Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Medford Parent wants book banned...eeeek.

I thought that the book bannings were over for the season, that Christmas was about to raise its red capped head and people would all be happy and joyous and, well, Christmassy. One big BAH HUMBUG was delivered to the writing world in Medford. Just read this article in the Burlington County Times. The Burn Journals, is a non-fiction book by Brent Runyon which relates his experiences as a suicidal 14-year-old who set himself on fire. No holds barred. A true tale told well which received a starred review from Booklist. But from John Biesz, a parent from Medford, the review was a bit more caustic: "There should be a warning on the book that says it's a piece of garbage." Now, parents are supposed to have opinions. Everyone should have an opinion! What's completely ridiculous about this story is that the school actually sent the book home with a permission slip--they did everything they could to prevent controversy and still this parent is upset and feels "This stuff should never make it into our schools." It would be terrible if people learned about the reality of being a mixed-up teen, wouldn't it? They might learn empathy or maybe understanding. Biesz wants the book removed from the school. I think there are only two words that can sum that up: Bah humbug!

Arthur Slade

25 Comments:

Blogger Lisa Yee said...

So the permission slip worked. This parent read the book and deemed it not suitable for his child.

But to take it upon himself to decide that no student should read this book, even if their parents say it is okay, is unfathomable.

4:33 PM  
Blogger SafeLibraries.org said...

Arthur,

I read the article you linked, not the book. Based on my reading of the article and my experiences in Public School District 126, IL, the book may be deemed "educationally unsuitable" if, and I do not know this, the school policy demands students not use the very language that appears repeatedly in the book. District 126 has such a policy.

Be clear I am addressing the language in the book that may violate school policy, if that is the case, not the ideas or behaviors as expressed by that language.

If the book violates the school's own policies as applied to the students, then the book may be deemed "educationally unsuitable." If so, then the book may be removed from the school in accordance with the law. If so, the book is not being "banned," it's just being legally removed from a place unsuitable for it in the first place.

And if all that is true, then the complaining parents are on the right track: why did it get into the school in the first place? That would be the concern here, not that it is being legally removed.

And that would be why the existence of the permission slip is irrelevant -- permission to what, to waive school policy and the law? Can I give you permission to murder?

By the way, the existence of book awards is a red herring. Book awards are given by third parties. Local parents control the schools, not third parties.

Further, Booklist is an ALA (American Library Association) entity. The ALA is giving top awards to books for 12 year olds containing explicit descriptions of oral sex. (Looking For Alaska)

If a school is using such an organization as authoritative on the matter of what books are appropriate for children, the children are sure to be sexualized. So again the parents are on the right track if they are not swayed by awards from organizations that have consistently used book awards to sexualize children.

5:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not allowing minor children to read certain books doesn't mean they've been banned in the US. This is ALA bs. The books can be freely purchased at any bookstore. Cuba bans books; why doesn't the ALA lash at Cuba?!

7:54 AM  
Blogger Brent Hartinger said...

Safelibraries, I'm not sure where you get that from the article. A teacher's personal library, some of the book from which require a permission slip, and they can be banned because the books use language that students are not expected to use? I weep if such a law exists, because it coule potentially ban about 80% of all books, including classics, written since 1950. Such a law would seem to have no conception of what "literature" is--that not every word spoken by every character is endorsed or encouraged by the author: in fact, the exact opposite is the case.

THE BURN JOURNALS is case-in-point. Brent is not recommending that anyone set himself on fire and almost kill himself, as he himself did at age 14. On the contrary, the book exists to explore and diffuse the feelings that caused him to do what he did.

And for the record, please stop lying--and that's exactly what you're doing--by saying the ALA giving awards to books for 12 year-olds with profanity. They have a "YA" category that is any book written for 12-18 year olds; some of the books within that category are written for 12 year olds, and some are written for 18 year olds. No YA book spans that entire readership, since the difference between a 12 year-old and an 18 year-old is VAST. I know you know this, and you really undercut your own credibility when you use blatantly inaccurate terminilogy. In short, it casts suspicion on every other "fact" you use.

9:24 AM  
Blogger MarkLWilliams said...

My son was assigned to read "Burn Journals" in school (or rather, it was on a list of available books to choose from, for the assignment).

It riveted him, he discussed it with me, and I read part of it.

It's strong, good work.

Oh, and my son is in 8th grade!

Thanks God the pinheads didn't succeed in getting that book yanked around here!

