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7 deadly books? Talk of ban hits burbs
Chicago Sun Times ^ | 5/22/06 | RUMMANA HUSSAIN

Posted on 05/22/2006 12:11:31 PM PDT by Borges

A northwest suburban high school board member seeks to ban seven books from classroom use because she thinks the profanity, depiction of graphic sex, and drug and abortion references in the literature are inappropriate for teenagers.

Leslie Pinney admits she only read passages of the controversial selections, including Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five and Toni Morrison's Beloved, which were on the American Library Association's 100 most challenged books list between 1990 and 2000.

But Pinney said perusing the questionable parts of the books made it clear they weren't suitable for children and should be taken off Township High School District 214's proposed required reading list next year. The district is based in Arlington Heights.

Pinney was particularly offended by the explicit tales of masturbation and teen sex in Stephen Chbosky's The Perks of Being a Wallflower. The popular novel, often described as a modern-day Catcher in the Rye, was among the ALA's top 10 most challenged books two years ago.

'Isn't there ... a higher level?'

"We talk about the steady diet of trans fat and sugar, and we know the result is obesity and diabetes. But what are we feeding the minds of our students? They're getting a steady diet of foul language, violence and sexuality outside the classroom by the media. But when it comes to the classroom, isn't there something of a higher level to feed the minds of our children?" Pinney asked.

Other books Pinney wants replaced are The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien; The Awakening by Kate Chopin; Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, and Michael Pollan's The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World.

Many of the texts have been used in the district's six main high schools before and were reviewed by the department heads before the lists were sent to the board for consideration.

"These aren't books someone just picked out of a bookstore one Saturday morning and said, 'Hey let's put them on the reading list.' These are books that have gone through the process and were selected for their educational value," Board President William Dussling said.

'It cannot hurt to be informed'

Dussling is willing to listen to Pinney's concerns when the board meets Thursday, but he doubts the books will be removed from the curriculum. The district has an "opt out" policy if parents don't want students to participate in an activity or read a certain book, he said.

Levitt, a University of Chicago economics professor, can understand why some people may be uncomfortable with his nonfiction best seller, which correlates legalized abortion with lower crime rates. However, he said banning it for ideological reasons does not make sense.

"The book does deal with controversial topics like abortion, crime, guns and race. But we aren't making moral statements in the book about whether abortion should or shouldn't be legal, or guns should or should not be regulated. Instead, we try to look at the data and understand what impact legalized abortion or gun control has had on crime. I would think that whatever conclusion one comes to on the morality of an issue like abortion, it cannot hurt to be informed about the facts," Levitt said.

There were 404 challenges or written requests to have a book removed from a school or library filed with the ALA last year. There were 11 challenges in Illinois in 2005, compared with 10 the year before, spokeswoman Larra Clark said.


TOPICS: Culture/Society
KEYWORDS: filth; hicks; hyperbole; hysteria; illiterate; nannies; pervertedfilth; smut; uncultured
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1 posted on 05/22/2006 12:11:33 PM PDT by Borges
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To: Borges
The Awakening by Kate Chopin

Over a century old and they're still complaining? Sheesh.
2 posted on 05/22/2006 12:12:33 PM PDT by Borges
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To: Borges
depiction of graphic sex

I bet if it were graphic gay sex it'd be ok.

3 posted on 05/22/2006 12:12:37 PM PDT by Puppage (You may disagree with what I have to say, but I shall defend to your death my right to say it)
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To: Borges
Over a century old and they're still complaining? Sheesh.

Edna Pontellier was a loose woman of low moral fibre, hardly a model for our youth. We should have them all reading Pamela.

4 posted on 05/22/2006 12:16:03 PM PDT by Alter Kaker ("Whatever tears one sheds, in the end one always blows one's nose." - Heine)
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To: Puppage
depiction of graphic sex

How do you have graphic sex, anyway?

5 posted on 05/22/2006 12:17:11 PM PDT by Izzy Dunne (Hello, I'm a TAGLINE virus. Please help me spread by copying me into YOUR tag line.)
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To: Borges
Horrors. Many on FR think to ban any book from a high school is like Nazi book burning.

This is a board member. She certainly has a right to express her opinion about books that she doesn't think rise up to the level of quality reading for high-schoolers.

