Here’s some interesting links from this week.A   I have some stuff to say about the manga/porn case (in sum: a fair chunk of manga is porn, and that’s completely OK), but that will have to wait until I’ve got some more time.

From Boing boing:

Apple gets into the book banning business

Apple’s refused to allow an application called “Comic Reader” in the iTunes Store because they don’t like the comic book it ships with — effectively, they’ve gotten into the business of banning or approving literature.

From Jeff Davis:

Brit Internet Service Providers censor Wikipedia over ‘child porn’ album cover

Six British ISPs are filtering access to Wikipedia after the site was added to an Internet Watch Foundation child-pornography blacklist, according to Wikipedia administrators.

As of Sunday morning UK time, certain British web surfers were unable to view at least one Wikipedia article tagged with ostensible child porn. And, in a roundabout way, the filtering has resulted in Wikipedia admins banning large swaths of the United Kingdom from editing the “free encyclopedia anyone can edit”.

From Martha Gonzales:


The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund has signed on as a special consultant to the defense of Chistopher Handley, an Iowa collector who faces up to 20 years in prison for possession of manga…The government alleges that the material includes drawings that they claim appear to be depictions of minors engaging in sexual conduct.A   No photographic content is at issue in Handley’s case.

Posted in censorship, sex   Tagged: BCLDF, comics, ISP filtering, manga, porn, stuff and things  

t-shirt slogan survey

from Special Collections Research Center, Swem Library on flickr

from Special Collections Research Center, Swem Library on flickr

Remember the à ¢Ã¢”š ¬Ã…”thereà ¢Ã¢”š ¬Ã¢”ž ¢s something in my library to offend everyoneà ¢Ã¢”š ¬  tshirts and sweatshirts?A   They were a massively successful fundraiser for the Lois Bewley Intellectual Defense Fund.

The IFC is going to redesign the t-shirts and would appreciate your input on slogans before December 12th.A   It wonà ¢Ã¢”š ¬Ã¢”ž ¢t take much time to do the survey, promise.

Posted in fundraiserA  A  A  Tagged: survey, tshirtsA  A  A  

freedom of icky speech

A beautifully articulate rant by Neil Gaiman on why we must defend stuff that we personally find icky:

Freedom to write, freedom to read, freedom to own material that you believe is worth defending means youà ¢Ã¢”š ¬Ã¢”ž ¢re going to have to stand up for stuff you donà ¢Ã¢”š ¬Ã¢”ž ¢t believe is worth defending, even stuff you find actively distasteful, because laws are big blunt instruments that do not differentiate between what you like and what you donà ¢Ã¢”š ¬Ã¢”ž ¢t, because prosecutors are humans and bear grudges and fight for re-election, because one personà ¢Ã¢”š ¬Ã¢”ž ¢s obscenity is another personà ¢Ã¢”š ¬Ã¢”ž ¢s art.

The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund will defend your First Amendment right as an adult to make lines on paper, to draw, to write, to sell, to publish, and now, to own comics. And thatà ¢Ã¢”š ¬Ã¢”ž ¢s what makes the kind of work you donà ¢Ã¢”š ¬Ã¢”ž ¢t like, or donà ¢Ã¢”š ¬Ã¢”ž ¢t read, or work that you do not feel has artistic worth or redeeming features worth defending. Ità ¢Ã¢”š ¬Ã¢”ž ¢s because the same laws cover the stuff you like and the stuff you find icky, wherever your icky line happens to be: the law is a big blunt instrument that makes no fine distinctions, and because you only realise how wonderful absolute freedom of speech is the day you lose it.

I realize ità ¢Ã¢”š ¬Ã¢”ž ¢s all very American, that in Canada we donà ¢Ã¢”š ¬Ã¢”ž ¢t have the First Amendment that outlines that freedom of speech has protection in the constitution.A   However, Gaimanà ¢Ã¢”š ¬Ã¢”ž ¢s argument is still a valid one in Canada.

Posted in censorshipA  A  A  Tagged: boing boing, CBLDF, comic book, freedom of speech, gaimanA  A  A  

talking to strangers

The pink à ¢Ã¢”š ¬Ã…”i read banned booksà ¢Ã¢”š ¬  pin that I have on my jacket has started lots of interesting conversations with people I donà ¢Ã¢”š ¬Ã¢”ž ¢t know in lineups, on the bus and in other public places.

