Some books ARE offensive. Thank heaven! Books can be for sheer enjoyment, be informative, expand one’s horizons, and even eye-opening. They may confirm one’s beliefs or challenge them. What some deem inappropriate, others may see as a catalyst to change. Banning books in school libraries is becoming a reality. Who has the authority to declare a book ‘inappropriate’ for another’s child? The minority decision is arbitrarily imposed on others who hold differing points of view. The mantra is "keep our children innocent."

The nuclear family is no longer the norm so why pretend otherwise? Single parents, blended families, foster children, grandparents raising grandchildren, and two mommies or two daddies are contemporary configurations. Even our youngest children are exposed to these realities so why "protect" them?

Some books are necessarily sexually informative. Explicit? Who’s to say? Age-appropriate may determine suitability of some books. However, using passages out-of-context as grounds to ban a book for older students ignores other important themes in the book.

Make some adults uncomfortable? Racism and sexism are realities. Denying students the opportunity to be exposed to these truths will help perpetuate the problems "isms" create. History needs to be inclusive. Covering up slavery and bigotry does a disservice to our students. George Santayana said, "Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it."

Deciding a book is inappropriate is subjective. No one has the right to censor what books are available to others. Freedom of speech?

The Rev. Karen Caspersen, Woodstock

The Rev. Karen Caspersen is an ordained Lutheran pastor for 27 years and lives in Woodstock.

(4) comments


Dear Reverend Caspersen, Here's where I'm getting some of my information and it rings true to me.

“The First Amendment gives anyone living in the U.S., including students, the freedom to express any opinion they like. Students in public high schools can access many different opinions, stories, and ideas through their high school libraries. Local boards of education are responsible for choosing books that go in the library, as well as removing books that might not be appropriate for the students. The Supreme Court has not ruled on how Boards of Education choose books to place in a library. However, once a book is in a library, school boards may remove it only under certain circumstances.

The Supreme Court set the standard for banning books in 1982 (Island Trees School District v. Pico). In that case, the school board attempted to ban a number of books because they were "anti-American, anti-Christian, anti-Sem[i]tic, and just plain filthy," including titles such as Slaughterhouse Five, The Naked Ape, Down These Mean Streets, Best Short Stories of Negro Writers, and Go Ask Alice.

The Justices were unable to come to a majority agreement and instead issued what is known as a "plurality" opinion, in which some combination of justices signed on to three different opinions in order to render an outcome. The standard from Pico which governs book banning decisions is that school officials may not remove books from the school library simply because they dislike the ideas in the book. However, school officials may remove a book from a school library if it is inappropriate for the children of the school. For example, if Lolita was in an elementary school library, the school board could probably remove it because of its highly sexual and violent content.”

I understand your perspective; however conversely , if a book contained racial slurs, glorified the KKK or depicted minorities or women in a demeaning manner, I would hope you would want them removed from our school libraries. Best, Ros


Rev. Caspersen. Does this mean you would be okay with a book placed into an elementary school library with sexually explicit pictures of consenting adults having sex? While I agree it can be subjective in some cases it can also be clear cut in what should be censored.


Please read my words again under 'sexuality' - "Age-appropriate may determine suitability of some books". I agree with your subjective but clear cut comment. Interesting that the main issue of disagreement with me concerns sexuality.


O.K., understand now, thanks .

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