And that is not "book-burning." It is what a board member is supposed to do.

6 posted on 05/22/2006 12:17:57 PM PDT by Siena Dreaming
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To: Alter Kaker

Just don't let them read the bible; they might be influenced!


7 posted on 05/22/2006 12:18:24 PM PDT by CondorFlight
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To: Izzy Dunne

with pie charts


8 posted on 05/22/2006 12:18:50 PM PDT by Nihil Obstat
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To: Borges
They want to Ban Freakonomics?


Book Burners.
9 posted on 05/22/2006 12:19:02 PM PDT by H. Paul Pressler IV
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To: Alter Kaker
We should have them all reading Pamela.

Child abuse.
10 posted on 05/22/2006 12:19:24 PM PDT by Borges
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To: Izzy Dunne

Especially in a Book! I take it these are picture books.


11 posted on 05/22/2006 12:20:08 PM PDT by rattrap
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To: CondorFlight
Just don't let them read the bible; they might be influenced!

The Song of Songs is absolute filth. I'm not saying we should ban the Bible, but we should definitely expurgate the offending portions, lest anything sexual reach the eyes of our impressional young ones.

12 posted on 05/22/2006 12:20:29 PM PDT by Alter Kaker ("Whatever tears one sheds, in the end one always blows one's nose." - Heine)
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To: Siena Dreaming
And that is not "book-burning." It is what a board member is supposed to do.

I totally agree.
Trying to control what adults may or may not read is a whole other discussion...

13 posted on 05/22/2006 12:21:09 PM PDT by Publius6961 (Multiculturalism is the white flag of a dying country)
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To: Izzy Dunne
How do you have graphic sex, anyway?

My wife's a graphic designer. Does that count?

14 posted on 05/22/2006 12:21:12 PM PDT by Heyworth
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To: rattrap

But you have to read a book about a homosexual king to kindergartners in Massachusetts, because "gay marriage" is legal there, and you have to celebrate diversity.


15 posted on 05/22/2006 12:21:54 PM PDT by Dilbert San Diego
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To: Alter Kaker
The Song of Songs is absolute filth.

Prove it.

16 posted on 05/22/2006 12:22:56 PM PDT by AppyPappy (If you aren't part of the solution, there is good money to be made prolonging the problem.)
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To: H. Paul Pressler IV

Seriously. If we're going to remove every non-fiction title that contains ideas which make someone or other uncomfortable, we might as well give up on the idea of a library altogether. Just put some blank sheets of paper and crayons in there, and forget about the whole "book" thing.


17 posted on 05/22/2006 12:22:57 PM PDT by Senator Bedfellow
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To: Dilbert San Diego

There are Plenty of Gay Kings to study in World History starting with James I.


18 posted on 05/22/2006 12:23:57 PM PDT by H. Paul Pressler IV
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To: Dilbert San Diego

Oh, of course. I try to celebrate diversity at least 3 times a week but it's starting to interfere with my work. My job is tough when I have a diversity hangover.


19 posted on 05/22/2006 12:24:32 PM PDT by rattrap
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To: Borges

The Botany of Desire? How on earth can someone find a history of plants offensive?

Goodness, let's not expose students to any *ideas* in school.


20 posted on 05/22/2006 12:26:21 PM PDT by ModerateGOOPer
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To: Senator Bedfellow
Non-Fiction Books from The Bell Curve to Freakonomics should never be banned. Any attempt to do so is Intellectual fascism, sometimes committed by the Left and sometimes by the Right.
21 posted on 05/22/2006 12:27:13 PM PDT by H. Paul Pressler IV
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To: Borges
Meanwhile on the subjects of Banned Books (which is an oxymoron btw), nobody seems to havenoticed that in the great USA there is only ONE banned book from the taxpayers funded library. (wait for it)

And the name of the book is of course: The Holy Bible

The reason cited if you choose to speak to the librarian will be "Seperation of Church and State".
Meanwhile copies of the mormon bible and the koran are freely available upon request.

22 posted on 05/22/2006 12:28:27 PM PDT by prophetic
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To: Borges

Wha tis it about freedom people hate? Don't read the books if you don't like them. Banning is never an answer to anything.


