Browseabout Books and ABFFE oppose the banning of The Miseducation of Cameron Post
Browseabout Books in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware has donated over 100 books of The Miseducation of Cameron Post since it was removed from the Cape Henlopen School’s summer reading list. Noticing that sales of the book spiked as a result, the store decided to increase its impact by giving away the book for free. The effort paid off when the pop culture website, AfterEllen, publicized the donation and got its viewers to send copies of the book for the bookstore to distribute.
The Miseducation of Cameron Post’s free publicity began with the Cape Henlopen school board’s decision to remove it from the Delaware school’s summer reading list due to ‘obscene language’. In response, the book’s author, Emily M. Danforth, sent a fierce letter to the board that was later published in The Huffington Post. In the letter she questioned why her book was singled out, when several of the other books on the list contain profanities but none feature a lesbian relationship. In her view it was the book’s gay positive themes with which the board took issue. ABFFE’s Kids’ Right to Read (KRRP) sent a letter in solidarity, signed by other prominent civil liberties groups, criticizing the board for not following its own protocol for book review. District policies stipulate that a book can only be removed after a written complaint is filed and a review committee is called to evaluate the book’s merits; neither of which the board followed.
The bookstore’s efforts have been well-received by the Rehoboth Beach community. Browseabout manager, Susan McAnelly, said that the store has already heard from one teen who credits the book with changing her life. “It takes guts to take a stand against censorship. Their experience shows again that when a bookstore fights for free speech the community follows” ABFFE’s Chris Finan said. ABFFE has offered the store its support and is prepared to step in if needed.
The very latest news is that the board has finally taken notice and has voted to reconsider its decision to pull the book at its next meeting on July 24 and to commit to following its written policy for reviewing book challenges.
SupremE COURT UPHOLDS PRE-enforcement precedent
In a victory for free-speech loving booksellers, publishers and librarians, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled this week that a person under fear of prosecution can challenge the constitutionality of a law even if it has not yet been enforced. This is precisely the outcome that ABFFE had hoped for when it signed onto Media Coalition’s brief for Susan B. Anthony List v. Driehaus. Bringing a more partisan balance to a case brought by Susan B. Anthony List, a pro-life organization, we made sure that the free speech issues at the heart of the case were not ignored. Fortunately, the Court agreed and upheld the "pre-enforcement" precedent set by booksellers in the landmark Virginia v. American Booksellers Association.
Read the Supreme Court’s opinion.
Protest at Tattered Cover Continues
Demonstrators are continuing to picket the Tattered Cover Book Store in Denver in an effort to force it to abandon its long-standing policy of non-partisanship on political issues. Several groups that advocate on behalf of the homeless began demonstrating at Tattered Cover in December because the store belongs to the Denver Downtown Partnership, which supports an ordinance that bans "urban camping" on city streets. The protesters, sometimes accompanied by bullhorns and drums, are urging customers to boycott Tattered Cover.
In a statement that is being handed to demonstrators and customers, Tattered Cover says that its policy of non-partisanship is one of the ways it promotes free expression for its customers. "We do not inhibit them by pushing our own individual agendas or any official store position; nor do we allow a vocal minority from outside to coerce us into deciding for those who visit our store what they 'should' be reading, thinking or promoting," the statement says.
Tattered Cover has a long history of advocacy on behalf of free speech--in the state legislature, Congress, and the courts-both state and federal. Owner Joyce Meskis says this is the only exception the store will make in its policy of non-partisanship.
ABFFE's president wins Hefner First Amendment Award!
ABFFE's president Chris Finan has been named the winner of the 2014 Hugh M. Hefner First Amendment Award in the category of law for his book National Security and Free Speech: The Debate Since 9/11 (International Debate Education Association), reported BusinessWire. The award, established in 1979, honors individuals who have made significant contributions toward protecting and enhancing First Amendment rights in this country.
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Who's Afraid of A Few Chilean Ghosts?
Apparently ghosts have scared the heck out of some parents in North Carolina. Isabel Allende's The House of Spirits was set to be taught last year in a 10th grade honors class in Watauga High School, North Carolina, but instead was left to gather dust as the community debated its merits. The conflict began when a few parents complained about sexual situations described in the book. Although the teacher, Mary Kent Whitaker, offered students the opportunity to "opt out" and read Moby Dick, these parents wanted the book removed from the curriculum. Since then, the book, and the kids who wanted to read it, have been in limbo. Acacia O'Connor, coordinator of the Kids' Right to Project(KRRP), has been following the case, offering encouragement to the teacher and her students and alerting the press. KRRP was co-founded by ABFFE and National Coalition Against Censorship. It provides resources to students, parents, teachers and librarians who are fighting book challenges at the local level.
The brouhaha over the book is surprising considering The House of Spirits is included in North Carolina's Common Core Curriculum for 10th grade literature classes. Allende has spoken out in support of Ms. Whitaker, who is Watauga Teacher of the Year. Students have also been very active in defense of the book and their teacher.
After several KRRP letters, school board meetings and pressure from the ACLU, the school board finally met on February 27 to decide the fate of House of Spirits. A close 3-2 vote in a favor of retaining the book finally sealed the matter(at least for the 2014 school year.) Unfortunately, FOX News aired a report several days later, condemning the book and commending the parents who fought to remove it.