Banned Books Week takes place the week of Sept. 25- Oct. 2, and is sponsored by the American Library Association, the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, the Association of American Publishers, the American Society of Journalists and Authors, and the National Association of College Stores. The annual event celebrates the importance of the first amendment.

     Among those books that are frequently banned or challenged include All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren; Animal Farm by George Orwell; As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner; The Awakening by Kate Chopin; Brave New World by Aldous Huxley; Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison; Native Son by Richard Wright; 1984 by Orwell; Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck; and A Separate Peace by John Knowles.

     I said this last year, but it bears repeating: The narrow-minded, censoring busybodies who think their job is to tell libraries what books they can carry, or you what you (and/or your children) are allowed to read need to mind their own business. They’re free to decide what their own children can read; they don’t get a say in what other adults choose to read, or what other parents and/or guardians decide for their children.

     As to the above named books, I read all but All the King’s Men and Invisible Man between junior high and college.


     Recommended viewing: Studio One Anthology is a six-DVD set containing 17 kinescopes of live broadcasts from that early TV series, which ran from 1948-1958. There’s an interesting mix of stories, ranging from the Rod Serling-penned Korean War tale “The Strike”, to an adaptation of Wuthering Heights, to an opera called “The Medium”, to “Twelve Angry Men”, to a love story called “June Moon”, to the curious tales “Almanac of Liberty”, and “The Remarkable Incident at Carson Corners.”

     “Almanac of Liberty”, based on the book by Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, is perhaps the most unusual (with the possible exception of the opera).

     A small group of people gather in a schoolhouse, though they’re not sure why. Among them is a stranger named John Carter, who was beaten up by many of the people in attendance. The people soon realize that none of them knows why they came; that they apparently can’t leave (why they don’t try to rush out into the rain that’s developed is unclear); and that time seems to have stopped at 10:24 a.m.

     Later, after a man strikes John Carter, time moves back to 10:23, and one man says their actions against this man are moving them backwards, essentially rewinding freedoms and liberties all Americans enjoy under the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

     At one point, they notice a man outside, half in and half out of his truck (the audience doesn’t see this); so apparently if anyone did leave the school (if they could) he or she would likewise become frozen. But again, this discovery is made well after the initial failed (almost half-hearted) attempts to leave.

     John Carter seems to be a stand-in for any group that doesn’t meet with the approval of certain narrow-minded bigoted elements in the town, but no specific political, religious or other label is applied to him. He’s also not of a different race or ethnic group; nor does he speak with a noticeable accent.

     The newspaper editor is initially his lone defender, demanding that those who attacked Carter explain their actions.

     Some of the group believe Carter somehow caused this situation, and I began to wonder if this might turn out to be a ghost story of some sort. In a sense it was, but not a typical one.

     After everyone recites various key points from the Bill of Rights, the clock in the school starts ticking again; and they realize John Carter has disappeared.

     So who was he? Seems he was a personification of the Bill of Rights in particular or American freedoms generally. A teenage boy realizes that the date, Dec. 15, is the day the Bill of Rights was ratified.

     I imagine a lot of people were scratching their heads when that one was over, trying to understand what it all meant.

     But sometimes its good for TV to make you think.

     “The Remarkable Incident at Carson Corners”, written by Reginald Rose- who also penned “12 Angry Men”- concerns a “mock trial” by the town’s schoolchildren that turns out to be very real when they accuse a beloved janitor of murdering one of their classmates. As with “12 Angry Men”, certain fears and prejudices come to the fore, as the town’s adults in attendance begin to voice their opinions.


     Are you a parent and/or teacher curious about the Internet and/or social networks? Or do you have a child/student who is? Social Networks and Blogs by Lori Hile (2011, Heinemann-Raintree Press) examines topics such traditional blogs, microblogs like Twitter, texting, cyber communities, and YouTube, as well as the positives and negatives of each. This well-written 56-page book, aimed primarily at school-age readers (but useful to parents and teachers, too) also looks at cyber safety, cyber censorship and cyber activism. And, as a further sign of quality research, the book also provides both a glossary and an index.


Copyright 2010 Patrick Keating

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