Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Children Think For Themselves

A common reason used for banning, removing, reclassifying, labeling or restricting books is that the controversial content within them will come into the hands of children.

This is usually used on Young Adult books, not adult books. So I'll be talking about YA books for this particular post.

Most libraries have a children's section and a young adult(or teen) section separate from eachother. The teen section is usually classified as 12 or 13 and up. There's an obvious reason for this, teens are very different from children, in interests, behaviours, experiences and especially maturity. The books reflect this. That's why the YA section is separate from the children's section to begin with.

I already covered mature content in my 'Perks of Being A Wallflower' post so I won't go on about that again.

The YA section is usually near the children's section and quite a few people seem to worry about children wandering into the YA section and reading books that aren't appropriate for them. That doesn't happen. Maybe once in a blue moon but it's hardly a common occurence. Why?

1) Children that should be reading books in the children's section aren't going to be interested in books in the YA section. They're usually of considerable length, have no pictures, are above their reading level, and often have pretty dull covers (Side note: Can we stop giving publishers stock photos of teenage girls in tank tops? Please?). They are designed to be marketed to teens, not children.

2) Children know what's inappropriate for them. A bit of personal experience here. When I was a wee one, I was honestly a little scared of the "Young Adult" and "Adult" sections. It's children's logic, "Adult means grown-up. Those are for grown-ups, they must be scary." Maybe that was just me, but most children understand what "adult" means.

3) If it bothers them, they'll put it down. Kids may not have had much life experience, but they're definitly smart enough to stop reading something if they don't like it. If it bothers them, they'll stop reading it and move onto something else. Simple as that. I did this once or twice when I was little, although the books I put down were "Scary story" books but it takes all kinds.

So frankly, all this "Think of the children!" jabber needs to stop. for the reasons above and because it's simply an excuse for censorship. If you're concerned about your children reading something inappropriate, go with them to the library and supervise them. I've said it before and I'll say it again: The public library is there to serve EVERYONE, what you consider inappropriate someone else will consider wonderful, and it is YOUR job to parent YOUR children.

Our local library actually has a policy that says that no children under 9 years of age are allowed to be left alone in the library unsupervised. Thank you.

P.S. Angel_of_Death and I are going on holiday this upcoming weekend and school starts shortly after that. Our blog posts will be slightly less frequent but we'll try to update often. Cheers :)!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The importance of "Inappropriate" puberty books.

We all have either asked 'certain' questions that lead to one talk or another either about sex, or puberty. Such as: "Where do babies come from." Or "Why does my brother/sister have different parts than I do?"

Well, what if you, as a mother/father/older sibling don't want to give that talk to your son/daughter/younger sibling? What will you tell them?

The easiest thing in my opinion to do in that situation is hand the asker a book about puberty and other things about growing uh. Making sure it's age appropriate is important You wouldn't want to mentally scar your 6 year old.

Though nowadays with book banners running wild everywhere it's hard to find a decent book that hasn't been banned. Especially books about sex and/or puberty.

But what would happen if all the puberty books in libraries and book stores were banned? You'd probably have to give "The talk" to the asker sooner than you wanted to.

I know my co-writer Meghan showed me a web page (Which, I regret to say, I don't remember where it was) and I mother wrote this "I don't want to talk to my kids about puberty until after their married." A little ironic, eh?

But what if everybody lived by that rule? Girls aged 10-18 would start bleeding and have no clue what was wrong with them, and, if they were home alone, they would probably start freaking out and call 9-1-1, just to learn it's their period and it would happen once a month until they hit menopause.

Then there would be boys. They would wake up in the middle of the night, sweating and their bed would be wet. They would most likely get extremely embarrassed because they think they've gone back to when they were 6 and still wet the bed. And maybe, just maybe, they would look don in the middle of science class and see they had a lump in their groin of their pants and would think that something is wrong, freak out, call home, and then they would have to have a talk with their parents about growing up, just to find out it's nothing too serious.

Over the years, many puberty/sex books have been attempted to be banned by book banners everywhere such as "It's Perfectly Normal" It's a very animated puberty book that describes your body and how it grows up. It's designed for third-sixth graders. In my opinion (Though I've only read one page from I find it 95% appropriate for the age group. I'm only against the masturbation for the younger crowds because most parents don't want to walk in one their third grade son masturbating in the living room, only to hear his explanation is "The book Mr. Smith read today said this was perfectly fine!"

