It’s Banned Books Week, Charlie Brown!

You want obscene books?

You want obscene books?

The American Library Association tells us that this is Banned Books Week:

Banned Books Week is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. Typically held during the last week of September, it highlights the value of free and open access to information. Banned Books Week brings together the entire book community –- librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types –- in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular.

Over this recent past decade, 5,099* challenges were reported to the Office for Intellectual Freedom.

1,577 challenges due to “sexually explicit” material;
1,291 challenges due to “offensive language”;
989 challenges due to materials deemed “unsuited to age group”;
619 challenged due to “violence”‘ and
361 challenges due to “homosexuality.”
Further, 274 materials were challenged due to “occult” or “Satanic” themes, an additional 291 were challenged due to their “religious viewpoint,” and 119 because they were “anti-family.”

Please note that the number of challenges and the number of reasons for those challenges do not match, because works are often challenged on more than one ground.

1,639 of these challenges were in school libraries; 1,811 were in classrooms; 1,217 took place in public libraries. There were 114 challenges to materials used in college classes; and 30 to academic libraries. There are isolated cases of challenges to library materials made available in or by prisons, special libraries, community groups, and students. The vast majority of challenges were initiated by parents (2,535), with patrons and administrators to follow (516 and 489 respectively).

We here at MPS love books, libraries, librarians (yowsa!), and Banned Books Week brings it all into focus. We are also of the opinion that information wants to be free and so we support public libraries unconditionally, donate books to them, and participate in their fundraising efforts (it is shameful on the face of it that public libraries have to have fundraising, but this is the age in which we live).

Here’s the 10 most banned books of 2012, which is reported by the Office for Intellectual Freedom:

  1. Captain Underpants (series), by Dav Pilkey.
    Reasons: Offensive language, unsuited for age group
  2. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie.
    Reasons: Offensive language, racism, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group
  3. Thirteen Reasons Why, by Jay Asher.
    Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, sexually explicit, suicide, unsuited for age group
  4. Fifty Shades of Grey, by E. L. James.
    Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit
  5. And Tango Makes Three, by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson.
    Reasons: Homosexuality, unsuited for age group
  6. The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini.
    Reasons: Homosexuality, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit
  7. Looking for Alaska, by John Green.
    Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group
  8. Scary Stories (series), by Alvin Schwartz
    Reasons: Unsuited for age group, violence
  9. The Glass Castle, by Jeanette Walls
    Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit
  10. Beloved, by Toni Morrison
    Reasons: Sexually explicit, religious viewpoint, violence

Yes, you read that right: Captain Underpants takes the top spot, which shows you how joyless the Xristian Xrazie scolds really are.

Remember the other day when…

Ilsa she-wolf of the Nazis Michelle Malkkkin said that The Kenyan was using children as props and it counted as child abuse?

(Petunia and Pals) If it’s Thursday, it must be Malkkkin. Today she says that the President is a Child Abuser. No, really.

…it of course triggered off a day of Wingnuttian outrage comparing the president’s use of children to Sadaam Hussein‘s, it’s never been done before, etc., etc., etc.

Yes it has:

Never ask Megan McArdle how deep is her love

Shallow graves for shallow people

Jeebus, some people!

But in this post I’m specifically addressing a question that is raised by one economist or another almost every year: isn’t Christmas a huge waste? All those presents that no one wants represent huge deadweight loss. Wouldn’t well all do better by giving cash, or skipping the process entirely?

This seems like a silly question in a world of wishlists–I got the exact martini glasses I wanted, the exact electric pressure cooker I wanted, and the exact 13-inch cast iron skillet I wanted, because people could go right on my Amazon wish list and identify them. And yet, I still had the surprise and thrill of opening gifts (well, okay, I knew what the skillet was before I opened it), because there were a number of things on my list. As far as I know, this experience was shared by everyone else around the McArdle hearth. And by millions of other families in the United States.

“This seems like a silly question in a world of wishlists”

It does indeed.

(Daily Beast)