9:30 AM  
Blogger SafeLibraries.org said...

Brent, to be more specific, I get that from this language in the story: "Biesz said he was shocked to find that profanity is used in the book 166 times, including 77 uses of the 'f-word' and sexual references to male and female genitalia."

Some schools, I do not know about this one, have something akin to speech codes where profanity is not allowed. It is possible the book violates the school's own policies. It is possible the parents do not want their children reading books that contain language that violate the school's own language codes. Neither you nor I can presume to know the answer to that.

There are people who claim children should have access to all books no matter what the law, the courts, or the communities say. To them, therefore, removing a book from a school is more important than allowing a community to think for itself and act for itself in compliance with the law, the courts, community standards, and common sense. At the same time, those people attack those in the community who stand up for the community, or those like me who bring such matters to the attention of the community in the first place.

Brent, you must be exaggerating. 80% of all books since 1950 do not contain material that violates school codes, community standards, the law, the courts, and common sense. Your claim that they do only casts doubt on your other arguments.

Regarding the specific book in question, I explicitly said I was only addressing the language, not the ideas expressed in the book.

Now Brent, you and I have spoken on a number of things and you have never once not been a gentlemen. So I'll give you the benefit of the doubt here where you call me a "liar" regarding the ALA awards.

What you are doing is playing a semantic game when you say the book award is for a range of children. That is not how children see it. Children see it as a big poster in the library announcing the award for "young adults" and the book is on the shelf next to "Star Trek" books at small kid eye level. The book comes with high praise from the ALA, and no where on the book is there any indication that oral sex and the like awaits within. The book is so highly promoted by the ALA that the book even gets sold in supermarket checkout aisles at child eye levels right next to "Bob the Builder" books, courtesy of that lovely golden seal of award from the ALA. I have pictures of all of this on my web site to prove it.

So please, Brent, the argument that the ALA does not specifically target 12 year old is really a red herring. Go into a book store into the YA section and see the asterisk on the sign advising parents that some books are inappropriate for some children. The ALA does no such thing. That is the very problem that allows the 12 year olds full access to the material even if they are not specifically targeted.

So I'll say it again. The ALA gives awards to books for 12 year olds and up that contain inappropriate sexual material. No warnings are provided to alert adults as to the contents. Thousands of children nationwide, young children, are being exposed to inappropriate sexual material without parent's or even their own knowledge beforehand. Children are being sexualized nationwide, and it may be as a direct result of the American Library Association. Your calling me a liar or your claiming the ALA awards are meant for age ranges but not 12 year olds specifically does not nullify any of this.

10:11 AM  
Blogger Brent Hartinger said...

No, Safe, I wasn't exagerating. I honestly can think of no classic book published since 1950 that doesn't contain at least one element that would violate school codes of speech and behavior (many pre-1950's classics, including almost everything written by Shakespeare, would also violate those codes). But I'm sure there are some books that are as you describe, which is why I said 80%. My point, however, is the fact that fiction, almost by definition, contains things that we would not want children, or anyone, actually doing. The reason for this is that literature discusses the human condition; many parts are unpleasant. But I reiterate: when an author has a character say or do something unpleasant, he or she is not endorsing those actions. Usually, as is the case of Brent Runyan and THE BURN JOURNALS, the author is doing the exact opposite.

I said you are lying about the ALA, and I stand by it. You said, "The ALA is giving top awards to books for 12 year olds containing explicit descriptions of oral sex" (you lated amended it to "12 and up," I see). LOOKING FOR ALASKA is not a book for 12 year-olds, nor has the ALA ever said that it is. It simply falls in the category of YA fiction, which every teacher and every other person I've ever met in the field of kids' lit, except you, knows includes some books for 12 year-olds, and some books for 18 year-olds. Not all the books for 18year-olds are appropriate for 12 year olds. Again, everyone teacher and librarian I've ever met understands this, and I think you do too, even though you're pretending not to.

Finally, you also say that there are people who claim that kids should have access to all book in defiance of the law. There may be such people, but none of them are in AS IF!, or the ALA. I'm using red herrings? Honestly, can we at least be honest about what this debate is about? The question is, should one parent, or one group of parents, be able to decide, over the objections of all other parents and that school's educational professionals, what books are appropriate in a curriculum or library collection. Now maybe that's a complicated question that we can debate. But this IS the question, not the red herring you assert that all books should be available to all kids at all times.

3:25 PM  
Blogger SafeLibraries.org said...

