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Would one word stop you from reading / buying a book?

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GreenBeans

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I agree with Jaina. In this case the word scrotum was used in correct context and in a reasonable way. It wasn't just throwing "bad" words around to cause a reaction.

If Jaina's character uses bad words and it demonstrates his character, (or lack thereof) then it belongs in the book.

What I object to is Hollywood adding &%$* or %$#* every other word just to get an R rating, or for shock value when its totally not necessary.

This is much ado about nothing, IMHO. Good grief, don't people have more important things to worry about than the word scrotum?

I have to agree with Sam here. OJ Simpson is another matter entirely.

GB
#31 - February 16, 2007, 10:45 AM

wyomachinook

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Appendix. Cartilage. Intestine.
Somebody stop me!!!

:)
#32 - February 16, 2007, 10:48 AM

Not really, CK. No one read O.J's book.  The condemnation and rejoicing of its removal was based on four words: If I Did It and a verbal description. Granted, none of those words were scrotum, but the book was pulled based on the outcry of thousands of people who had never read the book. When a book is challenged in schools, the first question asked of the challenger is "Have you read the book?"

If it's not black and white, then who gets to be the moral compass? Either it is or isn't censorship. If you believe in intellectual freedom, then you have to believe in and defend all intellectual freedom, not just the thoughts you agree with.

But I don't really see either case as censorship. I see them as business decisions. Publishing is about making money. Anyone who has ever received a letter from an editor stating they loved the work but didn't think it had a broad enough market, knows this.

Editors don't purchase every manuscript they read. Why? Because they don't like the words in many of them, or at least how the words are put together.  Is this censorship?

Bookstores don't purchase every book that's ever been published. Why? Because they know it won't sell in their community or it doesn't fit the mission of the store.  Is this censorship?

Libraries can't purchase every book either. If they choose a book because it isn't AR or is too long, is that censorship?

See, I think this is a selection issue, not a  censorship issue.  We may or may not agree with the selection policy or criteria, but it's not censorship.

Now, if the school says, the children may not read this book no matter where they got it from (purchased it, got it from the public library), then there's a problem.

I have read the book -- twice. Personally I didn't find it all that wonderful, given the other books that were eligible. I wasn't particularly offended by the word scrotum, but I knew it would raise red flags. Personally, I was much more offended by the cavalier eavesdropping of a child on a 12 Step program with no consequences.  And I wonder why no one has taken issue with that?  I wonder if we live in such voyuristic society that easvesdropping on a highly personal and private session isn't seen as inappropriate for young children to be doing.

keep writing and reading,
dave r
#33 - February 16, 2007, 10:51 AM
Just One More Page
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I disagree with pulling the OJ book - I agree it was censorship. I'm just saying the issue is completely different. I don't think the two situations compare. One is based on a juvenile fear of the word "scrotum" (EEEK! I must go wash my hands for having typed that!) and the other is trying to make money off of a tragedy and a crime.
#34 - February 16, 2007, 11:04 AM
Bazooka Joe says, I have the ability to become outstanding in literature.
http://samhranac.blogspot.com/

Paulahy

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 Censorship belongs to the parents.  I am the gatekeeper for my child, not the librarian.


Amen to this.  I feel this way about a lot of issues (music, tv etc...) and if more people felt that way I think the world would run a little smoother.

And Joni, I agree with your statement "I feel we need to introduce our adult audiences to the real world of tweens and teens."

I used a word in So Not The Drama that made me cringe when I wrote it.  But it felt like the word the character would utter even in all of its political incorrectness.   After all, teens are rarely politically correct.

-P
#35 - February 16, 2007, 11:09 AM
« Last Edit: February 16, 2007, 11:14 AM by Miss P »

That's like people being offended by the word esophagus.

Appendix. Cartilage. Intestine.

I am offended by all of these things. Could you refrain from using the names of body parts please? I have body image issues. Don't make me report you to the mods.

