Sunday, August 23, 2009
Free Speech Controversy in Brooklyn Library
According to The Brooklyn Daily News, the Brooklyn Public Library has restricted access to the 1930s children's book, Tintin Au Congo after a reader complained that the images from the book were racially offensive as the images depicted "Africans as monkeys." You can see images of the book through Google Images. (And, yes, please take note of the irony.)
The story concerns a young reporter traveling to the Congo who teaches the natives "right from wrong," which is a euphemism for advancing a pro-colonist message. During the trip, the young reporter kills numerous animals and, somewhere along the way, takes a few photos. Accoridng to Wikpedia, Tintin au Congo is part of an 80-year comic series, The Adventures of Tintin, that has been translated in to 50 languages and sol over 200 million copies.
According to library spokesperson, the book was relocated because it "had illustrations that were racially offensive and inappropriate for children." Individuals can still read the book. However, they must request a showing of the book in a special room 24 hours in advance. On the local CBS station, a library spokesperson discussed the move in terms of security for the book: the book has not been banned but relocated for its protection; patrons can still see it but they must see it under certain conditions and under certain supervision.
The ACLU is not happy with the move as it defined the act as censorship.
As The Brooklyn Daily News notes, the Brooklyn library received requests to ban or relocate 25 other books such as Godless by Anne Coulter. Only Tintin was relocated.