A man checks out copies of "Catcher in the Rye"
September 10, 2001 10:25 AM   Subscribe

A man checks out copies of "Catcher in the Rye" to prevent teenagers from reading it.
posted by zedzebedia (31 comments total)
better then burning it.
posted by clavdivs at 10:25 AM on September 10, 2001

Is that an option for library patrons? Either return the book, or pay us money instead if you'd rather?

Sounds like stealing to me. This guy should be locked up and sodomized. The big phony.
posted by luser at 10:32 AM on September 10, 2001

i want his heart, this ones gotta misfire.
posted by clavdivs at 10:35 AM on September 10, 2001

I'm gonna start doing that with "The Fountainhead".
posted by jeb at 10:35 AM on September 10, 2001

I have an extra copy of Catcher in the Rye. I should mail it to one of the libraries. Can you imagine if hundreds of people did the same?
posted by waxpancake at 10:39 AM on September 10, 2001

I'm still a little confused by the whole "lets ban Catcher in the Rye" thing. It has less sex than a Judy Blume book and less profanity than Stephen King. Both authors had a teenage following when I was in high school. Even if that was a while back, I can't imagine who's replaced them.

I also don't understand why "educators" who want to ban books think that their students even know where the school library is or are even checking out books from it. I've been to public and private schools and have never seen a library that was above substandard.

And having been gone to high school in the late 80s and being a big Elvis Costello fan, most people I knew were reading Less than Zero which was far more relevant (and much closer to what was happening around me) than the ultra tame Holden Caulfield. Granted, they didn't have it at my school library, but that's what the regular library is for.
posted by eyeballkid at 10:40 AM on September 10, 2001

It sounds like this guy has serious issues.
"Bagwell fought the same battle in 1993. A committee reviewed "The Catcher in the Rye" at that time and recommended that it be included in all high school libraries. Bagwell lost the board vote 6-1. "

Seems like he's decided to ban the book on his own. I hope he gets booted from that school board.
posted by tj at 10:51 AM on September 10, 2001

"for the second time in the last decade..."

Why is this guy still on a school board? I would think unsavory activity such as this would get a person banned and unseated in most cities.
posted by mathowie at 10:53 AM on September 10, 2001

In other news: media coverage of a man checking out copies of Catcher in the Rye to keep teens from reading it results in hordes of area teens who now just have to read it. Thanks, Howie.

It has less sex than a Judy Blume book and less profanity than Stephen King.

The reason behind the movement to ban Catcher isn't anti-sex or anti-profanity, it's anti-intellectual. Holden's a thinker, not a follower. He challenges the status quo, instead of simply accepting it. People don't like that.
posted by jpoulos at 10:56 AM on September 10, 2001

waxpancake - I had exactly the same idea. Who's with us???
posted by dogwelder at 11:05 AM on September 10, 2001

clavdivs- how do you know this guy isn't burning it?
posted by dogwelder at 11:06 AM on September 10, 2001

I agree with you, jpoulos, about the "anti-intellectual" strain of thought that's at work here, but there's also a good deal of downright ignorance. Chances are, this guy was told "Catcher in the Rye is an evil book!" by someone years ago, and he hasn't taken the time or energy to challenge that assumption that he was fed.

I've found (from working at a library and from my MLIS readings) that most of these censorship cases are more or less the same thing: somebody with a loud mouth calls something evil (or dirty, or whatever) and a group of "concerned parents" rally around it without having read the book or heard the album or seen the movie. If they had read the book and approached it critically--an impossible task for some--they would realize how wrong the initial statement was. The task for the librarian, and anyone who cares enough to fight for "banned books," is to calmly explain to these people why a bit of open-mindedness is necessary in these cases, and then to stand firm and don't withdraw the book when the "concerned parents" don't hear a damn thing we say.
posted by arco at 11:11 AM on September 10, 2001

For those interested.. the schools to send your copies to:

Fort Dorchester High School
8500 Patriot Boulevard
North Charleston, SC 29418

Summerville High School
1101 Boone Hill Road
Summerville, SC 29483
posted by tj at 11:13 AM on September 10, 2001

Just read Huck Finn. Can't. . .get. . .the . . .filth. . .off. . .Oh God help me.=]

"It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society."
posted by aflakete at 11:17 AM on September 10, 2001

I work in a public library..... and this man seems to have a few things mixed up in his head. If he checked out all copies, and then intends to buy them so no one else can check them out....
The money he pays for the book is the REPLACEMENT COST. This means, if the library is working properly....
Imagine his surprise when he finds out that he PAID FOR THE BOOK THAT HE WANTS TO BAN TO BE RECIRCULATED.

I say more power to the guy, they probably need a new copy anyway.
posted by bradth27 at 11:28 AM on September 10, 2001

"I know, I'll keep kids from reading it by not returning my copy and just paying the fine with the school bills me for it. They'll never think to use the money to buy a new copy! Oh. Wait. Nevermind."

Unfortunately, I'm guessing this fellow is not capable of following such difficult trains of thought.
posted by jburka at 11:28 AM on September 10, 2001

jeb, please let me know if you start doing that so those of us on the other side can start working on pushing the essay contests...
posted by mrbula at 11:28 AM on September 10, 2001

Maybe it's just a question of taste, not censorship...of trying to protect readers from this crappy book with all its pretension to unpretentiousness. What a humanitarian!