Kelly
#36 - February 16, 2007, 11:12 AM
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CJRay

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Could you refrain from using the names of body parts please? I have body image issues. Don't make me report you to the mods.
Kelly
:dr   





#37 - February 16, 2007, 11:27 AM

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See, I think this is a selection issue, not a  censorship issue.  We may or may not agree with the selection policy or criteria, but it's not censorship.

Agreed.  And I realize that librarians, esp. school librarians have a limited budget to work with.  So, I would choose some of the best books and Lucky definitely counts.

Vijaya

#38 - February 16, 2007, 12:13 PM
BOUND (Bodach Books, 2018)
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Author of over 60 books and 60 magazine pieces

lydap

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I blogged about this today, link below if you're interested. Now that I see the context, I was prescient re: dogs.  :evil:

mucus, tibia, tympanic membrane
#39 - February 16, 2007, 12:48 PM

I talked with our librarian and we've only had a few "challenges" by parents recently. Of course, Harry P. still makes some people cringe (That quiditch game must be very rough on the scrotum ;D) and one of Sonya Sones books. The latter was pretty graphic as far as content goes and wasn't really appropriate for elementary school kids. Raised quite a fuss, though. I wouldn't have read the O.J. confession anyway, but that's my choice. I'm sure a lot of copies would've been bought by the curious. I thinks it's a shame that the editor (?) or someone closely associated with acquiring that book lost her job. That stinks! :smoke
#40 - February 16, 2007, 12:53 PM

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Comparing a library to a publishing house or bookstore isn't working for me either, I'm afraid. I believe a library serves a different function than either of these: to educate and enlighten. This is a Newberry Award winning book we're talking about and now people that don't have the money to buy a copy won't be able to read it.
#41 - February 16, 2007, 12:55 PM
Film school grad. Time traveller. Billy Bragg fan. Canadian/Irish novelist of character-driven fiction from sci-fi to slice of life.

chickennoodle

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Gosh. Maybe I'm alone in this, but I'd like to thank the librarians in question. I'm finding all this heated discussion about scrotums, censorship, and tympanic membranes rather titillating.   :o

Yo! Self-censoring librarians! Thanks for the hot tip!

Now I'm off to buy the book! And on my way I plan to touch my uvula.

Leslie

#42 - February 16, 2007, 01:05 PM
« Last Edit: February 16, 2007, 01:07 PM by lesmuir »

This topic begs the question: would one word make you read/buy a book?   
#43 - February 16, 2007, 01:24 PM
http://stephanielreed.com

"If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes." Mark 9:23

mucus, tibia, tympanic membrane

titillating.   I plan to touch my uvula.

I warned you.

Amishka... Looky at this wanton use of anatomical terminology  :spaz   :spaz   :spaz
#44 - February 16, 2007, 01:41 PM
45 POUNDS (MORE OR LESS)
Viking, 2013

I in no way have a problem with scrotums  ;), but I do second DaveR's notion that this is a selection issue, not censorship. When budgets are so tight, and there are tons of wonderful books that didn't win the newbery, maybe the librarian didn't want to deal with "nutso parents" raising a stink about nothing. Her time would be better spent doing something other than answering nasty e-mails and phonecalls. And the public library will have this book, so if a kid doesn't have money, they will still have access to it. Parents who cherish good literature will find it for their kids. And think how much more attention it's getting now!!!

Happy Scrotuming!
#45 - February 16, 2007, 01:52 PM
ESCAPING THE TIGER, Bank Street's "Best Books of the Year"
http://lauramanivong.wordpress.com

Happy Scrotuming!

 :dr   :dr   :dr   :dr   :dr   :dr

It's a verb now? What the heck does that mean? (No, wait, maybe I don't want to know.)