Brent,

It is NOT a question. It has already been asked and answered by, for example, the US Supreme Court in Board of Education v. Pico. Books that are pervasively vulgar may be removed from public schools forthwith. No claims of censorship or slippery slopes or who's to judge or objections of only a single parent are relevant. It's over and done with. Pervasively vulgar books are out.

"The Burn Journals," the article tells us, has at least 77 uses of the "f-word," let alone dozens or other similar words. To me, that is pervasively vulgar. But who cares what I think. It's up to the community. If the community decides it is pervasively vulgar, it should be removed from the school.

So who is the interloper here? Me, who says the community should become knowledgeable about and avail itself of the powers it has to direct its own future, or the ALA, who says the community needs to allow all content no matter how pervasively vulgar because it's censorship, it's book banning, it's a slippery slope, who's to decide, and the people who raise the alarm in the first place are right wing Christian conservatives.

The ALA is the interloper here, purposefully and knowingly misleading communities nationwide, giving awards to x-rated books for children as young as twelve, getting directly involved to squelch any attempt by locals to countermand ALA directives being carried out by local acolytes, and using ad hominem argument to attack those parents who speak up and say a book with hundreds of curse words is pervasively vulgar.

So I'm saying the community should decide for itself if hundreds of curse words are pervasively vulgar, and the ALA is saying it's book banning by conservative Christians to remove any books so the community should do as the ALA says.

Me? Free choice based on full and complete information. ALA? Don't ban books and ignore the very institutions that would allow you to do that where they are pervasively vulgar.

Me? I have a very limited audience. The ALA? Awards given to books for 12 year olds and up that contain oral sex and more are spread nationwide with nary a word about the true content.

I agree with almost everything else you said.

3:51 PM  
Blogger Jordan said...

Safe, you've done it again, just as you did this past May in the Judy Blume blog entry here. Because you misapplied the PICO case there, too, I am just pasting my old reply in again here:

---------------------

Safe, the PICO argument is extremely disingenuous. Advocates of school censorship always tout PICO as a victory, while in reality, PICO is anything BUT a victory for censorship.

NONE of the books written by Judy Blume, and NONE of the books we've ever discussed at AS IF, have ever come close to being "pervasively vulgar". That's why Judy Blume is in the right 100%.

"Pervasively vulgar" sets a very high threshold: a book would have to have obscene sex acts on nearly every page, and NO redeeming literary value, in order to meet the "pervasively vulgar" test. And then, of course, AS IF wouldn't want that book used in schools.

4:17 AM  
Blogger SafeLibraries.org said...

That's your opinion, Jordan. Thanks for contributing. The people in the community will decide for themselves if hundreds of swear words in violation of school speech codes and multiple sexual references may be considered pervasively vulgar. I do, you don't, but it's up to the community to decide, not us.

Folks who happen to visit here, know that this is a really interesting blog because the people writing here, Arthur, Lisa, Brent, Jordan, are all children's book authors! Go out and buy their books!

7:40 AM  
Blogger sarala said...

I read this book a while back. I don't specifically remember the language issue but I do remember reference to adolescent sexuality. I personally thought we need more books like this that speak out about mental illness in young people. It might be too disturbing for some kids but that is not a reason for banning. That is a reason for parents to stay involved and talk about the themes in a book with their kids. I hope people like safelibraries never get to tell my kids what they can read, at home or at school.

12:09 PM  
Blogger SafeLibraries.org said...

Ah, that's the point, sarala. I'm not ordering people around, I'm just advising them of their options. On the other hand, the ALA is ordering people around, ordering them to read absolutely everything, even giving oral sex books awards for kids as young as twelve.

You have been successfully propagandized, sarala. Think carefully for yourself. I provide balance; the ALA provides misinformation and oral sex awards for children. The US Supreme Court says, "The interest in protecting young library users from material inappropriate for minors is legitimate, and even compelling, as all Members of the Court appear to agree," while the ALA says despite what the US Supreme Court says, ALA policy remains unchanged, and it is still age discrimination to keep anything from children.

Common sense says the US Supreme Court is correct and the ALA is really out of its league. But there are those so interested in sexualizing children that even the US Supreme Court will not stand in the way.

You don't know how happy I am to be on the side of those who follow the US Supreme Court in protecting children from inappropriate material. You are welcome to claim SafeLibraries is telling people what to read and what not to read, but that does not mean it's based on reality. It only means attacking the messenger is your only defense for allowing children access to inappropriate material despite the facts and the law.