23 posted on 05/22/2006 12:28:41 PM PDT by bfree (PC is BS)
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To: Borges
Child abuse.

You're just saying that because you share the modernist obsession with plot, characters and good writing. Pamela is a great novel, plus it tells an important moral lesson -- when your boss is trying to rape you, you should resist as long as possible in order to preserve your honor. Then marry him.

24 posted on 05/22/2006 12:29:21 PM PDT by Alter Kaker ("Whatever tears one sheds, in the end one always blows one's nose." - Heine)
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To: H. Paul Pressler IV
Non-Fiction Books from The Bell Curve to Freakonomics should never be banned

Really? No high school has a right to remove any non-fiction book from it's curriculum?

25 posted on 05/22/2006 12:30:09 PM PDT by Siena Dreaming
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To: ModerateGOOPer

What good has learning science ever done for a society?


26 posted on 05/22/2006 12:30:09 PM PDT by H. Paul Pressler IV
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To: H. Paul Pressler IV
Non-Fiction Books from The Bell Curve to Freakonomics should never be banned

Much as some on FR might wish it not be so, The Bell Curve is fiction.

27 posted on 05/22/2006 12:30:14 PM PDT by Alter Kaker ("Whatever tears one sheds, in the end one always blows one's nose." - Heine)
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To: Borges

Based on some of the high school students I have met recently, I would say that it is more important to get them to read books, any books, than to spend so much time criticizing certain books that may be in school libraries.


28 posted on 05/22/2006 12:30:31 PM PDT by wideminded
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To: bfree
And does the phrase "required reading" make your option (Don't read the books if you don't like them.) a plausible choice for the 15-17 year olds in the high school classes, which btw, have mandatory attendance and truancy laws attached to them?
29 posted on 05/22/2006 12:31:36 PM PDT by L,TOWM (Liberals, The Other White Meat)
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To: Borges
Over a century old and they're still complaining?

Does the age have something to due with the suitablity?

30 posted on 05/22/2006 12:32:06 PM PDT by Protagoras ("A real decision is measured by the fact that you have taken a new action"... Tony Robbins)
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To: bfree
Don't read the books if you don't like them.

She wants them removed from classroom use, i.e, not ASSIGNED. The kids don't have a choice to not read the books. I agree with the earlier poster (forget who): as a school board member, reviewing the books assigned for reading is exactly what she's supposed to be doing. Good for her. I wonder how many of the other board members read any of them?

31 posted on 05/22/2006 12:32:17 PM PDT by nina0113
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To: bfree

This isn't about "banning" books. It's about a school board member doing her job deciding what is appropriate for kids to read.


32 posted on 05/22/2006 12:32:43 PM PDT by Skooz (Chastity prays for me, piety sings...Modesty hides my thighs in her wings...)
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To: AppyPappy
Prove it.

This reads like a Danielle Steele novel...

Your neck is like the tower of David built with rows of stones on which are hung a thousand shields... ... Your two breasts are like two fawns, twins of a gazelle which feed among the lilies... ... Your lips, my bride, drip honey, Honey and milk are under your tongue...And the fragrance of your garments is like the fragrance of Lebanon. Your belly is like a heap of wheat...

33 posted on 05/22/2006 12:32:56 PM PDT by Alter Kaker ("Whatever tears one sheds, in the end one always blows one's nose." - Heine)
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To: wideminded
that may be in school libraries.

This story is about a board member from one high school who objects to classroom usage of several books. That is, required reading and study of selected books.

Surely a board member has a right to voice an opinion about removing certain books from required reading in favor of more quality material.

34 posted on 05/22/2006 12:33:54 PM PDT by Siena Dreaming
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To: Alter Kaker

Not even close.

Song of Solomon eats Steele for breakfast.

That's good stuff.


35 posted on 05/22/2006 12:34:19 PM PDT by Skooz (Chastity prays for me, piety sings...Modesty hides my thighs in her wings...)
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To: Senator Bedfellow
Seriously. If we're going to remove every non-fiction title that contains ideas which make someone or other uncomfortable, we might as well give up on the idea of a library altogether.

This is not a library. It is a reading list put out by the school district.

