The Marshfield School Board voted last night to take under advisement a proposal from parents to ban about a dozen books from area high school libraries. The controversial topic, proposed by Parents for the Christian Way, was debated in a public comment session for over an hour. The Parents for Christian Way group presented a petition with 5,000 signatures supporting the ban of such books as “Catcher in the Rye,” and “The Color Purple.” Group President Grace Shanker defended the ban. “These books are filled with filth, depravity, and godlessness,” Shanker stated. In opposition Sarah Vopart, an English teacher at Centerville State College called these books “classics” and the attempt to ban them a “disgrace.” “This religious group might have you believe otherwise,” Vopart said, “but censorship is not the American way.”
The United States has a long history of attempting to ban books that are considered morally incompatible to our culture or indecent. Thomas Paine’s “The Right’s of Man,” a work in defense of the American Revolution was proscribed by the British Empire and Paine was later tried for treason. Today the American Library Association (ALA) publishes the Top 100 list of books frequently banned or challenged. Famous titles in the 2003 list include: “The Chocolate War” (#4), “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” (#5) and “Harry Potter” (#7). The ALA annually celebrates the Banned Books Week during the last week in September when it encourages people to enjoy the freedom to choose. The Oct. 2001 edition of “Education Reporter,” a conservative newspaper published by Eagle Forum, says Banned Books Week is not about banning books. “It's about vilifying parents who raise questions about reading materials assigned in schools or available in school libraries that contain violence, obscenity, or are not age appropriate,” states the online columnist.