Saturday, July 6, 2013

Censorship Ridiculousness

And now, for some real life examples of censorship issues I have faced in prison:

1. The C volume of the encyclopedia.  This is due to the article about creating codes that a staff member wanted removed because "They could use it to create more sophisticated codes!"  Here's the thing about that--we don't censor something based on what someone might do with it.  If they are creative enough to create their own little gangster code, they are going to do it anyway, and if they are dumb enough to use the code in the encyclopedia, then you already have that code.  This is actually still an ongoing thing, so we do not have the C volume back on the shelves yet, but I can not see how any reasonable person would make us take it off the shelves permanently.  However, I should not say anything because you never know.

2. True crime books about patrons that live in the facility.  Step right up folks, and read about what your cellie did!  Seriously though, we have had two patrons request that "their" book not be in the facility.  One is gone now, and after she left we decided that her book did not violate the rules, and the other one is still there.  After we had a discussion with the second patron about her concerns, she came to the conclusion that there was no reason for it not to be included.  That's one thing about our book challenges, a lot of times, people just want to be heard and if you address their concerns and explain why the book is going to remain, they will be mollified and it will not be an issue anymore.  Of course, everyone else will want to read it, because they are all nosy but hey, if you don't want a true crime book written about your crime-DON'T DO IT.

3. A book with a recipe for dandelion wine and beer.  This one is pretty self-explanatory though, because in the rules it states that they can not have detailed instructions for making intoxicants.  Whether or not they have the high capacity boiler and hydrothermometer and gasketometer is irrelevant, and thus the recipe must not be allowed in.

4.  Speaking of recipes, I held a recipe contest for patrons with the only requirement being that they use stuff that they can buy on canteen. (i.e. no "2 eggs, stolen from kitchen.")  My first and second level bosses thought it was a great idea, but the next level boss nixed it saying it would lead to more bartering.  Again, censorship based on what people might do.  So the lesson learned from that was take the idea further up the chain of command or risk disappointment when attempting something of this magnitude.

5.  A book on ninja mind control was questioned, because it might lead to offenders taking over the minds of the officers.  Seriously.  This reminds me of the Robert Greene books (which, unfortunately, are banned in many DOCs, but not ours thankfully.)  Upper administration is concerned that he teaches offenders how to manipulate people, which is true, but even Greene says all staff have to do is read the books too and they will know all the tricks.  But wait...that would make sense and it's just easier to ban them.

My favorite comparison that I love to tell people who want to ban something is this:
"Banning that book would be like banning a book on astral projection because it is escape paraphernalia!"

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