I oppose censorship. This isn't it.

36 posted on 05/22/2006 12:34:37 PM PDT by Protagoras ("A real decision is measured by the fact that you have taken a new action"... Tony Robbins)
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To: Alter Kaker

Yeah. Very graphic. Maybe JimRob should pull it because it is so offensive.

Geez...


37 posted on 05/22/2006 12:35:44 PM PDT by AppyPappy (If you aren't part of the solution, there is good money to be made prolonging the problem.)
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To: Skooz

What is inappropriate about Freakonomics or The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World?


38 posted on 05/22/2006 12:36:33 PM PDT by H. Paul Pressler IV
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To: Borges

Somebody just like this councilwoman banned Huck Finn, and more importantly, The Little Engine That Could. So where do we redraw the line that was made the day Larry Flynt won and we all lost?


39 posted on 05/22/2006 12:36:35 PM PDT by ishabibble
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To: nina0113
I wonder how many of the other board members read any of them?

She hasn't either...

Leslie Pinney admits she only read passages of the controversial selections
40 posted on 05/22/2006 12:37:00 PM PDT by Borges
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To: H. Paul Pressler IV

I don't know.

Maybe you can read both, interview this lady and report back to us.


41 posted on 05/22/2006 12:37:09 PM PDT by Skooz (Chastity prays for me, piety sings...Modesty hides my thighs in her wings...)
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To: H. Paul Pressler IV
Non-Fiction Books from The Bell Curve to Freakonomics should never be banned.

Banned from where? This is a reading list.

I oppose censorship. I support schools deciding what they should recommend for reading and also what they have in their libraries.

42 posted on 05/22/2006 12:37:27 PM PDT by Protagoras ("A real decision is measured by the fact that you have taken a new action"... Tony Robbins)
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To: Protagoras
Does the age have something to due with the suitablity?

It has something to do with a work of Literature standing the test of time and obviously having something to say to succeeding generations.
43 posted on 05/22/2006 12:38:17 PM PDT by Borges
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To: prophetic

The Bible can be found in just about any Public library.


44 posted on 05/22/2006 12:38:39 PM PDT by Borges
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To: Borges
THIS IS NOT BOOK BURNING.

THIS IS ONE BOARD MEMBER AT ONE HIGH SCHOOL SAYING SHE DOES NOT LIKE THE BOOKS IN THE CURRICULUM. VOICING OPINIONS ABOUT THIS IS HER JOB.

DO NOT KNEE-JERK. THIS IS NOT GOVERNMENT BANNING OR CENSORSHIP.

45 posted on 05/22/2006 12:38:46 PM PDT by Siena Dreaming
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To: Borges

Billy Pilgrim and Tralfamadorian bump


46 posted on 05/22/2006 12:39:17 PM PDT by roaddog727 (eludium PU36 explosive space modulator)
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To: Borges

But did any of the other board members read any at all? I think the only one on that list I've even started was Slaughterhouse-5, and I didn't finish it.


47 posted on 05/22/2006 12:39:36 PM PDT by nina0113
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To: Alter Kaker
Compared to what? The Perks of Being a Wallflower? A cheap romance novel? In that context The Song of Songs is downright boring.

I don't have a problem with my 14yr. old daughter reading The Song of Songs, I do have a problem with her reading some trashy paperback.
48 posted on 05/22/2006 12:40:05 PM PDT by MAexile (Bats left, votes right)
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To: AppyPappy
Yeah. Very graphic. Maybe JimRob should pull it because it is so offensive.

You must be one of those perverts who doesn't think sex is evil.

49 posted on 05/22/2006 12:40:08 PM PDT by Alter Kaker ("Whatever tears one sheds, in the end one always blows one's nose." - Heine)
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To: Protagoras

I think we are wasting our time, Protagoras.

Some people see "removed from reading list" and have the Pavlovian response: "CENSORSHIP! CENSORSHIP! They'll ban Huck Finn next! And then The Wizard of Oz! Then, they'll control everything we read! Book burners! Naziiiiiiiiiiiiss!!"


50 posted on 05/22/2006 12:40:13 PM PDT by Skooz (Chastity prays for me, piety sings...Modesty hides my thighs in her wings...)
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