Loss of Privacy

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With Banned Books Week approaching, Reddit user AndiArch has created a fantastic list of banned/challenged books that everyone can enjoy. I reproduce the list below, so that parents can have a look at the books and start a discussion with their children.

Toddler/Nursery School

  • In the Night Kitchen, by Maurice Sendak; Reasons: nudity
  • The Family Book, by Todd Parr; (Reasons: homosexuality, racially-mixed families)
  • My Mom’s Having A Baby! A Kid’s Month-by-Month Guide to Pregnancy, by Dori Hillestad Butler; Reasons: nudity; sex education; sexually explicit; unsuited to age group
  • Everyone Poops, by Taro Gomi; (Reasons: obscenity, misleading illustrations)


  • King & King, by Linda de Haan; Reason: homosexuality
  • My Princess Boy, by Cheryl Kilodavis; (Reason: homosexuality, gender line blurring)
  • Draw Me A Star, by Eric Carle; Reason: nudity
  • Bumbe-Ardy, by Maurice Sendak; (Reason: death, too sad for children)
  • Where the Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak; Reason: witchcraft, supernatural elements


  • And Tango Makes Three, Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson; Reason: homosexuality, religious viewpoint, and unsuited to age group
  • The Pain and the Great One, Judy Blume; (Reason: animosity between siblings)
  • A Light in the Attic, Shel Silverstein; Reason: unsuited to age group, inappropriate subject matter
  • The Rabbits’ Wedding, Garth Williams; Reason: interracial marriage
  • The Story About Ping, Marjorie Flack; (Reason: spanking)
  • Sylvester and the Magic Pebble, William Steig; Reason: police officers depicted as pigs

Early Elementary

  • The Magic Tree House, series, Mary Pope Osborne; (Reason: encourages dishonesty)
  • Harry Potter, J.K. Rowling; Reasons: anti-family, occult/Satanism, religious viewpoint, violence
  • Bridge to Terabithia, Katherine Paterson; Reasons: occult/Satanism, offensive language, violence
  • Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, Judy Blume; (Reasons: child lacks discipline, bad parenting)
  • Freckle Juice, Judy Blume; (Reasons: bad parenting)
  • The Boxcar Children, series, Gertrude Chandler Warner; (Reason: anti-family, depictions of criminal activities)
  • The Witches, Roald Dahl; Reason: unsuited to age group, occult
  • Blubber, Judy Blume; Reason: Bullying
  • James and the Giant Peach, Roald Dahl; Reason: violence, occult, anti-family, language
  • The Giving Tree, Shel Silverstein; Reason: unsuited to age group

Late Elementary

  • The Boy Who Lost His Face, Louis Sachar; (Reason: bullying, occult)
  • The Great Gilly Hopkins, Katherine Patterson; Reason: anti-family, unsuited to age group
  • The Giver, Lois Lowry; Reasons: violence, unsuited to age group
  • Flashcards of My Life, Charise Mericle Harper; Reasons: sexually explicit and unsuited to age group
  • The Golden Compass, His Dark Materials series, Philip Pullman; Reason: religious viewpoint
  • The Upstairs Room, by Johanna Reiss; Reason: inappropriate language, depictions of war
  • Olive’s Ocean, by Kevin Henkes; Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit
  • Blood and Chocolate, by Annette Curtis Klause; Reasons: sexually explicit, unsuited to age group (Note: I read this in elementary school, but it is likely better suited to late middle school at the earliest)
  • Captain Underpants, series, by Dav Pilkey; Reasons: offensive language, unsuited to age group
  • Number the Stars, Lois Lowry; (Reasons: setting, inappropriate to age group)
  • Julie of the Wolves, by Jean Craighead George; Reasons: unsuited to age group, violence
  • Island of the Blue Dolphins, by Scott O’Dell; (Reasons: anti-family, violence)
  • Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, by Judy Blume; (Reasons: puberty)
  • Crazy Lady!, by Jane Leslie Conly; Reason: offensive language
  • Scary Stories (series), by Alvin Schwartz; Reasons: insensitivity, occult/Satanism, unsuited to age group
  • Athletic Shorts, by Chris Crutcher; Reasons: homosexuality and offensive language
  • Goosebumps (series), by R.L. Stine; Reasons: violence, occult, satanic themes

