Don't read these books!!

By DAVID SCHARFENBERG  |  September 21, 2011
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ACCORDING TO THE AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, THE MOST TARGETED BOOKS OF THE PAST DECADE WERE IN J.K. ROWLING'S HARRY POTTER SERIES. WHAT DID HARRY AND HERMIONE DO TO DESERVE THIS? They were involved in witchcraft, which was apparently inappropriate. It's a great example of how vulnerable children's literature is to censorship. The Rowling series did more to promote children's literacy and love of books than anything else in recent memory. And yet, it was a constant struggle throughout the country to prevent these books from being banned.

WHAT IS THE MOST EGREGIOUS CASE OF CENSORSHIP IN MEMORY IN RHODE ISLAND? Well, we've had a little bit of everything. One of the biggest ones was in the late '70s. The Providence police raided a RISD art exhibit. It was called "Private Parts" and it had some sexually explicit themes. They took down all the artwork and it required a lawsuit to get a ruling that the Providence police acted illegally. I remember in the early- to mid-'80s there was an effort, again by the police, to shut down a John Lennon art exhibit at the Civic Center. Another one that comes to mind, back in the early '90s we represented a nightclub that had booked 2 Live Crew and the town of Westerly had threatened to revoke this nightclub's entertainment license.

HOW DID THAT WORK OUT? Oh, we got a court order. I mean, that's what always happens. But it takes effort, it takes energy, and it takes someone willing to fight it. A lot of times censorship works just by inertia. You hear about the court cases that successfully overturn efforts at censorship. What you don't hear about are the dozens of instances where somebody is told not to do something, or show something, or read something and they don't do anything about it.

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  Topics: This Just In , Books, American Civil Liberties Union, Harry Potter,  More more >
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