5:22 PM  
Blogger Brent Hartinger said...

It seems to me that the people in this community, many of them, DID decide that THE BURN JOURNALS was not "pervasively vulgar," which is why many parents signed the permission slip to allow their kids to read it. I find this whole argument somewhat ludicrous because, in this case, every single child who read the book did so with parently approval. So it goes back to: one group of parents wants to decide what another group of parents wants their kids to be reading.

Safe, you really undercut your argument and your credibility, if not destroy it completely, by saying you know THE BURN JOURNALS is pervasively vulgar, despite the fact that you haven't read it. I have read it, and seen the author speak. I honestly have a hard time imagining anyone coming to the conclusion that the book is pervasively vulgar. The swear words, of course, exist in an all-important context.

The reason why I'm coming across as less patient that before, Safe, is that I've spent the last two years fighting these battles, and I see the same disingenuous arguments again and again. And they pain me because, while I applaud any citizen getting involved in his or her local schools, the biggest problem I see in schools today isn't books with swear words; it's shell-shocked teachers and curriculums full of pablum that is designed to avoid offending no one and, therefore, says nothing. Too often, the fiction is bland and irrelevant to lives of actual teens, and teens respond in kind. Why do kids gravitate to HALO and other computer games? Why are reading scores and rates plunging? This, in fact, is why, IMHO.

5:51 PM  
Blogger SafeLibraries.org said...

"I honestly have a hard time imagining anyone coming to the conclusion that the book is pervasively vulgar. The swear words, of course, exist in an all-important context."

Okay, then forgive me for the following, but a quick, incomplete search just became relevant to this discussion:

1. on Page 59:
"... I don't need her to understand me or to ask me questions and I wish she'd just leave me the fuck alone. 59 ..."
2. on Page 111:
"... "Jesus Christ, it hurts it hurts it hurts. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. This hurts too much. Fucking Jesus Christ this fucking hurts. ..."
3. on Page 134:
"... go anywhere. I could do rehab here, with all my friends. Don't make me leave. Fuck it, it's fucking useless. Dr. ..."
4. on Page 137:
"... antimicrobial and cultural epithelial autograft and range of motion and all of that shit. Just do it and shut the fuck up about it. ..."
5. on Page 204:
"... " "Get your ass up!" Mary's only about an inch away from his face now. "Fuck you." "Move your ass or I'll move it for you. ..."
6. on Page 210:
"... Fuck. Right into the net. I serve and he volleys to my forehand. Big mistake. I swing and hit it hard ..."
7. on Page 218:
"... Fuck you." I get up and slam the door behind me and head up to my room. Fuck those 218 ..."
8. on Page 224:
"... "You searched my room?" She nods. "Why the fuck did you do that? ..."
9. on Page 226:
"... "Have a good weekend, Brent." "Fuck you," I say under my breath, "go fuck yourself." 226 ..."
10. on Page 243:
"... Fuck, why am I always being mean to my parents? It's so depressing to be back at the hospital. Latroy is ..."
11. on Page 254:
"... What the fuck, I know what I heard. Fucker. Jodi and I are bowling. It's always hard to find a ball that will ..."
12. on Page 276:
"... in a cowboy hat at her chair. "So what happened to you?" Fuck, I missed my opportunity . "What do you mean? ..."
13. on Page 327:
"... seat who's wearing a helmet and looking out the window. What the fuck. The bus driver asks me a question. "Where you going? ..."
14. on Page 332:
"... I mean, come on, fuck them. It's my life. I get up to get some more milk and Dad asks me to get him another ..."
15. on Page 333:
"... red and black cards are separated next time." Fuck. Dad's outside raking leaves. ..."
16. on Page 338:
"... The nine of clubs falls out of my hands. Fuck, I'm such a spaz. I lay all the cards facedown on the table in four piles. ..."
17. on Page 341:
"... Okay, so, where shall we start? Runyons? Got anything you'd like to discuss here?" Fuck. Why does he always have to pick on us? ..."
18. on Page 359:
"... Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. What am I going to say? What am I going to say? They're all looking at me. "Yes." ..."
19. on Page 363:
"... Get used to it." "I don't want to. I want to die." "Shut the fuck up." "What do you know about it? ..."
20. on Page 369:
"... a right and a left and another right and a right and a right. Come on. Come on. Come on. Fuck. ..."
21. on Page 373:
"... Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. The bus is here. Jesus. This is it. This is it. The bus is going to take ..."


