Banned Books Today

Banned BooksThe ACLU chapter active in my state is holding a celebration of banned books next week up in Charleston. If you’re in the area, I invite you to go and see what is happening today in the world of banned books. As an added attraction, they have provided a nifty brochure (pdf) showing many of the recently banned or challenged books from around the country. If you’re not in this area, take some time and find out what is being done in your area to celebrate Banned Books Week and become involved.

One of the problems with the documenting of “Banned Books” is that vast lists of historical aversion to many important pieces of literature tend to clutter the more current activities designed to control the lives of other people, especially younger adults, when it comes to telling them what they should and should not read. I like this idea of just hi-lighting recent activities: it shows that closed-mindedness is still common in America and doesn’t obscure the issue with archival listings dragged up from a long and sad history of book banning.

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What Does the ACLU Think?

ACLUFirst: Yes, I am a member, or as we used to say, a card carrying member of the American Civil Liberties Union. Back in the 1950s, before I really had any clear idea of what was going on, many of the teachers in my school would discuss the ACLU and some sort of allegiance document they were being forced to sign in order to keep their jobs teaching in California schools. It was the time of Joe McCarthy and the shameful House Un-American Activities committee. At that time my Dad was a teacher and I expect I picked up some of the gossip and concern from him and his colleagues.

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What happens when your computer begins to act irrationally then refuses to do simple things and eventually winds up in the backseat of the van on the way to the nearest repair shop? Well, in my case it looks like I may have a new hard drive after a conference on Monday and I’m not expecting the contents of the old hard drive to ever be seen in these parts again.

Too bad. I have through the years run many backup packages to regularly secure my data but in the last few years I realized that only a few of my files and folders are not recreatable via the internet so I have been manually saving my stuff to a large drive on my local network. Last night I brought my old laptop up to date (as far as the old processor would allow) and spent a while reviewing my status. It seems that I have several types of data that are not represented in my backup scheme and I might be hurting for my lack of attention. One big, big one is my eBook collection that has been gathered over the internet for years. The titles loaded onto my iPad are, of course, saved, but all the books I loaded into Calibre or just had sitting in folders waiting for future organization are now memories.

But two points are important to consider: first, the contents of my hard drive might be recoverable, and second, if all is lost it becomes a great opportunity to have yet another radical change in my life. Do I need all that music from the 1950s? Would I ever have read all those pulp novels or adventure fiction series? How many of those secondary applications did I ever actually use?

Yes, a major systems disaster can actually improve your life. Now I’ll have time to write that novel and maybe even run for senator in South Carolina … it’s about time South Carolina was represented in Washington by an ACLU card carrying anarchist with a deep disregard for ancient religious myths.