racial segregation in the United States.,
These attempts at prohibition often had a chilling effect on librarians, who were afraid to receive material that might be considered controversial. However, some schools and public librarians began to organize. He responded to a wave of challenges against the books, which McCarthy-era censors saw as promoting communism or socialism during the 1950s and struggled with efforts to ban books, such as Huckleberry Finn, rye catcher, kill a mockingbird it is included the Canterbury Tales,
constitutional right to read
In 1969, the Supreme Court ruled on students’ right to freedom of expression. In Tinker v. Des Moines, which involved students wearing black armbands to protest the Vietnam War at the school, the court ruled 7-2 that “neither the teacher nor the student is free of expression at the school gate.” lose their constitutional rights”.
In 1982, the Supreme Court addressed the textbook issue openly in a case in which a group of students sued the New York School Board for removing books by authors such as Kurt Vonnegut and Langston Hughes, which the board called “unconstitutional”. -American”. -Christian, anti-Semitic and outright disgusting.”
The Court, citing students’ First Amendment rights in Island Trees Union Free School District v Pico, ruled, “Local school boards cannot remove books from school libraries simply because they do not like the ideas contained in those books. “
However, librarians faced so many challenges around books in the early 1980s that they created Restricted Books Week, an annual event focused on the freedom of reading, which would run from September 18 to 24 this year. During Banned Books Week, the literary and library community raises awareness of commonly asked books and First Amendment freedoms.
However, book challenges are more common than ever. Between July 1, 2021 and March 31, 2022 alone, 1,586 books were banned in 86 school districts in 26 states, affecting more than two million students, according to Pen America, a non-profit organization that defends freedom of expression. . The group wrote that stories with an LGBTQ+ theme or protagonist were the “primary target”, while other targets included books with stories about race and racism, sexual content or sexual assault, and death and bereavement. Texas led the charge against the books; Its 713 restrictions were almost twice those of other states.
According to the American Library Association, the most questioned book of 2021 was gender queerA memoir on what it means to be non-binary, by Maiya Kobabe. Other books on the list of most inquired are the hate you giveby Angie Thomas, and the bluest eyeD Toni Morrison.
First Amendment advocate Pat Scales, a veteran South Carolina middle and high school librarian and former chairman of the ALA Committee on Intellectual Freedom, points out that outright censorship is only one face of book bans. Placing books on inaccessible shelves, distorting them, or marking them with a reading level that puts them out of reach of students, keeps books out of the hands of potential readers, and poses any challenges to students. Can create a calming effect. Librarian.
“Censorship is about control,” Schell wrote in the book in 2007. scales on censorship, “Intellectual freedom is related to respect.”