1. on Page 254:
"... What the fuck, I know what I heard. Fucker. Jodi and I are bowling. It's always hard to find a ball that will work for me. ..."


1. on Page 4:
"... book in French class about a famous person, and I chose Lust for Life, all about van Gogh and how fucked up his life was. I got so obsessed with him when I was reading it. ..."
2. on Page 13:
"... Don't you know anything?" I am so fucked. These days in algebra, I sit up front with the fucking brains. I used to sit in the back with ..."
3. on Page 329:
"... like, you know, crazy. All these people were so fucked up, and I was like, should I get fucked up? And there was this kid there, ..."


1. on Page 244:
"... Mark Motherfucker Miles wants to give me some tests. Tests. I don't know what that means exactly, ..."
2. on Page 299:
"... " He laughs just like he does on TV. "That crazy motherfucker." "Yeah, he's funny. Did she do it?" "No, she was pissed. ..."


1. on Page 95:
"... for ten motherfucking days are the ones that get to skate through life like they have their own personal Zamboni smoothing the way ..."


1. on Page 13:
"... Don't you know anything?" I am so fucked. These days in algebra, I sit up front with the fucking brains. I used to sit in the back with Nick and Kevin, ..."
2. on Page 49:
"... When I wake up, the tubes are already out of my mouth, extubated, which is good, I hate those fucking tubes. Everyone says I'm becoming an old pro. ..."
3. on Page 96:
"... it's not really fucking possible to make me feel worse at this point, unless you were to do something terrible like put me facedown ..."
4. on Page 111:
"... "Jesus Christ, it hurts it hurts it hurts. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. This hurts too much. Fucking Jesus Christ this fucking hurts. ..."
5. on Page 134:
"... go anywhere. I could do rehab here, with all my friends. Don't make me leave. Fuck it, it's fucking useless. Dr. ..."
6. on Page 165:
"... It's got broken glass on the top of the wall. They're taking me to a fucking prison or something. ..."
7. on Page 185:
"... You're all trying to figure out what went wrong inside my head. Fucking idiots. You'll never crack the code that's inside my head. ..."
8. on Page 192:
"... Most Academic: Leah and that kid from GT English. Fucking dork. Best All- Around: Moira and Ryan again. Best Sense of Humor: Megan and Stephen. ..."
9. on Page 203:
"... I've only been here for a week and they're moving me in with a roommate down the hall. This fucking sucks. ..."
10. on Page 210:
"... " I give him a look. What does he think, I'm a fucking baby? He hits another soft lob, right at me, and this time I smash it. ..."
11. on Page 218:
"... What am I, a fucking classroom? That's fucking stupid." "No, you're not a classroom. It's just the way it works at this hospital. ..."
12. on Page 219:
"... Foust is here with the new doctors. Give me a fucking break. Look at these guys-they look like the Marx Brothers of psychologists. ..."
13. on Page 222:
"... " "I think you're trying to avoid my questions." "That's interesting. I'll think about that." This guy is a complete fucking tool. ..."
14. on Page 229:
"... to sit in it, but now it's all mine. Mom brings me a Snickers ice cream bar that is so fucking ..."
15. on Page 244:
"... "That fucking guy. That fucking guy. I can't believe he said that to me. That fucking guy." Ben's really upset, but I ..."
16. on Page 255:
"... Another strike. I'm fucking awesome. "Wow, Brent, you've really got it going on today. ..."
17. on Page 261:
"... about the scars and how they need moisture. God. God. God. Let me out of this fucking place. Viki's voice sounds nervous. ..."
18. on Page 281:
"... "I'd like you to draw a house, a tree, and a person, okay?" "Okay." Jesus, I am so fucking sick and tired of these fucking psychologists ..."
19. on Page 283:
"... it's about time for this fucking therapy session to be over. Jesus, what do I have to do to get out of here? "Are we done ..."
20. on Page 296:
"... Was that who I think it was? Was that fucking Dennis Miller on my fucking answering machine? ..."
21. on Page 318:
"... to Australia because of what happened to me?" "Yeah." "That fucking sucks, man. I can't even believe that. ..."
22. on Page 327:
"... Fucking great. The bus is outside. Jesus, it's a short bus, one of the ones that they take retarded kids around ..."
23. on Page 329:
"... a total punk ass came over, and he was like, 'Wussup?' and I was like, `Nothin'.' Then he was acting fucking whack, man. ..."
24. on Page 333:
"... " "Come here!" Why does he always have to yell when it's not even an emergency? I fucking hate that. 333 ..."
25. on Page 339:
"... does. I say, "Turn it over." He does, and I can tell by his face that it's his card. Yes. Fucking yes. ..."
26. on Page 363:
"... " He says that shit like he's proud of it. Give me a fucking break. I can't help it, I'm going to say something. ..."
27. on Page 364:
"... Jesus Christ. Don't fucking talk to me about that shit. Michael gets up and turns the light off. "Guys, let's calm down a little, ..."
28. on Page 372:
"... It's a big fucking deal. It's a gigantic fucking mess of a giant fucking deal. Because when you think about it, I mean, I ..."

