We celebrated Banned Books Week last year (September 22-28) by taking time to think about the choices libraries and organizations make when they decide what to put out on their shelves. In an effort to spread knowledge, many librarians, authors, and advocates take a stand against content based censorship because it slows the growth of ideas and prohibits people from expressing themselves.
Scott DiMarco, a firm anti-censorship librarian, created an experiment this year to test the waters of censorship in his university. After some low turnouts for events during Banned Books Week at his library, he decided to ban a book to see if he could get more people aware of censorship issues. With the consent of author Dennis Miller, DiMarco banned the novel One Women’s Vengeance. The response from the student body and community was huge. After the appropriate outrage, DiMarco let the world in on the joke and people were relieved and happy to learn a little bit more about the controversy around Banned Books Week. You can read DiMarco’s own account of the experiment at the Huffington Post.
Censorship doesn’t just happen in libraries or schools. Though the true definition comes from the government prohibiting speech, private companies that ban books and magazines based on their content have a similar harmful effect on the spread of knowledge and free thought. An issue of Rolling Stone has recently been banned from both CVS and Walgreens due to the cover photo. Though these stores have no problem selling magazine covers featuring scantily clad 15 year old pop stars or violence abroad, they have taken issue with a photo of the Boston Marathon bombing suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. The article the cover supports, written by Janet Reitman, takes a look at how a young man like Tsarnaev became violent and destructive. The cover itself is a photo that looks like something a young man might use for a Facebook profile picture-simple with a nice shirt on. The magazine was banned due to “poor taste.” All those against it said they had not read the article. For more details on this story, check out the New York Times Report.
What do you think about the cover?