So, how many challenges are there each year? As with almost anything else anyone wants to count, answering this question requires reliable evidence, and reports of challenges are spotty at best. The ALA offer this infographic, based on data collected in 2017:
I’ve always wondered how anyone guesses what percent of anything (crime, censorship, customer dissatisfaction) goes unreported, but even if we cut the estimated unreported challenges for 2017 by 90%, that still leaves 1077 challenges, i.e., nearly 3 per day, every day. No time off for weekends or holidays.
Today’s featured author is a reminder that poets are challenged/banned, too: Geoffrey Chaucer (died 1400). According to Poets.Org, The Canterbury Tales hit some road bumps when it was published in the late 1300s, but the real problems arose in the late 1800s:
In 1873, Anthony Comstock, founder of the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice, achieved a federal bill that banned the mailing of “every obscene, lewd, lascivious or filthy book, pamphlet, picture, paper, letter writing, print or other publication of an indecent character.” The Comstock Act, officially known as the Federal Anti-Obscenity Act, banned many world classics, including Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, for its sexual content.
Now you’ve learned two things: what the Comstock Act was, and why The Canterbury Tales is still selling pretty well for a 600-year-old book. Let’s hear it for bawdy poetry!
Tomorrow: English teachers and censorship.