Censorship Is Alive and Well In Texas:
School Libraries Pull 55 Books, ACLU Reports

by David R. Parvo

Fifty-five books were removed from some school libraries during the 1997-98 school year, a report by the American Civil Liberties of Texas says. The books range from the more familiar "Chocolate Wars" and "The Lord of the Flies" to "The World's Most Powerful Rifles and Handguns." "What is obvious is that censorship is alive and well in Texas. We do not seem to believe that children have brains," said Jay Jacobson, ACLU executive director. This is the second year that the ACLU has compiled the report after sending open records requests to all Texas school districts to learn which books were challenged or banned. For the 1997-98 school year, a majority - 917 - of the 1,059 school districts responded to the open records request. The report found that there were 141 formal challenges resulting in 55 books being banned. Of those, Judy Blume's were challenged the most - five times. Two of those challenges resulted in books being banned.

The situation found in Texas' school system is symptomatic of the situation in which the United States finds itself in. The system has eroded dramatically in the past 20 years or so. Students are given inadequate educations, at best. In comparison to other school systems around the world, the US falls behind dramatically. This is a problem that needs to be addressed. What do school board members and legislators in this fair country do to solve this problem? Ban books!!! That will solve the problem. Here at the ROC, we believe that students (who happen to be citizens of this country as well) have the right to read whatever they desire. Neither a book, nor a record, nor a movie or a television show will cause a violent crime, or any other crime for that matter. It is the opinion of this writer that it is the decline of education and opportunity in this country that has directly led to any increase in crime rates.

Resticting students' access to books is extremely counterproductive to improving education in this country. Mark Twain once said: "I want to talk about idiots, but first, let me talk about school board members . . . but I repeat myself." Unfortunately, that situation holds true today, and it is not relegated to Texas. Contact your local ACLU chapter to get yourself informed on the banned books in your area at: http://www.aclu.org

To view the ACLU of Texas Website:

To contact the ACLU of Texas, please use the following:
Joseph L. Jacobsen, Executive Director
P.O. Box 3629
Austin, TX 78764
Phone: (512)441-0077

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