On the weekend, when I was in line for the ATM, a woman asked me about my button.A   She told me she is a new teacher, who has just been hired by the Vancouver School Board.A   When she was a student at UBC she learned about the Surrey School Board challenges to kids books that showed families with queer parents.A   Books like One Dad Two Dads Brown Dads Blue Dads by Johnny Valentine and Ashaà ¢Ã¢”š ¬Ã¢”ž ¢s Mums by Rosamund Elwin and Michel Paulse were challenged.

We talked about how there have been drastic cuts for resources for teacher-librarians and that ità ¢Ã¢”š ¬Ã¢”ž ¢s a lot for a new teacher to learn about without the support of a librarian.A   She talked about some of the ideas she had for including material that represents a diversity of families.A   In a recent issue of Feliciter, past president of the Canadian Library Association and library school prof, Alvin Schrader describes à ¢Ã¢”š ¬Ã…”the perilous situation of school libraries, which is both a literacy and an intellectual freedom issueà ¢Ã¢”š ¬ .A   I think that the current provincial governments cuts to funds for support staff, including teacher-librarians, while crowing about their commitment to literacy is laughable.A   The BC Coalition for School Libraries has some good resources on their website, including criteria to determine if a child has access to a good school library.

I wonder what kinds of conversations this button my button will spark next.

Posted in school librariesA  A  A  Tagged: information literacy, kids, literacy, teacher-librarians

Quarterly List of Admissible and Prohibited Titlesà ¢Ã¢â€š ¬Ã¢â‚¬Å“July to September 2008

On Halloween, The Canadian Boarder Services Agency published their quarterly list (19 page PDF) of seized items.A   You’ll likely see stuff that offends you because you think it is racist, pornographic, or just plain wrong (and possibly a combination of more than one of these).A   I encourage you, even if you do have delicate sensibilities, to take a look anyway to get an idea of what types of materials are not allowed in Canada, according to sections 58, 59 and 60 of the Customs Act.

I’m puzzled by the varying quality of description of these items.A   Some are almost detailed enough to be in a library catalogue, for example “Ghita Of Alizarr, Second Edition (Part 1), By Frank Thorne, Published By Catalan Communications, Copyright 1990, ISBN: 0-87416-095-2″ (on page 9, under Comic Books), which was admissable.A   Others are extremely vague, for example “Best of 2000″ (also on page 9, under Compact Discs), which was prohibited.A   How am I supposed to know what Best of 2000 is about?

This list is not published on the CBSA website, nor are previous lists available on their site. If you would like to receive these updates by email, contact the CBSAA   at and request to be added.

Previous posts on The Quarterly Lists:

Posted in Canada Border Services Agency, government censorship   Tagged: banned books, banned items, cataloging, CBSA

Mariko Tamakià ¢Ã¢â€š ¬Ã¢â€ž ¢s case for erotica

The amazing Mariko Tamaki (who is a finalist for this yearà ¢Ã¢”š ¬Ã¢”ž ¢s Governor General award for Childrenà ¢Ã¢”š ¬Ã¢”ž ¢s literature*) wrote a nice piece for Xtra ripping apart the misconception that erotica = bad writing.

She points out that some of Canadaà ¢Ã¢”š ¬Ã¢”ž ¢s top queer female fiction writers, are also skilled at writing a fine dirty story:

The assertion that erotica is somehow a less than legitimate form of writing should lose some credibility when you consider that writers of erotica are, more often than not, not solely writers of erotica. In fact, women of acknowledged literary ability write lesbian erotica. Specifically, many fabulous Canadian authors of erotica write, and write well, in a variety of genres. (Tamami) Kobayashi has written and published works of poetry and short fiction. Writer and editor Karen X Tulchinsky, who has edited a myriad of erotica anthologies, for Arsenal Pulp, Cleis Press and Womenà ¢Ã¢”š ¬Ã¢”ž ¢s Press, has also published some acclaimed works of fiction, including The Five Books of Moses Lapinsky, a finalist for the Toronto Book Award.

Karen X was also the Vancouver Public Libraryà ¢Ã¢”š ¬Ã¢”ž ¢s Writer in Residence this past year.A   It makes me very happy to think that perhaps, when she wasnà ¢Ã¢”š ¬Ã¢”ž ¢t mentoring new writers, or doing public readings, that she was in the Central Library writing literary porn.

*If you havenà ¢Ã¢”š ¬Ã¢”ž ¢t read Skim yet, 9 public libraries in BC have it: Burnaby, Fort Nelson, Victoria, New Westminister, North Vancouver District, Okanagan Regional, Powell River, Salt Spring and Squamish.