 
#46 - February 16, 2007, 01:55 PM
45 POUNDS (MORE OR LESS)
Viking, 2013

Then again, if my local libraries started caving in to a minority just because they were vocal, I would have to get vocal for the other side. So she's damned either way. She might as well just make a policy out of stocking winners of major awards and tell everyone to go look up the words they don't understand.
#47 - February 16, 2007, 01:56 PM
Bazooka Joe says, I have the ability to become outstanding in literature.
http://samhranac.blogspot.com/

"She's damned either way."

Agreed. Not a fun position to be in.
#48 - February 16, 2007, 01:58 PM
ESCAPING THE TIGER, Bank Street's "Best Books of the Year"
http://lauramanivong.wordpress.com

amyo

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Funny that CJ used the word "hoohah", which was recently substituted for the clinically correct term "vagina" in ads for The Vagina Monologues in Atlantic Beach, Florida.


I'm sorry - The HOOHAH Monologues???

I'm speechless.

Yes.  Truly.
#49 - February 16, 2007, 02:09 PM

chickennoodle

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This is an interesting thread. Just stirring the pot again...

I think the argument brought to light by PW and others was that individual librarians/teachers who, because of their personal objection to the word "scrotum," made the decision for their library patrons/student bodies not to stock the Newbery winner. Is this a selection issue or censorship? If a librarian makes the decision not buy Harry Potter books based only on his/her personal opinion that the books condone witchcraft, what would we call that? Personally, I don't want anyone to decide for me what my child can or cannot read simply because they themselves have personal gripe with the author's choice of vocabulary or subject matter.

Scrotumly,

Leslie
#50 - February 16, 2007, 02:25 PM

And I'd be standing right beside you, Sam -- if it were a public library.

I've been tapped as an "expert" to speak at four challenge hearings and to mediate one. Parents in challenge situations can develop a mob mentality. I've seen picketing, vegetables thrown, and hate mail. One teacher had to move out of town because after the school board ruled in favor of the parents, the threats, property damage, and  late night phone calls kept coming. When her dog was stolen, she quit and left. I was kept informed of this, and even I was a little weary because I'd spoken on her behalf (and I lived across town). The book? The Giver.

I've seen careers destroyed over this, and good librarians who have inspired hundreds of kids suddenly became shells of human beings. Many times the principal and/or the school board will not back the librarian. There are sometimes legal fees involved. It is very, very ugly. As LRM calls them, nutso, is sometimes the best kind of parent you encounter in these situations.

Librarians know about these stories. None of them want to go through something like this.

We don't know the community, situation, or background of any of the librarians who said they were not going to buy the book because of the word scrotum.  And there's no doubt about it that some are self-censoring based strictly on a personal aversion to the word. However, I'd bet that for the majority of them, it's not about self-censoring but about self-preservation.

keep writing and reading,
dave

BTW if you really want to read a great book with tons of male genitalia references (both scientific and slang), pick up Laurie Halse Anderson's TWISTED. I just finished the ARC.  It comes out next month.  Fantastic book.
#51 - February 16, 2007, 02:30 PM
Just One More Page
www.riterdave.blogspot.com

And I'd be standing right beside you, Sam -- if it were a public library.

Public - that's the key. Private collectors can stock nothing but Cajun cook books, as far as I care.

And I wasn't censoring your reply - I was offended by the violence so I chose to leave it off. 8-) KIDDING! You made a very good point about how a few crazy people take things too far, particularly in violent America. It takes a great deal of courage to hold what should be quiet jobs in this country, sometimes.
#52 - February 16, 2007, 02:41 PM
Bazooka Joe says, I have the ability to become outstanding in literature.
http://samhranac.blogspot.com/

Funny, Sam.
On the serious side, you know the people I feel most sorry for? First, Susan Patron. At a time that she should be on cloud nine, she's taking a beating -- trying to walk that fine line between author and librarian and justifiying her book. Regardless of how I feel about the book, as a writer I think it must be awful for her.
I also feel for the three honor book winners. (I've read them too). With all the attention on Higher Power, Rules, Hattie Big Sky, and Penny from Heaven aren't getting much notice.