1. on Page 15:
"... "Did you hear about the guy who went to the doctor with a red ring around his dick and the doctor gave him lipstick remover? ..."
2. on Page 183:
"... definitely getting an erection, but I hope she doesn't see it. I wonder if she's thinking about that, about my dick, I mean. ..."
3. on Page 218:
"... I would agree with you, but in your case- "What? I'm so fucking crazy that I need two of you dick- heads making my life difficult? ..."
4. on Page 246:
"... " Oh Jesus, this one looks like a man with a giant dick and no arms. What a weird picture. "Looks like a dinosaur with a huge tail. ..."
5. on Page 274:
"... I wanted was to get a haircut from my brother. I thought it would be something we could do together. Dick. I'm going to the Hair Cuttery. ..."
6. on Page 318:
"... " "Yeah, he was a real dick. But I borrowed this big book of magic from him and never gave it back. ..."

1. on Page 15:
"... "I just showed it to Mr. Huff and he said he'd take care of it." "Shit. I wish I'd known it was your shirt." "Yeah. ..."
2. on Page 17:
"... I say, "Lit some matches in gym." "That was you? Oh, you're in deep shit, dude." "I know," I Say, and I walk into the office. ..."
3. on Page 137:
"... antimicrobial and cultural epithelial autograft and range of motion and all of that shit. Just do it and shut the fuck up about it. ..."
4. on Page 141:
"... I wonder if anyone I know is watching this. "And how did Brent get burned?" Oh shit. ..."
5. on Page 183:
"... she'd like to reach up and play with my balls under the towel. Oh God, that would feel good. Oh shit. ..."
6. on Page 186:
"... " I can think of one thing, but I'm not sure I should tell her. Should I tell her? Okay, shit. "Well, one thing is, ..."
7. on Page 230:
"... I'm like Grandma trying to get out of this thing. Shit, how do you get the footrest to go down? Oh, I just had to push the handle. ..."
8. on Page 231:
"... I don't even have to glance in there. Eyes on the ground. Shit, my hands are shaking. They shouldn't be shaking. Okay, there it is. There's the bathroom. ..."
9. on Page 234:
"... that's what I should say when people ask me about it. Hey, kid, what happened to you? Shark attack. Oh shit. ..."
10. on Page 237:
"... Right in the middle of my coffee cake, Mom calls from upstairs, "Brent?" Oh shit. Her voice sounds sharp, like it does when I'm in trouble. ..."
11. on Page 238:
"... I open the car door and put my legs out. Shit, I wish I wasn't wearing shorts because now everybody can see my Jobst ..."
12. on Page 243:
"... She says, "Jim Croce, `Time in a Bottle.' Yay, I got one." Shit, a song she actually knew. She says, "I beat you. I beat you. ..."
13. on Page 260:
"... Shit. I got eight. I always get an eight when I'm trying for a strike. Now I have to get naked ..."
14. on Page 276:
"... She's rubbing that stuff into my hair, and I can tell she's gearing up for some small talk. Shit. ..."
15. on Page 277:
"... "Electrical?" "Yeah." "What do you mean?" Shit. "Something happened in the electricity circuits." "Really? ..."
16. on Page 281:
"... to push against the tension to make me stronger. Yeah, right, like I'm ever going to do any of this shit. ..."
17. on Page 288:
"... " I blinked. Shit. The lion won. I tried. I did pretty well. The lion was better, but I did pretty well. The lion ..."
18. on Page 291:
"... " Oh shit, I completely forgot that the tutor was coming today. I was hoping I was going to get out of school ..."
19. on Page 299:
"... Hey, what time is it? Ten o'clock, that's seven in L.A., shit, too early. I was thinking we could call Leno and wake him up, ..."
20. on Page 302:
"... should have said Clemenza. Clemenza was the driver. I should have said Clemenza, that would have been so much funnier. Shit. ..."
21. on Page 313:
"... " I'm laughing now. She's not laughing anymore. "It's a good movie." "Yeah, a really good movie." Shit, I think I overdid it. 313 ..."
22. on Page 314:
"... " Oh shit, he's going to ask if I'm going to try out. I don't think I can try out. I can hardly ..."
23. on Page 329:
"... pulls it out, and pretends to shoot it. Everybody laughs except for me and the nurse. I can't believe this shit. ..."
24. on Page 338:
"... Shit, that's embarrassing. He says he's chosen the card. I say, "Okay, now, tell me which pile it's in." He says ..."
25. on Page 342:
"... " "Whatever." He's so full of shit. Even if I did almost die, he doesn't have to say it. ..."
26. on Page 343:
"... Oh shit, I knocked him down. "Are you okay? Dad, I'm sorry, are you okay?" "I'm okay." We're both breathing heavy, and ..."
27. on Page 344:
"... She gives him a set and he floats it over the net, right to me. Shit. I can do this. I get my arms above my head and send it back to their side. They can't ..."
28. on Page 363:
"... " He says that shit like he's proud of it. Give me a fucking break. I can't help it, I'm going to say something. ..."
29. on Page 364:
"... "Guys. Guys. Take it easy. We've all got our own problems. We all go at our own speed, okay?" That shit really pisses me off. ..."