Middle School

  • Fat Kid Rules the World, by K.L. Going; Reason: depression, suicidal thoughts
  • Earth’s Children (series), by Jean M. Auel; Reason: violence, anti-family, (scientific inaccuracies)
  • Whale Talk, by Chris Crutcher; Reasons: racism, offensive language
  • The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien; (Reasons: satanic themes)
  • The Chocolate War, by Robert Cormier; Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age
  • Go Ask Alice, by Anonymous; Reasons: drugs, offensive language, sexually explicit
  • Fallen Angels, by Walter Dean Myers; Reason: offensive language
  • Taming the Star Runner, by S.E. Hinton; Reason: offensive language
  • 13: Thirteen Stories That Capture the Agony and Ecstasy of Being Thirteen, by James Howe, ed.; (Reason: unsuited to age group)
  • ttyl, Internet Girls series, by Lauren Myracle; Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
  • The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins (late middle school); Reasons: sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, and violence
  • My Brother Sam is Dead, by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier; (Reason: violence, depictions of war)
  • Thirteen Reasons Why, by Jay Asher; Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, sexually explicit, suicide, unsuited for age group
  • Detour for Emmy, by Marilyn Reynolds; Reason: sexual content
  • A Day No Pigs Would Die, by Robert Newton Peck; Reason: violence, girl, (explicit descriptions of animal mating behaviors)
  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain; Reason: offensive language
  • The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie; Reasons: offensive language, racism, sex education, unsuited to age group, and violence

Early High School

  • To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee; Reasons: offensive language, racism, unsuited to age group
  • Bless Me, Ultima, by Rudolfo Anaya; Reasons: occult/satanism, offensive language, sexually explicit, and violence
  • The Color Purple, by Alice Walker; Reasons: homosexuality, offensive language, sexually explicit
  • Forever, by Judy Blume; Reasons: offensive language, sexual content
  • The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green; (Reason: depression, too “deep” for age group)
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky; Reasons: homosexuality, offensive language, sexually explicit
  • Summer of My German Soldier, by Bette Greene; Reasons: offensive language, racism, sexually explicit
  • Crank, by Ellen Hopkins; Reasons: drugs, offensive language, and sexually explicit
  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou; Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit
  • Tweak: Growing Up on Methamphetamines, by Nic Sheff; (Reasons: drug use, unsuited to age group)
  • We All Fall Down, by Robert Cormier; Reason: offensive language, sexual content
  • Lush, series, by Natasha Friend; Reasons: drugs, offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited to age group
  • The Color of Earth (series), by Kim Dong Hwa; Reasons: nudity; sex education; sexually explicit; unsuited to age group
  • Looking for Alaska, by John Green; Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group
  • My Sister’s Keeper, by Jodi Picoult; Reasons: homosexuality, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexism, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, violence

Late High School

  • The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini; Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited to age group
  • What My Mother Doesn’t Know, by Sonya Sones; Reasons: sexism, sexually explicit, and unsuited to age group
  • Nickel and Dimed, by Barbara Ehrenreich; Reasons: drugs, inaccurate, offensive language, political viewpoint, and religious viewpoint
  • Revolutionary Voices, edited by Amy Sonnie; Reasons: homosexuality and sexually explicit
  • The Catcher in the Rye, by J. D. Salinger; Reasons: sexual content, offensive language, unsuited to age group
  • Beloved, by Toni Morrison; Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited to age group
  • The Glass Castle, by Jeanette Walls; Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit

While AndiArch’s list is not complete in any way and was made for his/her own personal reasons, there are some great books on this list. While I have never read The Box Car Children, it spurred on another post about the series and, since I can get a free copy of the original at Project Gutenberg, I’m probably going to check some out and see what all the fuss is about.

Banned Books Week is sponsored by the American Library Association.

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Chris Dodd, chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), talked about the state of the motion picture industry and the challenges presented by new and changing technologies. He was introduced by Angela Greiling Keane, President of the National Press Club. He warned about the regulation of content in movies and talked about mental health and its relation to gun violence. Other topics included the industry’s movie ratings system, intellectual property and copyright infringement, and the growth of the industry both in the U.S. and abroad.

Watch the entire video
, if you can. I saw portions of it live on C-SPAN. Techdirt has a great analysis of how Dodd continues to be an industry mouthpiece, spewing forth the same tired arguments we’ve heard time and again.

