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Don’t read that book!


By Whistler Public Library staff

The eighteenth annual observance of Freedom to Read Week will be marked Feb. 24-March 2, 2002. Freedom to Read Week, sponsored by Canada’s book and magazine producers, distributors, libraries and readers, is intended to focus public attention on the vital issue of intellectual freedom.

As long as humans have enjoyed the freedom to express themselves, some have wished to curtail that freedom. As some of us thrive on voicing our thoughts and feelings and experiences, others fear the consequences of those thoughts. It is not surprising that Freedom to Read Week has become an annual event in Canada, because the right to free expression remains as sensitive and vital an issue as ever.

The Whistler Public Library will mark Freedom to Read Week with information and a display of books which have been challenged in B.C. libraries and stores from 1990 to 2001.

Here is a short history of censorship in B.C.:

1919 — Capital by Karl Marx : banned from Canada

1930 — Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence : banned from Canada

1933 — Ulysses by James Joyce : banned from Canada

1949 — The Naked and the Dead by Norman Mailer : banned from Canada

1958 — Lolita by Vladimir Vladimivovich Nabokov : banned from Canada

1958 — Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller : banned from Canada

1964 — Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger : removed from "recommended reading" lists in Victoria schools

1975 — Who Has Seen the Wind by W.O. Mitchell : parents in Keremeos appealed to Education Minister to remove book from school bookshelves

1989 — Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie : banned from Canada

1992 — The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks : removed from Kamloops school district libraries

Interestingly, five of the above titles appeared on the Modern Library Board’s 100 Best Novels of the 20 th Century list. For more information on why these books and many others were challenged, come to library and visit our display.

And finally, did you know that we are not immune to intellectual freedom challenges here in Whistler? In 1987 the book Headhunter by Michael Slade was challenged at the Whistler Public Library by a patron, on the grounds that it did not promote "good Christian values," and that it was "offensive and gruesome." In 1998, the book James Dobson’s War on America by Gil Alexander-Moergerle was challenged on the grounds that it was "a pack of lies." In 2000 the children’s book The bear and the fly by Paula Winter was challenged on the grounds of "depictions of violence."

The Board and the Library Director take such complaints very seriously. The above books were considered, read, and the final decision was to keep them on the shelves.