1. on Page 6:
"... it back under her sweater and rub my thumb against the fabric of her bra and the top of her breast. ..."
2. on Page 132:
"... hand under her shirt and I'd touch her breast under the bra and I could rub my thumb up against her nipple. Oh God. Oh God. Oh God. ..."
3. on Page 150:
"... He's older than me. Like in college or something. I bet he's thinking about her breasts. ..."
4. on Page 171:
"... pulls. She pulls it so hard that my whole arm comes with it and my hand lands right on her breast. ..."
5. on Page 246:
"... It's got two people, like the last one, but they both have penises and breasts, and there's a big red butterfly between them. ..."
6. on Page 321:
"... leg. Maybe I'll slide my hand under her shirt and feel her stomach and then move it up to her breasts. ..."


1. on Page 121:
"... and I put my hand on her where I thought her vagina should be. She sort of giggled and said, "It's lower." I tried to giggle too, but I was getting light-headed, ..."
2. on Page 245:
"... Oh yeah, all the little inkblots are supposed to look like penises and vaginas, but you're not supposed to notice that, otherwise they'll think you're crazy. ..."

6:01 PM  
Blogger Arthur Slade said...

Ah, SafeL, you've got far too much time on your hands. I think you've just proved Brent's point about out of context.

I just provided a link to Susan Juby's article about book banning on the latest blog post above, I think you'll get a kick out of it.
Click right here, eh?

Thanks for recommending our books to readers. Though I assume you don't mean to recommend the ones with swear words and sex in them.

6:22 PM  
Blogger SafeLibraries.org said...

I provided context. The context shows that a certain amount of that language might be appropriate, considering the circumstances. And I agreed with Brent on that in a general comment I made, in part on this point.

But at some point it just becomes too much. And the community is to decide that, not me, not you, and not the ALA. The ALA would force it on them by using propaganda to claim no book is ever inappropriate for children. And when I point out the ALA is doing this, I'm the bad guy.

I'll look at your other article soon. There sure are a lot of wacky things out there.

As to recommending your books, parents should check some of them out first, but I'm not the judge or censor people claim I am so as to defend the ALA's propaganda. I do know you authors are genuinely interested in writing interesting and relevant material, and that is yet another reason why it is so interesting to have this conversation with you.

KL Going's book, "Fat Kid Rules the World," for example. I would not give that book to my kid, but certain children are really reached by that book, and parents will know if the book is right for their children. But it should not be shotgunned out on all children without warning by public institutions. I think even KL Going believes that, and I have corresponded with her on this. It's on her own web blog. She, like the rest of you, is a really fine author reaching out to many children. None of this would even be happening if you folks weren't writing good books. Keep it up.

7:33 PM  
Blogger Brent Hartinger said...

My head hurts.

THE BURN JOURNALS is the story of an extremely disturbed, suicidal 14-year old boy. Trying to kill himself, he sets himself on fire, and spends the book trying to figure out why he did it. In that context, does it make sense that this character (a real person, since this is a memoir) would say and do disburbing things?

