Mighty Red Pen

October 3, 2007

Time to cover your ears

Filed under: Lit review,Pop culture,Wordsworthy — mighty red pen @ 8:23 pm

As it turns out, September 29-October 6 is the American Library Association’s Banned Books Week. It’s a week when we celebrate the freedom to read, and the ALA website has many resources on such topics as “Why are books challenged?” “What was the most challenged book this year?” and “Where can I go for help to deal with a challenge?”

MRP finds it hilarious that one of the most frequently challenged books for 2006, Gossip Girl by Cecily von Ziegesar, is now a television show. It is frequently challenged for, according to ALA, “homosexuality, sexual content, drugs, unsuited to age group, and offensive language.”

Today is also the 50th anniversary of the San Francisco Municipal Court ruling that Allen Ginsburg’s poem, “Howl,” is not obscene. Somewhat ironically, however, a New York public broadcasting station that was thinking of airing a reading of the poem did not because of the huge FCC fines they might incur:

WBAI program director Bernard White fears that the FCC will fine the station $325,000 for every one of Ginsberg’s dirty-word bombs. If each Pacifica station that aired the poem – and possibly repeated it – were to be fined for airing “Howl,” it could mean millions of dollars in fines.

Howl, indeed.

In the meantime, celebrate Banned Books Week by reading some of the most challenged books of the 21st century. I suggest you start with Captain Underpants.

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