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Though the US Senate was forced to debate the renewal of FISA in public, it still came away voting, by a 73-23 margin, to renew the controversial law while rejecting all of the privacy amendments that had been recommended.

The rejected amendments were proposed by Senators Ron Wyden, Rand Paul, Jeff Merkley, and Patrick Leahy.

Wyden’s, which was shot down 52-43, would have forced the National Security Agency to reveal an estimate of how many Americans are affected by FISA. The NSA has argued that the enforcement of this regulation would violate the privacy of American citizens. There was a second Wyden amendment clarifying that FISA does not give the government the authority to commandeer the domestic communication of American citizens. It’s not clear if this was bundled with his other amendment.

Paul’s amendment attempted to protect the communication data of American citizens held by third-parties (e.g. emails stored in Google’s Gmail). It would have required that prosecutors provide probable cause and acquire a warrant before accessing information from third party sources. It lost lost 79-12.

The Merkley amendment would have required the Attorney General to disclose court cases in which FISA was deployed, but ultimately failed to pass with a 54-37 vote.

The Leahy amendment sought to shorten the bill’s tenure from five to three years but failed as well, 52-38.

Consider the fact that terrorists know how to use encryption, FISA is no longer about finding and stopping terrorism, if that truly was even their goal. This is about spying on Americans and have permission and the blessing of Washington to do it.

As was mentioned in the video, innocent people can get caught up in this and the government appears to be fine with that happening. The fourth amendment states that a person cannot be searched without a warrant. This includes whatever you do online, on the telephone, or purchase in person at store. This is only allowed after you are suspected of a crime. FISA, however, is worded so poorly, that it can be interpreted as allowing the monitoring of civilians for anything that the NSA could remotely tie to terrorism.

So, why should anyone care about whether the government knows what they purchase on Amazon or the local hardware store? Those in power can use that information to cause harm to a person. The information could be used to sell to a third party or employers. What if an individual works for a company that doesn’t adhere to the personal or political beliefs of an employee? That employee, who does not flaunt what they are doing, could now have that information spread around without context causing personal harm to the individual.

What if a person supports causes their family doesn’t agree with? It’s not that hard to “accidentally” release that you supported the local gay pride parade. Once the information is sold on to third parties, there is no way to control who has your information nor what they will do with it. Although these are all hypothetical situations that could happen, what happens when something more serious, such as a stalker, obtains this information?

The entire point of having the fourth amendment and the need for warrants is to prevent innocent people from getting caught up in a situation that they are not involved in and know nothing about. FISA removes these protections, which makes it harmful to every citizen in America, regardless as to whether or not they are ever personally harmed. To make matters worse, a citizen would have a difficult time taking FISA to the Supreme Court because, in such cases, you are required to show standing. In order to show standing, you must prove that your fourth amendment rights have been violated. You cannot get proof from the NSA because FISA allows them to say the proof is a matter of national security and, therefore, they cannot give you proof that your fourth amendment rights have been violated.

Even though it is thought that, once a person is identified as a US citizen, data collection must stop, that is not what is happening.

From the Supreme Court, presented in Clapper v. Amnesty International USA:

JUSTICE GINSBURG: Mr. Jaffer, could you be clear on the expanded authority under the FAA? As I understood it, it’s not like in [FISA], where a target was identified and…the court decided whether there was probable cause. Under this new statute, the Government doesn’t say who is the particular person or the particular location. So, there isn’t that check. There isn’t that check.

The individual does not need to be identified, therefore, there is no way to know if the person identified is an American or not and, thus, data collection can continue.

MR. JAFFER: That’s absolutely right, Justice Ginsburg…The whole point of the statute was to remove those tests, to remove the probable cause requirement, and to remove the facilities requirement, the requirement that the Government identify to the court the facilities to be monitored. So those are gone.

That’s why we use the phrase “dragnet surveillance.” I know the Government doesn’t accept that label, but it concedes that the statute allows what it calls categorical surveillance, which…is essentially the surveillance that the plaintiffs here are concerned about.

Instead of protecting Americans’ privacy from warrantless surveillance, the bill was changed to give retroactive immunity to telecoms and dragnet surveillance after the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping was made public.

Don’t count on the president to veto the renewal of FISA either. He has stated numerous times that he is in favor of such legislation. Most people knew that FISA was going to be renewed. They just hoped that they amendments would have put common sense checks and accountability into the law.

CNN video and C-Span video links.

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