So in conclusion, my opinion is this: Puberty books and growing up is just a way of life. You don't have to show your kids those books, just don't try and get them banned because you don't like them. They are extremal helpful for any parent/guardian that doesn't want to talk with their kids about it, and help many children, young and old understand things much better.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

'The Perks Of Being A Wallflower' In Detail

*WARNING! MAJOR SPOILERS FOR The Perks of Being A Wallflower*

Of all the banned books out there, there are a few that are a bit like the middle school nerds of the book world. Others may get an occasional insult, these ones get tripped in the hall and have their lunches stolen.

One in particular is Stephen Chbosky's The Perks of Being A Wallflower, published in 1999 it is widely acclaimed and considered a modern classic of Young Adult literature. It's about a high school freshman named Charlie who is the titular "wallflower" and the very realistic good, bad and ugly experiences he goes through.

So why is it challenged so often? Sexual content, drug use, underage drinking and smoking, and profanity. In this blog I shall pick through this various controversial passages (I'm not going into paragraphs of detail over each one but expect this one to be a long one) and tell you why they are important to the story and why this book is important to teens.

Let's start with sexual content since that seems to be the largest issue.

To say there's a lot of sex in the book is less than half-accurate. There are many references to teenagers having sex, but these references are non-descriptive, brief and really no different than in the movies where two people kiss and fall backwards onto a bed holding each other just before the screen fades to black. (Example: "When most people left, Brad and Patrick went into Patrick's room. They had sex for the first time that night. I don't want to go into detail about it because it's pretty private stuff, but I will say that Brad assumed the role of the girl in terms of where you put things. I think that's pretty important to tell you. When they were finished, Brad started to cry really hard...") There a few sexual jokes. also non-descriptive, as jokes tend to be. a couple of brief descriptions of masturbation. There is kissing.

Really there are only three in-depth sexual scenes. The first is a flashback to when Charlie was younger and his older sister threw a party while their parents were away. She instructs Charlie to stay put in his room. Two drunken friends of his sister, a boy and a girl, stumble into his room and ask if they can use it. Charlie agrees. The girl and boy start making out, and eventually the boy forces the girl to perform oral sex on him. This scenario is only stopped when Charlie's sister comes in the room the bring Charlie some chips and the two get embarrassed and leave (pages 30-31). Charlie later, in the present, realizes what he witnessed was a rape (page 32).

Another is when Charlie and Mary Elizabeth make out and by the end of it they are both shirtless and have done "everything from the stomach up" but don't go any farther (pages 126-127).

The last is between Sam and Charlie in Sam's room. They make out, remove their shirts and stop when Sam touches his groin (on top of clothes) because it makes Charlie realize that his Aunt Helen sexually molested him when he was young (pages 202-205).

If anyone reads these passages and finds them sexually arousing, they need to talk with a counsellor. None of the truly sexual activity (i.e. aside from kissing) is approved of. It is all presented in a realistic way and the consequences are rarely good. Brad is the victim of homophobia-incited assault by his father when he catches Brad and Patrick having sex. Brad is extremely hurt by this and incites a homophobic attack on Patrick in the school cafeteria. Charlie's sister gets pregnant by her physically abusive boyfriend and has an abortion.

There is a lot of drug usage, a fair bit of underage drinking and underage smoking. This isn't condoned either, it made crystal clear this behaviour is completely unhealthy.

None of this behaviour; abuse, drinking, smoking, drugs, teenage sex, homophobia, is presented as a good thing. It is merely presented, and realistically. Whether we like or not, some teenagers have sex, do drugs, smoke, swear like sailors, drink and do hurtful things to others. You cannot control all teenagers your teen(s) come in contact with. Just as the way meteorologists cannot predict every little gust of wind to make a completely accurate forecast.

The only thing you can do is talk with your teen(s) and educate them on why drugs, underage drink, underage smoking, abusing others and doing sexual things before you are ready is bad and they can do to avoid these things and make good choices.

But not every teen has people in their life to tell them these things, or maybe they do but they make very human mistakes. That's why we need books like this, to tell teens there is a light at the end of the tunnel and if they can make the right choices, it won't be an oncoming train. This book does advocate good things: dating for love, reading, intelligence and friendships.

