Anyone who has had much to do with publishing, or anyone who cares about books and free speech, will be familiar with the American Library Association's Office for Intellectual Freedom, an enduring champion of the First Amendment and the public's right to read whatever they please -- without the interference and censorship of self-appointed guardians of inoffensiveness and sexual purity.

Every year, the ALA mounts Banned Books Week, a nationwide celebration of our freedom to read. And every year it issues an unnerving list of Frequently Challenged Books. Unnerving because of the pettiness and obsession betrayed by the people who try to have books banned in local libraries, school boards, and even bookshops. For years, most of the attempts to ban books have come from fundamentalist Christian groups; the reasons have mainly been sex, offensive language, or "controversial issues," whatever they are. God forbid that anyone in the United States be exposed to "controversial issues."

Read the complete original version of this item...