Obviously this is not a book for everyone. But it's a book for some, which is what literature is all about. Holden Caufield says extremely disturbing things, as does Malcoln X in the THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF MALCOLM X, as do the main characters in Ellison's INVISIBLE MAN and Baldwin's GIOVANNI'S ROOM and Angelu's IN KNOW WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS. Heck, even the main character in A SEPARATE PEACE wants to maim his best friend!

But, of course, these extremely disturbing things all make perfect sense in the context of these characters and these fantastic, life-changing (for me) pieces of literature. (THE BURN JOURNALS didn't change my life, but I know it did for a lot of kids; I've talked to them.)

Anyway, again, in this case, the community DID decide, some of them, to let their kids read this book. They signed permission slips! Safe, you're saying that the rights of these parents and the educational professional who kept this book in his personal library should be restricted.

I don't get it, I really don't. This doesn't even seem like a grey area to me.

10:22 PM  
Blogger SafeLibraries.org said...

Brent,

I'm not saying rights should be restricted. Further, there is no right for public schools to distribute pervasively vulgar material.

I see your point that the parents who signed the permission slips did approve of the book. And that's part of what I agreed with you on earlier.

The issue goes deeper though, but I did not address that issue then.

In general, as with the ALA awarded books, parents are not fully informed as to the contents of books and what can be done about them. Perhaps a parent just assumes any book a school provides must be okay and signs the slip. Perhaps a parent is a little shocked at the content but doesn't want to embarrass the kid by making waves. Perhaps a parent has bought into the ALA's myth that book "banning" is wrong. Perhaps a parent believes the twin myth that it is "censorship" to keep any book whatsoever from any child. Perhaps the parent is totally unaware of Board of Education v. Pico.

So the issue which respect to your point is, is the consent given by the parents informed consent? A patient can give a doctor consent but if it is not informed consent, then the doctor is in trouble. Similarly, a parent can give consent but if it is not informed consent, then that's not right.

I do not know one way or another, but I suspect the cloud of misinformation from the ALA is so thick that the consent given is not informed consent. I suspect the consent form said, "Do you allow Johnny to read this book." Naturally, most parents will say yes. Informed consent would have required more than that. "Do you allow Johnny to read this book given 1) some might consider it to be pervasively vulgar because it uses hundreds of f and s words [whatever], 2) etc., 3) etc., etc."

If parents signed informed consent forms, that's fine by me and likely the community. But if parents are signing forms that do not fully inform the parents of the contents of the book, then the community may deem that to be a serious problem.

I would like to see or to know the wording of an actual consent form. That should clear up the "grey area."

6:32 AM  
Blogger Leigh Russell said...

It's the role of the school librarian to guide children to books that are appropriate for them, and to help them learn to make sensible choices for themselves. Permission slips for parents are pointless, unless the parents have actually read the book themselves. Otherwise, how can they make an informed judgement? They can't. The permission slips are merely an abdication of responsibility by the school because the librarian is failing to monitor and advise pupils.

4:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Parents need to make wise choices for their children, so that they don't wind up ~ MIXED UP~ to begin with. But I do believe there are way to many parents out there that can't even get their own priorities straight.I see alot of them here giving their own ignorant, immoral answers.It is obvious the majority of parents here don't mind if their kids read this junk because they have no respect for themselves, their kids or others. How cunning, the authors of these books sure know how to target easy prey, and make billions from the demise of morality.

11:04 PM  
Anonymous mjmbecky said...

An anonymous poster wants to make a comment on everyone else's morals. How ironic. I'll go back to reading my banned book now, and continue to ruin my own morals. Thanks though!

1:17 AM  
Anonymous LadyBRooke said...

It seems to be only adults who have commented, so....

As a 10th grade student I can safely say that every bad word quoted from this book as well as dozens of others have all been used in my hearing at school at least once. Words like shit are tossed around like the word the. We do have rules against vulgar language, but they don't work, and anybody who thinks they will is naive. You can't stop people from saying what they want.

I fail to see why poeple get so worked up about books. The same people who want to ban books in my community also go home and watch soap operas where the main character can't even figure out if the father of her kid is her husband or step-son. What??? It seems to me that people need to tackle these issues and leave books alone.

10:19 AM  
Blogger SafeLibraries.org said...

What's most impressive to me is that you are interested in these issues, you read about them, then you comment. Bravo, LadyBrooke.

10:24 AM  
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^^ nice blog!! ^@^

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