Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Banned Books and Censorship: Not on my watch!

As a reader and an author, I am in total support of Banned Book Week. I'm proud of the Buzz Girls for bringing this topic to the forefront for our readers and I hope you agree with us. Banning books and censorship are just NOT cool.

We've all seen the list of banned books over the years...a list that contains one classic after the next. Well, I just read this news article on with ten (10) banned books that will really surprise you!

I'm horrified to see not just one, but two dictionaries included on the list. All because they define words that some find offensive. You know what? Don't look those words up! And to see Lord of the Rings considered as "Satanic?" Did they read the same book I did in middle school? And good old Harry Potter...not just one of the books is banned, but the whole series. An entire series! They say it's "Satanic" and "occultist" and...get this..."anti-family." Are you kidding me? After losing his real family, Harry finds solace and comfort in his Hogwart's family. It's anything BUT anti-family. And the last one that knocked me off my seat is Grimm's Fairy Tales. In particular...Red Riding Hood. Why? Because she had a bottle of wine in the basket for her grandmother. Honestly people!

Which brings me to censorship. A topic very near and dear to my heart. I'm totally against it. Big time! I'll let this e-mail exchange that I had with a librarian recently explain my views exactly:

Subject: A wish....
Comment: Dear Marley: I saw you on TV on "My Ghost Story" and when I heard you write teen ghost hunting novels I went straight and looked you up. I am an elementary school librarian and my kids love supernatural reading. I was soarly [sic] disappointed to see that I had already checked out your book to purchase and then realized you had so much fowl [sic] language. I have never written to anyone before, I am not a stodgy person, but I am so tired of books that I think would be great for my kids, being filled with language that I don't want encouraged. I go through all these books (because I like the topic too) and then I have to mark out bad words just so my kids can still read the book. I know 12-14 year olds are not angels... not by a long shot... but I don't want to encourage this behavior until they are old enough to REALLY know what is right or wrong. Is it so hard to write a book that I don't have to sit with a marker in my hand just so my kids can have a good supernatural book to read? Sorry for the venting... I would so like to get your books for my kids, I know they would love them... I just wish you had not gone down the language, etc. path.

And my response to her...not attacking her horrid misspellings...


I appreciate the time you took to write to me voicing your concerns.

I am, however, appalled to think that you go through books—by any author—with a marker to “mark out bad words” and "language that [you] do not want encouraged." I’m sure your intentions are good, but the reality is that you are censoring books, a practice that most Americans would agree is horrific at best, and one we rightly vilify as a society.

My books are not geared for elementary school-aged children. They are written for "young adults," kids older than 12 (they’re clearly marked as such), and I write them in common vernacular to better connect and identify with my teen audience. I have never had a teacher, librarian, parent, or student object to the language in my books - nor mark out words before letting others read it.

As a librarian, I assume it is your responsibility to select which books are included in the SCHOOL WITHHELD Elementary library. If you choose not to include mine, I understand. I’ll just hope that the kids who would enjoy them find them from another source. I am curious to know if the school administration, WITHHELD County School Board, or the PTA condone your practice of editing the books that you *do* choose to put in the library?

It is my sincere hope you will reconsider your censorship practices. I realize I'm in good company with the likes of Judy Blume, Lois, Lowry, Steven King, J.D. Salinger, and others, but it still doesn't make it right in my opinion. As an author, I will do everything in my power to see that censorship is stopped, wherever and whenever I become aware of it.

Marley Gibson

Now, I shared this with a PR friend of mine who told a friend of hers at The Washington Post about it and she wanted to do a story on it. She contacted the librarian and didn't get a response. She then contacted the school and was told, "She will not be marking out any passages in books anymore."

Well...score one victory against censorship.

Pick up a "banned" book this week and see what you think. And if you feel so inclined, read the GHOST HUNTRESS books and judge them for yourself.

What do you think? Should librarians (whom I love!) be able to mark out passages of books they personally feel are inappropriate? Would you speak up at your local school or library if you ran across such markings in a book?

Thanks for your support!
Marley = )

Get spooked this Halloween!


Kaelin said...

Fabulous response! I need to pay attention - I didn't realize censorship was practiced.

Wendy Toliver said...

WTG, Marley!

The Golfing Librarian said...

Thanks for the Librarian "love"! As for my 2 cents worth, I've never had to worry about censoring bad words in my library's patrons do it for me!

stephhale said...

FOWL language? OMG, I think I just peed my pants. That was awesome, Marley.

Jennifer Rummel said...

As a librarian, marking up books or tearing out pages (which I've also heard happens) horrifies me greatly. Awesome letter, Marley. Way to strike back :)

Cara King said...

That letter complaining about your fowl language sure was a turkey. Some chicks just don't get it! Anyone who censors library books totally lays an egg. That librarian thinks it's a real feather in her cap to be so "concerned", but in truth, she's just chicken about facing the real world. Her instinct shouldn't be to take a book and pullet off the shelves, or to scratch out the words she doesn't like, but to crow about what wonderful books are being published nowadays!

(See, I can use fowl language too!)


TinaFerraro said...

Great job, Marley!!!

Marley Gibson said...'re hilarious! LOL! Thanks for the laugh. And thanks for the support everyone. It took many re-writes and edits to get the "emotion" out of my response, but it had to be said. I sincerely admire librarians and all they do to bring out books to people, but it's not their (or anyone's) place to mark out words or (GASP) tear out pages.

nymfaux said...

Holy cow!!! I was completely stunned that anyone would mark a book like that--And had to reread it when I saw it was a librarian. Librarians are like superheroes, and this is just so sad.--You're response was wonderful, and for what it's worth, I'm definitely a Ghost Huntress fan. When I was reading The Counseling, I remember loving hearing Kendall's thoughts, and her unique perspective on life (and death).--And I heard much worse in school

It's just so hard to believe that there are people out there who feel so threatened by books. I don't deny that books can be very powerful, but if you don't like it, all you have to do is put it down.