Now for the good news. With all this great discussion (and I do mean that), I've posted so much that I'll soon have 3 stars next to my name!

keep writing,
dave r
#53 - February 16, 2007, 02:56 PM
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chickennoodle

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Thanks, Dave, for sharing your experiences. Depressing stuff. It's a sorry state of affairs in this country when self-preservation keeps award-winning books off our library shelves.

I'm in total agreement with the fact that librarians and teachers have to deal with kooky jaded parents. One of my best friends is a school librarian and I hear her harrowing tales all the time. But when "selection" vs "censorship" was brought up, I simply had to play devil's advocate.

Again, this is a great thread, garnering lots of interesting (and hilarious) opinions!

Leslie
#54 - February 16, 2007, 03:03 PM

That's what I like abou this board. We can debate, disagree, and still be civil. I've been on other boards and you know some of them can be such ... well, never mind.

And to answer the post question: Yes, I think the word HOOHA (you know what word I mean) on the cover would definitely stop me from buying/reading a book! (lol)

keep writing,
dave r
#55 - February 16, 2007, 03:34 PM
« Last Edit: February 16, 2007, 03:36 PM by dave r »
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wyomachinook

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#56 - February 16, 2007, 03:49 PM

Jaina

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You guys are nuts. 

Did I just say that?  In this thread?

I meant . . . you guys are some kind of crazy!
#57 - February 16, 2007, 03:57 PM

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Wow, interesting experiences, Dave R. But I would maintain that if that is indeed the state of reality, then we need to use it as wake-up calls and motivation for those like us (who all surveys say are in the majority) to rally more support for librarians, etc., who are put into those self-preservation positions by weak-kneed administrations etc. -- rather than allowing "self-preservation" become a justification for caving to a minority when making decisions about how our (majority) tax dollars are spent, and rather than allowing what amounts to a lack of law enforcement to drive people from their careers and/or homes.

On the bright side for writers, this kind of controversy virtually always increases sales and readership, so it's ironic that those who would make censorship, or even "selection" decisions, actually harm their own cause in the bigger picture.
#58 - February 16, 2007, 04:23 PM
The Farwalker Trilogy
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Reality Leak

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Paulahy

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You guys are nuts. 


No, no, you mean we're scrotums.  :dr

Honestly, I can't think of one word that would make me walk away from a book.  One word without context means very little.

Scrotumly,

P

(I love how writers can turn any word into a verb!!!)

#59 - February 16, 2007, 06:26 PM

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This issue and dave r's examples are more proof that it's tough to be a YA or Children's Librarian.  Some librarians are ready to battle for their readers' rights. A couple months ago I went to see a teen librarian at a public library.  I didn't tell the girl at the desk why I was there (she didn't ask).  My kids were with me though, so when she paged the librarian she said, "There's a mother here."  When the librarian saw me, she said, "Oh, good, I thought it was another outraged parent going to throw a fit over something their kids checked out."  But she still carries those books.  She does a teen reader group & an anime group.  She's very cool.  (And, no, she's not a 'young hip librarian,' but her teen reader group seems to think she's as hip as anyone 'young'--which is even better.)

OTOH, there's the quietly censoring ones. I don't know if it's because it IS tough/they don't want the fight, or if they believe that their taste is the benchmark, or if it's about the possible consequences.  I do know that the stealth censors frighten me. Last year I tried to donate some YA books to a local school.  One book, a brand new hardcover of a bestseller, was rejected by the librarian because "the parents here might not approve." There was no discussion. There was no chance that the "questionable" book would end up in the kids' hands.  In truth, I don't think librarians quietly censoring is uncommon.

I"m not good with any censoring (even OJ), but at least this case is getting attention and sparking conversations.  If a case is getting discussion, it's possible to thwart the censors.  It's the times when books are silently refused or not stocked that scare me. 
#60 - February 16, 2007, 07:16 PM

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