The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution seems very straightforward when it says “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.” That means in this country, we won’t be subjected to things like the book burnings of Hitler’s Germany or the death sentence imposed on Salman Rushdie (author of The Satanic Verses) in a fatwa by the Ayatollah Khomeini. Censorship and book banning is not so straightforward, however.
On June 11, I will be talking at the Red Lodge, Montana Forum for Provocative Issues about the ethics, morality, legality, and reality of book banning in the United States. I’ve been compiling real-world examples, and I’d love to get additional examples and feedback from my readers about the subject as I prepare for this talk. The subjects I’ll be covering include:
- What types of books the Federal Government can actually ban
- What other government entities can and cannot ban books
- Book burning in the United States (more recently than you think!)
- Books that have been banned or challenged in Montana
- How book banning affects authors and publishers
- The process of banning a book
- Banned Book Week and the ALA/ABA fight for the freedom to read
I will bring backup materials for attendees to peruse after the talk, including lists of banned and challenged books.