Thursday, October 6, 2011

Wanted: Librarian Censor

Isn't it about time that censorship had some authority control? The thought of censoring a book or film may seem abhorrent to you, but what about haphazard censorship, without any standards or rules? People will censor. It's our nature to remove from view what we don't want to see. So shouldn't censorship have the same kinds of policies and ethics that guide the profession of librarianship?

We just celebrated Banned Books Week and I was appalled by the randomness of what is challenged in America's schools and libraries. One YA book is pulled for profanity, but some stay on the shelf. Sexual, homosexual, religious, violent or political content is alright in one book but not in another.

Don't people have any standards? Like, what if one day we censored all the gay penguins but not gay elephants? What if we hide the Koran in the basement but keep the Book of Mormon on the front shelves?

We have lists and lists of books that have been "censored" over the years, but those book challenges are so haphazard and random. I wonder if I need to start a site like Goodreads but called CensoredReads where people can tag everything that's offensive or possibly offensive in every published book. I think that would a useful selection, or deselection, tool.

"Find a reason to hate that book, at CensoredReads."

I'm tired of the morons who want to bowdlerize texts and replace words with friendlier terms. These are the same cowards who say N-word or F-word. We know what you're saying; you're not hiding anything. You say N-word so often that it's become the word it was meant to substitute. You say, "Oh, I would never say the N-word." Guess what? You just did.

But if we have to be cowards, at least let's gets our terms straight. We have a few resources to start. I know, based on a skit on Saturday Night Live, that dinosaurs can officially be changed into Jesus horses.

So that's one. But we need more.

That's why we need to begin teaching censorship in library school with classes on "How to Censor Responsibly," "Censorship Terms and Authority Control," and "Censor 2.0."

Here is your textbook, AACR: Anglo-American Censorship Rules.

I really want to hear a librarian who has graduated from the program say to someone who's complaining about a book, "I understand you find this book offensive, but you're hating it wrong."

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