Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Library refuses to censor

A library in Effingham, Illinois voted to deny a request to remove Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott from the teen section's shelf. Amy Hibdon requested the book be removed due to the physical and sexual abuse the character is subjected to in the book. Her 15 yr old daughter checked the book out and was upset by the content according to Hibdon. She feels the book is too graphic for teens. The book is written from the perspective of a 15 yr old who is kidnapped and imprisoned at the age of 10.

“This is the first formal censorship request that has reached this point in the past eight years, according to Library Directory Jeannie May,” reports the Effingham Daily News. (the article contains a spoiler for the book, it gives away the ending) May told the board any decision made would set a precedence for the future. “I’m opposed to censorship,” said board member John Latta. “It is up to parents to censor the material they are reading, not the library.”

Is is right for libraries and book stores to deny access to material that is deemed controversial by conservative groups and parents? Should the parents, themselves, take the role of censor when it comes to their children's reading material? Many parents and groups are afraid that if some material is made accessible their innocent children will be exposed to bad information without the parents even knowing about it. Even worse, their children could be traumatized. This is why they advocate a form of censorship. They want to protect today's youths from graphic, controversial and corrupt text. On the other side of the coin, there are parents who want their kids to be well informed. How can they make educated decisions if they do not have exposure to both sides to an issue? Should there be warning labels or a form of ratings for books like music albums? Bad things happen, looking the other way isn't the answer. Exposing the bad issue can be the first step to creating an awareness and possibly even stopping it. Should it be left to the adults? Maybe, but one thing is for sure, kids will become informed one way or another whether you want them to or not. Should we not make sure the information they get is accurate?

There is one author I've spoken to who is related to a family who overly protected their kids. "I've seen what can happen to children who are protected too much. They become naive and gullible adults who lack a true ability to function in the tumultuous real world. My cousin grew up without any exposure to bad things. He was unable to get and hold a job because the world scared him too much. He was scared of everything because he was always taught that the world is bad and can hurt you. His family never allowed him to read or watch anything remotely negative. Now, as an adult, he still lives at home afraid to leave. His parents simpy write it off as autism, which, I know he is not because he has never been diagnosed. I know why he is the way he is."

This, of course, is an extreme example. However, the issue of censorship is as old as time and won't be going away any time soon.


jen said...

Good for the library.

barb said...

This book is a real downer, but don't censor it.