Posted in sexA  A  A  Tagged: erotica, porn, sex, writingA  A  A  

That Lady is Naked! @ the VAG

Ià ¢Ã¢”š ¬Ã¢”ž ¢m normally not all that interested in whatà ¢Ã¢”š ¬Ã¢”ž ¢s going on at the Vancouver Art Gallery (VAG).A   I was pretty disappointed with Crazy, the last exhibit.A   My friend Sarah Leavitt sums up the many of the problems with the exhibit.

Ià ¢Ã¢”š ¬Ã¢”ž ¢m excited by the current exhibition WACK: Art and the Feminist Revolution, which is a survey of art from 70s second wave feminists.A   The Museum of Contemporary Art in LA put together a fabulous website for this exhibit.A   I went to the opening, but it was crowded and spent a lot of time gabbing, so I donà ¢Ã¢”š ¬Ã¢”ž ¢t have much to say about the artyet.A   This is the most community programming Ià ¢Ã¢”š ¬Ã¢”ž ¢ve ever noticed the art gallery doing, and I think ità ¢Ã¢”š ¬Ã¢”ž ¢s great.A   Ità ¢Ã¢”š ¬Ã¢”ž ¢s also particularly fitting to have workshops, lectures and discussion around feminist art.

I heard about this program on CBC radio.A   Meg Hickling sounds like a dynamo.A   In the short interview, she said this workshop is for parents who need skills talking to their 5-12 year olds about naked bodies.A   She said she does a different workshop for parents about talking to kids about sex.

Ià ¢Ã¢”š ¬Ã¢”ž ¢m mentioning this on this blog as often challenges come from adults about kids or teen books because of issues around sexuality: descriptions of sex, masturbation, or issues around homosexuality or bisexuality.A   I think a workshop like this might work well in a library.

Hereà ¢Ã¢”š ¬Ã¢”ž ¢s the info:

That Lady is Naked!

In The Gallery With Meg Hickling

October 26, 1pm

In the Gallery

There are naked people in the Gallery; how do you tell your child? This unique workshop with world-renowned sex educator Meg Hickling invites parents to explore WACK! with their children. Hickling, the author of five books and a recipient of the Order of British Columbia and the Order of Canada, is noted for her ability to present complex material with intelligence, warmth and sensitivity.

Age 5 and up.

Adults $20; Children $7

(Members $15, Members children $5)

Registration: 604.662.4700

Originally posted at We read banned books, and other stuff too… A » tara.

Canwest Media Bully

Great job by Working TV and Seriously Free Speech Committee folks on explaining the issue and signifigance of the CanWest SLAPP suit over a parody of the Vancouver Sun.

I’m excited to see old school activists start to social media effectively.A   This video feels especially appropriate as they are standing up to a mainstream media conglomerate, like CanWest and the Vancouver Sun.A   I think this video has much broader appeal than a didactic pamphlet written in Times New Roman 10 point font.A   My only critique is the seriously corny folk song at the end.

Join their Facebook group here.

Heal this book: reversing vandalism


For Duf by Dacey Hunter

Morning Stories, a weekly podcast of stories from ordinary folks, aired Heal this book in December 2005.A   This podcast is about an art exhibit that the San Francisco Public Library (SFPL) did with books that had been damaged by a homophobic and misogynistic patron. From the transcript:

This person used the card catalog and did a subject search and found books about gay and lesbian, bisexual and transgender issues, books about H.I.V. and A.I.D.S. and books about womenà ¢Ã¢”š ¬Ã¢”ž ¢s health issues generally. And some false hits à ¢Ã¢”š ¬Ã¢â‚¬Å“ almost comical thingsà ¢Ã¢”š ¬Ã¢â‚¬Å“ a book about the Enola Gay, a book by Peter Gay, so this person was determined.

The SFPL invited people to make art out of the books that were vandalized:

In the early months of 2001, San Francisco Public Library staff began making grim discoveries in the book stacks at the Main Library. Shoved under shelves and hidden from public eye were vandalized books, ranging from gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender topics to womenà ¢Ã¢”š ¬Ã¢”ž ¢s issues and books on HIV/AIDS. Staff collected over 600 badly damaged books. The torn and slashed books were deemed beyond repair and withdrawn from the Libraryà ¢Ã¢”š ¬Ã¢”ž ¢s collection. The offender was eventually caught and charged with a hate crime.

I recommend looking at some of the art pieces while you listen to the podcast. This project is powerful, transformative, and beautiful.