A lot of people argue that is isn't appropriate for children. It isn't appropriate for children. It isn't appropriate for children at all.

It is appropriate for TEENS alright? TEENS. Young Adults, youths, adolescents, teenyboppers. I thought we made this distinction a long time ago. and kids don't walk into the Young Adult section, but I'll cover this in a future post (a very near future post).

I think The Perks of Being a Wallflower is well-written, beautifully told and is an important book. But I highly encourage you to read it and form your own opinion. Maybe you won't like it all. Maybe you'll think it's awful and would never let your kids read it. and that's okay. Because just as you don't have any right to restrict it from anyone's view, you have as much right to not like it and tell your kids it isn't acceptable in your house. If you got it from the library; return it. If you bought it; sell it, donate it, throw it out, turn it into avant-garde paper sculpture if you please.

(Just please don't burn it. It's stupid and if nothing else you're making yourself look like an ignorant moron.)

Monday, August 10, 2009

Rant Mondays!~


Welcome all to the first ever Rant Mondays! This is Kitty with this week's topic: book Banning.

Yes, a very broad topic, but just to break it down: Why Book Banners suck!

Have you ever waited for days, weeks, or months for an author to come out with the next book in your favourite series? Most people probably have, but what happens when a book banner gets to it first? CHAOS!!!!!!! It would probably go something like this:

1. A deranged mother (A.K.A Book Banner) buys the book before you can buy it first, and reads it.
2. She finishes the book and starts off thinking 'This isn't the best book I've read...And it's a little inappropriate for my Son and/or daughter(s)'
3. She tells her child(ren) they aren't allowed to read the book because it's too "Mature" for them.
4. The child(ren) go and read the book anyway.
5. The deranged mother (A.K.A. Book Banner) finds out and grounds them
6. She then thinks 'If my child(ren) read this book, even though I told them not to, and I thought it was inappropriate, mothers everywhere must think the same thing as I do.'
7. The mother goes and tells her friends how "Horrible" and "Inappropriate" this book is.
8. The friends agree with her.
9. They join an alliance and go and take on the library/book store about the book.
10. There's a big commotion about that one book on the news or somewhere public.
11. Your own mother reads about it and takes the Book Banner's biased side and tells you you aren't allowed to get that book.
12. And you, being the "Wonderful" "Angel" Child, don't get that book, you can't finish your favourite series, and your life then spirals downward, forcing you to go into a depression and your life ends sooner than you wanted to, all because one mother (Or a small herd of Book Banners) didn't like the book, and thought it wasn't appropriate for anyone.

While on the topic of "Inappropriate" books, let's make a list of some books that "Should" Be banner and why. In the eyes of a book banner.

Breaking Dawn. Yes, it 100% sucks! I personally don't like it what so ever, but we aren't going from my point of view, we're going from a book banners view. So, why should Breaking Dawn be banned? Well....
1. "It has sexual content." Oh yes, blanking out before a sex scene is going to mentally scar your children.
2. "It contains violence." Yes, because some invisible force hitting an invisible force Field is perfect for an "M" rated game.
3. "It promotes stalking." There's no sarcastic comment I can really make...That is kind of true...
4. "Pregnancy and marriage at a young age." They're vampires...They have thousands of years to work on their crappy relationSHIT, and fight in front of the little accident they made because vampire sperm is so acidic to latex.
These are all very good reasons to ban Breaking Dawn but do the Book Banner's ban this book? (try saying that sentence ten times fast.) No. Why? "Because it is a international best seller and kids seem to be enjoying it. Even though I've never read it, I don't want to spoil it for other children who might read this book. Instead, let's go read some random book from the young adult not children's section of the library and see what that's like and find stupid reasons to ban that book, that some children will read."