But probably not.
posted by rushmc at 11:51 AM on September 10, 2001

Mrbula, if you want, we could arrange something, whereby you stop me from stealing the books in a heroic act of individual human perfection and splendor, write and submit the essay, and then split the prize with me. That way, we are both ideologically placated, yes?
posted by jeb at 11:58 AM on September 10, 2001

He'd have much better luck buying out Barnes & Noble and Borders. Who goes to libraries anymore? (sorry bradth27)
posted by me3dia at 11:59 AM on September 10, 2001

arco: In circumstances where the parents are simply reacting with mob mentality, trying to get rid of a book in a school library under a mistaken assumption about it's contents, then you're completely right. And, like you said, that covers the vast majority of circumstances.

But what happens when parents know what is in a book, they just don't properly understand it's significance or real meaning in context. Do you still stand firm? At what point are you substituting your judgement for that of the parents? How do you draw that line?
posted by gd779 at 12:01 PM on September 10, 2001

He'd have much better luck buying out Barnes & Noble and Borders. Who goes to libraries anymore? (sorry bradth27)

actually, you might be surprised. With the rise in technology, we have seen a rise in patron usage, not a decline. This is pretty much the same for public libraries across the board.
posted by bradth27 at 12:24 PM on September 10, 2001

A number of years ago, I worked in the reference room of a public library. One year, there was a high school class that had an assignment to read and report on a novel chosen from a list the teacher handed out. One student came up to me, pointed to Catcher in the Rye on the list, and asked "Is this book about baseball?" I told him it wasn't and tried to explain a little about the book, but he lost interest and wandered off to choose another book. It occurred to me later that if I'd told him it was one of the books most frequently banned from school libraries he probably would have read it. Maybe his teacher would have gained points for putting the book on the list. But I didn't think fast enough...
posted by maurice at 12:36 PM on September 10, 2001

I'm thrilled that the guy wants the libraries to keep buying copies of Catcher. I hope no one donates any copies. Let the dude pay the replacement fee so J.D. Salinger and Little, Brown can get their cuts of the moolah. (I dunno if Little, Brown is still the publisher, actually; it probably doesn't exist anymore.)

I hope the guy tries to ban Ken Kesey's "Sometimes a Great Notion." That's my favorite book. I could send copies to those two school libraries and wait for the guy to check 'em out forever, so then he'll pay the replacement fines and the libraries will buy copies and one of my favorite writers will get some royalty money.
posted by Holden at 12:36 PM on September 10, 2001

How sure can we be that this guy isn't just a brainwashed assassin?
posted by harmful at 12:45 PM on September 10, 2001

Well, Skallas, maybe if there were 50 copies of Catcher in the Rye sitting in the nickel bin, a student might get the change to READ it. Eventually Bagwell's arms will be full and he'll end up dropping one or two copies in the hallway, right?
posted by bcwinters at 1:16 PM on September 10, 2001

If they aren't accepting donations, then send them my way.
All donations appreciated.
posted by bradth27 at 1:54 PM on September 10, 2001

I just finished re-reading Sometimes a Great Notion for the umpteenth time. Couldn't agree more that this book is at least as "damaging" as Catcher. I wonder how many high school libraries would carry any Kesey other than One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest though.
posted by Fley Mingmasc at 2:19 PM on September 10, 2001

Maybe the guy should do us all a favor and start stealing "Franny and Zooey". Ugh was that awful. Way too long, could've made the point within 3 pages. It did leave a nice after taste though.
posted by geoff. at 3:53 PM on September 10, 2001

I actually think CiTR is once of the worst books I've ever read (and yes, I do read a a lot and yes, i did read the entire book). Anyways, instead of concentrating on what books the kids are READING (its hard enough getting kids to read the way it is), maybe he ought to be a bit more worried about the crap thats on TV (hm, read CiTR or watch Undressed or Temptation Island...yea, CiTR is a REALLY bad book!).
posted by jmd82 at 3:58 PM on September 10, 2001

But what happens when parents know what is in a book... Do you still stand firm? At what point are you substituting your judgement for that of the parents?

At no point is the librarian substituting his or her judgement for that of the parents. The only thing a librarian in this situation is advocating is freedom of access to information, not the value of the information itself. (One of my MLIS professors always said, "Information is neutral; the user provides any positive or negative value.") It helps to actually like the book you're defending, but ultimately that doesn't matter.

If a parent doesn't want his or her child exposed to a certain book (or film, or whatever), that's fine. It's their prerogative to raise their child any way they see fit. However, they cannot deny another person's right to access that information by censoring it, if for no other reason than one person's trash is another's treasure, to revive a cliche. There's a cartoon from an old Library Journal (I think) that show's a library completely empty of books, and the librarian says, "There, now everyone's happy!"

Me3dia: Bradth27 is right: libraries are actually more-used now than they were thirty years ago, with free Internet access, expanded CD and DVD collections, etc. Also, I've found that as people become more inundated with information (from TV, the Internet and elsewhere), librarians are more important than ever, because we help people sort through the piles of useless information to find what's really valuable to them. Of course, I could just be trying to convince myself of my viability....
posted by arco at 4:09 PM on September 10, 2001

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