Monday, October 1, 2012

A Troubling Non-Conversation

 Graphic from

On Friday, a *new follower on Twitter wrote:
 *I have blacked out this person's user name because I don't have - and have no way to obtain - permission to quote him/her.

Mindful that September 30 is the first day of Banned Books Week, I saw this contact as an opportunity to seize a teachable moment. My responses were intended to be as tactful as possible:

The "conversation" did not go quite as I had hoped. The questioner had also contacted librarian Patrick Sweeney (I have no idea why we were chosen), who was happy to have me include some of his remarks:

*Scary Stories series by Alvin Schwartz

When Patrick mentioned that Huckleberry Finn and the Bible are more frequently challenged than Scary Stories, our questioner not only bailed from the discussion but blocked both of us from following his/her Tweets.

I'm sorry that this person took offense at our responses. Challenging a book that is being used in a classroom or library is serious business. By limiting access to literature and information sources, we are limiting personal rights. The American Library Association's Office for Intellectual Freedom provides a general overview of the issue. As I pointed out, individual school districts should have challenge policies in place and available to parents.

The fact that someone asked these questions is good. The problem lies in the refusal to engage in any type of meaningful dialog. You can't understand what you choose to condemn out of hand.

"Everyone is in favor of free speech. Hardly a day passes without its being extolled, but some people's idea of it is that they are free to say what they like, but if anyone else says anything back, that is an outrage." -Winston Churchill

"Every burned book enlightens the world." -Ralph Waldo Emerson