A Feb. 20 editorial applauded the Williamsville School Board for refusing to remove a book that 295 parents object to. The News characterized the issue as one of censorship.
Since I know some of the complaining parents and have listened to them, I think there is reason to refuse to accept the editors' predictable characterization of this issue as one of freedom of speech versus censorship.
The parents object to the book because of its portrayal of adolescent sexuality and its excessive profanity. They think it is inappropriate for middle school children, ages 10 to 14. It offends them that the book has been selected for inclusion in their children's middle school library.
A middle school library has budget and space constraints. A positive decision must be made before a book is placed on the shelf. The presence of this book in the school library therefore implies some level of approval of its content as being appropriate for the students in the school.
These parents question the effectiveness of the judgment that went into selecting this book. They have talked with other middle school librarians and were told that many other schools decided against acquiring the book because of what it contained. The parents believe that the contents and the language of the book promote modes of behavior that the school itself tries to discourage.
When the parents went to the board, they were questioning the administration's judgment. As far as I can tell, they have good grounds for doing so. They were no more engaged in censorship than is a school librarian, who in choosing to buy a particular book rather than 10 other titles that could have been ordered with the same money, is censoring the content of those 10 titles.
LEE S. DRYDEN