Charles Brownstein of the CBLDF on 'SideScrollers' GN Removal
'Right to Choose'
Published: 09/13/2012 04:23pm
Charles Brownstein, Executive Director of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, comments on the removal of the SideScrollers graphic novel from a ninth grade summer reading list (see "Ed West on 'SideScrollers' GN Removal" and "'SideScrollers' Graphic Novel Removed from Summer Reading List").
CBLDF strives to protect the freedom to read. Our work is dedicated to ensuring that individual adults and parents of children are free to make their own decisions about what comics they want in their household. One of the core principles we strive to protect is that parents have a right to choose what comics are appropriate for their children to read, and that all parents should be afforded that same freedom of choice.
In Enfield, Connecticut, where Matthew Loux's graphic novel SideScrollers was removed as an option from a summer reading list, one resident's complaint, a resident who was not an affected parent, took away other parents' freedom to choose whether or not they felt they wanted their child to read Mr. Loux's critically acclaimed work.
We don't dispute that any parent has a right to complain about a book's presence on their child's school's list of options for summer readings, or to request alternative assignments. Likewise, it's important to note that no one was requiring any child to read Mr. Loux's book -- other options were given, and any would have sufficed. What is problematic, and what we are investigating, is whether the school adequately followed its own procedures for managing complaints before banning the book from its reading list, or if it removed the book because of a single complaint from a resident, who was not a parent of a child in that school.
Fundamentally, what appears to have occurred is that one individual took away other parents' freedom to choose whether or not the book was correct for their kids to read, despite the fact that the school's own policies state: "no parent nor group of parents has the right to negate the use of education resources for students other than his/her own child." One person's preferences should not take away other parents' ability to choose.
Parents should be the final arbiter of the material that they are comfortable letting into their household. But every household is different, and every household should make its own choices. One person's values should not impinge on a community's ability to think and read for themselves.
The opinions expressed in this Talk Back are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of ICv2.com.
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