Harry Potter. I love it! I've seen all the movies and read most of the books, so please note I'm talking about the first 5 books, not the sixth or seventh. (Because it isn't right for someone to talk about the "Inappropriate" things in books without actually reading them.)
1. "It promotes witchcraft." .....No shit Sherlock! It's a book of magic! Of wizards and witches! Oh yes, your sooo going to get unicorns and pixies in a book that deals with a magic school.
2. "Descriptive sexual content." Kissing....And Harry talking about it later should be in the porno section of the adult section in a book store.
3. "It's not a good example for our children, who really like the books and the movies. It encourages homosexuality" (Please note! This quote was found on Wikipedia! Found here: And what? If your homophobic, get over it. Don't read it yourself, but don't try and ban it from a PUBLIC LIBRARY just because you don't like the book.
4. "It's extremly violent." Yes, yes it is. But it doesn't really have that much blood or gore, and it isn't very descriptive of how or what the wound looked liked/how bad it was bleeding.
The sad part is, this amazing series is trying to be banned from libraries all the time, no clue why, except for those few reasons...And those are GREAT reasons to ban a good series.

So in conclusion, remember this is rant Mondays, when the professionalism part of my brain goes to the very back of my head and the rantingness comes to the front. Please don't take anything too seriously, because most of these things are sarcastic. Thank you and have a good, fucking day. =D

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Book Banning and the Stupidity Thereof

Hello there! Meghan here to talk to you about book banning. Which will be a very constant subject on this blog.

Book banning is when one person or a group of people try to remove a book for any number of reasons from a public library, school library, class reading list, or occasionally a bookstore for various reasons. Usually because of sexual or homosexual content that is perceived is "indecent." Books are most often made unavailable to children through this method, without restricting access for adults.

Book banning is not a modern invention. Throughout history, books (most often religious texts) have been banned and even burned (book burnings still happen today, even in North America, twisted huh?). In the Tudor era, Protestants burnt the Lutheran version of the Bible (and the Lutherans themselves if they refused to convert, but that's an entirely different can of worms) because they considered the teachings to be heresy.

Examples of books most commonly challenged in the United States at the moment include To Kill A Mockingbird, Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret, The Color Purple, and The Outsiders.

I personally think book banning is absolutely ridiculous and it's reasoning is flawed. Besides that, it violates civil rights of free speech (at least in Canada and the United States, I'm not sure of laws in other countries). If you do not like the content in a book, you do not have to read it. I repeat, YOU DO NOT HAVE TO READ IT. Isn't free will great?

It bugs me even more when it involves a public library. Specifically people trying to remove a book or relocate it from the children or young adult section to a special "reserve shelf" or the adult's section.

Before I continue I'm going to politely ask you to watch this video, I'll wait until you finish:

Back? Good.

I don't have a problem with someone thinking a particular book or a group of books isn't appropriate for their children. But a public library is for THE PUBLIC. Meaning EVERYONE. Meaning OTHER PEOPLE WHO OFTEN HAVE DIFFERENT BELIEFS THAN YOUR OWN. And nobody has any right to say "This book is inappropriate for all children who visit this library ". Because the same book that would be inappropriate for your child might really help another. That's why there are books about abuse, rape, drugs, alcohol, sex, homosexuality and bisexuality, because there are kids out there who don't have anyone to talk to and they need these kinds of books. That's why they belong on the shelves.

So, instead of removing a book from the library or putting it on a special reserve shelf that requires parental permission to check out, how about actually going to the library with your children and making sure what they're checking out is appropriate for your household?

And putting that responsibility on the librarians is stupid. The librarians are there to do their job, not act in loco parentis for your children or anyone's children. They are there to serve everyone, not just you.

We may not like what we hear or see or read but we have the ability to not listen or not look. Books are ideas, banning a book is the same as putting tape over someone's mouth.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


Meghan: Hello all! Welcome to Tolerance!

Kitty: Hope you enjoy this blog with rants, free speech and other amazing, super cool, totally awesome, sweet things like that! =D

M: Thank you for that long line of adjectives Kitty. On this blog we'll be discussing issues such as censorship, book banning and bigotry.

K: We REALLY hope you enjoy this, even if some on posts will be more, uh...profanity-laden... (K: meaning...? M: cursing...-.- K: I see!) ANYWAYS

M: We'll try to be professional most of the time, aside from Rant Mondays!...Which will be Kitty's job. Because who doesn't need a little rant on a Monday?

K: Just pleased be warned that my ranting will contain much cursing and please dont be offended by anything! =)

M: We'll also be doing some interviews of people related to the various topics on this blog, so stay tuned!

K: Until next Time! This is Kitty, signing off! *Feels like a news reporter*

M: We aren't news reporters -.-! Bye for now!